2014 NLC Fellows: Chicago

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Chirag Badlani, Associate Attorney, Hughes Socol Piers Resnick & Dym, Ltd.

Badlani.jpgChirag Badlani is an associate at the Chicago law firm of Hughes Socol Piers Resnick & Dym, Ltd., where he represents clients in a wide variety of civil matters, with a focus in the areas of civil rights, constitutional law, and labor and employment.

Prior to joining his current firm, Chirag was a law clerk to the Honorable Ann Claire Williams, United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, and to the Honorable Allyne Ross, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York. He also worked as a Planning Associate at the Vera Institute of Justice, on issues related to access to legal services for adults in immigration detention and unaccompanied minors. Before attending law school, Chirag was a project manager at the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC), working in the area of urban redevelopment.

Chirag graduated magna cum laude from New York University School of Law, where he was a member of NYU’s Immigrant Rights Clinic. He received his B.A. from Yale.

Chirag currently sits on the Junior Leadership Board of the National Immigrant Justice Center, and is a member of the Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of Chicago and First 10, a network that aims to support public interest lawyers in Chicago in their first ten years of practice.

Andrew Bashi, Solo Attorney, Law Office of Andrew Bashi

Bashi.jpgAndrew Bashi is the founder of the Law Office of Andrew Bashi, a Chicago based law firm. Andrew’s legal skills are complemented by his history as a dynamic organizer, independent columnist, and speaker.

Prior to founding Bashi Law, Andrew was a staff member at Defending Dissent Foundation (DDF), a D.C. based organization dedicated to protecting and advancing the right to dissent. He worked as a Public Interest Legal Fellow at the Chicago Committee to Defend the Bill of Rights where he acted as the organization’s interim director. He spent time as a law clerk at the Chicago civil rights firm, People’s Law Office (PLO) where he worked hands-on with cases of police brutality, confessions obtained through torture, and wrongful convictions. In 2011, he became an Ella Baker Fellow at the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) in New York. At CCR, Andrew broadened his experiences with government misconduct cases, focusing on protecting the First Amendment rights of activists through a constitutional challenge to the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (Blum v. Holder) and legal research on the use of drones to kill individuals abroad. He received his Juris Doctor from Loyola University Chicago School of Law where he served as research assistant to constitutional law scholar, John Nowak.

Andrew was the recipient of the C.B. King Award for Student Leadership, granted yearly to one student nationwide that has worked diligently to advance the cause of the National Lawyers Guild. He currently serves on the board of directors for the organization’s Chicago chapter. He is also recipient of the Bill of Rights Defense Committee’s Patriot Award.

Andrew’s columns have been featured in numerous media outlets including The Indipendent and In These Times Magazine, where he also served on the editorial team as an intern. A vegan, he is a proud animal lover and environmentalist. The eldest son of Iraqi immigrants, he is conversational in Arabic and has spent time living in the Middle East.

Vasco Bridges, Manager – Strategy & Operatinos, Deloitte Consulting

Bridges.jpgCreative Thinker. Strategic Leader. Operations Consultant. Entrepreneur.

Vasco L. Bridges III, is a well-rounded business professional with a variety of experiences. Focus areas currently include: Government Performance and Technology, Operating Model Design, Marketing Efficiency and Cost Reduction, Supply Chain Management, Recruiting and Talent Acquisition

Vasco currently holds two professional roles: he is a Manager in Deloitte Consulting’s Strategy and Operations practice and also active CEO of JANO Technologies, Illinois’ leading Integrated Justice Information Management firm. He has been at Deloitte for 3 years, with experiences in operating model design, strategic sourcing, market sizing, and marketing cost reduction efforts and has worked for private sector and government clients around the globe.

At JANO, he leads a group of professionals that use the latest in case management technology, electronic transaction capability, and information integration, to help circuit clerks in Illinois drive change and improve efficiency in their organization. JANO counts 6 of Illinois’ largest counties as its customers.

