Chicago 2011 Fellows

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Alexander Sewell, Community Relations Coordinator Task Force, Prevention and Community Services

Alexander SewellA native of Chicago, Illinois, Alexander Sewell is a young leader and progressive activist. Born March 11, 1988, Alexander has been engaged in the political process and held progressive values and beliefs since his youth, which he gives credit to his grandmother. Alexander is currently employed with Task Force Prevention and Community Services, a public health non-profit in Chicago's Austin neighborhood. Alexander Sewell is a Political Science major at Roosevelt University, where he once held the top leadership position of Student Government Association President. Alexander's involvement in his community does not stop there. Alexander is currently a member of the Chicago Black Gay Men's Caucus, an HIV/AIDS advocacy group closely partnered with the Chicago Department of Public Health and several public health community based organizations. In addition, Alexander has volunteered with several political campaigns; supporting Democratic candidates who share his progressive values. Alexander has been involved in voter registration campaigns and specific issue campaigns such as securing LBGT equality rights locally and nationally through his work with The Civil Rights Agenda, non-profit founded by former U.S. Senate candidate Jacob Meister. Alexander will continue his fight for progressive policy through continued advocacy and leadership with his signature "can-do" attitude.

Francesca Rodriquez, Public Policy, Student University of Chicago

Francesca RodriquezFrancesca is a 2nd-year master’s student at the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago. She concentrates in domestic and urban policy with a focus on open government and communications. Last summer, she was a Media Policy intern at the Washington D.C. think tank, the New America Foundation. Francesca graduated summa cum laude from the College of Santa Fe with a BA in Fine Arts and holds an MA in Humanities from the University of Chicago. For three years she worked at Creative Commons, a start-up non-profit that provides an alternative to copyright law. She has worked in various museums, including the Philadelphia Museum of Art and The Art Institute of Chicago. Francesca volunteered for the Obama campaign in swing states Wisconsin and Michigan. During election week, she got out the vote in Indianapolis. Francesca was a community organizer for No Games Chicago, a diverse group of citizens who opposed the 2016 Olympic bid. She has appeared on NBC Nightly News, the Fox News Business channel, MSNBC, Al Jazerra US, Chicago Tonight and other local and international media outlets. Francesca plays the cello, likes running and yoga, and loves food. Francesca is originally from Texas.

Kate Pomper, Assistant Attorney General, Office of the Illinois Attorney General

Kate PomperKate Pomper is an Assistant Attorney General for the Office of the Illinois Attorney General, where she works on affirmative complex litigation with a public policy impact for the State of Illinois. Prior to joining the Illinois Attorney General's Office, she was a Polikoff-Gautreaux Fellow at Business and Professional People for the Public Interest, a public interest law and policy center dedicated to addressing compelling issues of social justice and quality of life in the Chicago region. At BPI, Kate participated in the representation of the City of Chicago Inspector General in a lawsuit to enforce a subpoena in an investigation into possible government misconduct and represented BPI on working groups for the redevelopment of four public housing developments into mixed-income communities. Originally from Pennsylvania, Kate moved to Illinois after receiving a joint degree in law and public policy from the University of Michigan and spending three inspiring summers in Chicago in public interest internships. Kate has a longstanding commitment to the public interest, working at the National Women's Law Center and the Urban Institute in Washington, D.C. following her undergraduate studies at the University of Virginia. Kate is also a co-founder of the Chicago Young Public Interest Lawyers Network.

Harish Patel, Outreach Consultant, Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership at Kalamazoo College

Harish I. PatelHarish I. Patel is an outreach consultant at the Arcus Center for Social Justice leadership at kalamazoo College, Michigan. Harish manages Chicago A.D. (After Daley), group designed to generate discussion about the changing political climate in Chicago, and manages All Hands On Deck’s Chicago field organizing operation around the 2011 mayoral and city council elections. Harish also worked as a Coalition Organizer at the Southwest Youth Collaborative (SWYC) on Chicago’s South Side. Harish is a founding member of Project FOCUS, a locally based youth-led initiative of artists, writers, activists and students committed to educate, inspire and empower youth through art and creative projects. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) with a bachelor’s degree in political science and philosophy. He also serves on the board of advisers of In These Times Magazine, and has taught a class on Youth Engagement in a Globalized World at UIC. Harish has done community organizing and international advocacy work. He has traveled and lived in India, Argentina, New Zealand, Uganda and the United States. He recently returned from India after consulting on local projects where he was born before migrating to the US.

