Meet the Class of 2018 Fellows
DR. LIONEL ALLEN, JR., Ed.D.
Chief Academic Officer , Urban Prep Academies
Dr. Lionel is the Chief Academic Officer of Urban Prep Academies – an organization founded in 2002 with the mission of providing educational opportunities to urban boys, leading to their success in college. For the past eight years, 100% of Urban Prep’s graduates have been accepted to four-year colleges and universities. Previously, Lionel served as principal of the Sherman School of Excellence – the nation's and the Academy for Urban School Leadership's (AUSL) first No Child Left Behind turnaround school. Lionel earned a Bachelor's degree in secondary education from Northwestern University, a Master's degree in Leadership and Administration and a doctoral degree in Urban Education Leadership both from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). His work has been featured in the Chicago Tribune, CNN, and Edutopia, as part of their “Schools That Work” series. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Coalition of Schools Educating Boys of Color and Masjid Al-Taqwa. Lionel was nominated by Kurt Summers, Chicago City Treasurer and Tim King, Founder and CEO of Urban Prep Academies.
ROSLIND BLASINGAME-BUFORD, ED.D.
President and Chief Executive Officer, LINK Unlimited Scholars
Dr. Roz serves as the President/CEO for LINK Unlimited Scholars. She has made it her life’s work to ensure youth with disadvantaged backgrounds (resembling her own) are equipped with tools and resources to achieve their full potential. Dr. Roz has received numerous commendations for her leadership, and was named "Leading Lady" by "O," Oprah Magazine; one of Chicago’s Emerging Leaders by the Community Renewal Society; and is a new member of the Economic Club of Chicago. She has served on various boards and in an advisory capacity for more than a dozen national and local groups, such as: University of Chicago’s Civic Leadership Academy, City of Chicago’s Community Development Advisory Council and the National Afterschool Alliance, to name a few. Dr. Roz has a BA in Communications, a MS in Nonprofit Management, and an Ed.D in Adult Education. She has a self-published book, The Blueprint: Strategies for BUILDing A Culture of Excellence, in which she shares real-world leadership insights, experiences, and applications for nonprofits and businesses alike. She is also a loving wife and mother.
IT Director, Utility Customer Applications, Exelon Corporation
Dana leads a large geographically diverse organization of IT professionals responsible for regulatory and legislative mandates, customer information systems, digital channels, and underlying technical architecture for Exelon’s Chicago-area (ComEd) and Philadelphia-area (PECO) utilities. Prior to joining Exelon, he held leadership positions at Andersen Consulting, Lucent Technologies, and Bank of America. Dana majored in Computer Science where he graduated Summa Cum Laude from Chicago State University. He also holds an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Dana serves as a Board Member of the Chicago Sinfonietta, an organization dedicated to advancing diversity in the area of symphonic music. Additionally, he served as the immediate past Father’s Auxiliary Chair of the Chicago chapter of Jack and Jill of America Inc., a national African-American family based organization aimed at stimulating the growth and development of children. Dana resides on the south side of Chicago with his wife, Ola, and three daughters, Tiara, Gabrielle and Kennedy.
Partner and Managing Director, The Boston Consulting Group
Amanda is a Partner in the Chicago office of the Boston Consulting Group (BCG). She is a core member of BCG's Industrial Goods practice area and previously led Business Unit Strategy for BCG's Strategy practice area. At BCG, she has worked on corporate and business unit growth and transformation strategies, market segmentation and new market assessments, digital strategy development efforts, and M&A screening topics. Amanda has particularly deep experience in serving highly engineered, capital intensive product businesses and industrial distribution businesses. Amanda previously graduated with honors from Northwestern University and received an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management. She serves on the Board of Directors for the Auditorium Theater of Roosevelt University. Amanda was nominated by Michelle Russell, Senior Vice President of BCG, and Larry Shulman, Senior Vice President of BCG.
INGER BURNETT-ZEIGLER, PH.D.
Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
Inger is a clinical psychologist and assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University. She is also the founder of BecomingOne Wellness, LLC, which provides education, training and consultation to individuals and organizations looking for ways to manage stress, improve functioning and wellness. She received her undergraduate degree in psychology from Cornell University and doctorate degree in clinical psychology from Northwestern University. Inger uses her clinical and research expertise to improve access and engagement in mental health services among socio-economically disadvantaged, racial/ethnic minority populations. Her research has been funded by the Veteran’s Health Administration, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) and the Greer Foundation. Inger’s work has been featured in TIME magazine, The Hill, Chicago Tribune and WTTW Chicago Tonight. Inger was nominated by Dr. John Csernansky, Chair, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Northwestern University.
