IWIL Board of Directors, Leadership Council and Staff
IWIL Board of Directors and Officers
President: Hon. Debra Shore
1st Vice President: Hon. Heather Steans
2nd Vice President: Billie J. Paige
Secretary: Ann Lata Kalayil
Treasurer: Marcia Campbell
2017 Board of Directors
Margaret Blackshere, Marcia Campbell, Hon. Barbara Flynn Currie, Loretta Durbin, Bonnie Ettinger, Laura Fletcher, DeShana Forney, Hon. Susan Garrett, Carmela Gonzalez, Nicole Hayes, Laura Hepp Kessel, Hon. Toi Hutchinson, Hanah Jubeh, Ann Lata Kalayil, Hon. Deborah Karton, Nancy Kohn, Gail Morse, Hon. Elaine Nekritz, Billie J. Paige, Alyx Pattison, Terrie Pickerill, Amalia Rioja, Genita Robinson, Hon. Nancy Rotering, Carina Sanchez, Catherine Shannon, Hon. Debra Shore, Hon. Heather Steans and Hon. Jacqueline Traynere
- MARGARET BLACKSHERE
- Margaret Blackshere is a former classroom teacher who served at all levels of the Illinois labor movement from president of her local union in Madison to statewide vice president of the Illinois Federation of Teachers. She served as Secretary-Treasurer of the Illinois AFL-CIO from 1993 to 2000 when she was elected President. Blackshere is the first woman to hold that post. She has served on many boards and councils including United Way, Voices for Illinois Children, Unemployment Insurance advisory board and the Council for Global Affairs. Margaret has traveled throughout the world to improve the lives of workers and their families. She was director of the Illinois Democratic Coordinated Campaigns in 1990 and 1992, has been elected delegate to Democratic National Conventions and is a member of the Democratic National Committee. She retired as President of the Illinois AFL-CIO and began work as a volunteer in the Obama for President campaign.
- HON. BARBARA BROWN
- Honorable Barbara Brown recently retired her position as the Circuit Clerk of Randolph County. She has represented the 12th Congressional District on the Illinois Democratic State Central Committee since 1990. She served as Deputy Chair of the Democratic Party of Illinois from 1990-1994 and currently serves as Vice-Chair of DPI. From 1978-1994 she served as the Randolph County Democratic Chairwoman. Brown was the Democratic candidate for the State Senate seat from the 58th District in 1996, and 1998. She has managed numerous campaigns at the local level and, in 1992, served as the Downstate Coordinator for the Clinton/Gore campaign. Barb Brown holds a doctorate in Political Science and was a faculty member in the Political Science department at SIUC for eighteen years.
- MARCIA CAMPBELL
- Marcia Campbell was elected the Secretary-Treasurer of the Illinois Federation of Teachers at the union's 2010 Convention in October. A veteran union member and longtime activist, she has advocated for the rights of working men and women for two decades. She was elected to serve as IWIL Treasurer in 2012. Campbell has been employed as an accounting specialist at Southwestern Illinois College in Belleville, Illinois for 25 years. As a union leader, she has put a special emphasis on working to promote the interests of paraprofessional and school-related personnel (PSRP) members of the IFT, who work as clerical employees, teacher aides, security personnel, janitorial staff, food service workers and other non-teaching employees in schools, community colleges and universities. Campbell has served as an IFT local leader for 14 years, most recently as president of the Southwestern Illinois Federation of Teachers (SWIFT), Local 6600. At the state level, she served as vice president on the IFT Executive Board from 2003 until her election as secretary-treasurer. While on the board, Campbell chaired the IFT Operations and Constitutions Committees, as well as the union's PSRP Constituency Council. In that role, she was responsible for planning and overseeing the union's annual statewide PSRP Conference. Campbell also serves on the IFT Executive Board Executive Committee. Boone is also actively involved with the Southwest Area Labor Council (SWAC) and has served as its president since 2007. SWAC represents the interests of IFT unions in Southern Illinois. At the national level, she has been active in the American Federation of Teachers, where she has been a member of AFT's PSRP Program and Policy Council since 2009.
- HON. BARBARA FLYNN CURRIE
- Honorable Barbara Flynn Currie became the first woman Majority Leader of the Illinois House of Representatives in 1997. A State Representative since 1979, Currie has passed major legislation prohibiting sexual harassment, providing emergency public aid programs and free mammograms for poor women, and funding for all-day kindergarten to name just a few. She has received numerous awards for her public service. Among those groups that have honored her are the Illinois Hospital Association, Illinois Press Association, Illinois Maternal Child Health Coalition, Chicago Urban League, and the Illinois State Council of Senior Citizens. Prior to her election to the Illinois House of Representatives, she was the Assistant Study Director of the National Opinion Research Center and taught part-time at DePaul University.
