Kevin Conlon co-founded Conlon & Dunn Public Strategies in 1998 with former Democratic National Committee Chairman David Wilhelm. He offers clients a unique understanding of the public arena derived from over 30 years of experience in law, government, venture capital, and non-profit organizations. Kevin’s background and relationships give him a unique ability to assist clients at all levels of government and in the business, civic, and nonprofit communities, which has earned him recognition in Crain’s Chicago Business list of “Who’s Who in Chicago Business” since 2005.
Kevin has played leading roles in numerous political campaigns, including serving as Illinois State Co-Chair for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s 2008 and 2016 presidential campaigns. During President Obama’s 2012 presidential campaign, Kevin was national co-chair of the Obama Leadership Circle and a member of the national and Illinois finance committees (one of top 100 fundraisers nationally). In 2004, he served as Illinois state chair and vice chair of the national finance committee for Governor Howard Dean’s presidential campaign. He has also worked in strategy and finance roles for dozens of congressional and state-level campaigns. Kevin’s campaign work led the Illinois Democratic County Chairmen’s Association to select him as the recipient of its first annual Party Builder Award in 2017.
Prior to the formation of the firm, Kevin practiced labor and employment law for 15 years and served in federal, state, and local government. During the Clinton administration, he was appointed by President Clinton to the Presidential Advisory Committee on Expanding Training Opportunities. He served as Rich Township Democratic Committeeman for 14 years and Rich Township Supervisor for nine years, after becoming the first Democrat in 130 years to be elected to lead the township. Kevin has also been a member of the Cook County Zoning Board of Appeals, a court-appointed arbitrator for the Circuit Court of Cook County, and a Special Assistant Attorney General for the State of Illinois.
Kevin has been active in the community throughout his career. He is past president of the Irish Fellowship Club of Chicago, a standing member of the Economic Club of Chicago, and a member of the advisory committee for the Illinois Connection/University of Illinois Alumni Association. He has taught classes at the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy Studies, Chicago-Kent School of Law (Illinois Institute of Technology), and DePaul University. In 2003, Loyola University of Chicago awarded him the Loyola Council of Regents Order of Merit.
Kevin holds a bachelor’s degree from Illinois State University, a master’s degree from the University of Illinois, and a J.D. from the Loyola University of Chicago School of Law.
Kam Buckner is a native of the Southside of Chicago. He represents the 26th Legislative District in the Illinois House of Representatives. The District, completely situated in the city of Chicago contains parts of South Chicago, South Shore, Washington Park, Woodlawn, Hyde Park, Kenwood, Bronzeville, the South Loop, Downtown, River North, Streeterville and the Gold Coast.
He previously served as Executive Director of World Sport Chicago, the non-profit legacy of Chicago’s bid for the 2016 Olympic Games; an organization that uses sport as a tool to provide positive life skill training and opportunities to youth in Chicago’s most under-resourced communities. Buckner previously worked in the Front Office of Major League Baseball’s Chicago Cubs, where he led the team’s government and neighborhood relations efforts; serving as an integral part of the contingent that successfully negotiated a deal to renovate and expand historic Wrigley Field; a first of its kind stadium deal that is expected to yield $1.2 billion in economic activity.
He previously spent a number of years in the public sector on the staffs of Mayor Mitch Landrieu of New Orleans, LA and U.S. Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois. He attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he was a member of the Fighting Illini football team and received a B.A. in Political Science. He holds a J.D. from DePaul University College of Law.
Kam has served as an adjunct professor in the Undergraduate College of Public Policy at the University of Chicago and has been a contributor for the political newspaper and website the Hill and Crain’s Chicago Business. He formerly served on the Board of Trustees of Chicago State University.
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. They worked hard their entire lives to ensure Mike and his brother had a roof over their heads and a good education.
One of the first people in his family to go to college, Mike graduated with honors from Miami University of Ohio. It was there – long before he would become an attorney and elected official – that Mike discovered his passion for advocacy. He and a small group of like-minded 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. During his time there, Mike passionately fought corruption and fraud, and his hard work made a difference. 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 in their own language. 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. The National Association of Counties recognized Mike’s digital system with an award for innovative, effective county programs that enhance services for residents.
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.
