As the first in her family to attend college, earning three degrees from Southern Illinois University, BarbBrown educated countless students in her 20+ years in the SIUC Department of Political Science, where she emphasized and encouraged participatory democracy. Beyond the classroom, Barb taught American government and democracy to international scholars through a summer program funded by the U.S. State Department in conjunction with the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute. She later served as Clerk of the Courts in Randolph County, Illinois.
With a deep passion for and an unwavering commitment to creating avenues for women to engage in the political process and public service, she was a co-founder of the Illinois Women’s Institute for Leadership Training Academy (IWILTA), vice-chair of the Democratic Party of Illinois, an elector in the 2012 Electoral College, co-founder of Southwestern Illinois Democratic Women, founder of Southern Illinois Democratic Women, and former chairwoman of the Randolph County Democratic Central Committee. She attended and was a nine-time delegate to the Democratic National Convention, a two-time candidate for Illinois’ 58th State Senate District, and served notable roles in the campaigns of President Bill Clinton and President Barack Obama.
In a letter read by the family at her funeral, President Barack Obama remembered Barb as living “a life of commitment: commitment to her family; her community; her students. She taught political science at Southern Illinois University but to Barb, politics was more than theory. It was a way to improve lives and strengthen communities, and she practiced that faith through her service to the people of Randolph County and her tireless efforts on behalf of the Democratic Party. As a statewide candidate, I quickly learned what Dick Durbin and other Democrats knew: If you want anything done in Southern Illinois, call BarbBrown.”
Hon. Don Harmon
President of the Illinois State Senate (IL 39th)
Oak Park Township Committeeperson
In January 2020, Don Harmon was elected by his colleagues to serve as the 39th President of the Illinois Senate, vowing to lead a new era of ethical progress as the Senate works to rebuild trust in public service and rationalize state tax policy.
Harmon, an Oak Park native, was first elected to the Illinois Senate in the fall of 2002. During his time in the General Assembly, he championed early childhood education, ethics reform, curbing gun violence, protecting civil rights and expanding voter access.
He also worked to protect Illinois’ natural resources, promote renewable energy and enhancing economic opportunity for all.
Harmon was an early supporter of Preschool for All programs and sponsored the Illinois Early Learning Council.
Harmon led efforts to win legislative approval of the Fair Tax constitutional amendment that will give voters the opportunity to overhaul the state’s antiquated tax system.
In the Senate, he previously served as president pro tempore and chaired the influential Executive Committee.
Harmon has an undergraduate degree from Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois and a law degree and MBA from the University of Chicago. He was a founding member of the Boat Drink Caucus band, a bipartisan group of lawmakers who set aside politics to perform at small venues across the state.
He and his wife, Teresa, are the parents of three children: Don, Frances and Margaret.
Hon. John Penn
Vice President - Midwest Region - Laborers International Union of North America
John Penn is the Vice President and Midwest Regional Manager for the Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA), a role he has held since 2008. John also served as the McLean County Democratic Party Chairman from 1984 to 2018.
He joined LIUNA in 1965 and is a member of Local Union 362 in Bloomington, Illinois. He was previously the business manager for the Great Plains Laborers District Council and was the business manager of Laborers’ Local 362 from 1976 to 1994.
He received a Presidential Points of Light Award from President Clinton and was honored in 1986 by Governor Thompson with the Illinois Partner in Building Better Communities award. He was also named Person of the Year by the Bloomington Pantagraph in 2003, which recognized him for his role in improving the lives of union workers and the Central Illinois Community.
He serves as a Co-Chair of the Children’s Christmas Party for Unemployed Families and on the Board of Directors for the Illinois Special Olympics. He is a past member of the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board, a past Vice President of the McLean County Economic Development Council and past member of the Illinois Department of Transportation Highway Safety Committee. John also helped to re-establish the Bloomington Labor Day Parade (after a 40 year absence) and began the McLean County Union News, which ran from 1982 to 2002.
He is a 1979 graduate of the Harvard University Trade Union Program and graduated from Bloomington High School. He served in the United States Air Force, with assignments in South Korea and Vietnam.
Emanuel “Chris” Welch
Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives (IL 7th)
Speaker Emanuel “Chris” Welch became the first African-American Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives in January 2021.
Prior to being elected to the Illinois House of Representatives, Welch served as President of the Proviso Township High School District 209 School Board. During that time, he led the efforts to establish the Proviso Math and Science Academy. As State Representative, he continues to support education initiatives that would put more funding in classrooms, including legislation to make school funding more equitable for all students. He also passed legislation to bring cursive writing curriculum back to schools.
While serving as the Chairman of the House Higher Education Committee, Speaker Welch embarked on a statewide tour of public universities to gain a better understanding of their needs during the Rauner budget impasse. He fought to protect funding for higher education and students, including MAP grants to help students in need pay for college.