- LORETTA DURBIN
- Loretta Durbin recently retired from her position as Vice President of Government Affairs Specialists, Inc. (GASI), a public affairs consulting firm. Prior to forming GASI, she worked for thirteen years in the General Assembly for the Illinois Senate and the Commission on Intergovernmental Cooperation. Loretta co- chaired four statewide conferences for the Illinois Women in Government, a bipartisan gathering of professional women in government service. She has campaigned for candidates for local, state and national offices since the early 1980s. In 1995 she received the Eleanor Roosevelt Award from Central Illinois Democratic Women, Inc. for her efforts in fostering goals of the Democratic Party.
- BONNIE ETTINGER
- Bonnie Ettinger is a California native who studied music in her undergraduate years at Westmont College but, after her marriage to Ron, she transferred to Purdue University where she earned a B.A degree in Elementary Education. She taught music in schools in Indiana, Toronto and Michigan before moving to Springfield. She attended the former Sangamon State University (now University of Illinois at Springfield) and graduated with an M.A. in Organizational Communication. She worked for the State of Illinois for 20 years retiring in 2003. During that time she worked as program coordinator for the Illinois Commission on Intergovernmental Cooperation (a legislative service agency) and subsequently worked in the Local Government Division of the Comptroller’s Office, beginning with the administration of Dawn Clark Netsch. She was a member of the first IWIL Board of Directors in 2002 but resigned in 2003 to assume the position of Executive Director. She retired from IWIL in January, 2014 and now enjoys having more time to spend with her family, including her husband, their two grown daughters and two grandchildren Ella (8) and Evan (4). She is a professional pianist and plans to continue performing as well as recording CDs and developing a website. She is grateful for the many years she spent being a part of IWIL’s growth and development and especially appreciates the many friendships that she has made throughout the years. But best of all, she is grateful that IWIL is providing a pipeline of dedicated, trained Democratic women to fill leadership posts at all levels of government. By doing so, it is changing the face of Illinois politics for the better.
- LAURA J. FLETCHER
- Laura Fletcher is a Technical Information Architect at a large computer software firm. Her passion is in politics, focusing on helping women become involved in the political process. She is currently the Co-President of the Illinois Democratic Women and President and one of the founding members of the Democratic Women of DuPage. Past positions include Chair of the Wayne Township Democrats, Union Liaison for the Democratic Party of DuPage County, Membership Chair for the Illinois Democratic Women, Union Liaison, Training and Education Committee Chair, and Vice President of the Democratic Party of DuPage. Her focus is to unite women of the Democratic Party and encouraging them to become involved in the political process by running for office, volunteering for a candidate, or becoming actively involved in the Democratic Party. She also provides her expertise to other women throughout the state on how to start-up local democratic women groups.
- DESHANA FORNEY
- DeShana L. Forney is Associate Director for Governmental Relations for the University of Illinois. As Associate Director, Forney serves as the University’s liaison to members of the Illinois Congressional Delegation, the Illinois General Assembly, the Office of the Governor, agencies of the federal and state governments and major higher education associations. Before joining the University of Illinois, Forney was the Executive Director of the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) where she led the state’s efforts to finance the creation and preservation of affordable housing for low- and moderate-income residents in Illinois. As Executive Director for IHDA, Forney implemented the national award- winning G-I Loan for Heroes program to assist Illinois veterans and active duty personnel to buy their own homes. Illinois became the first state in the nation to offer its veterans and active service members a comprehensive homeownership package. After just one year as IHDA’s Executive Director, Forney received the 2008 “Rising Star” Award from the Women in Public Finance organization for the leadership she has demonstrated as Illinois’ most senior affordable housing official and for making a long-term impact in the public finance field with her skill and intelligence. More recently, Forney was named “2009 Woman of the Year” by the Coalition for United Community Action-ORTC’s for her leadership, dedication, and contribution to humanity, particularly to bringing housing resources to all minorities and African Americans. Forney also has served as Illinois’ Director of Public Safety, House Legislative Liaison for the Office of the Illinois Governor and on the Issues Development Staff for House Speaker Michael J. Madigan. Forney holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Howard University in Washington, DC and a Masters of Arts de
- HON. SUSAN GARRETT
- CARMELA GONZALEZ
- For many years, Carmela Gonzalez, has advocated for worker rights, immigration reform and educating the community in order to defend themselves against abusive employers. She began her career in public service at the Illinois Department of Labor (IDOL) where she became cognizant of the abuses workers can suffer at the hands of their employer and utilized her bilingual skills in order to assist some of the most vulnerable workers. Additionally, she has been a staunch supporter of the labor movement throughout the years and has spearheaded several policy projects that have had a positive impact in labor laws and how they are implemented at a state level. Carmela's passion for politics stemmed from the knowledge that in order to make a difference every individual has to participate in the democratic process. Furthermore, individuals need to make a commitment in order to ensure that the change one is seeking comes to fruition. Carmela has also volunteered in several national and state campaigns and comprehends the logistics of how to assemble a good team in order to create an effective grassroots campaign. She received her Associate's Degree in 2002 and is expected to receive her Bachelor's Degree in 2012, with a focus in labor relations. Carmela is committed to creating and implementing a strategy that will reach a great number of individuals in order to ensure everyone has a voice and - that all the citizens of Illinois - are mindful of the protections they are privy to in order to be treated equally and fairly. Most importantly, via educational training seminars, effective communication and collaborative team work, Carmela hopes that one day the barriers between government and the community become less challenging and that both entities learn to mutually benefit from one another.