Originally hailing from Jackson, Mississippi Vasco has lived in Houston, New York, and Ann Arbor before settling in Chicago. Before coming to Deloitte, Vasco managed business development operations for 6 years at a marketing, music and media company. Vasco is a 2010 graduate from the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. In addition to his MBA, he holds a MA from New York University in Music Business and a BA in Economics from Rice University.

Vasco is currently engaged to be married to Ms. Brandi Burns, also of Chicago, and in his free time he enjoys planning unique, targeted events with his friends in the Chicagoland area.

Thomas Day, Financial Advisor, Merrill Lynch

Day.jpgThomas L. Day is the founder of PublicServicePledge.com, a community that seeks to up a core set of values unique to public service: Integrity, Courage, Empathy, and Responsibility to future generations and the least fortunate.

Tom is an Iraq war veteran, serving with the 101st Airborne Division during the March 2003 invasion and in operations in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul. The division’s tour of duty in Iraq, led by then-Maj. Gen. David Petraeus, was the subject of his 2007 book, “Along the Tigris: The 101st Airborne Division in Operation Iraqi Freedom.” After his enlistment, he was a bureau reporter for McClatchy Newspapers in Kabul, Afghanistan, and has been published in The Washington Post, ESPN The Magazine, CNN.com, The Guardian, and Philadelphia Magazine. He was also a frequent commentator on CNN during the Penn State scandal.

Tom holds degrees from Penn State University, the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, and the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago. He is also a member of the Truman National Security Project’s defense council.

Sara El-Amine, National Grassroots Organizing Director, Organizing for Action

El-Amine.jpgSara El-Amine is the National Grassroots Organizing Director at Organizing for Action, President Obama’s grassroots 20 million person strong organizing movement. At OFA, Sara oversees the people-centered, metrics-driven grassroots organizing for President Obama’s agenda across all 50 states, five national issue campaigns, and a budding number of state legislative level campaigns.

She’s spent the last 6 years in the Obama movement, working at every level of the field hierarchy, and has been at the center of crafting OFA’s new Chapter model that OFA’s thousands of state-based volunteers are using to make the transition into issue organizing. Before joining the Obama family she worked in international organizing with a focus on conflict resolution. El-Amine is passionate about professionalizing the left, management theory, Chicago, training, foreign languages and long-distance running.

Julia Fedor, Project Manager, Leo Burnett

fedor.jpgJulia Fedor is a marketing communications professional and feminist advocate. She helps corporate and public interest clients use online technology to advance their brands and missions, specializing in standard and responsive web design, information architecture, user experience, content management, and email marketing.

Julia is currently a digital project manager with the Leo Burnett Group, a worldwide advertising firm headquartered in Chicago. Skilled at conversing through the web and mobile channels, she oversees the planning and execution of brand web design and online promotion projects.

Previously, Julia was a project manager at Firefly Partners, an online marketing agency, where she worked on web design and development projects with nonprofit clients across the United States and Canada, including the United Nations Foundation, Center for Reproductive Rights, National Center for Lesbian Rights, and Nature Conservancy of Canada.

She also worked as the communication and policy coordinator at the Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health, a statewide organization promoting health care access and sexual health education in schools, where she managed the website, constituent database, email marketing, and social media. In 2011, Julia completed an exchange fellowship program for young professionals in the United States and Turkey, traveling to Washington D.C., Istanbul, and Ankara to meet with government and civil society organizations.

Julia serves as board co-chair of the Chicago Abortion Fund, a reproductive rights organization helping low-income women access safe, legal abortion services through direct financial assistance, clinic referrals, and legislative advocacy. In 2010, she helped found Put A Ring On It!, a citywide campaign and coalition group in Chicago promoting access to female condoms for sexual health prevention. She was recognized as the Junior Advocate of the Year by the Illinois Maternal and Child Health Coalition.

Julia holds a bachelor’s degree with honors in sociology and urban studies from Northwestern University. She was a 2008-2009 fellow with the Northwestern University Public Interest Program and now serves as a mentor to current fellows. Originally from the Gulf Coast of Florida, Julia is an avid traveler who enjoys photography, salsa dancing, and biking.