Prior to this recent transition, John led the Illinois Government Relations group at his McGuireWoods and developed a large and successful government relations practice representing companies before city and state government. His clients include major companies in the tech, aviation, transportation, health, manufacturing and banking sectors. He has assisted several disruptive tech companies in dealing with regulatory, legislative and political hurdles. John also has a significant public procurement practice and has helped clients win major city and state contracts.
Previously he served as Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley’s Director of Intergovernmental Affairs, reporting directly to the mayor and serving as his senior adviser on all legislative and political matters. John served as the mayor’s liaison to all federal, state, and local elected officials; was responsible for the appointments to and relations with all city boards and commissions; and oversaw labor relations. As director of the city’s Springfield team, he passed many pieces of significant state legislation and gained an unparalleled understanding of the relationship between City Hall and Springfield.
Prior to his city experience, John worked at two large Chicago law firms and as AT&T’s Midwest legislative attorney. He earned his J.D. at the University of California Hastings College of Law and his B.A. at the University of Notre Dame. He served four years as a U.S. Navy officer.
As a principal in the Cozen O’Connor Public Strategies group, Matt helps clients navigate the complex legislative and regulatory landscape in Illinois. His background in politics, government, and managing in-house government affairs operations for large corporations, allows him to bring unique value to his clients.
Before joining Cozen O’Connor, Matt served as the national director of Government Affairs for American Water, overseeing legislative and regulatory policy in 47 states for the largest privately owned water utility in the country. He also has extensive experience handling policy and regulatory matters before the Illinois Commerce Commission, the state’s primary utility regulator.
Prior to American Water, Matt worked in several high-level positions for former Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, including director of the Office of Business Development and chief of staff for the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. Additionally, he previously served as deputy press secretary to U.S. Senator Richard Durbin. He has worked on several political campaigns in Illinois and worked at a large law firm in Chicago handling consumer and class action defense cases. Matt is a member of the board of directors for Equality Illinois, the state’s largest LGBTQ organization and is a graduate of Loyola Chicago School of Law and Illinois Wesleyan University.
Monica is the Executive Director of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus Foundation where she is responsible for overall operations of the foundation. Her previous experience in medical sales allows her to be comfortable with budgets while penetrating a territory with concise messaging. As the Interim Executive Director of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus Foundation, Monica has raised over $300,000 in less than a year within her appointment. She is a long-term relationship builder who practices collaboration and team building.
Monica is a compassionate advocate for human service programs that assist others during times of hardship. She is certified in emotional intelligence assessment and loves connecting with people. Due to her community service involvement in the south suburbs, Monica has had the opportunity to meet many of its amazing residents.
Previously, Monica Gordon was a state lobbyist with Pugh & Associates. She received her B.A. from Northern Illinois University as well as a M.A. form Governors State University. Prior to advocating in Springfield for various clients such as PhRMA and the IL Trial Lawyers Association, she worked in pharmaceutical/medical sales for 11 years. During her career in medical sales, she won several sales awards with Johnson and Johnson and Mead Johnson and was promoted to a management role. Monica has always been dedicated to community service, extending her expertise to various non-profits and causes such as Girls 4 Science, Plan 4 Success, South Suburban PADS, the west side NAACP branch and the Flossmoor Cares MLK Project. She is also politically involved, serving on various committees for state legislators as well as local political campaigns. Monica is a member of the Illinois Democratic County Chairs’ Association’s Leadership Circle and was recently appointed to the Flossmoor Community Relations Commission by the village’s mayor. Furthermore, she is fiercely committed to the education and empowerment of young girls and women. Monica resides in Flossmoor.
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.
Ron Holmes is the co-founder of The Majority-Minority Group, a Chicago-based company with an aim to create more minority-owned businesses. Their first mission has been to specifically help minority and female business owners in the cannabis industry. Ron is also the founding principal of Ron Holmes Consulting LLC, a government and political affairs consulting firm founded in 2015.
Before starting his consulting practice, Ron served as Communications Director for U.S. Senator Dick Durbin’s re-election campaign. In that capacity, Ron was responsible for shaping a winning vision and message in a cycle in which national Democrats would eventually lose control of the Senate and Illinois Democrats would lose the Governor’s mansion. Prior to the Durbin campaign, Ron built a statewide network of elected officials and media contacts through his work as a spokesman and speechwriter for Illinois Senate President John J. Cullerton. At the time, Cullerton was the leader of the largest state senate caucus – Republican or Democrat – in the country and in Illinois history. Cullerton placed Ron at the center of reforms and initiatives to improve the well-being of the state and its taxpayers.