- NICOLE HAYES
- Nicole”Nikki” Hayes was born and raised on Chicago’s south side. She attended Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Her continuous education in the Labor field, local, state and national levels have been intensely rewarding. She is committed to keeping our nation safe and expanding the opportunity for every American in the field of Labor and Unions. Nicole is a Business Agent/Recording Secretary with the Laborers’ Local 1001 Union under the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LiUNA), a 15 year member. She serves and holds offices on multiple committees. Vice-President of Fund raising for the Parent Teacher Organization, Service Officer for the Chicago Urban League, Jack and Jill Incorporated the Financial Secretary and LiUNA Women’s Caucus. Before becoming actively involved with the Local 1001 Nicole served 15 years with the City of Chicago running the abandoned auto program in the Department of Streets and Sanitation. Her goal is to sustain women and minorities within Unions and increase their involvement. Nicole lives with her husband Marc Hayes and three children Shaun, Kennedy and Lincoln. Her motto for life is “If we prosper, we will progress and peace will come”
- LAURA HEPP KESSEL
- Laura Hepp Kessel was raised in Perry County in southern Illinois. Laura received her bachelor's degree in Social Work with a minor in Women's Studies from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale in 2007. In 2009, she received her Master degree in Social Work with a social and economic development concentration and a management specialization from Washington University in St. Louis. Laura currently works for the Illinois State Board of Education and prior to her current position, she spent two years as the Policy Analyst for Rural Affairs for Illinois Lt. Governor Sheila Simon. Laura has been involved in the Democratic Party since she was a young girl and her mom sent her out to canvas for local candidates. Since then, she has had the honor of serving as the Vice President of the Western Kentucky University Democrats, has traveled to Iowa and Boston for the 2004 Presidential campaign, and has helped numerous other candidates through her work with the Southern Illinois Democratic Women and other groups. Laura is married to Rushville native, Andrew Thornton, and currently resides in Springfield.
- HON. TOI HUTCHINSON
- HANAH JUBEH
- (Class of 2005 Graduate) Hanah Jubeh is currently employed by the City of Chicago as the Assistant to Alderman John A. Pope, of Chicago’s Southeast Side. Her position provides her with the opportunity to work on a variety of issues to enhance and improve the quality of life for Chicago residents through community outreach efforts and working with other governmental agencies. Hanah has worked with Alderman Pope since his election in April of 1999. Prior to joining Alderman Pope’s staff, Hanah worked on several campaigns at the City, State and Federal level. With a strong commitment for the betterment of her community, Hanah is involved with several organizations such as: Metropolitan Planning Council; 10th Ward Regular Democratic Organization; Democratic Leadership for 21st Century; Chicago Council on Foreign Relations; Independent Voters of Illinois-Independent Precinct Organization; League of Women Voters. As an Arab-American, Hanah also serves on the Board of the Arab American Democratic Club and is a member of Arab American Institute (AAI). She is actively involved with Mayor Daley’s Advisory Council on Arab Affairs where she serves on several committee’s including media, economic development and fundraising. During 2004, she worked with the Advisory Council on organizing task force hearings before the Chicago City Council on the issue of Minority Business Enterprise and the inclusion of Arab Americans. Aware of the barriers that exist within her community, Hanah aims to foster a better understanding and educate other women on various programs and services available to them. She aspires to utilizing her professional experiences, community involvements and leadership skills to further the goals of the Democratic Party and continue making Chicago a better place to work, live and raise a family. Hanah is eager to participate in the IWIL training program and believes that the program will provide her with the le
- ANN KALAYIL
- Ann Lata Kalayil, is the Great Lakes Regional Administrator of U.S. General Services Administration, an appointment she received in January 2011. Prior to this, she worked 18 years at the University of Chicago in Information Technology. Ann is also founder and co-director of the South Asian American Policy and Research Institute and has taught Asian American Studies at DePaul University, Loyola University and the University of Illinois-Chicago for seven years. She is a Board of Director of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform and was a Leadership Greater Chicago Fellow (2001). Ann has served on many community boards such as being Vice- President of the Asian-American Institute, President of the Indo-American Democratic Organization, President of the Indo-American Center and many other task forces.
