- Rachel Arfa - Staff Attorney, Equip for Equality
Rachel Arfa is a disability rights attorney; her work is focused on advocating and protecting the civil and human rights of people with disabilities in Illinois. She focuses on employment discrimination cases and civil rights violations in Illinois on behalf of clients with disabilities.
Ms. Arfa is a graduate of University of Michigan and University of Wisconsin School of Law. After college, she worked for United States Senator Patrick Leahy as Nominations Clerk on the Senate Judiciary Committee where her work focused exclusively on judicial nominations to the nation’s executive and judiciary branches. She began her career as an attorney at the Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee, where she represented vulnerable clients in consumer protection and housing matters, which included litigating eviction cases to prevent her clients from becoming homeless. In 2009, Ms. Arfa was named an 2009 Upcoming Lawyer by the Wisconsin Law Journal.
Ms. Arfa is a 2016 Fellow of Leadership Greater Chicago. She was a 2013 Fellow of the New Leaders Council and served on its executive board, and is now a facilitator, training future classes of progressive leaders nationwide. She is a member of the ADA 25 Advancing Leaders Member Network. Ms. Arfa serves on the Steering Committee of the Chicago Cultural Accessibility Consortium (CCAC), and works with the CCAC to make Chicago’s cultural institutions more accessible to visitors with disabilities. Ms. Arfa also serves on the Board of Directors for 3Arts which advocates for women artists, artists of color and artists with disabilities working in the performing, teaching and visual arts. In her free time, she can be found at a Chicago theatre taking in a live performance.
- Barbara Barreno-Paschall - M.P.P. Candidate, University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy
Barbara R. Barreno-Paschall is an attorney and a Master of Public Policy student at The University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy. She is a recipient of the Irving B. Harris Fellowship, a full-tuition scholarship plus stipend, and is one of two student representatives appointed to serve on the school’s Diversity Inclusion and Advisory Board. Ms. Barreno-Paschall also served as the Vice President of Operations for Students for Criminal Justice Reform, an organization she co-founded in October 2015. Prior to attending Chicago Harris, Ms. Barreno-Paschall practiced labor and employment law from 2011 to 2015 in the Chicago office of Sidley Austin LLP. At Sidley, Ms. Barreno-Paschall was twice recognized by the Firm for her work on behalf of immigrants seeking asylum when she received the Thomas H. Morsch Award for outstanding pro bono service in 2012 and 2014. She also served on the Chicago office’s Associate Diversity Council. Ms. Barreno-Paschall is a 2016-2017 Leadership Academy Fellow with the Latino Center for Leadership Development and a New American Fellow with The New American Leaders Project. She is a 2016 alumna of the Chicago Chapter of New Leaders Council’s Fellowship Institute, and volunteers as a mentor to high-achieving college-bound students with Chicago Scholars and as a lector at Old St. Patrick's Church. Ms. Barreno-Paschall is a native of Covina, California in Los Angeles County and one of five children. She graduated from Harvard College with honors in 2007 and from Vanderbilt University Law School in 2011. In law school, Ms. Barreno-Paschall served as Executive Editor of the Vanderbilt Law Review and as Chair of the National Latina/o Law Student Association.
- Colleen Burns - Assistant Director, Examination Resources, LLC
Colleen Burns is a healthcare attorney and consultant specializing in the Affordable Care Act. Colleen helped create the Governor’s Office of Health Innovation and Transformation under the Quinn administration where she served as Policy Director supporting the development and design of the state’s health policy agenda. She also served as the Special Counsel for Health Policy to the Illinois Department of Insurance and the Governor’s Office, where she was responsible for the state’s efforts to implement the Affordable Care Act including establishing a Health Insurance Marketplace. Colleen began her career in public service in the constituent services department of Hillary Clinton’s New York City Senate office working on healthcare, housing, and Social Security issues. Colleen was elected delegate for Hillary Clinton from Illinois’ 3rd Congressional District to the Democratic National Convention in both 2008 and 2016. She is a lifelong resident of Chicago’s 19th Ward, where she currently resides with her family.
- Stephanie Coleman - 16th Ward Democratic Committeeman
Stephanie D. Coleman, a lifelong 16th Ward resident, is the daughter of retired Alderman Shirley A. Coleman and Pastor David Coleman. Her parents taught her the values of education, the importance of working hard, and the obligation to help others. These core values have navigated Stephanie to a successful point in life where she inspires others and is an agent of change in the community.