President, The Duchossois Family Foundation
Ashley is President of The Duchossois Family Foundation. She received her Bachelor of Arts from University of Colorado and her Master’s degree from University of Chicago, School of Social Service Administration. Ashley has been involved with the not-for-profit organization, Metropolitan Family Services, for over seventeen years. She is a member of the Board of Directors, and serves on their Executive, Strategic Issues, and Capital Campaign Committees and chairs the External Affairs Committee. As a volunteer for The Catherine Cook School, Ashley is a Trustee, Co-chair of the Nominating Committee, and is on the Succession Planning/Strategic Initiatives Committee. As a Director for The Duchossois Group, Inc., she serves on the Compensation, Nominating, and Shareholder Committees. Additionally, she is a member of the Executive Committee for The Duchossois Family Council.
Senior Vice President, Global Head of Anti-Money Laundering, Northern Trust
Tara is a Senior Vice President and the Global Head of Anti-Money Laundering at Northern Trust. She is responsible for overseeing anti-money laundering, counter-terrorist financing and economic sanctions compliance across Northern Trust’s businesses in North America, Europe, the Middle East and the Asia Pacific region. Prior to joining Northern Trust, Tara held similar roles at People’s United Bank, Ameriprise Financial and within RBC’s US Capital Markets and Wealth Management divisions. She has 17 years of experience within the financial industry, largely focused on financial crimes compliance. Tara is a licensed General Securities Representative and Principal, as well as a Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist. She attended the Securities Industry Institute at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. She received her Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Minnesota, with a double major in Business & Industry Education and Spanish, along with a minor in Speech Communications. Tara is a member of the United Way of Metro Chicago’s Campaign Cabinet Leadership Team and chairs the United Way of Metro Chicago’s Ambassador Working Group.
Vice President, Strategy and Operations, Allstate Insurance Company
As Vice president of Strategy & Operations, Miguel is focused on Allstate’s Independent Agency Operations and overall Heartland growth initiatives. In this role, he oversees a myriad of operational functions within the Independent Agent channel, as well as leading a series of transformational initiatives designed to increase Allstate’s marketshare in key rural markets. Miguel joined Allstate with nearly 15 years of varied leadership experiences in the manufacturing, financial services, and insurance industries. Outside of Allstate, Miguel volunteers a significant portion of his time as the volunteer-COO of the Chicago chapter of ALPFA (Association of Latino Professionals for America) and serves on the Boards of Directors for the Hubbard Street Dance Company, the Insurance Technology Association, and the Insurance Accounting and Systems Association. He is also an adjunct professor at the Lake Forest Graduate School of Management. Miguel earned a Bachelor’s in Business Administration and Accounting, along with an MBA from Rider University. Miguel is married with four boys, struggles mightily with golf, and is an avid private pilot.
KARYN BASS EHLER
Civil Rights Bureau Chief, Illinois Attorney General’s Office
Karyn is the Chief of the Civil Rights Bureau for the Office of the Illinois Attorney General. In that role, Karyn oversees investigations, litigation and legislation to address patterns and practices of discrimination in Illinois. Prior to joining the Attorney General’s office, Karyn was a partner at a mid-size Chicago law firm where she concentrated her practice in civil rights, constitutional law, commercial litigation and labor and employment law. Karyn also clerked for Judge William J. Bauer on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and Judge Matthew Kennelly on the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. Karyn is a co-founder and advisory board member of the Center on Public Interest Law at DePaul University College of Law. Karyn also serves as the Vice President of the Board of Directors for the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs. Karyn is a graduate of Northwestern University and DePaul University College of Law. Karyn was nominated by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and United States Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky.
Chief Operating Officer and Chief of Staff, Chicago Transit Authority
Sylvia serves as Chief Operating Officer and Chief of Staff at the Chicago Transit Authority. Sylvia manages CTA’s day to day operations, which on an average weekday provides 1.7 million rides. Prior to joining CTA in 2015, Sylvia spent almost a decade working in Washington, DC. During that time, Sylvia worked her way up from serving as a Budget Analyst at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to being nominated by President Obama and confirmed by the U.S. Senate to serve as Chief Financial Officer at the U.S. Department of Transportation. In addition to her work at DOT and HUD, Sylvia also worked for Congress as a professional staff member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Appropriations. Prior to her work in DC, Sylvia worked in youth development and education in Chicago. Sylvia has a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and a Master’s degree in public service management from DePaul University. Sylvia was nominated by Dorval R. Carter, Jr., CTA President.
