Our People


Paul Kendrick, Executive Director, Governor JB Pritzker’s 2018 campaign. Wisconsin Youth Vote Director for President Obama and Senator Tammy Baldwin’s 2012 campaign. Opportunity Nation campaign. Obama White House and Department of Education. Co-author of Nine Days: The Race to Save Martin Luther King Jr.’s Life and Win the 1960 Election. National Louis University adjunct professor.

Board of Directors

John Gearen, Board Chair and Treasurer, Rhodes Scholar, Partner at Mayer Brown LLP Chicago, former Board Chair of IES Study Abroad and Link Unlimited, current Chair, The Arthur J. Schmitt Foundation.

Martha Lanning, former Chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, 2015-19. Co-founder and President of stac labs inc. and founder of Empowering Resources LLC. Former Plymouth Intergenerational Coalition Executive Director and Wisconsin State Senate candidate. 

Rita McLennon, Board Secretary, Executive Director, Shriver National Poverty Law Center, 1993-2007, Chief Operating Officer, Better Government Association, 2010-2012, Previously Director of Development for the Merit School of Music.

Richard Devine, Chief of Staff, Mayor Richard M. Daley of Chicago, 1996-2008, State’s Attorney of Cook County Illinois. 

Yolanda Magallanes, Deputy Director, When We All Vote, Development Director, Organizing for Action, Deputy Marketing Director, Presidential Inaugural Committee, 2013.

Advisory Board

Senator Bill Bradley, Honorary Chair, Rhodes Scholar, US Senator from New Jersey 1979-97, a sponsor of the Tax Reform Act of 1986, candidate for US President 2000, Managing Director Allen & Company December 2000 to present.

Anan Abu Taleb, born in the Gaza Strip, owner of Pizza Capri restaurants in Chicago, Maya restaurant in Oak Park, Illinois, Mayor of the Village of Oak Park, IL, 2013-2021.

Jeff Artis, 2013-present National Director of Corporate Engagement at Year Up, following 19-year career selling workforce management and technology-based service solutions, principally at IBM but also BMC Software, Getronics and Spherion. Previously member of Board of Directors, Indianapolis Urban League.

John Austin, Director of the Michigan Economic Center, Past President Michigan State Board of Education, creator of Great Lakes Economic Initiative for the Brookings Institute.

Jon Baskin, Editor of The Point magazine, University of Chicago, 2008-present, formerly Writer for the Center for American Progress, PhD from University of Chicago.

Chris Connolly, owner of Connolly’s Quality Caretaking, property management and landscaping, Manitowish Waters, Wisconsin.

Kaitlin Fahey, Chief of Staff, U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth, Campaign Manager for Tammy for Illinois and Tammy Duckworth for Congress, Special Assistant to the Director at the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

Caitlin Frazer, US Department of State Presidential Management Fellow/Foreign Affairs Officer 2010-2013, Legislative staff for US Senators Bob Casey, PA, and Jon Ossoff, GA. Currently National Security Commission on Emerging Biotechnology (March 2023-), Executive Director.

Carolyn Grisko, since 1995, CEO of Grisko LLC, a full-service communications agency supporting public policy initiatives on behalf of government, nonprofit and corporate clients. Prior to starting the agency, Carolyn worked in the Richard M. Daley administration and in public radio.

Michael Holland, Chairman, UMWA Health and Retirement Funds, 1993-Present; SEIU Midwest Area Director, 2004-2008; Court-appointed Election Officer, 1989-1993.

James Jacobs, President of Macomb Community College 2008-2017, Senior Advisor to Ralph C. Wilson Foundation 2017-present, formerly President of the National Council for Workforce Education.

Martha Laning, founder and board member of Plymouth Intergenerational Center in Plymouth, Wisconsin, 2009-2013, candidate for Wisconsin State Senate’s 9th District, Chair of the State Democratic Party of Wisconsin, June 2015 to present.

J. Timothy Londergan, Rhodes Scholar, formerly Chair of Indiana University Physics Department, Director of IU Nuclear Theory Center, co-founder of the 560 person group Concerned Scientists at Indiana University, and co-author of the blog “Debunking Denial”.

Nathaniel Lubin, Director of Digital Marketing with Obama for America 2011-2012, Digital Director of the Inaugural Committee & Director of Digital Strategy at the White House 2015, Founder, Lubin Strategies LLC 2015 to present.

Angie Rupchock-Schafer, Director of Development and Communications for the Marshall County Community Foundation in Indiana. South Bend - Elkhart Region’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee. Plymouth, Indiana Planning Commission. Former City Council candidate. Rising’s Rural Midwest/Indiana ambassador.

Dan Santow, former Contributing Reporter Fox News, former Senior Editor/Columnist Chicago Magazine, Executive Vice President Edelman, Chicago 2002-present.

Rep. Kent Smith, third term Ohio State Representative serving Ohio’s 8th House District. Master’s Degree in Urban Studies from Cleveland State where he also did Ph.D. studies in Economic Development. Rep. Smith has been the elected head of the Democratic Party in Euclid, Ohio since 2006 and prior to his service in the Ohio House, Rep. Smith was a 12-year member of the Euclid School Board. Rep. Smith has been a Resident Economic Expert for Rust Belt Rising since 2019. He was a 2018 graduate of the Rising program.

David Wilhelm, former Campaign Manager Clinton/Gore 92, former Chair of the Democratic National Committee, currently Partner/Chief Strategy Officer of Hecate Energy, Columbus, Ohio, 2013-present.

Auxiliary Board

Michael J. Howlett, chair, attorney at Mayer Brown, former staffer in the Chicago Mayor’s Office of Intergovernmental Affairs and the Illinois General Assembly.

Greg Bales, Special Projects Director, office of U.S. Senator Dick Durbin. Illinois State Director, Hillary for America, campaign manager, Sean Casten for Congress.

Matt Cain, principal, MJC Consulting, a boutique political consultancy specializing in first-time candidates.

Claudia Chavez, Deputy Director, Chicago Mayor’s Office of Legislative Council and Government Affairs team (LCGA). Staffer at Chicago for Rahm in 2015 and Obama for America in 2012 in Colorado.

Stacy Raker Howlett, Chief Operating Officer, Chicago City Clerk’s Office. Campaign manager, Bustos for Congress, 2016.

Reyahd D.J. Kazmi, Director of Business & Government Strategies, National Youth Advocate Program and President of Kazmi Advisors.

Zach Koutsky, Legislative and Political Director for Local 881 United Food and Commercial Workers. Senior Advisor and Campaign Manager to State Treasurer Michael Frerichs, 2013-2015.