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.
Founder and President, Conlon & Dunn Public Strategies
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.
Governmental Relations, Cozen O'Connor Public Strategies
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.
McHenry County Board
Jack Franks is a third-generation McHenry County resident who has been elected by McHenry County voters to fight hard for their interests as a State Representative since 1998. Jack is running for McHenry County Board Chairman to reduce property taxes, root out corruption, eliminate government waste and fraud and improve local job opportunities and infrastructure.
Throughout his career, Jack has put McHenry County residents ahead of partisan politics and party insiders. As Chairman of the State Government Administration, he aggressively rooted out corruption and exposed illegal actions in state government. Jack also fought hard for McHenry County communities and businesses while serving as Vice Chairman of the International Trade and Commerce Committee and as a member of the Business Growth and Incentives, Bio-Technology, Veterans’ Affairs and Public Utilities Committees. Jack won wide acclaim for recently passing legislation that would ban part-time county board members from receiving generous full-time pensions at taxpayer expense.
Since first taking office, Jack has played a key role in the fight for property tax relief and enhanced ethics laws. He was also a leader in the fight against making the 2011 income tax hike permanent. He has never supported a tax increase during his time in public service and understands that the tax-and-spend status-quo has failed Illinois residents. On a local level, Jack knows that streamlining county government and eliminating wasteful spending would allow McHenry County to responsibly pay for services while reducing the tax burden on residents and employers that continues to hold our economy back. He supports freezing county property taxes and then reducing the county’s tax levy by 10%
Jack has always been dedicated to improving education in McHenry County. Since taking office, Jack has significantly increased the amount of state funding for McHenry County schools, boosting the foundation level for each student, as well as securing grants for school construction and new technology. Jack has passed legislation to reduce class sizes, heighten standards, increase faculty accountability, strengthen school safety, and, most recently, to study alternatives for students to attend college without assuming thousands of dollars of interest-bearing debt. On a local level, Jack will also focus on coordinating resources to better address the heroin epidemic that is putting the lives of far too many McHenry County children at risk.
Jack fights corruption at all levels of government. In the legislature he was an outspoken critic of disgraced former Governor Rod Blagojevich and was instrumental in his impeachment. In 2008, Franks held the first-ever audit of a sitting governor when he uncovered that the governor had given one million dollars of state funds to a nonexistent school with no assets, no teachers, and no students. Franks then served on the House Special Investigative Committee charged with investigating the abuses of power by the former governor and led the drive to remove him from office. As McHenry County Board Chairman he will be a tough and independent watchdog of county taxpayer dollars and root out waste, fraud and corruption wherever it exists.
Jack is a third-generation resident of McHenry County who attended the University of Wisconsin at Madison, where he studied international relations and political science and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1985. He then attended American University Washington College of Law, where he received his law degree with honors in 1989, and did post-graduate work at the London School of Economics. Jack is fluent in Portuguese and conversational Spanish, and enjoys reading and basketball. Jack’s grandparents came to McHenry County over 70 years ago and his family has lived here ever since. Jack and his wife, Debby reside in Marengo with their two sons, Sam and Henry.
Lauren Beth Gash
State Central Committeewoman
Lauren Beth Gash
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 not-for-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 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 can 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.
Cozen O'Connor Public Strategies
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.
The Gori Law Firm
Randy Gori graduated from St. Louis University School of Law in 1998. He is licensed to practice law in Missouri and Illinois, U.S. District Court Eastern District of Missouri, U.S. District Court Western District of Missouri, U.S. District Court Southern District of Illinois, U.S. District Court Northern District of Illinois, New York, District of Columbia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Tennessee, and Oregon. Mr. Gori is also a frequent speaker on asbestos litigation.
Mr. Gori is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, Multi- Million Dollar Advocates Forum, Illinois Trial Lawyers Association as a Legislative Committee Member, St. Clair County Bar Association, Illinois Trial Lawyers Association, Product Liability & Insurance Law Committee Member, Illinois Trial Lawyers Association, Board of Managers, Madison County Bar Association, American Bar Association, Member, Bar Association of St. Louis, American Association for Justice, Leaders Forum Member, Edwardsville Township Democratic Club, Board of Directors & Treasurer, Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys, Edwardsville Democratic Precinct, Committeeman, National Asbestos Mesothelioma Trial Lawyers, President.
