Chicago 2017 fellows

Meet the 2017 Chicago Fellows
(back to NLC 2017 Fellows)

Sean Anderson, Communications Associate, World Business Chicago

SeanAnderson.jpgSean Anderson is the Communications Associate for World Business Chicago. He strategizes and executes public affairs, media relations, social media, messaging, and branding for WBC and its underlying initiatives. Prior to WBC, Sean worked at Kivvit, a national public affairs and communications firm. He handled public affairs and brand messaging clients such as Google, nonprofit-coalition Forefront, the University of Chicago, and the US Olympic Committee. Sean’s time before Kivvit straddled both business and politics: directing operations for Andrea Zopp's U.S. Senate campaign, managing marketing for an investigative consulting firm, and expanding Loyola University Chicago’s student-run enterprise, Loyola Limited. Valuing civic engagement and public service, Sean is a Board Director of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform and an Associate Board Member of Chicago Scholars – the largest college-access program in Chicago. He previously served two terms on the Illinois Board of Higher Education, representing nearly one million college students throughout the state. Sean graduated from Roosevelt University with a BSBA in Business Management. He put himself through college as a financially independent student, eager to cultivate skills in strategy and organizational leadership to effect social and political change.

Anna Bethune, Graduate Student, Northwestern University

AnnaBethune.jpgAnna Bethune is a Co-Founder and Director of Research Development and Community Relations at Brave Initiatives. Brave Initiatives is a non-profit that empowers youth to view themselves as powerful agents of change. They offer a 5-day BraveCamp to young girls interested in solving meaningful community problems through design thinking and technology. The camp exposes participants to expert mentors, leadership, public speaking training, coding skills, and community organizing practices. Anna is also pursuing doctoral studies at the School of Education and Social Policy at Northwestern University. Her research interests include civic engagement, design-thinking, education technologies, development economics, and education policy. Before moving to Chicago, she worked as an Economics Researcher at the Edward Seaga Research Institute. Her projects included an examination of the impact of floating and fixed exchange rates on the Jamaican economy, and the creation and publication of one of Jamaica’s first and largest open data platforms — The Edward Seaga Database Collection. Prior to that, she worked as the Director of Social Entrepreneurship and Outreach at a start-up in Silicon Valley where she designed and implemented a community outreach program and technology platform aimed at connecting local businesses with charities. While pursuing undergraduate studies at Stanford University, she researched the impact of microfinance on consumption patterns and the living standards of a group of women receiving micro-credit in Mukono, Uganda. Anna graduated with a BA with honors in Economics.

Colin Bird, Senior Analyst, IHS Markit

ColinBird.jpgColin Bird is a recognized community leader on the Northwest (NW) side of Chicago. After being inspired by the new leaders emerging from the 2014-15 municipal elections, Colin decided that he could help his community by bringing together neighbors to form a community group that would bring forth positive changes for Hermosa, Chicago. Colin founded the nonprofit, Hermosa Neighborhood Association (HNA), in late 2014. As HNA’s President, Colin oversees its business strategy, marketing, outreach, and grant writing as well as legal issues. Colin graduated from the University of Illinois at Champaign Urbana with a degree in Sociology and Pre-Law. Since graduation, Colin has worked in the automotive industry as a journalist and, more recently, an analyst at IHS Markit where he analyzes and forecasts the evolution of automotive cloud-, telematics-, infotainment- and new urban mobility-services. Colin has combined his expertise of journalism with his expertise of task-oriented-, workflow-, management and business planning to help develop a long-term sustainable strategy for HNA: This includes the development of a community center to help ground the neighborhood with a sense of identity as well as to help Hermosa stand up as its own distinct neighborhood. In addition to his work at the HNA, Colin is heavily involved in politics on the NW Side. Colin is frequently engaged with the 31st-, 35th-, 36th-wards through their Participatory Budgeting (PB) efforts. In the 35th-Ward, Colin is a part of the community-driven zoning process. Colin is a founding, former, board member of the United Neighbors of the 35th Ward (UN35), an independent political organization that is helping to drive progressive politics in Chicago. Colin is also a member of the local school council (LSC) at Nixon Elementary. As a LSC member, one of Colin’s priorities is to reverse the downward trend in enrollment at the school. Attendance from 2014 to today is down approximately 100 students. The budget at the school has also been severely cut over the past several years. Colin was instrumental in bringing an almost entirely new council to the school in 2016. A part of those changes includes a new principal and further community engagement through weekend neighborhood meetings, cleanups of the school grounds by community members, and fundraisers. One of the latest achievements for both HNA and the LSC has been funding a new $125,000 playground for the school which is scheduled to be built over the summer of 2017.