Welch’s legislative agenda has focused on putting the needs of working families first. Welch helped pass an increase in the minimum wage, backed legislation that would help eliminate wage discrimination, and fought for equal pay for equal work. He also supported expanding the Affordable Care Act in Illinois and is fighting to ensure that everyone has access to affordable healthcare. Welch has also been a leading voice in Springfield to hold government accountable to meeting diversity benchmarks in hiring contractors. Additionally, Welch is working to hold corporations responsible for equity and inclusion in the workplace, by requiring companies to reflect Illinois’ diversity on their corporate boards.
Welch is also a strong advocate for people who are too often marginalized in our communities. He passed the Homeless Bill of Rights, which ensures that the homeless have access to public spaces, emergency medical care, public transportation, and more. Welch also passed the TRUST Act, which protects undocumented persons from being detained by local or state law enforcement and made Illinois the most welcoming state in the nation.
Before becoming Speaker, Welch served as the Chairman of House Executive Committee. Welch earned his B.A. from Northwestern University and his J.D. from John Marshall Law School. He serves west suburban communities, including Bellwood, Berkley, Broadview, Forest Park, Hillside, Maywood, Melrose Park, LaGrange Park, North Lake, River Forest and Westchester. Welch is a life-long resident of the 7th District and currently resides in Hillside with his wife and two young children.
2020 IDCCA Party Builder Award Honorees
Hon. Michael Cabonargi
Cook County Board of Review Commissioner
State Central Committeeman
As a first-generation American, Michael Cabonargi knows that our community only works when everyone has an opportunity to succeed. Mike’s father came to Highwood, Illinois from a mountain town in Italy with little more than the clothes on his back, and he found full-time employment in the service industry. He met his wife Francine while managing the dining room at a local country club.
One of the first people in his family to go to college, Mike graduated with honors from Miami University of Ohio. It was here, Mike discovered his passion for advocacy. He and a small group of students fought to change the laws and policies so that his school could donate unused food to the needy in their community through a new Good Samaritan law. As Student Body President, Mike continued to fight for economic empowerment and social justice.
After college, Mike dedicated himself to public service, working as an aide to U.S. Senator Paul Simon and then U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, handling economic development initiatives to help ensure that Illinois families are always put first. Inspired by the power of people to make positive change through the law, Mike then attended the University of Illinois College of Law, where he received his law degree with honors.
After graduation, Mike was selected for a prestigious federal clerkship with the Honorable William Hibbler of the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago. While a law clerk, Mike helped found the court’s first help desk for pro se litigants who represent themselves in court but still need guidance. For his leadership, Mike received the Award for Excellence in Public Interest Service from the Federal Bar Association and the U.S. District Court.
Mike left the courthouse for private practice before returning to public service as an award-winning senior attorney for the Securities and Exchange Commission, where Mike investigated and prosecuted fraud, insider trading, Ponzi schemes, and other offenses against innocent victims. Mike received both the Chairman’s Award and the Directors Award for Excellence for his hard and smart work.
In 2011, Mike was appointed to and later elected to the Cook County Board of Review, where Mike has ensured Cook County families pay only their fair share in property taxes while also ensuring our schools, libraries, and local governments receive necessary funds on time.
Mike has made the Cook County Board of Review more transparent, open, and effective. His office has held more than 250 community outreach sessions to allow homeowners to appeal their property taxes in their own neighborhood. Mike obtained translations for his office’s tax appeal forms into Spanish, Polish, Korean, and other languages spoken by Cook County homeowners.
In 2015, Mike led the development of the Board of Review’s innovative digital appeals processing system that digitizes operations and removes the paper in the process. Now, more than 93% of appeals are filed online.
Mike, his wife Erin and their teenage sons William and Jack are active members of their community, where the family continues Mike’s commitment to giving back through community service.
Invest to Elect Illinois
A Chicago-area women’s group supporting pro choice Democratic Federal candidates.
Invest to Elect Illinois (ITE), a Chicago-area women’s political investment group, founded in April 2017, amplifies the collective power of Illinois women donors to support US House and Senate candidates and Democratic Party infrastructure. ITE has grown in less than three years from its five co-founders to 180 members and counting, nearly all of whom are new to significant political giving and, to date, have donated over $1.7 million.
ITE members – all volunteers – conduct research on and organize events for candidates and Democratic Party infrastructure in order to defend the US House majority, flip the US Senate and win the presidency. Each member commits to invest in a minimum of three events annually; with no overhead, all money raised goes directly to the candidates’ campaigns. ITE events additionally provide an anchor for candidates running for federal office to optimize their time and maximize their fundraising in Chicago. ITE members are out in the community expanding the network of activated women, leading educational events and partnering with other groups to achieve common goals.
