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Brian Sleet, Chicago Political Consultant And Mentor To Many, Dies At 41

Sleet's death inspired hundreds of online tributes, due to his deep ties with Chicago's political community.

Left: Political consultant Brian Sleet, who died suddenly Wednesday. Right: Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx with Brian Sleet.
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CHICAGO — Chicagoans on Thursday are mourning the death of Brian Sleet, a political consultant who is credited with lifting up and mentoring black community members with political aspirations. 

Sleet, who helped guide Kim Foxx to the State’s Attorney office and Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th) to the City Council, died suddenly on Wednesday morning, his brother wrote on Facebook. He was 41.

Sleet died of a brain hemorrhage and heart disease, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office.

“Brian was especially committed to training and mentoring young black organizers and political operatives,” Ald. Sawyer wrote in a statement. “The news of Brian’s passing is fresh and a shock to all who knew and admired him. It is difficult at this time to imagine another person who possessed his talents and abilities, and his warm personality.”

Sleet helped manage and strategize for Foxx’s, Sawyer’s and Ald. Sophia King (4th)’s elections. He also served as a chief of staff to Sawyer and worked at the public affairs firm Kivvit, where he was a “point person for community engagement” with the Obama Presidential Library, Sawyer wrote in a statement.

“There are no words to describe the loss that I and so many throughout Chicagoland are feeling right now by the passing of Brian Sleet. He was instrumental in my ability to serve as State’s Attorney and I am eternally grateful,” Foxx said in a statement. “I would not be where I am without Brian’s guidance while I began my first run for public office.”

Sleet’s name was even trending on Twitter Thursday morning, as Chicagoans shared their experiences with a man known as kind, generous and a “political mastermind.” 

Eric Sedler, managing partner at Kivvit, called Sleet “an immense talent.”

“Leaders and communities across Chicago sought his counsel and his expertise,” Sedler said. “His wisdom and thoughtfulness allowed him to work with a wide cross-section of people. Those of us who were privileged to work with Brian will always cherish his genuine heart, big smile and deep laugh.”

Jahmal Cole, founder of the South Side organization My Block, My Hood, My City, also praised Sleet, writing that he would “always come through and support.”

“I’m already knowing what you’d say to me right now,” Cole wrote. “You’d say you were proud of me for sure. You’d give me some guidance that you know I’d side eye you about, but you’d give me the realness and tell me to stay focused out here, beware of the pitfalls and traps.”

Sleet, a Chatham native, was an alumnus of Whitney Young Magnet Academy High School, Dartmouth College and the University of Illinois Law School.