Laura Garcia, Consultant

Laura Garcia is native of the Chicagoland area and a lifetime advocate for immigration and social justice issues who specializes in advocating for, developing, implementing and managing programs that touch the lives of individuals and communities while also creating statewide and national impact. Laura is a private consultant who is an active member of the Chicago philanthropic community; including Chicago Latinos in Philanthropy and Chicago Women in Philanthropy.

Laura has worked nationally and locally in various positions. Prior to her consulting work, Laura was Director of the Uniting America Integration Initiative at the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. In this position, Laura was responsible for developing this statewide immigrant-focused initiative that incorporated program services, community organizing, corporate partnership, social media outreach and community development.

Prior to her work in Illinois, Laura worked for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services/Office of Refugee Resettlement where she managed national refugee resettlement programs. While in D.C., Laura also worked with the Department of Labor/Employment and Training Administration in areas of Workforce Development. Laura began her refugee work while working at World Relief International Development Corporation in Baltimore.

Tom Greenhaw, Founder, Cashier Live

Greenhaw.jpgTom Greenhaw is the Founder and CEO of Cashier Live, a startup based in Chicago that provides cash register software and credit card processing to small businesses across the country. Tom has worked closely with hundreds of small business owners to help them improve their operations through the use of technology.

Tom was born and raised in the Chicagoland area. After graduation from Glenbrook South High School, Tom attended Arizona State University where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science.

After his college graduation in 2008, Tom immediately returned to Chicago and soon after founded Cashier Live.

Upon returning home to Chicago, Tom also became involved with the Friends of the Forest Preserve as an active volunteer for forest restoration workdays. Tom developed an interest in green infrastructure, which lead him to study for and achieve the LEED Green Associate credential. Tom is also currently enrolled in the University of Chicago’s Leadership in Sustainability Management certificate program.

Robert Grigsby, Educator, Coach, Teacher Leader, Rich Township High Schools District 227

Robert Grigsby, Educator, Coach, Teacher Leader

Robert Grigsby is the Social Studies Teacher Leader and an Advanced Placement Psychology and U.S. History teacher at Rich East High School. He is also the Head Coach for the Varsity Boys Soccer program and an Assistant Yearbook sponsor. As an educator, Robert has been focused on fostering critical thinking skills, advocating for student-led technology based learning, and creating effective citizens.

As an undergraduate, Robert was President of the Political Science Association and Secretary of the College Democrats. He was also a member of Phi Alpha Theta, an honors History fraternity, and Alpha Kappa Delta, an honors Sociology fraternity.

Recently, Robert completed his M.A. in Communication Studies. During his graduate studies, he interned with the Will County Young Democrats and currently serves as the organization’s Communications Director where he is working to mobilize young people in the electoral process, create a sustainable progressive voting bloc in Will County, and develop young leaders.

Robert has been a facilitator and presenter at the EIU History Teachers 28th and 29th annual conferences. Robert has volunteered for several municipal campaigns and in 2012 worked for State Senator Pat McGuire. He is particularly passionate regarding issues of labor rights, public education, and environmental protection.

Robert currently lives in suburban Chicago with his expectant wife, Jennifer, their two children, and two dogs. In his leisure, Robert enjoys traveling, listening to music, and hanging out with his family.

Nora Gruenberg, Vice President – Mom4Hire and Communications Coordinator – The Society of Helpers, Mom4Hire and The Society of Helpers

Nora Gruenberg is an entrepreneur, communications specialist and freelance writer. She is a founding partner of Mom4Hire, a career development agency specializing in improving women’s professional profiles and the Communications Coordinator for the Society of Helpers, an international congregation of women religious. As a freelance writer, her clientele ranges from creative agencies and institutes of higher education to novelists and bloggers.

Raised deep in the cornfields of Will County, Nora tried her hand at city life to earn a B.A. in communications from DePaul University and an M.A. in education from St. Xavier University. Her mission has long since been to blend her love of research, effective communications strategies and networking with her unflagging enthusiasm to solve life’s problems, both large and small.