ITE attracted over 1,000 participants in 2018 and 2019 to several free public events it planned and hosted, including an Illinois Democratic primary gubernatorial forum and receptions for presidential candidates Amy Klobuchar, Pete Buttigieg and Julian Castro.
2018 Mid-Term Cycle Results
ITE members donated nearly $1 million in the mid-terms to 32 candidates: 17 “red to blue” House races, four of which were Illinois congressional districts (IL 6, IL 12, IL 13, IL 14) and 15 Senate races – ten incumbents and five challengers for red state seats. ITE members also invested countless hours canvassing, serving as finance chairs for candidates, organizing and writing thousands of post cards for GOTV efforts, and participating in IWIL / IDCCA training… and a few even ran for office!
Invest to Elect members have thus far donated over $750,000 to 6 candidates and one Democratic Party infrastructure initiative: three Senate incumbents, one Senate challenger, two Illinois congressional district House races – IL 14 freshman Representative Lauren Underwood and IL 13 House challenger Betsy Dirksen Londrigan – and Organizing Corps 2020, an important proactive program to get out the 2020 vote in battleground states Wisconsin and Michigan.
ITE continues to grow during this critical election year with a goal of 200 members. Fundraising events are scheduled for 20+ outstanding candidates: two incumbent Senators, including Illinois senior Senator Dick Durbin, 8 challengers seeking to win Senate seats currently held by Republicans; and numerous House representatives in vulnerable districts they flipped blue in 2018 .
Members continue to be actively engaged in GOTV efforts.
Jesse White is Illinois’ 37th Secretary of State. White was first elected to the office in 1998 and won landslide victories in 2002, in which he won all 102 counties, and again in 2006, 2010 and 2014. On Nov. 6, 2018, White was re-elected to a record-breaking sixth term, winning another landslide victory in which he earned over 3.1 million votes statewide – the most ever by a statewide candidate in a midterm election. White became Illinois’ longest serving Secretary of State on May 30, 2014.
The Illinois Secretary of State’s office is the largest and most diverse office of its kind in the nation, providing more direct services to the people of Illinois than any other public agency. White’s office issues state ID cards, vehicle license plates and titles; registers corporations; enforces the Illinois Securities Act; administers the Organ/Tissue Donor Program; licenses drivers; and maintains driver records. As State Librarian, Secretary White oversees the State Library and literacy programs, and as State Archivist, he maintains records of legal or historic value.
Under White’s leadership, the use of new technology along with modernizing and streamlining operations has significantly improved customer service. Wait times in facilities are shorter than ever before. Illinois has become a national leader in road safety as White strengthened DUI laws, reformed the truck driver licensing program and overhauled teen driving guidelines. As a result, traffic fatalities have decreased, with drunk driving deaths down nearly 50 percent and teen driving deaths reduced by 51 percent. In 2014, White was inducted into the Illinois High School & College Driver Education Association Hall of Fame.
Prior to his election as Secretary of State, White served as Cook County Recorder of Deeds – a job to which he was first elected in 1992 and re-elected in 1996. Before that, he served 16 years in the Illinois General Assembly, representing the most culturally, economically and racially diverse district in Illinois. In 1959, White founded the internationally known Jesse White Tumbling Team to serve as a positive alternative for at-risk children residing in public housing in and around the Chicago area. Since its inception, more than 18,000 young men and women have performed with the team. White has spent 60 years working as a volunteer with the team to help kids stay away from gangs, drugs, alcohol and smoking, and to help set at-risk youth on
the path to success. The program has received international praise. This year the team will make more than 1,500 performances using eight units, consisting of 225 young men and women. Currently, there are 51 members enrolled in college. In 2014, the Chicago Park District opened the Jesse White Community Center and Field House in honor of White’s lifelong contributions to the community. In addition, a school in Hazel Crest, Illinois, was recently named the Jesse C. White Learning Academy, and Division Street in Chicago was designated Jesse White Way in honor of White.
White served our country as a paratrooper in the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division and as a member of the Illinois National Guard and Reserve. He played professional baseball with the Chicago Cubs organization, which was followed by a 33-year career with the Chicago Public Schools as a teacher and administrator. Jesse White earned his Bachelor of Science from Alabama State College (now Alabama State University) in 1957, where he was a two-sport athlete earning all-conference honors in baseball and basketball. In May 1995, White was inducted into the Southwestern Athletic Conference Hall of Fame. He was an all-city baseball and basketball player at Chicago’s Waller High School (now Lincoln Park High School) and was inducted into the
Chicago Public League Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in June 1995. In 1999, he was inducted into the Alabama State University Sports Hall of Fame. Born in Alton, Illinois, he now lives on Chicago’s Near North Side. White has two daughters, Glenna and Lorraine, and two grandchildren, Jesse and Susan.