During his time in Springfield, Ron was tapped by leaders of both chambers to serve as the public facilitator of Illinois’ historical legislative redistricting process that included the signing of the first ever Illinois Voting Rights Act and was the most open and transparent redistricting in the state’s history. Ron’s other experiences in public policy include serving time in the offices of IL Senate President Emil Jones Jr., the National Urban League’s Policy Institute and the Chicago Public Schools. Ron has also served as political advisor to candidates and officials across the state of Illinois.
Ron is an alumnus of Morehouse College where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration and minor in Economics. While at Morehouse, Ron served in various leadership capacities including President Pro-Tempore of the Morehouse Senate and Vice-President of the Morehouse Chapter of the NAACP.
43rd Ward Democratic Committeeman 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.
Josina Wing Morita is a Commissioner of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District. Elected in 2016, she is the first Asian American elected to a countywide board in Cook County—the second largest county in the country. As an urban planner and policy advocate, Josina brings expertise in equity policy, land use, stormwater and regional planning. She sits on the boards of Woods Fund Chicago, Delta Institute, and the National Blue Ribbon Commission for On-Site Non-Potable Water Systems. Josina’s human rights, racial justice and water justice work has been recognized locally and nationally. In 2007, she was named one of the top 35 leaders under 35 fighting racism and poverty in Chicago by the Community Renewal Society. In 2013, she received the Emerging Leader Award from the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform and the Breaking Barriers Award from the Chicago Foundation for Women. In 2016 she was named one of 50 Young Asian American Stars in Politics by Asian Fortune Magazine. In 2017 she received the Spirit of the River Award from the Friends of the Chicago River. And in 2018 she was recognized as a National Water Hero by WaterNow. She holds a B.A. in Sociology and International Race Relations from Pitzer College and a Masters in Urban Planning and Public Policy from the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Olivia leads The Consensus Group’s client advocacy and strategy efforts. She is an experienced government relations and public affairs consultant and has been engaged with Illinois and Chicago politics for over sixteen years. Her expertise includes identifying impact on diverse stakeholders, building dynamic partnerships, and collaborating with client leaders to isolate initiatives and tackle emerging issues and challenges. Olivia has represented various industries, such as hospitality, healthcare and professional sports teams on initiatives like supplier diversity, procurement and the environment. She has extensive experience in representing business organizations throughout Illinois.
Bob Reiter is the President of the Chicago Federation of Labor, the third largest central labor council of the national AFL-CIO. He previously served two terms as Secretary-Treasurer of the CFL from July 2010 to May 2018.
For Bob, the labor movement has always had an influence on his life. His parents instilled the values of solidarity and social justice in Bob from a young age, and as he got older, he realized that everywhere he went and everything he did kept bringing him back to the labor movement.
Bob’s appreciation for the history of labor informs his understanding of the need to reposition the labor movement in light of its history. He is a third-generation member of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150. Throughout his career, he has worked as a labor attorney, an organizer, a negotiator and a lobbyist. When the opportunity to run for elected office of the Chicago Federation of Labor presented itself in 2010, Bob saw this as an opportunity to bring the values that his parents taught him to a bigger stage, allowing him to affect people’s lives in a way he could not do at his local.
While each union has its own unique successes and challenges, the broader issues and struggles are universally the same. Bob’s role as President allows him to be the voice of every CFL-affiliated union on these big picture issues. One of his responsibilities is to represent the interests of labor throughout Chicago and Cook County. Through his work on the Cook County Health and Hospital System’s Board of Directors, Bob works to build partnerships between health providers and the community, and he advocates for policies that improve the overall well-being of all people across Cook County. His involvement with various community groups, including Chicago Jobs with Justice’s Executive Committee and Arise Chicago’s Executive Board, allows him to fight for the rights of workers through education, organizing and shaping public discourse. As a member of the Citizen Action/Illinois Policy Council, Bob influences the organization’s public policy positions, the legislative agenda and any candidate endorsements for public office. On the Metropolitan Planning Council Resource Board, Bob is helping to build a strong economy and reinvigorate Chicago’s neighborhoods. In his previous work as a Board member for the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, Bob helped to strengthen the economy of Chicago by bringing tradeshows, conventions and other public events to Chicago. Bob is also lending his voice to issues related to international trade, meeting periodically with dignitaries from various European countries and experts from the agricultural, manufacturing and financial industries.