She is the wife of a funny man, the mother of two cherubs and a suburbanite residing in Tinley Park’s hinterlands. When she isn’t consulting with clients, creating compelling content or asking too many questions, Nora is caffeinating, Googling, spiking dinner with clandestine vegetables and dreaming of summer on Lake Michigan.

Sara Beth Hoffman, Consulting, Deloitte

Hoffman.jpgSara Beth is a proud native Chicagoan completing a masters in public policy at the University of Chicago’s Harris School with a focus on urban policy and food access. She’ll be joining Deloitte’s Strategy and Operations practice as a Consultant in October.

Sara Beth moved down to New Orleans after graduating from Wesleyan University. She completed her AmeriCorps service and worked as a community outreach and volunteer coordinator at the Edible Schoolyard New Orleans, a program dedicating to improving student health and well-being by integrating gardening and cooking into the curriculum, culture, and cafeteria of public schools.

Sara Beth spent last summer at Cook County’s Office of Budget and Management Services and is a research intern at RW Ventures, an economic consulting firm. She loves to bike around the city, talk about public transit, cook, and boogie.

James Hollis, Manager, Delegations & Energy Projects, German American Chamber of Commerce of the Midwest, Inc.

Hollis.jpgJames Hollis is an international trade consultant at the German American Chamber of Commerce, the official trade promotion arm of the German Government, where his focus area encompasses energy efficiency and renewable energy. He has organized and led numerous delegations for industry experts in both Germany and the US on topics including sustainable manufacturing, energy efficient water infrastructure, and advanced green-building technologies.

Prior to moving to Chicago, James advocated for federal clean energy and climate legislation as the Ohio Field Director of the Alliance for Climate Protection, an organization founded by Al Gore to support renewable energy and encourage civic action against climate change. In 2008, James was a staffer for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign in Ohio and Pennsylvania.

James is a northeast Ohio native and an alumnus of Miami University where he studied German and Political Science. While completing his bachelor’s degree, he spent a year abroad at the Ludwig Maximilian’s University in Munich, during which time he acted as a research assistant for the Aspen-Berlin Institute and a tutor for intercultural communication.

Christopher Huff

Huff.jpgChris Huff grew up in Chicago, Illinois where he developed a passion for community organizing and engaging young people in the political process. At the age of 15, Chris was compelled to move to the suburbs of Atlanta, GA in order to escape the adverse effects of increased gang violence in his Chicago community. He obtained a Bachelor of Arts from Oglethorpe University, a small, private liberal arts school in Atlanta, GA.

After completing his undergraduate education, Chris decided to return home to Chicago with goals of advancing socio-economic and political opportunities for youth who are disadvantaged due to ineffective public education and violence. In preparation for his return to Chicago, he studied the history of political and economic development in the United States, became a member of 21st Century Leaders, Vice President of Future Business Leaders of America, and started his own organization called U.T.A.P. (Understanding Teenagers and Practical-Politics) at his local high school. Building on his experience gained, Chris entered college at Oglethorpe with an intense thirst for knowledge and understanding of political process that helps to shape the policies that influenced his development in Chicago.

Inspired by ascension of then presidential candidate Barack Obama to the national spotlight, his interest to pursue a career in public service took form. Taking advantage of his liberal arts education, he created his own degree titled Political Communication and Economic Development, which purposefully integrated Political Science, Economic, Communication, and Urban Leadership courses into one cohesive program of study that would prepare him to help advance socioeconomic and political initiatives that empower disadvantaged in Chicago. Chris is currently a graduate student at the University of Chicago _ School of Social Service Administration where he has completed courses in both Clinical Practice and Social Administration.

Building on his commitment to helping organize communities and engage young people in the political process, Chris currently serves on Youth Advisory Board of the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission, Student Executive Board for University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics, and is Vice-Chair of the Board for the nonprofit organization Chicago Votes that helps to not only engage, but also educate and train young Chicagoans on how to be effective policy advocates and political activists.