Stephanie received her early formal education from Emmanuel Christian School and Chicago Military Academy - Bronzeville. In addition, she holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from Robert Morris University and Masters of Science Degree in Nonprofit Management from Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies. Stephanie’s stellar academic record includes many honors and awards, most notably being highlighted on the “Dean’s List”. Stephanie has a heart for service and is actively involved in issues concerning youth and young adults; education, addressing the achievement gap, public safety, and economic growth. Stephanie also actively participates in several community service and outreach projects including:
• The Open Book Literacy Program
• Increase The Peace Englewood
• The Albertina Walker “Queen of Gospel”, Scholarship Foundation
• Women’s Empowerment Group
• Founder & CEO, Daughters of Englewood
While participating, Stephanie has always been committed to making a difference and changing lives, and sees the vital role of mentors and idols in the community. Stephanie wants to inspire the future leaders of tomorrow by showing them that with hard work and dedication; you can achieve anything in life.
Stephanie got her start in politics from her mother, former Alderman Coleman, as she learned the importance in making constituent concerns of the utmost importance. While working on her Master’s degree, Stephanie had the opportunity to mentor young college students on financial assistance and independence, course registration, and transitioning to adulthood.
At age 27, Stephanie ran for 16th Ward Alderman and became the youngest African American to make it to a municipal run-off election in the history of the City of Chicago. Although she missed the mark by only 76 votes, Stephanie continued her pursuit and with faith, hard work and determination, she successfully campaigned again and on Wednesday, April 13, 2016, she became the youngest African American female sworn in as the Democratic Committeeman of the 16th Ward!
She continues to work tirelessly for the people of the 16th Ward and will continue to pursue her goal of being a change in the community and the entire City of Chicago.
- Beth Crider Derry - Regional Superintendent, Peoria Regional Office of Education
Beth Derry is a native to Central Illinois, growing up in the Peoria area. She earned a teaching degree in Early Childhood Education from Illinois State University. Upon graduating, she was hired as a first year teacher at the brand new Valeska Hinton Early Childhood Education Center, Peoria, Illinois. During her tenure with the Peoria Public Schools, Beth taught Pre-Kindergarten, Kindergarten, First Grade and Special Education for over 17 years. Additionally, she served several years as a Literacy Coordinator and other leadership roles for the Early Childhood department. With a strong passion for supporting her fellow teachers, Beth was elected to an area Vice-President for the Peoria Federation of Teachers and served on many contract bargaining teams. Beth attended Bradley University for graduate school where she earned a Masters Degree in Curriculum and Instruction and then went on to complete additional work to earn a certificate in Educational Administration. She then joined the Peoria Regional Office of Education when Dr. Gerry Brookhart appointed her as the Assistant Regional Superintendent for Peoria County in 2011. With Dr. Brookhart's retirement in 2013, Beth was appointed by the Peoria County Board as Regional Superintendent and successfully ran for the office in November of 2014. Beth lives in Dunlap with her husband Andrew, 3 daughters, one son and two dogs.
- Sara Dixon Spivy - Attorney Supervisor, Law Office of the Cook County Public Defender
Sara is a trial attorney and has been an Assistant Public Defender with the Law Office of the Cook County Public Defender since 2004. She began as a staff attorney and has represented clients in child protection proceedings, misdemeanors, felonies, and murders. In 2015, Sara was promoted to Attorney Supervisor and is currently assigned to the Civil Division which has 32 attorneys representing clients in Child Protection Court and Mental Health Court. It is where Assistant Public Defenders begin their career in the Office, so Sara is also responsible for training and mentoring new attorneys.
In 2015, Sara was elected to a four-year term on the District 200 Oak Park and River Forest High School Board of Education. The high school has approximately 3,400 students and an annual operating budget of $80M. Sara serves as Board Secretary and chairs both the Policy Committee and the Culture, Climate, and Behavior Committee. During her campaign, Sara ran on a platform advocating the adoption of a restorative justice philosophy at the high school. Once on the Board, she created the Culture, Climate, and Behavior Committee to engage stakeholders in identifying race-based barriers and to improve racial equity in the discipline process. The Committee will make its initial recommendations to the Board in Spring 2017.