Bob holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in political science from Eastern Illinois University, and a Juris Doctor degree from IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. He currently resides in Orland Park, IL. with his wife, Diana, and their two children.
Gillian Rosenberg Armour is the Managing Director for Wildfire Contact, a political direct mail firm. Gillian was named to the top “40 Under 40” in 2019 by AAPC. Gillian has over fifteen years of campaign experience, including helping lay the groundwork for President Obama’s historic Iowa Caucus win. Her resume includes multiple statewide and legislative campaigns. Gillian was the first National Director of Campaigns for J Street and from 2012-2016 she served as the Executive Director of the Illinois Women’s Institute for Leadership. In 2018, Gillian was the lead direct mail strategist for Congresswoman Sharice Davids (KS-03), Congresswoman Lauren Underwood (IL-14), DCCC Chairwoman Cheri Bustos (IL-17) and a dozen legislative and municipal elections across the country. Gillian lives in Chicago with her husband and her dog Avon.
Nancy Rotering is the first female mayor of Highland Park, IL, a position she has held since 2011. She has been a leader in inclusive government, making sure that every resident has a voice.
Nancy’s dedication to public service spans decades. As mayor, Nancy enacted tough reforms, balanced consecutive budgets, and maintained a Aaa bond rating for the City – something only a handful of Illinois municipalities have done. Nancy led the passage of one of the nation’s first local assault weapons bans and fought the NRA all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. She held ComEd accountable to improve electrical service throughout Lake County. Nancy founded the Highland Park-Highwood Legal Aid Clinic, providing free legal services in the areas of housing, immigration and domestic violence. She was elected to the Highland Park City Council and has served as a member of the Highland Park Plan Commission and Environmental Commission.
Her work in the community and beyond has been recognized. Nancy was honored as the 2013 Rotary Humanitarian of the Year. In 2014, Today’s Chicago Woman named Nancy to their 100 Women of Inspiration, and she was named to the Forty over 40 list in Forbes. Nancy was awarded the 2006 Robert Barnard Pillar Award by the Highland Park Human Relations Commission for her work on behalf of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and as the founder of the Environmental Education Program (EEP) for North Shore District 112 Schools. Nancy also serves on a broad range of civic and philanthropic commissions, boards, and committees.
Nancy grew up and attended public school in Highland Park. After earning her undergraduate degree in economics from Stanford and an MBA from Northwestern, Nancy worked in finance at General Motors before attending the University of Chicago Law School. She specialized in health care law practicing with McDermott Will & Emery. Nancy later shifted her focus to government work and served as a Legislative Aide to State Representative Karen May. She and her husband, Rob have four sons.
David P. Saunders (CIPP/US, CIPM) is an experienced litigator who focuses his practice on privacy and cybersecurity matters. David helps clients mitigate and manage risks related to data privacy and cybersecurity, from counseling on compliance with privacy regulations and managing data incident responses, to navigating regulatory investigations and handling biometric and other privacy-related litigation.
David works collaboratively with a diverse range of clients, from small business and pro bono clients to multinational Fortune 100 companies, understanding and advising on their data practices to provide guidance on the myriad issues that arise in today’s digital world.
Additionally, David has experience conducting risk assessments, developing privacy programs, drafting privacy policies, performing due diligence for corporate transactions, negotiating vendor agreements and working with clients through data incident response. He regularly counsels on HIPAA, HITECH, GLBA, CCPA and state law privacy obligations, including engaging with key rulemakers at the state level to advance clients’ interests. He has litigated and helped resolve matters related to data privacy and cybersecurity issues, including navigating potential and actual regulatory investigations.
David has successfully worked with a number of state attorney general’s offices and federal regulators, and advocated on behalf of clients in the telecommunications, consulting and financial services sectors whether in response to routine inquiries or in response to reported data incidents. This work has included collaborating with clients to provide testimony and comment on existing and planned data privacy legislation at the state and federal levels and respond to investigations and inquiries by state AGs and federal regulators.