Oren Jacobson, National Director of Sales Enablement, New Home Star

Jacobson.jpgOren Jacobson is a successful business leader and an advocate for effective governance with a focus on social and economic equality. With a wide bevy of corporate, entrepreneurial, and campaign experience, he balances his time between his challenging career, political engagement efforts, and his Chicago-based family.
After graduating in 2004 from the University of Missouri, Oren moved to Colorado to work for one of the largest homebuilders in America.

While in Colorado, Oren received his M.B.A. with an emphasis in Strategic Management, and a certification in Lean Six Sigma methodologies. These pursuits, combined with the tenacity to fight through extreme economic challenges, propelled Oren’s career rapidly, despite the collapse of the housing market.

However, it was his professionalism and leadership that earned Oren the respect of his peers. He demonstrated an exceptional ability to galvanize others around solid strategic plans, never allowing external factors to be an excuse for what he and his teams could control. Rather than accepting marketing conditions and the status quo, Oren invested heavily into the training and development of his teams, equipping them to meet the challenges they faced.

In the heat of the 2012 electoral season, Oren decided it was time to turn his attention to more than just growing the bottom line, hitting the road as a volunteer for President Obama’s campaign during the final weeks of the election. After this transformational experience, Oren sought an opportunity to move home to Chicago, where he would be able to continue his professional pursuits while engaging with his community in a more meaningful manner.

As the Director of Sales Enablement for a private real estate consulting firm, Oren is now responsible for developing world-class technological and training solutions that drive performance at some of the largest home building organizations in the nation. Oren is honored to be joining NLC, and is looking forward to the opportunity to bring his energy, work ethic, leadership, and focus to the movement.

Quiana McKenzie, Operations Manager, Citizens for Lisa Madigan

Quiana McKenzie is currently the Operations Manager for Citizens for Lisa Madigan. Prior to working for Attorney General Madigan’s campaign, Quiana worked in a variety of roles in government and higher education, including serving as a James H. Dunn Fellow in the Office of the Governor of Illinois. She also served as an economic recovery coordinator, assisting with the implementation of the economic stimulus in the state of Illinois and coordinating efforts for high-speed rail in the Midwest. Quiana has been active in politics in Illinois, Virginia and Iowa, volunteering for Democratic political campaigns on every level. In 2012, she was elected as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention from the State of Iowa. She strongly believes in the importance of civic engagement for youth and communities of color, and works with a number of organizations to advance this cause.

Quiana attended Washington and Lee University, where she completed her undergraduate studies with an independent major in American Government and Society, and Iowa State University, where she earned a Master’s Degree in Education. During her college years, she did community organizing and development work in the Mississippi Delta, was awarded several leadership and policy-focused fellowships, and completed an internship on Capitol Hill. An active community member, Quiana serves as a mentor to college students across the country and assists low-income students with the college-going process. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

Amrit Mehra

Mehra.jpgAmrit Mehra is a masters student at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy studying urban policy and municipal finance.

He came to Chicago after working over five years in DC, primarily in federal government. Most recently, he served three years as an Obama Administration appointee in two agencies. First, Amrit was special assistant to the Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Next, he served as policy advisor to the Federal Co-Chair at the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), an independent agency focused on promoting sustainable economic development in the historically distressed region.

He joined the executive branch after working in then-Senator Barack Obama’s office as a legislative aide on poverty, judiciary, environment, and agriculture issues. Prior to that, Amrit completed the Bill Emerson National Hunger Fellowship, where he spent six months researching school breakfast program barriers in Milwaukee public schools and six months at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities advocating for federal anti-hunger programs.

Amrit graduated with honors from the University of Chicago with a B.A. in public policy and political science. He was born in Mumbai, India, lived in several places growing up, but primarily hails from Roswell, GA.

Amrit loves electoral politics, traveling, and trying new food. More importantly, he is excited to call Chicago home again looks forward to advancing policies that promote economic opportunity for all in the Chicago area.

Mary Miro, Community Relations Coordinator, Loyola University Chicago

Miro.jpgMary Miro is the Program Coordinator for the Department of Community Relations at Loyola University Chicago. She is responsible for cultivating relationships with businesses, schools, and non-profit organizations in the Rogers Park and Edgewater communities, planning and executing special events, and serving as liaison between the University and residents of the local neighborhood.