Managing Director, CBRE, Inc.
Jamie is Managing Director of CBRE’s market-leading Occupier Advisory & Transaction Services business for the Chicago Region. She is responsible for managing day-to-day sales operations and leading CBRE’s Tenant Representation and Transaction Management businesses, as well as running the downtown Chicago office and sits on the Executive Leadership Team for the Region. Jamie led the Region’s efforts on their move to a pioneering new open-concept, free address office at 321 N Clark called Workplace360. Jamie’s team successfully represents some of Chicagoland’s largest companies, including McDonalds, Allstate, Advocate Healthcare and Abbott Laboratories. Jamie has a passion and is committed to increasing the diversity of professionals being introduced to the Commercial Real Estate industry. Jamie was nominated by Jack Durburg, CEO of the Americas at CBRE; David Tropp, Executive Vice President at CBRE (Fellows Class of 1997); Bob Wislow, Chairman at CBRE and Jim Carris, Sr Managing Director at CBRE.
Partner and Head of the Chicago Litigation Group, Sidley Austin LLP
Dave is a partner of Sidley Austin LLP, where he is head of the Litigation group in the firm's Chicago office and a co-leader of the firm's global Accountants and Professional Liability practice. Dave is an experienced trial lawyer, and has served as lead counsel in commercial disputes, government investigations, professional liability actions, and securities and shareholder litigation. He has led teams that have prevailed for clients in federal and state courts across the country, as well as in arbitrations and administrative procedures. Dave is a graduate of Northwestern University and the University of Chicago Law School. Prior to joining Sidley, Dave clerked for Judge John F. Grady of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. Dave's pro bono practice has included the successful representation of clients in civil rights, criminal, and immigration cases, for which he has won multiple awards. Dave serves on the board of Ingenuity, Inc., which works to improve arts education for Chicago Public Schools students.
MICHAEL HARRIS II
Managing Director, The PrivateBank
Michael has served as Managing Director in the Construction & Engineering Division at The Private Bank since September 2013 and has sixteen years of construction industry experience. Michael operated in a portfolio management capacity and relationship manager role during his six and half-year tenure with Fifth Third Bank’s construction lending division. Prior to banking, Michael was with CNA Surety as an underwriting consultant, working directly with national construction firms and managing insurance agency relationships. He has worked with local middle market and large national contractors, providing an array of financial services and consultative advice as respects loan structure, liquidity solutions, M&A on the buy and sell side, new market penetration and strategic partnerships. Michael is active in the Illinois Road and Transportation Builders Association, Chicago Building Congress, Surety Association of America and holds a board position with the Chicago Chapter of CFMA. He graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago with a Bachelor’s Degree in Finance. In terms of community involvement, Michael led the men’s ministry of New Life Covenant Southeast for two and half years overseeing training on financial literacy, health and spiritual development for members of the Grand Crossing Community. Michael was also a benefactor and mentor for LINK Unlimited from 2008-2012. Current activities include Junior Achievement and BOOF (Banking on our Future) presentations as well as a recurring role in the North Lawndale senior presentation panel and a seat on the Village of Flossmoor Community Relations Board.
Executive Director, Playworks Illinois
Colleen is the Executive Director of Playworks Illinois. Playworks is a national organization that leverages the power of play to transform children’s social, emotional, and physical health at school. Colleen graduated from the University of Minnesota with degrees in Global Studies and Spanish. She started her career as a Playworks program coordinator providing direct services to students at an elementary school in Baltimore, Maryland. She spent the last 11 years serving in a variety of leadership roles with Playworks in Baltimore, Oakland, and Chicago, during which she developed a strong belief in the power of play to bring out the best in everyone. Colleen is a New Leaders Council Chicago 2016 Fellow, and currently serves as a Curriculum Co-Chair on the executive board. Colleen was nominated by Manika Turnbull, Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer at Health Care Service Corporation.