David maintains an active pro bono practice, having represented inmates in various actions in state and federal courts, and providing privacy program development, counseling and training to non-profits.
Kristine M. Schanbacher is a senior managing associate of Dentons’ Litigation and Dispute Resolution practice. Her focus is on complex commercial litigation in both federal and state courts. She has experience in a wide variety of commercial disputes, including class action, contracts, media law, business torts, and insurance matters. She also has experience in patent, trademark, and copyright matters. Kristine has helped address major class action litigation issues affecting property and casualty insurers in numerous jurisdictions throughout the United States.
Kristine has served as the lead associate on a complex commercial and media law trial and a high exposure personal injury trial.
Kristine’s pro bono work includes successfully obtaining political asylum on behalf of her client and obtaining a reduced sentence for a juvenile unconstitutionally sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
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.
On January 3, 2011, Edward M. Smith was elevated to Chief Executive Officer of Ullico Inc. after serving as its President since May of 2008. Ullico Inc., founded in 1927, provides insurance and financial solutions for labor unions, union employers, union benefit funds, and union members. Prior to becoming President, Mr. Smith served as Ullico Inc.’s Executive Vice President from January 2007 until May 2008.
Before joining Ullico, Smith had a long and distinguished career at the Laborers’ International Union of North America. After joining LiUNA at age 13, he was elected Business Manager of Laborer’s Local 773 at age 21. Smith later became International Union Vice President and Midwest Regional Manager serving over 58,000 members. He also served as Assistant to the General President.
Smith formerly served as Chairman of the Illinois State Board of Investment, Chairman of the National Alliance for Fair Contracting, and a member of the Illinois Department of Labor Advisory Board. He has also been a key benefactor to the Therapy Center in Carterville, Illinois, the Shawnee College Foundation in Ullin, Illinois as well as the Connell F. Smith Homer Brown Scholarship Fund in Marion, Illinois.
Smith attended Shawnee College and graduated with an Associates of Arts degree in 1974. He was the first member of the Laborers International Union (LiUNA) to graduate from the National Labor College with a bachelor’s degree. Smith went on to graduate from the Harvard University Trade Union Program. He is now an active board member for the National Coordinating Committee for Multiemployer Plans (NCCMP), Laborers’ Charitable Foundation, Laborers CARE, America’s Agenda-Healthcare for All, and serves as a trustee for the AFL-CIO Staff Retirement Plan.
After spending nearly fifteen years managing campaigns ranging from U.S. Senate and Gubernatorial races to big city Mayoral and County Executive races, Ken launched his own media firm in 2004. Ken is known for his intense commitment to clients, and for his creative ad making that has helped dozens of candidates score stunning victories.
Ken’s “on-the-ground” experience of working with reporters and running campaigns gives his candidates a value beyond paid advertising. His practical experience helps campaigns plan budgets, earn free media and meet their overall goals and objectives. His philosophy is simple: the big ad firms take on too many races and frequently take too many of them for granted, resulting in a boring cookie cutter approach. Ken and SP Media’s outside the beltway approach takes the time to make each campaign unique – tailored to individual districts, states and candidate personalities.
From 2008 – 2021, Heather Steans represented the 7th Senate District of the State of Illinois. She was the chair the Appropriations I Committee and the Special Committee on Oversight of Medicaid Managed Care, she vice chaired the Appropriations II Committee and served on the Executive, Environmental and Conservation, Government Reform and Human Services Committees.
Senator Steans has been a leader in the effort to legalize cannabis in Illinois, resulting in landmark legislation prioritizing equity and criminal justice reform. She has also been a champion for LGBTQ equality, passing the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act to make marriage equality the law for all Illinois residents. Additionally, she was the Senate Sponsor for House Bill 40, protecting women’s reproductive rights in Illinois.
Senator Steans has fought to expand Medicaid under the federal health care law and reform Medicaid legislation to ensure the ongoing solvency of the program while addressing the state’s $2.7 billion shortfall. She has enacted significant reform legislation to improve nursing homes, and she passed bills to reduce mercury waste and create commercial composting capabilities to protect the environment. She also sponsored the repeal of the death penalty in Illinois. Moving forward, Senator Steans is working on legislation to require increased testing for lead in drinking water.