Senator Don Harmon, a lifelong resident of Oak Park, was first elected to the Illinois Senate in 2002. He was appointed Assistant Majority Leader in 2009, and in 2011 was named Senate President Pro Tempore. Senator Harmon plays a key role in shaping policy and moving legislation through the Senate, and often presides over floor debate.
Senator Harmon has pursued a progressive agenda in Springfield, one rooted in his passion for social justice and public service. He believes that because government exists to serve the public, it must be conducted in a way that is transparent, accountable and ethical.
During his 11 years in the General Assembly, Senator Harmon has championed legislation promoting early childhood education, cleaning up state government, protecting Illinois’ natural resources, modernizing the electric power grid, recognizing same-sex marriage, expanding healthcare for low-income families, curbing gun violence and strengthening voters’ rights.
Senator Harmon and his wife, Teri, have three children: Don III (17), Frances (14) and Maggie (13). He attended St. Giles School in Oak Park and is a member of the parish today. He earned his high school diploma at St. Ignatius College Prep and his bachelor’s degree at Knox College. He holds both a law degree and an MBA from the University of Chicago.
Senator Harmon often points to his time at St. Ignatius as a period in which he began forming a worldview that ultimately would lead him to public service. Citing the school’s motto, Be a man for others, he says, “It’s not about what enriches you, but what helps the community. That motivates me to serve the public.”
State Central Committeeman
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 second 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.
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.
Robert Reiter Jr
President, Chicago Federation of Labor
Robert Reiter Jr
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
Gillian Rosenberg Armour
Gillian has over a dozen years of campaign experience that includes field and political roles in two Presidential elections. Gillian led women’s outreach efforts for President Barack Obama’s historic Iowa Caucus win and served as the Florida Director of Scheduling in 2008. Gillian’s resume includes multiple statewide and legislative elections. Her experience extends to progressive non-profits where she was the National Director of Campaigns for J Street and the Executive Director of the Illinois Women’s Institute for Leadership (IWIL)—empowering and training women on how to run winning campaigns.
Gillian is a native of the Northern Suburbs of Chicago and currently, lives in Chicago with her husband, Alex, and puppy, Avon Barksdale. She is an expert on Chicago’s lively dining scene and welcomes providing extensive restaurant recommendations.
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.
Jenner & Block
David Saunders (CIPP/US) is a partner and member of the firm’s Data Privacy and Cybersecurity Practice and its Complex Commercial Litigation Practice. Through the lens of a litigator, Mr. Saunders helps clients navigate their risks in the data privacy and cybersecurity arenas. Clients who are developing privacy programs, handling a data incident or facing regulatory investigations turn to Mr. Saunders for his experience as both a privacy professional and a litigator. Whether they need proactive or reactive privacy and cybersecurity counseling, he collaborates to help them achieve their goals.
From Fortune 100 companies to small businesses, Mr. Saunders works as a trusted advisor to businesses, understanding and advising on their data practices so as to provide them with guidance on the myriad issues that may arise in today’s digital world. He 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. Mr. Saunders regularly counsels on HIPAA, HITECH, GLBA, CCPA and state law privacy obligations. He has litigated and helped resolve matters related to data privacy and cybersecurity issues including navigating potential and actual regulatory investigations.
Mr. Saunders maintains an active pro bono practice, having represented inmates in various actions in state and federal courts.
He is active in a number of community and professional associations including the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law Professionals’ Council, the Seventh Circuit Bar Association’s Board of Governors and serves as the chair of the Illinois State Bar Association’s Privacy and Information Security Law Committee. Mr. Saunders was a fellow in the Leadership Greater Chicago class of 2018.
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.
President & CEO
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.
Snyder Pickerill Media Group
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.
Since 2008, Heather Steans has represented the 7th Senate District of the State of Illinois. She currently chairs the Appropriations I Committee and the Special Committee on Oversight of Medicaid Managed Care, she vice chairs the Appropriations II Committee and serves 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.
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.
Illinois Environmental Council
President & CEO
CKL Engineers LLC
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.