- Brandi Bradley
Brandi Bradley is currently a staff assistant to U.S. Senator Richard J. Durbin. Previously serving as a staff assistant to both U.S. Congressman Jerry F. Costello (ret.) and U.S. Congressman William Enyart, in the 12th District of Illinois. In this position, Brandi is able to work with the local and state governments and act as a liaison with federal agencies on the various issues facing southern Illinois. She is originally from Murphysboro, Illinois and co-founded a non-profit called the Friends of Murphysboro, which is focused on the improvement of Riverside Park and the surrounding neighborhood. Through the Friends of Murphysboro, she has been able to assist in building the first public dog park in Southern Illinois, created the largest craft beer festival in southern Illinois, the Big Muddy Monster Brew Fest, and many other projects including a Remembrance Walkway for Veterans. She also has been instrumental in organizing the eLaunch Williamson County Program, a county wide program that brings students from Williamson County together to get a hands on entrepreneurial experience and to build their network within the community. She helps organize the Southern Illinois Democrat Women and serves as a Precinct Committeewoman in Williamson County. Brandi is a Class of 2014 graduate of the Illinois Women’s Institute for Leadership, a member of the Delta Leadership Network, and was elected to the Marion Unit 2 School Board for a second term in 2017. Brandi resides in Marion with her husband Josh and three daughters, Madison, Caroline, and Ella.
- Amy Crawford
- Amy Crawford is a partner at the law firm of Kirkland & Ellis, LLP, where she specializes in commercial litigation. Amy spends significant time on LGBT civil rights pro bono matters, and was recently selected as a top "40 under 40" LGBT lawyer by the National LGBT Bar Association. Amy's prior legal experience includes a clerkship for the Honorable Philip P. Simon of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana. In 2008, she spent several months working for the Obama campaign on voter protection issues in her home state of Ohio, and currently volunteers on several local campaigns. She serves on the board of North Side Community Federal Credit Union and is a mentor in the LINK Unlimited program. Amy received her law degree from the University of Chicago, where she was an editor of the Law Review, and received her undergraduate degree with high honors from the University of Notre Dame. Prior to attending law school, she worked in corporate finance and nonprofit development.
- Shana Jo Harrison
- Shana Harrison is a Master's student in Political Science through the Civic Leadership Program at the University of Illinois: Urbana-Champaign. She served as the President of Illini Democrats and the Finance Director of the College Democrats of Illinois. Shana has a strong interest in supporting labor in Illinois. She works for the Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 149 as their political analyst. Currently, Shana is running for the Champaign County Board District 9.
- Tiffany C. Ingram
- Tiffany Chappell Ingram is the Midwest Advocacy Director for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) where she advocates for clean energy policy as well as other important environmental matters. At NRDC, Ms. Ingram advocates for environment and energy policy on the all levels of government throughout the Midwest region. Ms. Ingram has spent her career working on matters of energy policy. She began her career serving as a policy staffer in the Office of the Mayor for Chicago. Ms. Ingram also served as legislative council for the Mayor'S Office of Intergovernmental Affairs where she focused on advancing the City of Chicago's state legislative agenda with a particular focus on legislation related to the environment and energy policy. Ms. Ingram later served as the legal adviser to the Chairman of the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) where she advised on important utility regulatory policy. During her tenure at the ICC she handled a record number of rate cases and assisted with the implementation of Illinois' energy procurement process. Ms. Ingram also worked as an attorney in private practice where she represented energy companies before the ICC and managed land acquisition and procurement for a prominent renewable energy company. Ms. Ingram lives in Chicago with her husband, son, and dog named Brooklyn. She attended Hamilton College in upstate New York and the University of Wisconsin Madison Law School.
- Caroline McAteer
- Caroline McAteer manages the University Internship Program at DePaul University where she has worked for over 12 years. She has a BA in communication from the University of Dayton and an MS in public service administration from DePaul University. Her previous experience includes working as a recruiter at a staffing firm and a sales representative in the telecommunications industry. She is a board member of the Danny Did Foundation, an organization which supports epilepsy research and awareness. Her involvement with the foundation is very personal because she has lived with epilepsy for more than 25 years. Caroline was recently named a member of the board of directors for Personal PAC and the Illinois Comprehensive Health Insurance Plan (CHIP). Additionally, she is serving her 7th year as a board member for the Lincoln Park Chamber of Commerce and is currently the Director of External Affairs for the organization's executive committee. Over the last 10 years, Caroline has volunteered on campaigns at the aldermanic, county, state and federal levels. It is this experience, combined with extensive community involvement and a passion to make a difference in the lives of Illinois residents that contributes to her desire to run for elective office in the near future. Caroline lives in Chicago with her husband Brandon and 4 year-old daughter, Norah, who has already joined her mom collecting petitions for local campaigns.