Vice President, Corporate Responsibility, Office of Nonprofit Engagement, JPMorgan Chase
Damion is a Vice President within JPMorgan Chase’s Office of Nonprofit Engagement. He manages relationships working with nonprofits focused primarily on consumer advocacy, capacity building, civil rights, research, and those aligned with the foundation’s priority areas of workforce development, financial capability, small business, and community development. Damion Heron Joined JPMorgan Chase in 2008 as an Associate with the JPMorgan Chase Foundation. In 2011, he joined Government Relations to manage Civic Engagement across the Midwest. Prior to JPMorgan Chase, Damion held roles as a corporate giving analyst with the Boeing Company, a Harris Graduate Fellow at the Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications and a parliamentary assistant in the U.K. House of Commons. Damion is an active leader and volunteer in Chicago where he is a TFI Mentor Board Member of NHS and serves as an Edgar fellow. He holds B.A degrees in Political Science and Philosophy from Bradley University and a Master of Public Policy degree from the University of Chicago. Damion resides in the River West neighborhood with his wife Rebecca.
Legal Director, Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Chicago
Andy is the Legal Director at Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Chicago (Advancing Justice), which builds power through collective action to achieve racial equity. Andy joined Advancing Justice after serving at the Legislative Reference Bureau, a State agency that provides legal advice to the Illinois General Assembly regarding the drafting of legislation. He currently sits on the board of the Korean American Bar Association and previously served on the City of Chicago's Commission on Human Relations. While practicing in Boston, Andy co-founded and led Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders for Clark, a national grass-roots organization that mobilized support for former presidential candidate General Wesley Clark (Ret.). Most recently, Andy successfully co-led efforts to pass the Illinois TRUST Act and Automatic Voter Registration. He received his J.D. from Northwestern University School of Law and his B.A. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Andy currently lives in the South Loop with his wife Casarine Chong and serves as a deacon at New Community Church in East Garfield Park.
Senior Attorney, Environmental Law & Policy Center
Brad is a Senior Attorney at the Environmental Law & Policy Center, a public interest environmental advocacy organization dedicated to the belief that environmental progress and economic development can be achieved together. Brad specializes in renewable energy and clean water policy and works closely with community, neighborhood, and civic organizations to help improve the quality of life in Midwest communities through policy development, legislation, and litigation. Brad previously served as a federal judicial law clerk in Washington, D.C., a law fellow at the Environmental Law Institute, and an environmental engineer at CH2M Hill, Inc. Brad received his law degree with honors from New York University School of Law and a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from Washington University in St. Louis. Brad was nominated by Howard Learner, Executive Director of ELPC, Juliana Pino of the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization, and Amy Heart of SunRun, Inc.
Director of Product Management, GOGO
Mrinalini is the Director of Product management at Gogo, managing the inflight Wifi, entertainment, connected aircraft platform and the data analytics product portfolio. Prior to joining Gogo, Mrinalini has been a Director of Product management managing a $450MM portfolio in Motorola solutions and has also managed mergers, acquisition and the divestiture. She serves on the Board of Illinois Technology Association(ITA) Internet of Things(IoT) board, and the University of Chicago Center for research in information management. She was awarded a leadership award by the Women Unlimited group for mentoring high potential women in various technology organizations. She has been awarded the mentor of the year by the future founders foundation for guiding budding entrepreneurs in the Chicago high schools. Mrinalini works closely with All India Movement(AIM) for Seva organization that supports providing education for under served.
Chief Executive Officer, Ada S. McKinley Community Services, Inc.
Jamal has a mind for business with a heart for service. He is the Chief Executive Officer for Ada S. McKinley Community Services, Inc. Previously, he served as Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer for the National Children’s Center, a not-for-profit, human services agency based in Washington DC. He began his career as a Management Consultant with Ernst & Young and has held supervisory roles at OfficeMax and CVS/Caremark. Jamal also founded J&M Professional Services to provide strategic and financial consulting services for small businesses, not-for-profits and civic organizations. He has a BA in Accounting from Michigan State University, and MBA cum laude from the University of Notre Dame. Jamal has served on several boards and is currently Chairman of the Board for the Illinois Partners for Human Services. His nominations include Dr. Roseanne Rosenthal, President of VanderCook College of Music. Jamal is a class of 2014 Leadership Greater Washington Fellow. He is an avid swimmer, chess player and enjoys time with his wife and three sons.