2019 IDCCA Party Builder Award Honorees
Hon. Jehan Gordon-Booth
Deputy Majority Leader (92nd District)
Illinois House of Representatives
State Representative Jehan Gordon Booth was Elected in 2008 in an incredibly historic victory — Jehan became the first African-American from central Illinois to ever be elected to the state legislature. And this year… equally with historic black girl magic fashion— she was named the Deputy Majority Leader of the Illinois House of Representatives. She is the youngest woman in Illinois history to ever hold this position in our states 201 year history!! Even as a millennial Mom and wife — she wasted no time making her mark in the Illinois legislature.
Leader Gordon-Booth spends most of her energy fighting issues of economic inclusion, injustices, and issues involving women, children and mass incarceration policies. Last year, the Neighborhood Safety Act was touted as the most comprehensive, most expansive criminal justice reform bills in Illinois’ history and was featured in Teen Vogue article focused on this massive, system changing legislation. In that package alone – – she was able to reduce over 1000 mandatory minimums, create sentencing credits to reduce the headcount in the Illinois Department of Corrections by double digits, create trauma recovery centers in communities devastated by crime and violence and gave judges the discretion we’ve been fighting for years.
Leader Gordon Booth hosts yearly Expungement Summits to help hundreds of her constituents get a fresh start and a new opportunity for a greater life by connecting them with pro bono lawyers to seal their records which often hold them back from employment opportunities that should be afforded to them.
Most recently, Leader Gordon Booth passed one of the largest economic developments bills in Illinois history, as well. The statewide Historic Tax Credit is a catalyst to reinvest hundreds of millions of dollars back into the development of older, historic buildings in our urban centers around the state including massive projects here in the City of Chicago.
Leader Gordon Booth is widely respected for her ability to develop strategies for successful passage of legislation, her bipartisan approach to complex issues and her complete unwillingness to accept the word no.
Jehan resides in Peoria with the love of her life, Derrick and their two kids, Jianna and Chance.
Lucy Moog is a longtime Democratic activist and a 20-year resident of Lincoln Park. Passionate about community action and grassroots organizing, her vision is a ward where citizens are engaged in the political process by advocating on behalf of candidates, issues and causes they care about. As Committeeman, Lucy wants to inspire activism in politics and help build our Democratic base.
Since her youth, Lucy has been involved in Democratic politics. She led community outreach efforts on four presidential campaigns, as well as numerous gubernatorial and congressional races. She served as the District Director for the 5th Congressional District from 1997 to 2002. In 2007, she took a leadership role to help launch the critically acclaimed environmental advocacy campaign and public art project “Cool Globes: Hot Ideas for a Cooler Planet,” which has since exhibited in 13 cities worldwide. Lucy’s personal Cool Globe creation was selected among a myriad of finalists to be displayed at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.
After attending Francis W. Parker School in Lincoln Park, Lucy studied government and psychology at Connecticut College. Immediately after graduation, Lucy moved to Washington, D.C. to work on Capitol Hill as a legislative assistant focusing on health care and reproductive rights issues.
After spending five years in Washington, Lucy returned to Lincoln Park to live, work and raise a family.
Lucy is a member of the Board of the Chicago Sinai Congregation and serves on the Advisory Committee of Chicago Ideas Week’s YOU(th) initiative. She is a dedicated volunteer with Personal PAC, the Know Tomorrow movement and Francis W. Parker Parents’ Association.
A devoted Cubs fan through thick and thin, Lucy and her husband, Matt, live with their three boys in Lincoln Park.
Nancy Pelosi is the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives for the 116th Congress. As the top Democrat in the House, Pelosi is fighting to address the needs of working families and protect America from the dangerous agenda of Donald Trump and Kevin McCarthy.
Shattering the marble ceiling and making her the highest-ranking female politician in American history, Pelosi is the first woman to twice serve as the Speaker of the House. She has led House Democrats for more than 12 years and has represented San Francisco, California’s 12th District, for 30 years. In 2013, she was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.
Working with President Obama, Pelosi led Congress in one of the most successful legislative sessions in decades. Among her major accomplishments as Speaker of the House, Pelosi passed: historic health insurance reform legislation which established a Patients’ Bill of Rights and is providing coverage for more than 20 million previously uninsured Americans; the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which created and saved millions of American jobs; strong Wall Street reforms to rein in big banks and protect consumers; and key investments in higher education through the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act, which expands educational opportunities and reforms the financial aid system to save billions of taxpayers’ dollars.
Congressional scholar Norm Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute described the 111th Congress under Pelosi’s leadership as “one of the most productive Congresses in history.” Thomas Mann, a congressional scholar at the Brookings Institution, said “she’s probably gained the reputation as of one of the strongest and most effective speakers in decades.”