Prior to joining Loyola in June of 2012, Mary worked for range of non-profits focused on improving the economic sustainability of low-income neighborhoods through job-training programs and business outreach.

Over the past two years, Mary has coordinated a number of local initiatives in the communities surrounding Loyola’s campus that focus on economic development, green or environmental projects, fundraising, and supporting neighborhood schools through community partnerships.
Mary is passionate about improving the national public school system and equalizing access to quality education for minorities and children in low-socioeconomic communities. She hopes to pursue education reform initiatives on a local, state, and/or federal level.

Mary attended Marquette University, earning her B.A. in Psychology and Sociology. Following Marquette, Mary pursued a M.A. from the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration, focusing her studies on public policy, community organizing, and non-profit management.

Susan Parker, Program Manager, University of Chicago Crime Lab

Susan Parker is a Project Manager at the Crime Lab. She is currently leading the Multi-City Multi-Methods Gun Market Study and also supports evaluations of programs that Chicago’s Public Safety Action Committee is funding to reduce youth violence and improve life outcomes. Before coming to the Crime Lab, she was a budget analyst for Obama for America. She holds a BA in International Relations from Michigan State University and an MPP from the Harris School of Public Policy Studies at the University of Chicago.

Bina M Patel, President, Saathi Impact Consulting

Patel.jpgBina has a broad perspective on building opportunity-rich and sustainable communities. Her professional experience comes from time in the non-profit, philanthropic and public sectors. She served as Deputy Chief of Staff to Mayor Daley, where she was responsible for overseeing a portfolio of programs and policies amounting to over $1 billion in the area of human capital, human services, public health, and community development. Bina has leveraged her experience to provide strategic policy and program consulting services to government agencies, think tanks, and non-profits.

Bina has more than 10 years of experience in social policy and community development. She has extensive experience building and leading collaborative efforts, and enjoys seeing big ideas take shape in communities. Bina has led strategic initiatives to help communities transform themselves through innovative, inclusive, and sustainable efforts in the areas of workforce, public health, asset building, small business development and lending, and education.

She earned an M.S. in Social Protection Finance (Public Finance & Social Policy) from University of Maastricht, the Netherlands, where her concentration was on Economic and Community Development. She also earned an M.A. from University of Denver in International Studies with a concentration on Sustainable Development and Poverty Alleviation. Bina was selected to participate with the PLACES fellowship (2012) through The Funders’ Network, where she engaged with community members and colleagues from across the country to dive into racial, social, and economic justice issues. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Center on Neighborhood Technology.

Mahrinah von Schlegel, Chief Strategist, ProofX

von-Schlegel.jpgMahrinah von Schlegel is an Entrepreneur with a diverse background in anthropology, sustainable development and policy, bio-fuels development, alternative energies, business development and strategy, music journalism, fine arts dance, and non-profit direction. She has developed nearly $1B in real estate, predominantly in Southern California and built digital projects and communities since 2001. As an Economic Growth Fellow for World Business Chicago, she recently worked to implement strategies of Mayor Emanuel’s Plan for Economic Growth and Jobs on Neighborhoods, Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Spanish-American and Native American (Tewa and Jicarilla Apache), born and raised in the South Pacific and Southern California, Mahrinah received her education at the University of Pennsylvania and Wharton School of Business.

A Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange Scholar who was named America’s Promising Youth Leader by Secretary of State Colin Powell, Mahrinah has had a longstanding commitment toward works with a humanist basis and extensive involvement serving on boards and committees for organizations such as the United States Greenbuild Council, Urban Land Institute, and American Planning Association – Latino. In 2012, Mahrinah founded CÍbola, an incubator in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago and the first in the Midwest focused on diversity in tech entrepreneurship across ethnicities, backgrounds, and disciplines; with partnerships and events ranging from The White House, Chicago Innovation Awards, The United States Department of State, Groupon and more. Today, Mahrinah is Chief Strategist for ProofX, a Rapid-Prototyping and Applied Sciences Laboratory and Consultancy with a full lab debut in Spring 2014. She is a mentor for Tetuan Valley accelerator in Madrid, Future Founders, LOFT Institute, works with various national groups shaping Immigration Reform Policy (especially as it affects entrepreneurship and the technology community), is a national public speaker and judges business plan competitions for local universities and the City of Chicago.