Senior Advisor and Counsel, City of Chicago Mayor's Office
Deanne is the Deputy Director for the Legislative Council and Government Affairs Team (LCGA) in the Mayor's Office for the City of Chicago. She transitioned to LCGA from the Mayor's Office Public Safety Team, where she was a Senior Policy Advisor and Counsel. Prior to joining the City of Chicago, Deanne served as the Legislative Director and Oversight Investigations Counsel for the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Financial Services, where the Honorable Maxine Waters, served as Ranking Member. Before taking the leadership role with the House Democratic Financial Services Committee, she served as Counsel for other Congressional Committees such as the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs and the House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce. Deanne started her legal career at the law firm of Jenner & Block, and later clerked for the Honorable Sharon Johnson Coleman. She received her B.A. in Political Science with Honors and a minor in Psychology from Washington University in St. Louis, MO, and her J.D. from Harvard Law School.
Program Officer, John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
Tawa is a Program Officer at the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation where she is responsible for grantmaking in the Chicago Commitment portfolio. Prior to joining MacArthur, Tawa spent 13 years in city government, working on education programs and policy. Her last role was as Director of Education Policy and Partnerships in the Office of Mayor Rahm Emanuel. A native Chicagoan, Tawa dedicates much of her extracurricular time to community service in the fields of health care, education, and youth services. Tawa serves as co-chair of the African-American Alumni Committee of the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration and is a board member of Chicago Women in Philanthropy and the Augustana-Henze Endowment Fund. She also volunteers with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Illinois and is a member of the Theta Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, the Lake Shore Chapter of the Links, Incorporated and the National Alumnae Association of Spelman College. Tawa was nominated by MacArthur Foundation President Julia Stasch and Emerson Collective Managing Partner Arne Duncan.
Program Director, The Field Foundation of Illinois
Mark is the Program Director of The Field Foundation of Illinois. He has worked on issues ranging from establishing community schools to supporting violence prevention to promoting art education. He manages a team of grant makers that are dedicated to supporting community empowerment, through support of justice, art and leadership investment in Chicago. Prior to working at The Field Foundation, Mark held multiple roles at the Illinois Arts Council where he worked to expand the connection of art and community throughout Illinois. In addition to Mark’s career in philanthropy, he is an award-winning educator and academic advisor, and currently teaches a course on Nonprofit Career Development at DePaul University. He has exhibited his art in New York, Philadelphia and Chicago. He holds degrees from the University of Pennsylvania (MFA), DePaul University (MA), and the University of Dayton (BA). In 2016, Mark was awarded a US patent for a household safety device. He lives in Woodstock, Illinois, where the movie Groundhog Day was filmed, with his wife, two sons and a rescue dog named Bernie.
Account Executive and Senior Business Partner Lead, Google, Inc.
Andy is a Senior Partner Lead for Google. Based in Chicago, Andy manages advertising and marketing relationships between Google and its largest partners in the Financial Services industry. He joined from Kraft Foods Group, where he first served as a marketer for JELL-O and later became the General Manager responsible for product and marketing strategy for Kraft's Family Favorites portfolio (i.e. Stove Top, Shake n' Bake, and Taco Bell Home Originals). Prior to advertising and marketing, Andy worked in the Financial Services industry at Neuberger Berman and Lehman Brothers. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and History from Denison University and a Masters in Business Administration with Distinction from the University of Michigan. Andy has also served the Posse Foundation in a number of capacities. A Posse alumnus himself, he founded the Posse National Alumni Advisory Council and currently serves on the Leadership Council.
SARA SCARLETH LEVER ORTIZ
Director, Diversity and Inclusion, Chicago Housing Authority
Scarleth is the Director of the Office of Diversity & Inclusion at the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) where she previously served as Senior Advisor to the Housing Choice Voucher Program. In her current role, Scarleth implemented the Community Alliance, a partnership with non-profit agencies to increase awareness of CHA’s programs among underserved populations. She established the Language Access Plan to provide free translation and interpretations services to Limited English Proficiency (LEP) individuals. Scarleth spearheaded various Resource Groups to foster a culture of collaboration and inclusion. She joined CHA from the City of Chicago’s 1st Ward Office where she served as the Director of Legislative Affairs. Prior to moving to Chicago, Scarleth worked in Las Vegas at the Venetian Sands Corp. and for the American Red Cross in Minneapolis. Scarleth served in the Board of Directors of St. Joseph Services in Chicago. Scarleth holds a master’s degree in Urban Planning and Policy from UIC. She was nominated by José R. Alvarez, CHA’s Chief of Staff, and Manuel Flores, Partner in Arnstein & Lehr’s Lehr LLP.