Heather earned her bachelor’s degree in Urban Studies from Princeton University and her master’s degree in Public Policy from Harvard University’s John F Kennedy School of Government. During her career, she has focused on government finance, economic development, and education reform. She is the former budget director of the Wisconsin Department of Industry, Labor, and Human Relations, served as a strategic planner with the Chicago Public Schools, and was a consultant with Ernt & Young.
Heather has lived in Chicago’s Edgewater neighborhood for more than 20 years with her husband, Leo, and their three children.
Genevieve Thiers is an disruptor, entrepreneur, speaker and investor that lives in the Chicago area. Her first company, Sittercity.com, is America’s first company to take caregiving services online. Sittercity.com now has millions of users and worldwide, and Thiers has spread her self-made fortune around into 15 more investments in women tech CEO’s and over 50 donations to female political candidates in the last three years.
She is a Co Executive Producer and the political tech trainer on RUN, and founded this Chicago-based NewFounders conference, a political TED that brought in over 2000 major political leaders to Chicago between 2016 and 2020. Genevieve is the author of #TechYourself, the first-ever political tech playbook for candidates running for office. She has trained over 1000 women on how to use tech in their campaigns since March 2019, and is one of the foremost thinkers when it comes to tech and politics in the nation. See more at www.techyourself.org.
Genevieve was recognized by President Bush at the White House as the Small Business Administration Young Entrepreneur Champion of the Year for 2006, and her companies have won over 18 major awards, including the CEC Momentum Award, the WBDC Rising Start Award, a CNN Young Heroes feature, the UPS Out of the Box Award, the INC 500 list, and more.
Genevieve has been featured thousands of times in the press for her work, by the TODAY show, Ellen, the View, MSNBC, the CBS Early Show, CNN, Live & Style, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Redbook, Parents, Parenting, Marie Clare, TIME, Better Homes and Gardens, Working Mother and more. She has lectured or spoken at the TED Global, Cusp, Amex, Groupon, Enova, Inland, the CEO Conference, the Heartland Conference, Microsoft, Harvard business school, Kellogg, Columbia, Babson, Boston College, U Chicago and for hundreds of other entrepreneurial groups around the country.
Genevieve has mentored hundreds of entrepreneurs throughout her career. She is on the board of the CEC, which has created 1871, a co-working space in Chicago. Genevieve teaches classes at 1871 and is a frequent mentor and teacher within the space. She is a mother of twins, and cannot stand flip phones.
Jackie Traynere is proud to be of, by, and for the people she represents as a Will County Board member from the 4th District, which encompasses the eastern portion of Bolingbrook. As someone who grew up in Bolingbrook, who has returned to her hometown to work and serve, Jackie has her finger on the pulse of this growing area. She has seen and lived the changes that the area has undergone, and she knows that its residents want leaders that are in partnership with them in providing their families with opportunities for success and community connections while keeping them and their neighbors safe in their homes and as they go about their daily lives.
Jackie’s journey – having been raised in Bolingbrook, exploring other areas for a bit, and now returned to the area (permanently, as far as she’s concerned!) – has helped form her sense of who she is not just as a person but as a public servant. She has observed and experienced some of the many ways in which governmental agencies assist and protect their constituents. Her family home growing up as acquired with the help of a VHA home loan. As a young mother and later as a single parent, she was fortunate that she had family and friends she could rely on when needed, but she also knew that there were programs available to make sure that her children were cared for and agencies to keep them all safe and healthy. Jackie later endured the difficulties of navigating eldercare systems as she cared for her aging parents. When she found her professional calling, Jackie understood through her union work that those who organize as a workforce share in leadership and help ensure quality workplaces, as well as the products and services they provide. Finally, as a small business owner herself, Jackie knows first-hand that safe, carefully-run operations benefit everyone from the owner to the employees to their customers – and governments at all levels share in the responsibility of keeping the playing field level.