Pelosi comes from a family with a long tradition of public service. Her late father, Thomas D’Alesandro Jr., served as Mayor of Baltimore for 12 years. Her brother, Thomas D’Alesandro III, also served as Mayor of Baltimore. She and her husband, Paul Pelosi, have five children and nine grandchildren. Pelosi has served in a number of positions within the Democratic Party including Chair of the California Democratic Party and Chair of the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver.
Glenn Poshard was influenced at an early age by his disabled father to stand against racial and economic injustice. Raised in a poor family in the hill country of southeastern Illinois, he knew poverty and hunger first-hand as a child and sought to address these issues throughout his life.
At age eighteen, he worked for over a year in an orphanage for abandoned children in Korea. As a student, working his way through college, he spent his free time mentoring impoverished children throughout southern Illinois. Rejecting the call of violence to change America, he instead worked in communities such as Cairo and Carbondale to help young people overcome the divisions of their parent’s generation.
As a teacher, he sought out gifted young people whose talents were not being realized because of poverty, prejudice, and drugs and championed their success.
As a State Senator (1984-1988) and a Member of Congress (1989-1999) he helped pass legislation which broke the back of the immoral and illegal apartheid government of South Africa. He championed legislation at both the state and federal level to expand educational opportunities for children, particularly Head Start, Pre-K, and all-day kindergarten. He worked to pass some of the most important civil rights legislation during his time in Congress, greatly expanding the 1964 Civil Rights Act through passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1991.
As a Member of Congress, he was a strong supporter of The Family and Medical Leave Act, the Voting Rights Language Assistance Act, the National Motor Voter Registration Act, and the Legal Services Corporation Reauthorization to provide legal assistance to the poor. As Co-Chairman of the Rural Health Care Caucus in the US House of Representatives he worked hard to improve education and health care in small impoverished communities throughout America. He led efforts to designate rural hospitals as “critical access” hospitals, thus qualifying them for higher Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement and enabling them to serve the needs of the poor and elderly who could not otherwise afford their services. He sponsored legislation to recruit doctors into rural America through the National Health Service Corps, to increase the numbers of Physician Assistants and Nurse Practitioners in poor areas, to develop improved Medical transportation, and to implement Telemedicine to better serve rural communities. The Illinois Hospital Association awarded him their Congressional Legislator of the Year Award for improving access and affordability to health care in rural America.
He helped to successfully lead the effort for expanded medical care for poor children through the KID CARE Program. He pushed for expanded Medicaid coverage and Aids research, both of which are crucial for quality health care of poor children. He has served as honorary chairman of March of Dimes, the southern Illinois AIDS Walk, Special Olympics and Big Brothers, Big Sisters. On issues as varied as universal health care, labor and workplace justice, and campaign finance reform, his first priority has been to promote health care and equal educational opportunity as a right for all of our citizens regardless of their economic status in life.
Dr. Poshard played an important role in helping the Illinois Hunger Coalition to be able to provide to able bodied adults without dependent children a waiver so that hungry Illinois residents could continue to receive SNAP benefits. He also brought attention to legislators about the need for a college hunger bill that would help thousands of college students who are food insecure to be able to receive SNAP benefits.
His work in support of abused, neglected, and abandoned women and children has provided sanctuary and life changing experiences for thousands throughout southern Illinois. He established the Southern Illinois Coats for Kids, providing thousands of poor children with adequate clothing for school. The Poshard Foundation for Abused Children has raised millions of dollars to build shelters for the abused and neglected, has worked with area food banks and the Illinois Hunger Coalition for two decades to feed the poor in the most impoverished area of the state, and have provided hundreds of thousands of dollars of scholarship monies to children who have experienced abuse and abandonment. He and his wife Jo have been recognized throughout the state by various social service agencies for their resolute commitment to serving the needs of the most vulnerable among us.
Serving as precinct committeeman, Vice-Chairman of the Williamson County Democrat Party, State Senator, United States Congressman in the 19th and 22nd congressional districts, delegate to Democratic National Conventions, President of the Southern Illinois University system, and the Democrat nominee for Governor in 1998, Poshard has spent his entire adult life traveling across Illinois representing the Democrat Party and Democrat candidates for office. Working with the Illinois Democrat County Chairs’ Association in the campaign for Governor J.B. Pritzker, Poshard spoke to people in over sixty counties in Illinois.
He and his wife Jo live in Murphysboro, Illinois. Their son Dennis and daughter Kristen, along with their families, reside in southern Illinois also.