Vice President of Marketing, Tequila and Innovation, Beam Suntory, Inc.
Malini is Vice President of Marketing & Innovation of the Tequila portfolio at Beam Suntory, where she previously served as Vice President of Marketing for the World Whiskey business. She joined Beam Suntory from MillerCoors in Chicago, where she was Head of the Coors Family of Brands. Prior to entering the spirits industry, Malini worked in brand management at Unilever and had experiences in the start-up and financial services arena in New York. Malini is a graduate of Kellogg School of Business at Northwestern University, and The Fisher College of Business at The Ohio State University. Malini is a co-founder of Inspire Girls Academy and serves on the Board of Directors in Chicago. Malini was nominated by Gregory Hughes, General Manager of North America Beam Suntory.
Senior Partner, Chicago Market Leader
Denise is the Chicago Market Leader for Aon Hewitt, with responsibility for overall client relationships and business strategy for the Chicago Market. In addition, Denise is an account executive responsible for developing and managing global client relationships for organizations within the Midwest Market. In this role, she works with clients and prospects in Chicago to understand their business and human resources needs. She assembles teams to solve client issues, and manages those teams to ensure Hewitt is structuring its services to best meet the needs of each client assignment. Denise spent her first nine years at the organization in Hewitt’s East Market developing and managing client relationships. During two of those years she worked with clients to understand their HR delivery needs to determine if there is a fit with the HR outsourcing services Hewitt provides. Her focus was to ensure her clients had the most efficient and cost effective delivery of their HR programs and practices. Prior to joining Hewitt, she was an Account Executive at Aetna Health Plans where she designed, marketed, and implemented managed care plans for Fortune 500 companies. She also spent two years helping market managers develop business strategies and training the sales organization. Denise earned a B.A. degree in Business Administration and Communications from Hope College in Holland, Michigan. Some of her clients include Abbott, AbbVie, ArcelorMittal, Grainger, Hyatt Hotels, Illinois Tool Works, McDonald’s, United Airlines, and Whirlpool Corporation.
Chicago Executive Director, Surge Institute
Tamara is the Chicago Executive Director of The Surge Institute, an organization founded to change the face of education leadership by accelerating the skills and expanding the networks of high-capacity emerging leaders of color. In her role, she is the chief brand ambassador for the Surge Institute in Chicago, and responsible for building and maintaining relationships with partners and funders, while ensuring exceptional delivery of the Surge Fellowship program. Tamara brings over 17 years of combined leadership experience in the private sector and education through her past work at GE Capital, Kraft Foods, Chicago Public Schools and most recently, A Better Chicago, a venture philanthropy organization focused on education where she served as a Managing Director and Head of Marketing. Tamara holds a BS in business administration from Ohio State University, an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, and a Master of Education from The Broad Center. Tamara was nominated by Carmita Semaan, Founder and President of The Surge Institute.
Vice President and Market Manager, BMO Harris Bank
Marco is Senior Vice President and Director with BMO Harris Bank’s Commercial Business Banking Division. In his current role, he leads a team of bankers in Illinois, Florida and Arizona, who are responsible for business development with prospective clients and portfolio management of existing clients. The Commercial Business Banking team is focused on opportunities within the C&I space working with companies across different industries. Marco has extensive experience in M&A, Cashflow, ABL, recapitalizations, commercial real estate and New Market Tax Credit financing. Marco has a B.S. in Finance from Lewis University. He serves on the board of The LEARN Network of Charter Schools, board member of the Black Investment Fund in Florida and also coaches competitive 18U Volleyball for Ultimate Volleyball Club and Elmhurst College.
Partner, Jenner & Block LLP
David is a Partner at Jenner & Block, where he is a member of the firm’s Complex Commercial Litigation, Privacy and Information Governance, and Class Action Litigation Practices. His work focuses on a mixture of litigation, information governance, and data security matters primarily for clients in the financial services and healthcare sectors. In each of the past three years, Illinois Super Lawyers has recognized David as a "Rising Star" in business litigation. David maintains an active pro bono practice, representing underserved individuals and organizations. He serves as the immediate past chair of the Board of Directors of Cabrini Green Legal Aid, where he is also a volunteer; serves as a member of the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law Professionals’ council, and serves as a member of the Seventh Circuit Bar Association’s Board of Governors. A graduate of the University of Chicago, David received his law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law. David was nominated by Terry Truax, Jenner & Block's Managing Partner.