Nicole Patel, Assistant Director, Center for Global Engagement, Northwestern University

Nicole PatelNicole Patel is the Assistant Director for the Center for Global Engagement at Northwestern University where she develops international experiential education programs for undergraduates. Prior, she spent three years in India working on international development projects. She served as a Program Officer at the American India Foundation in New Delhi, where she managed Rickshaw Sangh, a microcredit initiative enabling cycle rickshaw pullers to avail asset finance while forging a group identity through collectivization and credit plus programs. Nicole also worked with the United Nations Development Programme and a grassroots women’s empowerment NGO in the Kachchh District of Western India, co-managing and increasing women’s participation in a community-owned rural tourism project. Nicole obtained her bachelors from Northwestern where she studied Political Science and Latin American and Caribbean Studies. She spent a year studying abroad at the University of Chile and conducted field research on participatory development in South Africa. She taught English in Peru and to various refugee communities in Chicago. Nicole is a recipient of the William J. Clinton Fellowship for Service in India and is from the Chicagoland area. She uses most of her free time to travel and to practice her Gujarati, Hindi, Spanish, and French.

Annie Lionberger, Director of Programs, Greater Chicago Food Depository

Annie Lionberger joined the Greater Chicago Food Depository (GCFD) as Director of Programs in June 2009. In her capacity at the Food Depository, Annie oversees the development, implementation, evaluation and expansion of initiatives designed to address public health, education and community development as they relate to food insecurity. Additionally, she works to build partnerships with government officials and non-profit organizations to develop and advocate for best practices in hunger relief.Prior to her work at the Food Depository, Annie worked as a consultant with the Chicago Public Schools and several Chicago area nonprofits, primarily assisting with government and community relations. Annie served as the Children and Family Benefits Manager at the Chicago Public Schools from 2005-2008, where she developed and directed efforts to ensure that students and families have access to income support programs including Medicaid, SNAP (formerly food stamps) and TANF (cash assistance). She is fluent in Spanish and, in 2000, co-founded a nonprofit organization designed to provide alternative, sustainable solutions to public health issues affecting women in Oaxaca, Mexico. Annie holds a bachelor's degree from Middlebury College in Vermont and a master's degree from the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago.

Amy Hermalik, Law Student, University of Chicago Law School

Amy HermalikAmy Hermalik is a student at the University of Chicago Law School. Next year she will be an associate in the corporate department of Kirkland and Ellis. In law school, Amy has taken on leadership positions in several organizations and been active in the community, volunteering at local schools and on a mayoral campaign. Prior to law school, driven by a desire to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to pursue the American dream and dedicated to learning first-hand what problems face the public schools, she served as a Teach for America corps member. She taught middle school for three years in South Los Angeles and received her M.Ed. from the U.C.L.A. As a teacher she led her students to significant academic gains and transformed the history department, which she chaired. She also served as the chair of the School Site Council and founded various clubs and organizations to serve the student population. She received her B.A., cum laude, in Political Science and Sociology from the University of Arizona, with honors. Her parents reside in Arizona, but she grew up across the United States, while her father served in the Army. She is looking forward to making Chicago her home.

Marc Garcia, Associate, First Five Years Fund

Marc GarciaMarc Garcia is Associate at the First Five Years Fund (FFYF), an organization committed to improving the lives of at-risk children by leveraging cost-effective investments in early learning. Prior to joining FFYF, Marc worked at the Metropolitan Planning Council as Assistant to the President. In college, he interned for United States Senator Barbara Boxer and California State Assembly-member John Laird. He volunteers for the Human Rights Campaign, where he serves on Chicago's Steering Committee and chairs their corporate committee that's tasked with managing the organization's fundraising activities. This year, he'll be chairing HRC's Annual Gala - the group's largest fundraising event of the year. He earned his Bachelor's degree in Politics from the University of California, Santa Cruz, where he also studied abroad at the Freie Universitat in Berlin, Germany. Currently, he is a candidate for a Masters of Arts in Public Policy and Administration at Northwestern University. Marc was born and raised in San Diego, California, a city he loves because of its weather and beaches. He is fluent in Spanish and conversant in German. In his spare time, he enjoys running marathons, traveling, volunteering, watching C-SPAN and trying new restaurants.

Kathy Chan, Associate Director, Illinois Maternal and Child Health Coalition

Kathy ChanKathy Chan currently serves as the Associate Director of the Illinois Maternal and Child Health Coalition, a nonprofit that uses policy, advocacy and community empowerment to improve the lives of women, children and their families. Her position entails providing leadership on advocacy efforts, as well as policy analysis for the organization and its four projects. From 2002-2006, Kathy worked at IMCHC on Covering Kids and Families where she built statewide and local coalitions and created and implemented strategies to help families more easily access public health insurance programs. Her efforts helped Illinois gain recognition as a national leader in enrollment. To date, over 2.8 million parents and children in Illinois have public insurance coverage. Kathy worked briefly in state government with the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, where she assisted with strategic enrollment efforts and the implementation of All Kids, Illinois’ health insurance program provided for children regardless of family income, immigration status or health condition. Kathy graduated with a BA in English from Northwestern University and began her career as an organizer with Green Corps, a field school for environmental organizing. Kathy grew up in South Bend, IN and is an amateur runner and a self-described foodie.