- HON. DEBORAH KARTON
- Deborah Karton was elected Glenview Village Trustee in 2005. She is the President/Owner of National Benefit Administrators, Inc., a company which communicates and enrolls voluntary insurance programs. Her company is distinguished from others by its close working relationship with organized labor. She has worked in many political campaigns as field worker, committee member, finance committee chairman and currently serves as the Vice President of Political Action for Northfield Democrats. She is currently serving on the Advisory Council for Jewish Care Services, part of Palliative Care Center Hospice of the North Shore. She hopes to someday serve in a political office to help improve the lives of people in Illinois.
- NANCY KOHN
- Nancy Kohn, President of Nancy Kohn Consulting, is an established political fundraiser in Chicago. Her firm is a Chicago-based, full service political fundraising and strategy firm, working with Democratic and progressive elected officials and organizations at the federal, state and local level to maximize their fundraising potential. Prior to launching her consulting firm in 2003, Nancy served as Finance Director for Senator Dick Durbin. Nancy began her career working on Capital Hill for three years as a legislative assistant. Following that experience she moved to Chicago and served as Assistant Midwest Director of American Jewish Congress and Executive Director of the Illinois Pro-Choice Alliance. She has a B.Phil from Miami University and a M.Sc. from London School of Economics and Political Science. She is an alumni of the Wexner Heritage Program and currently a trustee of the Jewish Women’s Foundation.
- GAIL H. MORSE
- Gail H. Morse is a tax attorney with a national state and local tax practice. She is a Partner with Jenner and Block, resident in the Firm’s Chicago office and Chair of the State and Local Tax Practice Group. Gail is a member of the Firm’s Diversity and Pro Bono committees, and the Women’s Forum Steering committee. She is a Director for the Women’s Bar Association of Illinois (“WBAI”) and Chair of WILPOWER, the WBAI PAC. Gail is Commissioner Mike Quigley’s representative to the Cook County Commission on Women’s Issues, sits on Rep. Rahm Emanuel’s Gay and Lesbian advisory group and is a member of the Personal Pac Board of Directors. She serves as the Vice President of the Women's Treatment Center Board of Directors, Chicago’s premier residential substance abuse treatment facility for women; and the Board of Vital Bridges, an agency providing housing, nutrition and case management for those impacted by HIV/AIDS. She is an active fundraiser for philanthropic endeavors as well as local and national democratic candidates and office holders.
- HON. ELAINE NEKRITZ
- Honorable Elaine Nekritz is the Democratic State Representative from the 57th District. Her legislative assignments include the Committees on Appropriations-Public Safety; Elections and Campaign Reform; Housing & Urban Development; Judiciary I - Civil Law; Local Government; and the Committee of the Whole. She is also an attorney with a Law Degree from the University of Michigan. Her experience includes working as a real estate attorney, later becoming partner with the law firm of Altheimer and Gray. A community activist, she was chairperson of the Village of Northbrook's Community Relations Commission from 1997 to 2002. A member of the National Council of Jewish Women and is the Democratic Committeeman of Northfield Township. She resides in Northbrook with her husband, Barry.
- BILLIE J. PAIGE
- Billie Paige is a partner at Shea, Paige & Rogal, Inc., where she is responsible for lobbying activities and regulatory consultation with government agencies for a wide variety of clients. She has worked with the firm since 1983. In addition, she currently holds the positions of President and CEO of Continental Testing Services, Inc., a company that provides examination administration and consulting services. She previously served as the Director of State Government Affairs for the Illinois Hospital Association and Assistant Director/Coordinator of Program Development for the Illinois Department of Registration and Education (now Professional Regulation).
- ALYX PATTISON
- Alyx Pattison is a graduate of Northwestern University School of Law and a former partner in a major Chicago law firm. She earned a BA in Political Science and Communications from the University of Utah where she completed internships with two women state representatives as well as at the Clinton White House. While in Utah, she managed the re-election campaign of a state representative. She was elected as a Clinton delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1996, representing Utah's 3rd Congressional District. After moving to Illinois, and before attending law school, Alyx spent three years working for Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky in various positions in her campaign and congressional offices including, Finance Director and Legislative Aide. Alyx was also elected as a Kerry delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 2004, representing Illinois' 4th Congressional District. She is currently serving her second term as a Community Representative on the Local School Council of her neighborhood elementary, Jose de Diego Community Academy. Alyx is a long time member of the Chicago Bar Foundation board and serves as a Commissioner on the Cook County Commission on Women’s Issues. She is also a candidate for Alderman in Chicago’s Second Ward.