Jackie’s first foray into political life was as a fourth grader, when her class (with some adult assistance, of course) successfully lobbied the governor to help their fellow classmates by creating a safe school crossing at Route 53. Her first adult political experience was serving as an election judge at age 18, witnessing and protecting our most basic American democratic right at the voting booth. What really got her interested in getting involved in politics was the outsider candidacy of Ross Perot for president in 1992; she recalls being fascinated by his intentionally non-politician approach to spreading his message, including breaking things down on flip charts, just like we’ve all seen and used in classrooms and in our workplaces. As she matured and moved back to her Bolingbrook hometown, she joined the local Democratic Party. She entered the Illinois Women’s Institute for Leadership in 2006, coinciding with her first race for the Will County Board – and lost by 89 votes! Undeterred, she ran again and won in 2008 and has now been elected to that position three times. In 2013, Jackie attended the Harvard Kennedy School of Government where she learned a very memorable lesson about political life from the session’s lead speaker with the National Association of Counties: “It is a politician’s job to disappoint you at a rate you can absorb.” Jackie fervently hopes she can stay on target with the rate side of the equation while not going past the line of acceptable disappointment.
In 2015, Jackie took a leap of faith (and garnered some national attention along the way) when she challenged Bolingbrook’s long-time mayor and the rest of his ruling party. As the lead candidate of the Bolingbrook United ticket, Jackie ran on a platform of fiscal responsibility and greater inclusion for the village, committed to “transparency and accountability to the residents of Bolingbrook, not the special interests or party machines.” The group ran a great campaign, earning a depth of support that led to a much tighter race than had been expected, and drawing the attention of state- and nation-wide media outlets that highlighted the contest as a proxy for the 2016 presidential race. The voting ultimately came down to the wire, requiring the counting of all the mail-in ballots, but unfortunately the mayor was re-elected. Jackie sees the close race and heightened attention to issues Bolingbrook is facing as steps forward, and she continues to believe in the platform she ran on will be the one that will guide the village in years to come.
Jackie lives in Bolingbrook with her husband Joe; she has two adult children and two stepchildren. She has worked for twenty-two years for the American Federation of Government Employees as an organizer, and she and her husband and brother-in-law run The Cleaning Authority, a cleaning service with over thirty employees; through this small business they are connected to Cleaning for a Reason, a non-profit organization that provides home cleaning for women undergoing treatment for cancer.
Anna Valencia is the Clerk of the City of Chicago. Since Anna was sworn in, in January, 2017 she has been dedicated to building a Clerk’s office that benefits all Chicagoans.
Anna Valencia grew up in Granite City, IL a small town in Southern Illinois. Her father is a union painter and her mother worked for a non profit. Anna’s father’s family immigrated from Mexico. Anna learned the value of hard work and opportunity. Anna was the first person in her family to graduate from college.
After college, Anna dedicated her career to public service and working with various elected officials to create change for Illinois and Chicago. Clerk Valencia uses her middle-class roots to guide her office and make city services more accessible to all Chicagoans. Anna implemented the City’s first Municipal ID program which is available to all Chicago residents, regardless of age, housing status, gender identity or immigration status. This government-issued ID combines access to government and city services into one card.
As the second Latina to hold the office, Anna has been an outspoken advocate of women’s rights and encouraging Chicago Public Schools to participate in civic engagement. Anna lives in the Tri-Taylor neighborhood with her husband and dog.
Alderman Gilbert Villegas has spent his entire career serving others. Since being honorably discharged from the Marines, he has served in government, non-profits and for profit companies, each time successfully bringing new opportunities to businesses and employees.
Alderman Villegas served as Chief of Staff position at the Illinois Capital Development Board. Ald. Villegas oversaw a staff of 140 State personnel, a $25 million operating budget and a $3.9 billion dollar capital construction program. As the construction management agency for Illinois state government since 1972, the Capital Development Board (CDB) oversees the construction of new state facilities, such as prisons, colleges and university classroom buildings, mental health hospitals and state parks. In addition, CDB is responsible for renovation and rehabilitation projects at the State’s 8,500 plus state-owned buildings containing more than 96 million square-feet of floor space.
From 2008 to 2011, Ald. Villegas was the Associate Director of the Hispanic American Construction Industry Association. At HACIA he oversaw Government Affairs for the organization and spearheaded the development and lobbying efforts behind passage of two instrumental Illinois Senate Bills (SB 351 and SB3249), ensuring minority and women owned businesses have a principal opportunity to participate on state funded projects. Ald. Villegas successfully created the Minority Contractor Training Program, which trained over 300 businesses that sought to perform on federally and state funded infrastructure projects.
Prior to joining HACIA, Ald. Villegas served as the Deputy Director of the Office of Business and Workforce Diversity at the Illinois Department of Transportation. As the Deputy Director he oversaw two departments: the Bureaus of Small Business Enterprises and the statewide District Equal Employment Opportunity Contract Compliance Officers.