Co-Founder and Executive Director of Pillars
Kashif leads all day to day operations for Pillars, including managing its growth, creating new initiatives and increasing its public visibility. He founded Pillars in 2011, with a group of philanthropists, and has helped grow the organization into a leading voice for American Muslims in both the philanthropic sector and broader public. Prior to launching Pillars, Kashif was a Program Officer at the Robert R. McCormick Foundation. In this role, Kashif managed dynamic charitable partnerships with the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Blackhawks, Chicago Bulls and other corporate entities, overseeing $5M in annual grantmaking. Kashif’s career began at the United Way of Metropolitan Chicago, where he developed key strategies to engage the organization’s largest corporate partners. Originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, Kashif holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Ohio State University and a Master’s in Public Policy and Administration from Northwestern University and a member of the Economic Club of Chicago.
MELISSA ANDREA SIMON, M.D.
George H. Gardner Professor of Clinical Gynecology; Vice Chair of Clinical Research and Professor of OBGYN, Preventive Medicine and Medical Social Sciences, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and Northwestern Medicine
Melissa is the George H. Gardner Professor of Clinical Gynecology, Vice Chair of Clinical Research in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, the Founder and Director of the Chicago Cancer Health Equity Collaborative, a Northwestern Medicine physician, and co-program leader for cancer control and survivorship at the Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center. She leads a diverse portfolio of research and directly impacts local, state, and national level thought and policy regarding inclusion and health equity. Melissa supports a large group of mentees that span from high school-aged students through junior faculty and created the first health care workforce development Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), “Career 911: Your Future Job in Medicine and Healthcare.” She is a member of the National Academy of Medicine’s Roundtable on the Promotion of Health Equity and Elimination of Health Disparities. She also is a recently appointed member of the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF). Melissa was nominated by Dean Harrison (CEO Northwestern Medicine).
Deputy Director & Counsel, CAIR-Chicago
Sufyan is the Deputy Director & Counsel at the Chicago Office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a nonprofit that advocates for and protects the civil rights of Muslim Americans. He is a trained mediator and speaks frequently on social justice, diversity, and civil rights issues. Before CAIR-Chicago, Sufyan worked on women’s rights issues and rule of law projects both domestically and internationally. Sufyan earned his undergraduate degree from Tulane University and holds a Juris Doctorate (J.D.) and a Master of Science in Finance (M.S.) from DePaul University. Sufyan is a Vice President of the South Asian Bar Association of North America where he also chairs its Advocacy Committee. He proudly sits on the DePaul Law Alumni Engagement Board, the Civic Leadership Council of the Constitutional Rights Foundation, and is a founding member of the Chicago Trust Collective. Sufyan is as an elected Member of the Local School Council at South Loop Elementary School and was honored in 2017 with the Chicago Bar Association’s Vanguard Award and the DePaul College of Law Young Alumnus Award.
PEDRO SOTO JR.
Chief of School Operations, Chicago Public Schools
Pedro is Chief of School Operations in the Chief Education Office at Chicago Public Schools (CPS). He previously held various departmental positions during his twenty-year tenure including the Offices of Network Support, Intergovernmental Affairs, Management and Budget, Grants Management and Administration, Extended Learning Opportunities and the Principal Review Board. Pedro’s career is influenced by three fundamental pillars of practice: ensuring educational equity, cultivating access to opportunities and resources, and ensuring positive interventions with all stakeholders. In being able to reach across different departments, his cross-cutting management approach allowed him to participate in working groups of education, civic, and business leaders charged with recommending ideas to offer better school support. Pedro works hard to challenge fixed notions of civic and collaborative engagement between individual, collective and local life through interests in social justice and other socio-political situations by supporting Community Action Councils, Teacher & Student Advisory Councils and several Educational Task Forces.
Vice President and Senior Commercial Relationship Manager, U.S. Bank
Lovetta is a Vice President, Senior Relationship Manager in the Commercial Banking Group focusing exclusively on Not for Profit Organizations at US Bank. Lovetta has over twenty years of relationship manager experience assisting clients with new business services, client management services, and credit underwriting. Lovetta currently serves as the President of US Bank's Chicago African American Business Resource Group, and the Fund Development Committee Chair for the Chicago Urban League IMPACT Leadership Development Alumni Association. Lovetta serves on the boards of the Louis L.Valentine Boys & Girls Club of Chicago, Metro Achievement Center Advisory Board, and the Southside Junior Tennis Program. US Bank sponsored Lovetta to participate in the inaugural class of the Chicago Urban League Impact Leadership Development Program, and the Menttium Momentum Leadership Program. Lovetta was nominated by Marsha Cruzan, Chicago Market President of US Bank, and Edgar Ramirez, President & CEO Chicago Commons Association, and Dawn Jiminez, Club Director, Louis L. Valentine Boys & Girls Club of Chicago.