Cynthia Brito, Chicago Director, Inter-University Program for Latino Research

CynthiaBrito.jpgCynthia Brito is the Chicago Director for the Inter-University Program for Latino Research (IUPLR), a national consortium of university-based centers dedicated to expanding the pool of Latino scholars and leaders and increasing the availability of policy-relevant Latino-focused research. Cynthia is also the current President of Dare to Dream: Get Educated!, an organization built to motivate young Latinas to pursue higher education degrees. As a former teen mother, Cynthia serves as a youth mentor for Atabey, an Intergenerational Teen Mother Mentorship Program at Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos High School in Humboldt Park, Chicago. Prior to joining IUPLR, Cynthia worked for the Chicago law firm Hughes, Socol, Piers, Resnick and Dym, Ltd. as a civil rights paralegal with a focus on constitutional law, labor, and employment. Cynthia holds a Masters degree in Latin American and Latino studies with high distinction from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). She is a well known Chicago community organizer and was recognized as an upcoming Chicago Leader in Latino Leaders magazine 2015 and profiled as activist of the month for the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice in 2012. She also had the opportunity to work in the Chuy Garcia campaign Chicago mayoral race as Special Assistant to the Chief of Staff. Cynthia originates from a working-class, first generation Mexican family that settled in Uptown, Chicago. Cynthia now resides in Oak Park with her two teen daughters, Jocelyn and Marlene, husband Mario, and cat Ohtli. She enjoys biking, camping, playing soccer, dancing, and spending time with family and friends. She continues to work on various issues including immigration, education, reproductive justice, and youth issues.

Ian Coelho, Physician, Northwest Community Hospital

IanCoelho.jpgUniversity of Michigan at Ann Arbor, BA University of Illinois at Chicago, MD Rush University Hospital, Residency Northwest Community Hospital, Hospitalist Edwards Hines Jr Veterans Hospital, Moonlighter






Bridgett Colling, Director of Content Strategy, See3 Communications

BridgettColling.pngBridgett Colling is a communications strategist and community-builder. She is currently the Director of Content Strategy at See3 Communications, helping nonprofits and social causes use digital tools to move their missions forward. Bridgett manages projects for an impressive roster of do-gooders, including the Make-A-Wish Foundation of America, YouTube for Good, and the BUILD Initiative for early childhood systems building. Bridgett led the development and implementation of See3's diversity, equity and inclusion strategy, leading staff meetings on anti-racism and anti-oppression, and establishing a new, more equitable hiring process in partnership with the See3’s leadership team. Bridgett was born and raised in southeast Michigan. She moved to the west side of the state to attend Kalamazoo College, where she studied Human Development and Social Relations, Economics, and Media Studies. While in college, she studied abroad in Ecuador and wrote a thesis on social media, marketing, and human development. She received numerous awards for her leadership and community service during her time at K, and continues to serve as a Class Agent. Prior to joining See3, Bridgett consulted on digital communications and event planning for civically-minded nonprofits, including NPR Detroit, the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, and Chicago Ideas Week. ​In 2015, Bridgett founded the Chicago chapter of Women Get It Done, a national organization that connects collaborative communities of diverse women to the resources they need to fuel big ideas. Bridgett is a sought-after speaker on topics related to nonprofit marketing, productivity, and digital media. Her previous speaking engagements include the Nonprofit Technology Conference, Netroots Nation, Social Media Week, Forefront, 501TechClub, and the American Marketing Association. Bridgett enjoys working on a heavy rotation of passion projects. She’s currently producing the first season of Serious Commitments, a podcast about risk, faith, and love. She also founded and manages Awesome Resume, a resume and cover letter editing service that helps people land their dream jobs." Alicia Crosby Executive Director and Co-founder Center for Inclusivity "Alicia has always been the type of person to color outside the lines - a trait that comes in handy as the Co-Founder and Executive Director of Center for Inclusivity (CFI). Her passions for justice, spiritually engaged activism, and community engagement led her to pursue a M.A. in Social Justice and Certificate in Non-Profit Management & Philanthropy at Loyola University Chicago. She also has a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies from Hollins University. Having previously worked in religious, social service, and community empowerment contexts, Alicia saw a need to address the spiritual, systemic, and interpersonal harm people experience through the promotion of inclusion and equity for all people through her work. She is proud that CFI is a place where people can bring the fullness of who they are forward and find community that gives them life.