In 2013, she has been a finalist for Chicago Innovation Awards, the Revolucionario Award at SXSW and YWCA’s Impact Award. In February 2014, she will be a representative of US Entrepreneurship in the Middle East via the Department of State’s Professional Fellows Program.

Sunny Williams, Co-founder and CEO, Medtoon

Sunny is co-founder and CEO of Medtoon, a healthcare technology startup focused on pediatric health literacy. Through the power of animation, Medtoon aims to enhance pediatric patient care and increase efficiency for healthcare organizations. Medtoon develops animated short films that explain surgical and medical procedures in plain language that kids can understand.

Prior to co-founding Medtoon, Sunny was a junior associate at Cozen O’Connor where he focused his practice on entertainment law. He worked on several types of entertainment law matters including representing clients in contract negotiations and serving as production counsel. In addition, Sunny produced two films that screened at the Soho International Film Festival and Cannes International Film Festival short film corner. Currently, he is the producer of Uptown Unplugged’s web series “”Communal Table.”"

Sunny is a council member for the Northwestern University Leadership Circle and serves on the junior board of the Chicago International Film Festival. In addition he serves on the young professional board for the Legal Assistance Foundation of Chicago and Constitutional Rights Foundation of Chicago. He also volunteer teaches at Hinton Elementary School.

Sunny earned his J.D. from Northwestern University School of Law. While at law school, Sunny was a clinical student at the Juvenile and Criminal Trials and Appeals clinic and was a 2012 Public Service Star. He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh in 2007, graduating with a degree in Political Science and minors in English literature and Economics. He speaks Spanish, French and Portuguese.

In his free time, Sunny enjoys taking improv classes at Second City and Improv Olmpic theater and running marathons.

Jeremy C. Wilson, Attorney, Vedder Price P.C.

Wilson.jpgJeremy C. Wilson is a progressive lawyer and social entrepreneur committed to serving, inspiring and uniting his community.

Prior to joining law firm Vedder Price P.C. as a the firm’s Diversity Scholar, he spoke with Chicago residents as a Community Organizer with Obama for America, served low-income residents with the Office of the Arizona Attorney General, launched an award-winning education blog, organized commercialization efforts of an HIV/Aids product in Kenya and worked with renowned entrepreneur Seth Godin on a new online learning platform that could change everything.

In 2013, Jeremy was elected the Director of REVIVE THE DREAM, an education fellowship program whose mission is to revive the American dream for underserved children in Chicago and the United States.
Jeremy is also the Founder and Executive Producer of EDUCATION MATTERS PROJECT, an award winning Internet project featuring inspiring education stories from people across the country. Education Matters has been recognized and funded by Dell, the McCormick Foundation and University of Texas Austin, and was a 2012 Echoing Green semifinalist.

Jeremy received his JD/MBA at Northwestern University, where he was named a McCormick Scholar, Vedder Price Scholar, National Black MBA Scholar, National Hispanic MBA Scholar, Northwestern Diversity Scholar and Verizon Scholar. He was also recognized for his community service as a Board Fellow and a Public Service Star. Before that he graduated from Stanford University where he received a full-tuition scholarship.

Jeremy’s story is familiar to many middle class people in Chicago and across the country. The son of two adopted parents born in one of the poorest cities in America, Youngstown, Ohio, he was raised in an underserved and underrepresented community. Inspired by his father who worked as a steel mill worker and mother who pushed him to work harder in the classroom, he soon learned that it took hard work, the ability to work across boundaries and passion for education to succeed.

Through his journey with NLC, Jeremy hopes to meet engaged citizens who are not only leaders in their fields but who are also serving their community and working for a better tomorrow.