Former President, Local 881 and former UFCW International Vice President
Ron Powell has served as President of Local 881 UFCW since 1983. His professional career in the American Labor Movement spans over five decades. Under Mr. Powell’s direction, Local 881 has assumed the role of a progressive and innovative leader on behalf of its members in the areas of worksite representation, membership services, benefits, communications, and activities. In addition to leading Local 881 as President, Mr. Powell is a Vice President on the UFCW International Executive Board; a Vice President of the Illinois State AFL-CIO; and a Trustee for the UFCW Midwest Health Benefits and Pension Funds. Mr. Powell has consistently volunteered his time and efforts on behalf of labor-minded political candidates in all levels of government who are sensitive to the needs of working people. He has been elected as a Delegate
Desiree Tate was an experienced public relations professional who worked for more than three decades in community and government relations. She was President & CEO of Tate & Associates, specializing in consulting services to government agencies, non-profits, and corporations in grassroots organizing, marketing, and developing community consensus.
Throughout her professional career, Ms. Tate was very active in government and community affairs. She served as scheduler to Chicago’s late Mayor Harold Washington, senior advisor to Senator Carol Moseley-Braun, member of the finance committee for President Barack Obama and was an advisor to Mayor Rahm Emanuel on issues related to the African-American community.
Her government and community relations experience included work with the City of Chicago Police Department, Chicago Housing Authority, Chicago Board of Education, Chicago Public Schools, City Colleges of Chicago, Illinois Medical District, the Obama Foundation and McKissack & McKissack.
As project manager for the Chicago Housing Authority Re-Development Initiative, Ms. Tate coordinated and helped facilitate all the collaborative relationships among key stakeholders. She managed the grassroots community outreach, trained residents to help inform the community about the redevelopment project, and employed CHA residents to help their neighbor’s complete resident surveys.
Ms. Tate received an MBA from DePaul University in Chicago, and a B.A. in journalism from Indiana University. She received additional training in community organization and development from Princeton University and in business management from the University of Michigan.
She was a member of the Business Leadership Council, National Association of Public Relations Professionals, National Association of Black MBAs, director of the Women’s Board of the National Urban League and served on the Board for Breakthrough Ministries.
State Representative Barbara Flynn Currie represents the 25th District, which includes parts of the communities of South Chicago, South Shore, Woodlawn, Hyde Park and Kenwood. She was first elected in 1978 and currently serves as the Majority Leader of the Illinois House. Ms. Currie’s legislative accomplishments include sponsorship of the first Illinois Freedom of Information Act and universal pre-school.
Ms. Currie has been honored by many organizations for her work in Springfield, including the Illinois Hospital Association, the Illinois AFL-CIO, the Independent Voters of Illinois- Independent Precinct Organization (IVI-IPO), the Chicago Urban League, the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), and the Women’s Bar Association of Illinois (WBA). In 2014, she was the recipient of the IL Environmental Council’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
Ms. Currie graduated with honors from the University of Chicago and went on to earn a Master’s degree in political science. She is a member of the Chicago League of Women Voters and the board of the ACLU of Illinois. She is active in many civic community and environmental organizations. She was married to the late David P. Currie, Professor of Law, University of Chicago. They have 2 children and 4 grandchildren.
William McNary has been called one of the most electrifying and inspirational speakers of our time. He is the Co-Director for Citizen Action/Illinois, the state’s largest public interest organization working on an ambitious agenda that includes the fight for workers’ rights, advancing public education funding, utility rate and insurance rate reform, environmental safety and protecting consumers from unfair predatory loan practices. He previously served as the Legislative Director for Citizen Action/Illinois.
He is the Legislative Chair of the Responsible Budget Coalition, a coalition dedicated to making the Illinois tax structure fairer in order to provide the revenues needed to create jobs, educate our children, and provide for health care, human services and public safety.
One of the nation’s leading advocates for health care reform, McNary was one of the founding members of Health Care for America Now!, the largest national grassroots health care coalition which led to the successful passage of the national Affordable Care Act that was signed into law by President Obama.
McNary has been appointed by two Illinois governors, the Illinois Attorney General, the Cook County Board President and other state constitutional officers to serve on several state boards, task forces and transition teams. Most recently, Treasurer Mike Frerichs appointed McNary to serve on his transition team where he advocates using state funds to incentivize banks and lending institutions that serve economically challenged urban and rural areas.
McNary served as the founding president of USAction, one of the nation’s largest coalitions of progressive grassroots organizations. He served as a surrogate speaker for President Barack Obama in his first run for President. He was also elected as an Obama delegate and served as Illinois Convention Floor Whip at the Denver Democratic Convention in 2008.
McNary served as the Senior Policy Advisor for Public Campaign, an organization that promoted public financing of elections to fix a broken campaign finance system. He was appointed by former Governor Pat Quinn to serve on the Illinois Task Force for Campaign Finance Reform.
