Joe Ferguson


Joe Ferguson was named president of the Civic Federation in December 2023 and joined the staff in January 2024. Read a Q&A with him here.

Previously, Ferguson served as inspector general for the City of Chicago from 2009 to 2021. He was first appointed by former Mayor Richard M. Daley and twice reappointed by former Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Under his leadership, the Chicago Office of Inspector General doubled its staff from 50 to over 100 employees and expanded the scope of its work, earning national acclaim for its government performance audits and audit-based evaluations, including its investigative reports on the City’s handling of the aftermath of the murder of Laquan McDonald, the raid of social worker Anjanette Young, the City’s red light camera system, the City’s handling of the 2020 George Floyd demonstrations and civil unrest, the Chicago Police Department’s gang database, and fire and emergency medical response times. Under Ferguson, the OIG created an online information portal that includes over 30 interactive data dashboards on police activities.

Prior to becoming inspector general, Ferguson spent 15 years with the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois. He was a chief of the office’s Money Laundering and Forfeiture Section and a deputy in the Complex Fraud and Financial Crimes Section, where he directed cases related to terrorism financing, government programs, health care and financial institution fraud, racketeering and public corruption. He represented the federal government before the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois and the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. 

Ferguson’s earlier work as a Civil Division attorney included affirmative civil fraud litigation under the False Claims Act, employment discrimination (Title VII), civil rights, and environmental law. His prior litigation work also included serving as counsel on environmental enforcement and death penalty matters brought before the United States Supreme Court.

Ferguson teaches at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy and is a founding co-director and lecturer of the Loyola University of Chicago Law School’s National Security and Civil Rights program.  He was recently a Pritzker Fellow at the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics. In addition, he is a founder of (re)Chicago, a strategic initiative to assess and address flaws in the city’s governance structure. 

Ferguson received his B.A. from Lake Forest College, which recently named him an honorary Doctor of Laws, and his J.D. from Northwestern University's Pritzker School of Law.

Joe Ferguson