- TERRIE PICKERILL
- Terrie Pickerill is a founding partner of Snyder Pickerill Media Group. Terrie is regarded by many of her colleagues as one of the most gifted producers of political advertising working today. A specialist in political strategy, media and public affairs, Terrie has more than 20 years of experience consulting political campaigns and creating communications for corporations and elite non-profits. Prior to forming SP Media Group, Terrie spent 13 years at Axelrod and Associates, serving as Senior Producer and then Senior Vice President. There she worked closely with former White House Senior Advisor David Axelrod on many of the most hotly contested political campaigns of his career. Terrie has directly produced and overseen production for many successful political and issue campaigns, including hundreds of ads for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and for Barack Obama’s historic campaigns for U.S. Senate and President of the United States. Terrie is regarded by many of her colleagues as one of the most gifted strategists and producers of political advertising working today. Committed to producing unique, creative, message-driven ads, Terrie has helped elect officeholders to every level of government; including U.S. Senator Barack Obama, U.S. Senator Chris Dodd, U.S. Senator Herb Kohl, Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth, Congressman Mark Takai, Governor Deval Patrick, Lieutenant Governor Mike Stack and Illinois State Treasurer Mike Frerichs. Terrie is a 1994 graduate of Southern Illinois University at Carbondale with a BA in Political Science. She currently resides in Western Springs, a suburb of Chicago, with her husband and two children.
- AMALIA. S. RIOJA
- Amalia Rioja currently serves as Senior Counsel in the Office of Illinois Governor Patrick Quinn. Before being promoted to her current position, Amalia was Deputy General Counsel in the Governor's Office. Prior to joining the Governor's Office, Amalia was the Public Access Counselor in the Attorney General's Office. Amalia has also served as Deputy General Counsel in the Comptroller's Office. Amalia was elected to serve as a delegate for Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention in 2008. Amalia was also elected to serve as a delegate for Al Gore at the 2000 Democratic National Convention. Amalia started her legal career as an associate at Baker & McKenzie. She is a graduate of Northwestern University and Northwestern University School of Law.
- GENITA C. ROBINSON
- A resident Chicago's south loop for more than a decade, Genita C. Robinson is the executive director of the Lawyers Lend-A-Hand to Youth Program. Lawyers Lend-A-Hand provides much needed support in the form of grants, volunteers, and other in-kind resources to one-on-one mentoring programs across the Chicago area. Genita is a tireless advocate for children. She was a senior staff member of the Chicago Public Schools, serving initially as Director of the Charter Schools Office and then as Director of Special Projects in the Office of the Chief Executive Officer. As the liaison with all charters schools, Genita set policy for the district's relationship with 35 campuses serving 15,000 students, and she administered a $90 million budget. In the CEO's Office, she helped set strategy and managed complex, district-wide projects including developing and implementing a program to support schools receiving students from phased out or closed schools. In both positions, Genita helped schools to negotiate the bureaucracy. Trained as an attorney, Genita practiced commercial litigation at Sachnoff & Weaver, Ltd. (now Reed Smith LLP). Her transition from the practice of law to education included a period in higher education administration. She was the Assistant Dean for Admissions at the University of Chicago Law School, where her annual admissions plan substantially increased the number of applicants to the school and yielded some of the most diverse classes in the institution's history. In 2011, Genita ran for Alderman of Chicago's 2nd Ward. She finished second in a field of six candidates and garnered over 30 percent of the vote and the endorsements of the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times. A former student and early supporter of now President Barack Obama, Genita was a member of the 2008 Illinois Finance Committee and volunteered in the Obama for America call center.
- NANCY RODKIN ROTERING
- Nancy Rodkin Rotering was elected Mayor of Highland Park in 2011 after serving on the Highland Park City Council for two years. She previously served on the city's Plan and Environmental Commissions. She was formerly a Legislative Aide to State Rep. Karen May and sits on the Board of Directors of the Ann and Robert Lurie Children's Hospital Foundation and the Ravinia Festival Women's Board. Nancy was a healthcare attorney for eight years with McDermott, Will & Emery in Chicago before taking time off to raise her four boys. She majored in economics at Stanford University, received an MBA from Northwestern University and a JD from the University of Chicago Law School. A member of the Tenth Congressional District Democrats, Lake County Democratic Women and the League of Women Voters, Nancy is a 2006 graduate of the IWIL Program.
- CARINA SANCHEZ
- Carina currently works as the Liaison between the Governor’s Office and the IL Legislative Latino Caucus and is a legislative liaison for the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. Her position provides her with the opportunity to work with state legislators to improve the quality of life for Illinois residents through legislative and community outreach efforts. Prior to joining the Governor’s staff, Carina was a Program Specialist for Speaker Madigan’s Issues Development Staff. She helped organize task force hearings for Immigrant Access to Higher Education that resulted in the creation of legislation that allows undocumented students, who are residents of Illinois and graduate from Illinois’ High Schools, to be eligible for in-state tuition at state colleges. With a strong desire to be involved in community organizations, Carina has taken an active role by volunteering in a number of organizations such as: United States Hispanic Leadership Institute (USHLI); 11th & 12th Ward Regular Democratic Organization; the Mexican Civic Society of Illinois; Democratic Party of Illinois; and MANA de Chicago, a National Latina Organization. She also helped to reactivate the Sigma Lambda Gamma National Sorority on the U of C campus in order to provide a support network for the Latina and minority women on campus. She earned her B.A. degree in Political Science and Latin American Studies from the University of Chicago. Carina is committed to utilizing her professional experiences, community involvements and leadership skills to adequately obtain and ensure equality and quality of life for all citizens through policy and decision-making procedures. Carina’s ultimate goal is to be a spokesperson and advocate for Latinos, children and women. She wants to help break down barriers that have limited and divided women and minorities and bring about a positive change for people.
