Our People

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.

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

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 2013-present.

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 Point Magazine, University of Chicago, 2008-present, formerly Writer of Progress Report for the Center for American Progress, PhD student University of Chicago.

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

Lisa Cook, Marshall Scholar, Senior Advisor US Treasury Department 2000-2001, Visiting Associate Professor, Kennedy School, Harvard University 1997-2004, Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution based in Stanford University, 2001-2005, Associate Professor of Economics at Michigan State University 2005-present, staff economist White House Council of Economic Advisors August 2011-August 2012.

Caitlin Frazer, US Department of State Presidential Management Fellow/Foreign Affairs Officer 2010-2013, Legislative Assistant 2013-17/Deputy Legislative Director 2017-present for US Senator from PA Bob Casey.

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.

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

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.

Staff

Daniel Biss, Executive Director; previously a State Senator, State Representative, candidate for Governor of Illinois, and mathematics professor at the University of Chicago.

Alexandra McRaith, Deputy Director; served as Campaign Manager at Bob Morgan for State Representative and Field Organizer at Biss for Illinois.