He currently serves on the board of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability an organization that promotes tax fairness. He also serves on the board of the Voter Participation Center, an organization that empowers unmarried women, people of color and other underrepresented groups to participate in the democratic process. He also serves on the board of the Environmental Law and Policy Center which promotes environmental progress through economic development and jobs.
Since 1996, McNary has worked with the Rainbow/Push Coalition where he co-directs targeted voter registration and “Get Out the Vote” campaign efforts.
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle has been a dedicated community leader for over two decades, providing independent and progressive leadership founded on experience, know- how and a commitment to practical results.
Toni has the integrity and forward-thinking ideas that are needed to transform county government into a world-class institution of which the people of Cook County can be proud.
Toni stood up to the city’s political machine, and despite failed first attempts, she prevailed. She ran an improbable campaign against the political establishment and was elected 4th Ward Alderman in 1991.
In her 19 years as Alderman, Toni has improved the quality of life of her constituents by providing independent, transparent and accountable leadership. She ended the old patronage model in her ward that awarded jobs based on political clout. She has successfully fought for greater funding for education and affordable housing in her ward. She sponsored the Living Wage and Affordable Housing Ordinances, and was a lead plaintiff in a lawsuit to institute a more racially equitable map of Chicago’s ward boundaries. Toni sponsored an ordinance that limits the establishment of payday loan stores and was a lead sponsor of the anti-smoking ordinance. She has not been afraid to stand-up to the status-quo, voting against the parking meter privatization and standing with a small minority in opposition to the 2008 tax increases.
Toni’s independent and progressive leadership earned her the IVI-IPO Best Alderman Award in 1993, 1995, 1997, 1999, 2005 and 2008, and the 1997 and 2009 Leon Despres Awards.
Toni was elected Cook County Board President on November 2, 2010. She holds a Bachelor’s degree and a Master’s degree from the University of Chicago. She taught high school history for ten years before being elected to City Council. She is also a mother of two children and grandmother of three.
Debra Shore is a Commissioner on the Board of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, first elected in 2006, and re-elected to a second term in 2012. Debra has been a strong advocate for cleaning up the Chicago waterways and for resource recovery, including the reuse of treated water and the generation of biogas. In recognition of her work, she received the Public Officials Award from the Water Environment Federation in 2013.
Debra is immediate past president of the board of trustees for Congregation Sukkat Shalom in Wilmette and immediate past chair of the Board of Directors for the Great Lakes Protection Fund. She was the founding editor of Chicago Wilderness Magazine, is an active volunteer restoring prairies and oak woods, and was a founding board member of Friends of the Forest Preserves.
Debra graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Goucher College in Baltimore, MD 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 lives with her partner-in-life, Kathleen Gillespie, in Skokie, Illinois. She has climbed 42 of the 54 mountains in Colorado more than 14,000’ high.
Influenced by his parents, Clem grew up in an activist family. At the age of 10, in 1963, he went to Washington, DC to march with Dr. King. His first campaign involvement started about the same time when he organized a bike parade in support of a local candidate for Chicago Alderman on Chicago’s Southeast side. To this day, Clem’s career continues to grow from the same passion for progressive causes.
Later Clem would become the Democratic Committeeman of the 10th Ward, and State Representative from the 35th District. He served as Director of Elections for Cook County and was the longtime chief of Staff for Cook County Clerk David Orr.
Throughout his life Clem has been active in campaigns. He served as political director for the Chuy Garcia for Chicago mayoral campaign and was the Illinois State Director of the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign. He has deep ties to African American, Latino and progressive communities across the state. Currently he serves as Chair of Our Revolution-Illinois and is the political director of the Amalgamated Transit Union, International.
Kevin Conlon’s passion for politics and public policy was sparked when he volunteered as an 11- year-old at Rich Township Democratic Headquarters, where he later became a committeeman. He went on to choose a career in government relations and to serve in leadership roles in campaigns at all levels of government.
Kevin’s campaign work has included serving as the State Co-Chair of the Illinois Hillary Clinton presidential campaign for the 2008 and 2016 elections. During President Barack Obama’s 2012 presidential campaign, Kevin was a member of the National Finance Committee, and founder and National Co-Chair of the Obama Leadership Circle. During the 2004 presidential campaign, Kevin acted as Illinois State Chair and Vice Chair of the National Finance Committee for Governor Howard Dean and, later, Illinois State Finance Chair for Senator John Kerry. He has held a variety of positions with the Democratic National Committee, most recently serving as a member of the DNC’s Permanent Committee on Rules (2006-08) and a Delegate at a Democratic National Conventions dating back to 1996.
Kevin has held elected office, as Rich Township Democratic Committeeman for 14 years and as Rich Township Supervisor for nine years. He was the first Democrat in 130 years elected to lead Rich Township, and, in 1994, he was named “Supervisor of the Year” by Illinois township officials.