- CATHERINE M. SHANNON
- Deputy Director, Historic Preservation Agency Education: BA, Political Science, Northern Illinois University Professional Experience: Acting Director, Illinois Department of Labor Legislative/Political Director, Illinois AFL-CIO Legislative Director, Illinois Federation of Teachers Staff, House Speaker Michael Madigan
- HON. DEBRA SHORE
- Debra Shore is a Commissioner on the Board of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago. Elected to a six-year term in 2006, Debra was the first openly gay person elected countywide in Cook County who was not a judicial candidate. Debra chairs committees on Stormwater Management and State Legislation & Rules and has been working to “green” the agency. Debra participated in the Illinois Women’s Institute for Leadership Program in 2003 and was an elected delegate from Illinois’ 9th Congressional District for Barack Obama at the 2008 Democratic convention. Debra just completed a term as chairman of the board of the Great Lakes Protection Fund and serves on the board of the Gay & Lesbian Leadership Institute and Sukkat Shalom congregation in Wilmette. She was the founding editor of Chicago Wilderness Magazine, is an active volunteer restoring prairies and oak woods in the forest preserves and was a founding board member of Friends of the Forest Preserves. Debra graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Goucher College with a degree in Philosophy & Visual Arts. She earned Master’s degrees from Johns Hopkins University and Columbia College (Chicago). In 2008 she earned a certificate in Executive Education from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. Debra speaks and writes extensively about Great Lakes water issues, including essays on Huffington Post Chicago. She has climbed 42 of the 54 mountains in Colorado more than 14,000’ high.
- HON. HEATHER STEANS
- Born May 8, 1963, in Lake Forest, IL; B.A. in Urban Studies from Princeton; M.A. in Public Policy from Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government; former budget director, WI Department of Industry, Labor and Human Relations and former strategic planner, Chicago Public Schools; married (husband, Leo Smith) with three children. Her Committee Assignments in the General Assembly are: Human Services; Appropriations II; Public Health; Education (Vice-Chairperson); Environment (Vice-Chairperson); Committee of the Whole; Subcommittee on Amendments (Sub-Chairperson); Deficit Reduction; Subcomm.Medicaid &Provider Rate Ref; Subcommittee on Special Issues.
- HON. JACKIE TRAYNERE
- Jackie has been working for the American Federation of Government Employees union the last 20 years and co-owns a residential cleaning business. She has been a lifelong resident of Bolingbrook and has participated in movements to stop an immigration detention facility and abuse of Wal Mart workers. She cares deeply about Will County and making sure that government is accountable, transparent and listens to the residents. She was just elected to a 2nd term on the Will County Board in 2012, her 3rd election cycle as a candidate; the first race lost by 89 votes in 2006, ran again in 2008 and won by 1200 votes with another victory in 2012. She spends her spare time serving on the Citizens Against Abuse board, an organization that fights domestic abuse through education. She is a 2006 alumna of the Illinois Women's Institute for Leadership and credits this program with every bit of success that she has had as a candidate and elected official. The training and encouragement from IWIL led to her successful involvement in many other endeavors outside of political office as well. Recently she completed the Harvard Kennedy School of Government Executives in State and Local Government program.
The Leadership Council consists of former Board Members, IWIL Founders and Community Leaders that support IWIL's mission.
- CAROLYN BROWN HODGE
- Carolyn Brown Hodge is the Director of Rural Affairs for Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn. She was formerly Community Liaison for Secretary of State Jesse White in fifteen East-Central Illinois Counties. Carolyn has a long history with the Democratic party; serving as the President of the Illinois Democratic Women from 1997 until June, 2003; as a member of the Illinois Electoral College in 1996 and 2000, and as a speaker at forums on behalf of Democratic politicians. She has a long and impressive history as a devoted activist in organizations aimed at promoting the social and cultural life of communities throughout East- Central Illinois. Additionally, she has done fundraising for several community organizations; including: the Edgar County Historical Society, the Kiwanis Early Risers, the United Way of Paris, and the Paris YMCA.
- LINDA CHAPA LAVIA
- Honorable Linda Chapa LaVia (D-83rd) was born and raised in Aurora, Illinois. She was the first in her family to complete college, earning her Bachelor's Degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is in her first term as a member of the Illinois General Assembly. Linda was a cadet in ROTC, completing basic training in 1988 and serving as a commissioned officer in the US Army until 1993. She continued her service in the National Guard until 1998 and is currently on Inactive Ready Reserve.She is also a licensed real estate broker and a local business owner. Linda is active in the Greater Aurora Chamber of Commerce, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Tri County Board of Realtors and the YWCA, currently serving on its board of directors. She takes an active role in Aurora's "Weed & Seed" Program and continues to work with her family on God's Gym. Linda also connects high school students with mentors through the Tomcats Searching for Tomcats program. Linda and her husband, Vernon, have two daughters, Veronica, 5 and Jacqueline, 2.