- Quiana McKenzie
- Quiana McKenzie is currently the Operations Manager for Citizens for Lisa Madigan. Prior to working for Attorney General Madigan's campaign, Quiana worked in a variety of roles in government and higher education, including serving as a James H. Dunn Fellow in the Office of the Governor of Illinois. She also served as an economic recovery coordinator, assisting with the implementation of the economic stimulus in the state of Illinois and coordinating efforts for high-speed rail in the Midwest. Quiana has been active in politics in Illinois, Virginia and Iowa, volunteering for Democratic political campaigns on every level. In 2012, she was elected as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention from the State of Iowa.She strongly believes in the importance of civic engagement for youth and communities of color, and works with a number of organizations to advance this cause. Quiana attended Washington and Lee University, where she completed her undergraduate studies with an independent major in American Government and Society, and Iowa State University, where she earned a Masters Degree in Education. An active community member, Quiana serves as a mentor to college students across the country and assists low-income students with the college-going process. She currently resides in Chicago and is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
- Shiva Mohsenzadeh
- Shiva Mohsenzadeh is currently the Chief Legislative Aide to State Representative Laura Fine. Prior to working for Rep. Fine, Shiva worked for former Assistant Senate Majority Leader Jeff Schoenberg and former State Senator Carol Ronen as their chief of staff until their retirements from public office. Before working for government, Shiva specialized in Corporate and Securities law advising fortune 500 companies in transactional law for Baker & McKenzie. The President Bush era policies ignited her interest in politics. Shiva's passion is to promote policies that restore the middle class and decrease income inequality. Shiva has volunteered on democratic campaigns; served as an election judge and is a member of the League of Women Voters. Shiva moved to the U.S. from Iran in 1989 as a high school student. She received her baccalaureate degree in History from the University of Texas in Austin and her law degree from the University of Houston. Shiva resides in Glenview, a northern suburb of Chicago, with her husband Edward and two sons, Kiyan and Ashkahn.
- Stacey Pfingsten
- Stacey Pfingsten is the Director of Community Outreach for 2nd Ward Alderman Bob Fioretti. Prior to her current role Stacey devoted six years working in Chicago neighborhoods advocating on behalf of their historic architecture, as Preservation Chicago's Communications Manager. She began her career in graphic design, but witnessing the senseless destruction of many of the city's historic buildings propelled her to study historic preservation in graduate school. Her advocacy work for the built environment led to a passion for all environmental issues. Her founding of the grassroots group No Foam Chicago, in 2009, was borne out of her discovery that the Chicago Public Schools system was using and disposing of 250,000 lunch trays daily. This practice was alarming for the environment and for schoolchildren, as studies have shown that Styrofoam can leak toxic chemicals into food. Stacey's work with local communities increased her awareness and passion for public service. She has worked as 32nd Ward Alderman Scott Waguespack's political coordinator and fundraiser, and has volunteered for several campaigns favoring progressive leaders who strive toward a more transparent and accountable form of government. She attended Eastern Illinois University and The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Stacey is grateful to have grown up on a farm in rural Crescent City, IL, and to now live in one of the greatest cities, Chicago.
- Rachel O'Konis Ruttenberg
- Rachel O'Konis Ruttenberg has dedicated her career to improving educational opportunities for children in Illinois. Currently, she is the Chicago Director of a national non-profit called MGR Youth Empowerment, which engages and motives under-resourced youth to create positive community change through after-school and in-school programs. Previously, she served as Assistant Counsel to the Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives, where she focused on education. She also spent six years at Chicago Public Schools in various administrative roles, including as Special Assistant to the Chief Administrative Officer. Rachel has campaigned for the Democratic Party of Illinois and she is an Advisory Board Member at the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center. She has a J.D. with a concentration in public interest law from Chicago-Kent College of Law, an M.S. in integrated marketing communications from Northwestern University, and a B.A. in journalism from the University of Wisconsin - Madison. Rachel is married to Daymon Ruttenberg, who is currently the General Counsel for the Illinois Lottery. They live in Chicago with their dog Kuma.
- Shantel Suárez Ávila
Shantel Suárez Ávila is a first generation Mexican-American, from Cicero, Illinois and a strong advocate of underrepresented communities. A graduate of DePaul University, Shantel earned a B.A. in Public Policy with a concentration in Urban Studies. Since 2008 Shantel has been advocating for equal opportunities for underrepresented communities, specifically in Cicero, Chicago and at the national level. Her passion and commitment to educational policy and the Latino community led her to run for a seat on the school board in her hometown of Cicero in April of 2013. Shantel is the Assistant Director of Development for Corporate and Foundation Relations at Rush University Medical Center focusing on generating revenue to improve the health of the diverse communities that Rush serves through the integration of outstanding patient care, education, research and community partnerships. As an IWIL alumnus, Shantel is excited to connect with more women in politics and eager to build meaningful relationships within the IWIL network.