After practicing labor and employment law as district counsel for the Communications Workers of America, Kevin founded a government relations firm (now Conlon & Dunn Public Strategies) with former Democratic National Committee Chairman David Wilhelm. The firm has helped more than 200 clients, mostly nonprofits, achieve their goals in the public arena.
Kevin served on the Presidential Advisory Committee on Expanding Training Opportunities during the Clinton administration and has been an adjunct faculty member at DePaul University, Chicago-Kent School of Law (Illinois Institute of Technology), and the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy Studies, where he has taught classes on campaign strategy. A native of the south suburbs, Kevin holds degrees from the Loyola University of Chicago School of Law, the University of Illinois, and Illinois State University.
Hon. Lauren Beth Gash holds a law degree from Georgetown University Law Center, where she served as Associate Editor of the American Criminal Law Review. As an undergraduate at Clark University, she majored in Psychology. Recently, she has been a Commissioner with the Illinois Human Rights Commission. Prior to that, she served four terms in the Illinois House of Representatives, where she chaired the Judiciary Committee and worked with then-State Senator Barack Obama on several pieces of legislation. She was also Vice-Chair of the Elections and Campaign Reform Committee.
Lauren was a member of the Electoral College on behalf of President Obama in 2008 and 2012, and on behalf of Hillary Clinton in 2016. She was an elected Delegate to the Democratic National Convention several times. Lauren previously worked in Washington, D.C., and has served on the staffs of U.S. Senators Alan Dixon and Paul Simon.
Lauren is a life-long community organizer who has served on numerous notfor-profit boards, including the League of Women Voters, PTA and the Anti-Defamation League. She is a former volunteer attorney at Prairie State Legal Services.
In her race for Congress as the Democratic nominee in a Republican district, Lauren garnered 49% of the vote. She went on to become the Founding Chair of the Tenth Congressional District Democrats (Tenth Dems), a grassroots organization dedicated to building a strong Democratic infrastructure in Chicago’s northern and northwestern suburbs.
The group’s Tenth Dems University regularly hosts nationally recognized speakers and other committees help local residents through such efforts as Tenth Dems’ Job Interview Workshops, Expungement and Sealing Events with volunteer attorneys, and Annual Student Poetry and Prose Contests. The Tenth Dems Election Protection Team put 125 lawyers at polling places throughout the 10th District in November, working to make sure that everyone who is entitled to vote is actually allowed to vote. Volunteers put into action the group’s motto that “Politics should be about more than just elections; it should be about working together to build stronger communities.”
Lauren lives in Highland Park and is married to Gregg Garmisa. They have two adult children – Sarah, who uses her MBA and Master of Public Policy degrees to work toward social justice with not-for-profit organizations, and Ben, who serves as the Communications Director for U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth on Capitol Hill.
Bill Houlihan is the State Director for U.S. Senator Richard Durbin, the Democratic Whip of the U.S. Senate, where he oversees all of the operations of the Senator’s four district offices.
Bill began his lengthy political career in 1964 at the tender age of 9, passing out literature during his father’s successful campaign for Illinois State Representative. His early understanding of public service followed him throughout his entire career.
Bill was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, the fourth of eight children. He attended elementary and high schools in the south suburbs of Chicago. After graduating from Eastern Illinois University in 1981, where he served as Student Body President, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science, he took a position as an Organizer with the Illinois Education Association in Springfield. His responsibilities included directing local membership drives, assisting the Director of Public Affairs and consulting and developing strategies for numerous legislative races.
Following two years at the IEA, Bill was hired as the Administrative Assistant and the Director of the Legislative Services Staff for Illinois Senate President Phil Rock. He initiated annual district office conferences; assisted in the development of legislative issues; developed a legislative services staff; supervised district office management; developed and coordinated special conferences and hearings; and assisted in the development of legislative and communication strategies.
In 1993, Bill became the Director of the Downstate offices of U.S. Senator Carol Moseley-Braun, coordinating her downstate activities and supervising constituent casework.
After Senator Durbin’s successful 1996 campaign for the U.S. Senate, Bill joined his staff, bringing his expertise in local, state and federal government to his current position as State Director.
Bill was also elected to three 2 year terms as Sangamon County Democratic Chairman, served as Springfield Public Building Commissioner, Springfield Sanitary District Trustee and Springfield Housing Authority Commissioner. In March of 2014, he was elected the State Central Committeeman of the 18th District for the Democratic Party of Illinois, a position he still holds.
Bill and his wife, Cindy Winans Houlihan, reside in Springfield and are the parents of four children, Mariah, Grant and John (triplets) and Neil. They have five grandchildren.