- SHARON CORRIGAN
- After serving for several years as a legislative director for then-Comptroller Dawn Clark Netsch and then for AFSCME, Sharon Corrigan currently is working as a full-time mom raising her two daughters, Molly and Brigid, and being a homemaker. She was a founding member of IWIL and worked for the first four years as a member of the Delegate Selection Committee and the Program Committee. She stays involved in political activities and works closely with the program committee that plans the curriculum and programming for IWIL delegates. Her daughters are frequent visitors to IWIL functions -- perhaps to one day be delegates themselves!
- BONNIE ETTINGER
- Bonnie Ettinger is the former Executive Director of IWIL.
- LINDA HAWKER
- Then-Senate President Philip J Rock appointed Linda Hawker to serve as the first woman Secretary to the Illinois State Senate. She served in that position for the 85th through 87th General Assemblies and, with the recent election, is currently at that position once again. She is a Springfield native who has worked in State government since 1971 when she worked for the Senate Democrat Leadership Staff and subsequently was employed as a Public Affairs Associate at Sangamon State University (now the University of Illinois at Springfield). Linda was also instrumental in the creation and development of the Illinois Women in Government organization.
- MARGARET A. HOULIHAN SMITH
- Margaret Houlihan currently serves Director of Intergovernmental Relations for United Airlines. Previously she served as Deputy Chief of Staff for Intergovernmental Affairs in the office of Governor Rod Blagojevich. Prior to her appointment by the Governor, she served as the Chicago Director for United States Senator Richard J. Durbin, where her duties included managing Chicago Staff operations, serving as a liaison to federal Regional Administrators and District Directors, and coordinating with Washington, D.C. staff on all Chicago area issues. Prior to her position in Senator Durbin’s office, she worked as the Political Director/Deputy Campaign Manager for Senator Durbin, the Chief Deputy Recorder for Cook County Recorder of Deeds Jesse White, and Aide to Speaker Michael J. Madigan.
- MATTIE HUNTER
- Honorable Mattie Hunter, State Senator, serves as Vice Chairman of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee and is as a member of the Senate Local Government and State Government Committees. A native of Chicago, she received a BA degree in Government from Monmouth College (Illinois), an MA degree in Sociology from Jackson State University (Mississippi) and a Bus. Adm. Certificate from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is a certified alcohol and drug counselor and prevention specialist. Senator Hunter is also a Program Manager for the City of Chicago's Dept. of Human Services and is a member of ETA Phi Beta Sorority-Alpha Lambda Chapter and the Central Credit Union of Illinois. From 1994-1996, she was Managing Director for the Center for Health and Human Services in Johannesburg, South Africa and participated, coordinated and presented lectures at numerous health and human services conferences in Zimbabwe, Nigeria and Zambia.
- HON. IRIS MARTINEZ
- Honorable Iris Martinez is the State Senator from the 20th Legislative District. Prior to her election, she served as Special Assistant to Mayor Richard J. Daley and was closely associated with the City of Chicago's CAPS Program. In 1994 she was the first elected Hispanic woman in Illinois to the Democratic State Central Committee, and in 1996 she was appointed member of the Democratic National Committee, the only Hispanic representing Illinois. In addition, she participated in the creation of the first Hispanic Women's Conference and in 1995 was appointed as Commissioner on Women's Issues for the 8th Cook County District.
- SHIRLEY A. MCCOMBS
- Honorable Shirley McCombs is presently serving her fifth term as State Central Committeewoman for the 18th Congressional District, and is Secretary of the Democratic Party of Illinois, a position she has held since 1993. She retired in 1997 after serving 22 years as the Illinois House of Representatives Fiscal Officer for Speakers Michael J. Madigan and William Redmond. She serves on the Area Agency on Aging "Project Life" Advisory Council. Her previous positions include Menard County Democratic Chairman; First Vice President of the Illinois Democratic Women; First Vice President of the Illinois County Chairmen's Association; Delegate to Democratic National Convention in 1988, 1996, 2000 and Alernate Delegate in 1992; Assistant Whip of the Illinois Delegation at the 1996 and 2000 National Conventions;Served as a Presidential Elector on the Illinios Electoral College in 1992, 1996, and 2000. She has also worked as a volunteer on numerous local, state, and national campaigns.