- Susan Van Weelden
Susan Van Weelden is retired with 35 years of service at three Illinois Community Colleges. For 25 of these 35 years served, Susan was a Dean or Director. Susan is now serving as an elected official: Elgin Township Trustee. Susan holds a Master’s Degree (M.S. Ed.) and a Bachelor’s Degree in Education (History/Political Science), both with Honors, from Northern Illinois University. She has also earned 45 additional graduate credits and several training facilitator certifications, including full certification from Developmental Dimensions International (DDI). Susan has maintained an Illinois secondary teaching license since the age of 23. Susan is a highly experienced educator and administrator, with a broad base of experience and expertise. She has taught at the elementary, secondary and college levels. Susan has also taught ABE/GED at a correctional facility. Since retiring, Susan has also worked as a substitute teacher and English as a Second Language tutor. She is a talented and experienced trainer in the business industry sector and is a visible advocate of progressive workforce and economic development. One of Susan’s greatest contributions has been within the community college system. She served at three Illinois Community Colleges including Sauk Valley Community College, McHenry County College and Elgin Community College, where she worked as Dean of Corporate and Continuing Education. Other divisions in which Susan has played a leadership and management role include Community Services, Special Projects, Business and Industry Training, Job Development, Economic Development, Contract Training and Workforce Development. Susan has served as a Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Director, Dean of Corporate and Economic Development and Executive Dean of Corporate and Community Services. Susan has also served as Owner and President of an independent disposal and recycling business. Susan has also worked as a Community Development Consultant. Susan’s strengths include strategic thinking and planning, adaptability, networking, and a commitment to community and political involvement. She is exceptionally talented at fostering teamwork, maximizing outcomes and in developing long-term, mutually beneficial relationships. Susan believes strongly in community involvement and investment and served on numerous Boards, including the Golden Corridor/Research Park Planning Commission, the Streamwood Economic-Community Development Commission, and on several local legislators’ Economic Development Advisory Committees in the Elgin area. She also served on the Elgin Area Chamber of Commerce Workforce Development Committee. Susan served six years as a Board Member, Executive Board Member and Committee Chair for the River Valley Workforce Investment Board for Kane, Kendall, and DeKalb Counties. Susan served 8 years on the Board of the McHenry County Economic Development Corporation and chaired that organization’s Business Retention/Expansion Committee throughout that period. She also served on the Illinois Council of Community College Administrators’ Board, including a term as its elected President. For five years, Susan wrote a column for the McHenry County Business Journal. Susan has presented at numerous national and state conferences and has written many successful grant applications and articles in regard to workforce development and Education. Susan served several years on the South Elgin Economic Dev. Association Board and in 2013, on The Literacy Connection Board. Susan also serves as an elected Precinct Committee Woman for Elgin Township and Kane County. Susan has earned numerous honors and awards throughout her career, including a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Illinois Community College Economic Development Association and the Athena Award from the Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce. Susan was profiled by Crain’s Chicago Business in 2010 and received a Women’s Business Award in 2010 from The Business Ledger. Susan was selected to be a member of the Illinois Women’s Institute for Leadership (IWIL), class of 2014. Only twelve Women from the State of Illinois are selected each year for this Program. Susan completed and graduated from the IWIL Program in October, 2014. Susan ran for office in 2013 and again in 2017. On April 4, 2017, Susan was elected to the position of Elgin Township Trustee. Susan received more votes than any other trustee candidate. Susan and her Husband Marvin (of 31 years) have five adult children (blended Family) and eleven Grandchildren. Marvin is an Army (Vietnam) Veteran and owned and operated small disposal and recycling businesses for 35 years.
- Litesa E. Wallace
- Dr. Litesa E. Wallace currently serves as the first appointed Chief-of Staff to Assistant Majority Leader, State Representative Chuck Jefferson. Originally from Country Club Hills, Illinois, she currently resides in Rockford, IL. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Western Illinois University and a Master of Science Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Northern Illinois University. She serves as the Social Action Chair for the Rockford Alumni Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., is the assistant recording secretary of the Winnebago County Democratic Party and played a role in the founding of the Rockford Anti-Racism Network. Dr. Litesa E. Wallace is also an accomplished lecturer, speaker, and researcher. She has over a decade of experience in higher education, both in academic and student affairs holding the position of Adjunct Professor at Northern Illinois University and the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. Dr. Wallace completed doctoral studies in Educational Psychology; dissertation is entitled "The relationship between racial identity, perceived racial discrimination, and the academic self-concept of African American college men: A mixed-methods examination". She is the proud mother of an elementary school-aged son, Isaiah.