Ald. Villegas was previously a member of Teamster 734 where he served as the Teamster Union Steward, representing over 300 Teamster drivers and dockworkers. As the Teamster Union Steward, Ald. Villegas ensured that workers’ rights were protected and the collective bargaining agreements were adhered to.
Ald. Villegas currently represents the 36th Ward in City Council. The 36th Ward is located on Chicago’s Northwest Side and covers neighborhoods ranging from Portage Park to Hermosa. The Alderman sits on six committees, Aviation, Rules and Ethics, Economic, Capital and Technology Development, Health and Environmental Protection, Pedestrian and Traffic Safety, and Transportation and Public Way. Elected in 2015, the Alderman is focused on bringing his engineering expertise to the 36th in order to spur development and job creation. He has started a new Veteran Caucus in City Council to make Chicago the best city in the world for Veterans.
Jen started as executive director of IEC in January of 2011. In addition to managing the organization, Jen lobbies on behalf of IEC’s member organizations on a wide range of issues.
Prior to her time as executive director, Jen worked as chief of staff to State Senator Heather Steans. She has also worked for the Environmental Law and Policy Center and SCARCE, an environmental education non-profit, and interned for then Lieutenant Governor Pat Quinn. Jen obtained her law degree and master’s degree in Natural Resources and Environmental Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Law School in 2006, after gaining her undergraduate degree in NRES at the University of Illinois
Kim grew up in a middle-class household in Freeport, Illinois. Her mother was a nurse and her father was a teacher. They taught Kim the value of public service at an early age. Her father served as his region’s union representative to the Illinois Education Association and served on the IEA State Board of Directors. Kim put herself through college, earning a Master’s Degree in Public Policy from Georgetown. She moved to the 12th District in 2000 and started working for then Commissioner Quigley.
Over the next 10 years, as Quigley’s Director of Policy and Chief of Staff, she authored or co-authored seven reports on reinventing Cook County Government. She was responsible for the development and passage of legislation including ethics reforms, LGBTQ protections, women’s health programs, and fiscal accountability measures, to name a few. Kim later helped Quigley get elected to Congress and served as his District Director and Deputy Chief of Staff.
Since that time Kim served as Senior Vice President for Evergreen Health, a non-profit health co-op created under the ACA. In that role she oversaw all outreach to individuals during open enrollment – many of whom had never been insured. She later founded and ran Illinois Women for Hillary, responsible for women’s outreach in Illinois for the Hillary Campaign.
For the past three years she has worked for Walgreens, serving as a bridge between communities and the company. During Hurricane Harvey she was instrumental in coordinating the first pharmacists on the ground at the emergency shelters to provide medications and immunizations to evacuees and first responders.
Along the way, Kim has never lost sight of who she is, and the lessons instilled in her in childhood. She regularly volunteers at the House of Good Shepherd, a domestic violence shelter in Lakeview and has been a part of the Team to End Aids for three years, completing three triathlons while raising funds for the AIDS Foundation of Chicago. Kim serves on the Boards of ChildServ, Smart Policy Works and is on the Leadership Circles of the Illinois Democratic County Chairs and The Haymarket Center. She lives in Lakeview.
As President/CEO, Ms. Whiteside develops and maintains client relationships for the firm. She directs all engineering and planning projects acquired by the organization and oversees the development of innovative project ideas for community areas in blight. Ms. Whiteside manages projects in the areas of civil engineering, aviation, public infrastructure, utilities and site development. She is a trained civil engineer and is licensed in the State of Illinois. Her capabilities are in field engineering, erosion control inspection, resident engineering, construction contract administration, planning studies, design plan development and utility coordination. Ms. Whiteside is active in national political endeavors and local philanthropic causes. She was a 2016 presidential campaign fellow and formerly served as Board Member of St. Martin de Porres House of Hope, a substance abuse recovery home for women and children, in the Woodlawn Community in Chicago. She currently serves as a member of the Lumen Cordium Society of the Archdiocese of Chicago. CKL Engineers, LLC provides engineering and construction management services for transportation, aviation and public infrastructure projects. CKL distinguishes itself as a reputable partner of skilled engineers and construction managers.