- CAROL RONEN
- Honorable Carol Ronen represents the 9th Legislative District in the Illinois State Senate. Prior to becoming state senator, she served in the Illinois House of Representative since 1992. In 1996 she was appointed the first Chair of the House Committee on Children and Youth. She is the Democratic State Central Committeewoman for the 9th Congressional District. Carol is a very active member of the Jewish community, sitting on the Governing Council of the American Jewish Congress, Midwest Region and belonging to the Chicago Chapter of Hadassah and the Government Affairs Committee of the Jewish Federation of Chicago. She is a founder and member of the executive board of Women’s Voices. Women’s Votes.
- BETTYLU SALTZMAN
- Bettylu Saltzman is a past Chair of Mount Sinai and Schwab Rehabilitation Hospitals; she is currently Vice Chair of the Sinai Health System Board where she chairs the Government Affairs and Public Policy Committee. She is active in Chicago and Illinois politics, having served in many campaigns including Adlai E. Stevenson, III for Governor in1982, Paul Simon for Senator in 1984 and Bill Clinton for President in 1992. She served on the Illinois Finance Committee for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. From 1984-88 she was Executive Assistant for Northern Illinois to Senator Paul Simon. She has served on or is serving on many other boards including: New Israel Fund, Crossroads Fund, Governors State University Fundraising Board, Family Focus, Young Women’s Leadership Charter School, ACLU, Better Government Association, AIDS Foundation, Jewish Council on Urban Affairs and Business and Professional People for the Public Interest where she served as board president. She has received awards from the Illinois Democratic Party, American Jewish Congress, Personal PAC, New Israel Fund, Crossroads Fund and the Paul Simon Award for US Action and Citizen Action/Illinois. She served on the National Alzheimer’s Association’s Executive Committee where she chaired the Public Policy Committee.
- HON. JAN SCHAKOWSKY
- Honorable Jan Schakowsky was elected to represent Illinois’ 9th Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives in 1998. Prior to her position there, she represented Illinois’ 18th District in the Illinois General Assembly where she chaired the Labor and Commerce Committee and served on the Human Service Appropriations, Health Care, and the Electric Deregulation Committee, as well as the Democratic Floor Leader and as Secretary of the Conference of Women Legislators. Schakowsky is on the Midwest Governing Council of the Jewish Congress and is a member of the Labor Union UNITE! group.
- LINDA SHER
- Linda Rae Sher is an active member of the Jewish community, working in both philanthropic and political organizations. She is a co-founder of the Democratic Senatorial Women’s Council and serves as a director of the DCCC’s Women Lead. In 1980 she established the Joint Action Committee for Political Affairs (JACPAC), and she now serves as Director of Special Projects and President of the JAC Education Foundation. In addition, Ms. Sher has been a member of the Executive Committee and National Council of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. She has served on the finance committees of many Congressional campaigns, and she works with a variety of organizations including the Government Affairs Committee of the Chicago Jewish Federation and the National Commission of the Anti-Defamation League.
- BETH SPENCER
- Beth is the former Communications Director for the Illinois AFL-CIO – the umbrella organization for the state’s one million union members. She worked closely with Labor leaders, union communicators, the Labor press and general press across the state to make sure Labor issues are well covered and correctly reported. Beth is also involved with political and legislative efforts that affect working families and has worked on political campaigns at the grassroots level since her college days. Beth has a Bachelor of Journalism degree from the University of Missouri School of Journalism in Columbia. Prior to working with the state AFL-CIO, she managed a marketing-public relations firm and worked in broadcast media. She has nearly 30 years experience in marketing, public relations, writing, editing, and media production. Beth also serves on the Decatur Area Convention and Visitors Bureau board and is active with the Decatur Area Arts Council.
- BOBBIE L. STEELE
- Honorable Bobbie Steele began her career of public office in 1986 when she was elected to the Cook County Board of Commissioners. Steele has co-sponsored Cook County's Human Rights and Ethics Ordinances and has led the charge to re-open Provident Hospital in 1993. She also led the charge to name the new county hospital “John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County” and the CORE Center to “The Ruth M. Rothstein CORE Center.” Presently, Steele is the longest serving African American woman on the Cook County Board and the longest serving in the history of Cook County. She is the first and only African American to serve as Chairman of the Finance Committee of the Forest Preserve District of Cook County. Steele is also the Chairman of the Department of Corrections, Education and Contract Compliance Committee. She is the Past President of National Association of Black County Officials (NABCo) and Chairs the Deferred Compensation Advisory Committee for the National Association of Counties. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Link Shore Links and National Council of Negro Women.
- AMY C. STOCKWELL
- Amy C. Stockwell is the Auditor of Macon County. She received an MBA in accounting from the University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School and a BA in Economics from Ohio Wesleyan Univeristy. In previous employment, she was a Principal at Analytech Association (market research and business consulting) and worked for A.E. Staley Mfg. Co. as the Director of Marketing, Food Ingredients. She has a lifelong devotion to the Democratic Party and believes that “everybody counts, everybody matters, everyone deserves to be treated with respect.” Amy is a graduate of the IWIL program, Class of 2003.
Interim Executive Director Team
Christina Nowinski Wurst and Samantha Szpunar