Sara also serves on the Leadership Team of the Democratic Party of Oak Park (DPOP), which determines the direction for the organization as well as develops programming on issues of political interest to members. Sara has volunteered on many campaigns since joining DPOP in 2010.
Sara lives in Oak Park with her partner, Preston Jones, who is also an Assistant Public Defender, their three-year-old son, and Preston’s two teenage sons.
- Eileen Dordek - Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Eileen J. Dordek LCSW, Private Practice
Eileen Dordek is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, specializing in treating anxiety and depression. She uses Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, EMDR and a client-centered approach to enable her clients to manage their anxiety, while moving forward in their lives. Eileen earned her Master’s Degree in Social Work from Loyola University Chicago. Eileen started her career working with homeless and low-income women at Sarah’s Circle in Uptown, and then moved into community mental health prior to opening her private psychotherapy practice in 2004. As a small business owner in the Ravenswood neighborhood of Chicago, Eileen is a member of the Greater Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce. Eileen works with the Women Leaders in Business group at the Chamber.
Since 2009 Eileen has served on the board of Personal PAC, working to elect pro-choice state and local officials in Illinois. She is a member of the Personal PAC Executive Committee and leads board recruitment. As an active member of the 47th Ward Democratic Organization of Chicago, Eileen has worked on multiple local elections, including those of 47th Ward Alderman Ameya Pawar and State Representative Ann Williams.
Eileen has volunteered extensively with local schools, including Rogers Park Montessori School, Jones College Prep and Lane Tech High School. She has been a longtime volunteer and supporter of About Face Theatre, the foremost LGBTQIA theater in the region. She lives in the Lincoln Square neighborhood of Chicago with her husband and two children.
- Liz Hunter - Lead Web Strategist and Web Manager, Southern Illinois University
Liz Hunter is a Southern Illinois native, and has lived in the Carbondale area since 1999. She currently serves as a member of the Jackson County Board, representing Jackson County’s 6th District. Ms. Hunter chairs the Finance and Administration Committee, is a member on the Executive Committee, and also serves as the Jackson County Board representative on the 708 Mental Health Board. While on the Jackson County Board, Ms. Hunter has overseen producing a balanced budget for the county and participated in financial practices that resulted in an upgrade to the county’s S&P bond rating. In addition, Liz has worked to strengthen relationships between the County Board and county elected officials, and has also begun work on a long-term technology plan for the county.
Professionally, Ms. Hunter has become a leader in the web presence of Southern Illinois University as the Lead Web Strategist for the University. One particular focus of her work is the accessibility of technology to individuals with disabilities. The work of Ms. Hunter and her colleagues has earned SIU a rank in the top 3 most accessible university websites for 2016 in a study by the University of Illinois’ John Gunderson. Liz is a proud second generation Saluki, with a BFA in Communication Design and a Master’s in Higher Education Administration from SIU. This combination of education has provided Ms. Hunter with both the creative and administrative tools to successfully market and administer the SIU websites. She has presented at multiple conferences related to topics of web marketing in higher education, as well as higher education administration.
Ms. Hunter’s father, Gary Duncan, was Jefferson County State’s Attorney for 19 years. Vicki Sleyko, Liz’s mother, is a retired social worker who served on the Jefferson County Board, volunteered, and worked energetically on many democratic campaigns. As a lifelong dedicated democrat with the instilled drive to serve, Ms. Hunter is also a democratic precinct committeeman and works with the chairman of the Jackson County Democratic Central Committee to produce mailings and other communications.
Liz likes to spend quality time with her husband, David; volunteer; travel; create art; learn new things; and have great conversation with friends.
- Tracy Katz Muhl - Litigation and Trademark Attorney, Fox, Swibel, Levin & Carroll, LLP
Tracy Katz Muhl is an attorney, practicing litigation and trademark law with Fox, Swibel, Levin & Carroll, LLP in Chicago. She serves as an elected Member of the Northbrook School District 28 Board of Education, where she sits on the Legislation and Finance committees. Tracy is also part of the Democrats of Northfield Township leadership committee, working on party events, social media outreach, and volunteer recruitment. Her advocacy work focuses on youth and social justice. At Angles (formerly Links North Shore Youth Health Service), Tracy volunteered for years supporting LGBTQ young adults in the Pride Youth Program, before serving on the Board of Directors, and eventually co-founding the Advisory Board. For Lawndale Christian Legal Aid, Tracy leads an annual fundraiser to support LCLC’s mission to walk youth in Chicago’s Lawndale neighborhood though and away from the criminal justice system. Those fundraising efforts included raising over a quarter of the seed money to launch the MAC House residential program, which placed LCLC clinic clients in a safe home and provided hard skills job training through local unions. With Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, Tracy speaks and organizes in support of common sense gun legislation. Tracy has also volunteered with and supports the work of Lambda Legal, Equality Illinois, and Namaste Charter School. She volunteers in the local schools through the PTOs and the Girl Scout troop. Tracy is a proud graduate of the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, Class of 1997, and of University of Chicago Law School, Class of 2000. She lives in Northbrook with her husband, Charlie, and two children, and loves movies, music, and dancing.