SARA DIXON SPIVY
Attorney Supervisor, Law Office of the Cook County Public Defender
Sara is an Attorney Supervisor with the Law Office of the Cook County Public Defender which is the largest in the country with almost 500 attorneys and an annual budget of over $70M. After spending most of her career at 26th and California, Sara was promoted to Attorney Supervisor and assigned to the Civil Division where she supervises 32 attorneys in the Child Protection Division of the Circuit Court of Cook County. In 2015, Sara was elected to the Oak Park and River Forest High School Board of Education and currently serves as its Vice President. Sara has created and chairs the Climate, Culture, and Behavior Committee to engage stakeholders in identifying race-based barriers to improve racial equity in the discipline process. Sara received a BA from the University of Chicago and a JD from Duke University School of Law. She is a member of the Illinois Women's Institute for Leadership (IWIL) Class of 2017 and is on the Leadership Team of the Democratic Party of Oak Park.
Vice President Strategy & Corporate Development, Heidrick & Struggles
Evan is Vice President, Strategy and Corporate Development at Heidrick & Struggles (NASDAQ:HSII) a global provider of executive search and leadership consulting. At Heidrick, he is responsible for developing the firm's global enterprise strategy as well as delivering new growth platforms through M&A. Prior to joining Heidrick, Evan was a member of the Accelerator program at Sterling Partners, a middle market private equity firm. His duties involved serving as a strategic advisor to the portfolio, and holding senior management roles across multiple Sterling companies. While at Sterling, Evan served as SVP Corporate Development at School of Rock. In this capacity, Evan was a member of the leadership team that tripled the network to 140+ locations serving 15,000+ students worldwide. Outside of work, Evan is actively engaged in social enterprise. He is Vice Chair of the Board at Open Books, and Board Member for Third Coast Percussion, and The Boulevard. Evan holds both an AB (History) and MBA from the University of Chicago.
Clerk, City of Chicago
Anna was sworn-in as City Clerk of Chicago on January 25, 2017 overseeing one of the largest offices in the City serving 1.2 million Chicagoans and generating more than $130 million annually. Under Anna’s leadership, the Office of the City Clerk has made it a priority to find new and innovative ways to bring services directly to residents, increase civic engagement, reduce inefficiencies and collaborate across government in the private and public sectors. Prior to becoming Clerk, Anna served as the second woman and first Latina to run Mayor Emanuel’s Legislative Counsel and Government Affairs (LCGA).Before that, Anna worked as an Illinois political professional in several positions including, serving as Campaign Manager for U.S. Senator Dick Durbin’s re-election campaign, Senior Advisor for Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s re-election campaign, Deputy Director of the Illinois Senate Democratic Victory Fund, a Communications Staffer for State Senate President John Cullerton, and Field Director for both Mike Quigley for Congress (IL-05) and Gary Peters for Congress (MI-09).
Artist, Hyde Park Art Center
Amanda is a visual artist who trained as an architect. Raised in Chicago’s Auburn Gresham neighborhood, she is best known for her series, "Color(ed) Theory," exhibited at Chicago’s inaugural Architecture Biennial, in which she painted the exterior of soon-to-be-demolished houses using a culturally charged color palette as a way to mark the pervasiveness of vacancy and blight in black communities. The landscapes in which she operates are the visual residue of the invisible policies and forces that have misshaped most inner cities. Amanda is a highly sought after lecturer and the subject of many articles on the relationship between art, race, and urbanism. She, in collaboration with Andres Hernandez, is the recipient of the Pulitzer Arts Foundation’s 2017 PXSTL, a public art commission and has forthcoming exhibitions at the Arts Club of Chicago and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. Amanda was recently named to the multidisciplinary Exhibition Design team for the Obama Presidential Center in Chicago. She is a graduate of Cornell University’s School of Architecture, has served as an Adjunct Professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology, and a Visiting Assistant Professor at Washington University’s Sam Fox School of Art and Design and Visual Arts in St. Louis. Amanda lives and works in Bronzeville.