- Betsy Dirksen Londrigan - Fundraiser, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library
Betsy is a self-employed professional fundraiser who has served as a Major Gifts Officer and Event Producer for the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation for seven years. Her mission at the Foundation is to raise funds to support the educational and cultural programming at the Museum and Library in order to promote a greater appreciation for Abraham Lincoln and our nation’s history. Her most prominent production each year is the annual Lincoln Leadership Prize Award, which is the Foundation’s largest fundraiser and has honored such recipients as Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Justice Sandra Day O’ Connor, President Bill Clinton and the Little Rock Nine. Betsy has been actively involved in Democratic politics, serving as the Downstate Fundraiser for U.S. Senator Richard Durbin and assisting with fundraising and campaign organization for local candidates. Most recently, she is a founding member of the Leadership Team for “Women Rising,” a newly formed group which focuses on recruiting, electing and supporting progressive female candidates. Previously, she served as the Director of Alumni Affairs for the University of Illinois, Springfield and is a 1993 Baltimore Corps Member of Teach For America. She has volunteered extensively for her church and children’s schools, The St. John’s Children’s Hospital, Children’s Miracle Network and other local community service organizations. Betsy holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Rhetoric and a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She is a lifelong resident of Springfield, Illinois where she resides with her husband, Tom, and three children.
- Marie Newman - President, Marie Newman & Associates Consulting
With over 25 years of experience in marketing, advertising, public relations, general business management and nonprofit management, Marie’s unique background spans the full spectrum across functional areas within organizations of all types and sizes.
She owns her own consulting business as well as posts at Magnani Continuum Marketing (chief strategy officer), CMO and Founder at Datatopia, J. Walter Thompson (senior partner, account management, advertising), Bradley Marketing Management Consulting (vice president, strategic planning, marketing management consulting), Burson Marsteller (account director, public relations) and Team Up To Stop Bullying (managing director) as well as other client side positions. Her book, “When Your Child Is Being Bullied: Real Solutions” is considered a top resource for schools and parents. She has worked with dozens of F-500, mid market and start up brands throughout her career.
Marie has also held board roles with the March of Dimes, Gateway Cancer Research Foundation and founded/led a national coalition of 70 nonprofits called Team Up to Stop Bullying. In addition, she currently holds the Illinois Spokesperson role for Moms Demand Action, is an advocate/activist for Lurie Children’s Hospital and has worked on six political campaigns as both a grassroots campaign volunteer and a communications chair in the last decade.
- Elle Ramel - Chief of Staff, City Digital
Elle Ramel is the Chief of Staff at City Digital, the smart city lab of Chicago. She works to shepherd project ideas towards actionable pilots at city sites in transportation and energy. Prior to this position, she was the Urban Computation Lead at PositivEnergy Practice where she helped to design digital urban planning tools to help stakeholders make more informed decisions about land-use. Before that, she was an Economic Policy Associate in Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office at the City of Chicago. She has worked on financial issues and economic development, including infrastructure, corporate recruitment, job growth, food business, innovation spaces and land use.
Elle completed her bachelor’s at Yale University in Urban Studies and a master’s degree at Cambridge University in Land Economics/Town Planning. She also leads City Open Workshop- a bi-monthly forum intended to bring architects and planners to assist communities with design capabilities.
Elle is an alum of the Chicago Children’s Choir and is currently on the Chicago Children’s Choir’s Ambassador’s Board. She is on the Board of Advisors for GoodCity and recently graduated in the 2016 class of New Leaders Council. In order to give back to the community, she volunteers with Chicago Scholars and sings in the church choir at Old Saint Patrick’s.