Steve Gorodetskiy, Senior Consultant, Deloitte 

SteveGorodetskiy.jpgSteve Gorodetskiy is a strategy consultant with a strong interest in the civic community and the public sector. He currently works at Monitor Deloitte, where his project work is focused on commercial strategy transformations for Fortune 500 consumer and industrial companies. Prior to Deloitte, Steve was the CEO and co-founder of a seed-stage mobile payment technology startup in Boston, SplitNGo, with responsibility for the company’s sales, business development, and fundraising. Steve came to Chicago with his family from Belarus when he was 10 and has lived in several communities within the City and the suburbs. And, over the past 5 years, Steve has gotten opportunities to work with his home town’s government agencies on several projects. These projects include a strategic vision initiative with the Park District, an internship with the Department of Family and Support Services where he worked with the City’s Community Service Centers, and special projects for the Chicago Public Schools’ Chief Executive Office. He looks forward to exploring opportunities to offer his business skillset to the Chicago civic community, whether in government, non-profit or social enterprise.

Everett Gutierrez, President, Legacy Leaders International

EverettGutierrezJr.jpgEverett Gutierrez is a respected leader, entrepreneur, and speaker as he works with various groups and organizations to inspire change. Mr. Gutierrez holds a dual bachelor’s degree in Public Relations and Advertising, along with a degree in Organizational Leadership and Development from Loyola University. He also hold a Masters in Nonprofit Management from North Park University and in 2015, he received an Executive Masters of Leadership degree from Georgetown University as part of an elite cohort. In leaving a legacy, Mr. Gutierrez has worked with teams and agencies throughout the United States, South Africa, and Canada with a huge passion for developing people through leadership enrichment programs. His contributions and connection to the national and international public has allowed him the privilege to speak in front of over 30,000 people from various political groups, corporations, educational institutions and other non-profits. His work has allowed him to receive the Reflejos ""Reflecting Excellence Award"" and the recognition as a nominee for the ""Latino Entrepreneur of the Year"" award through the Chicago Latino Network. His organization was also noted by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the city council for their contributions to youth work in the city of Chicago. Through the vision he has set for his company, Legacy Leaders International and his life, he is committed to developing future world changers with the highest performance standards.

Christopher Hansen, Senior Performance Analyst, City of Chicago Office of Inspector General

ChristopherHansen_.jpgChristopher is a Chicago-based young professional with a passion for civic engagement. He believes strongly in the potential for progressive, evidence-based public policy to positively impact the quality of life for a community and an individual, and he has been building his career advocating for and advancing such praxis. Professionally, Christopher works for the City of Chicago Office of Inspector General (OIG) as a Senior Performance Analyst (SPA) in the Audit and Program Review section. As part of the evaluation branch of the City’s independent and nonpartisan watchdog office, he conducts performance audits of City programs in the areas of municipal infrastructure, utilities, and community services. As OIG’s youngest SPA, he has identified through his work millions of dollars in potential savings for the City. Originally from the Washington, DC area, Christopher began his career as a paralegal at the Washington Lawyers’ Committee (WLC), a nonprofit civil rights law firm in the District. In this capacity, he worked primarily with the firm’s undocumented, Spanish-speaking clients in class-action lawsuits involving unpaid minimum and overtime wages as well as discrimination in employment and housing. He also served as the WLC’s community outreach liaison, leading bilingual “Know Your Rights” presentations in venues throughout the city. Outside of work, Christopher actively invests in the life and advancement of his community. He hold various volunteer positions, including roles with Justice for Our Neighbors and Center on Halsted, which focus on immigrant and LGBTQ rights advocacy, respectively. He is also an avid cyclist, tap dancer, and nonfiction bibliophile.

Paw Ku, Youth Case Manager, Heartland Human Care Services

PawSayKu.jpgPaw currently works as a Youth Case Manager at Heartland Human Care Services for Refugee and Immigrant Community. She works closely with refugee youth and family from all over the world. She runs and facilitates the after school programming and coordinated youth coalition group in the refugee and low income community. Also, she organized special events and field trips for refugee youth. Paw is one of the Karen ethnic groups originally from Myanmar. Due to civil war in Myanmar, her families were forced to flee and resettled in Thailand Refugee Camp. Paw lived in the refugee camp for 14 years and resettled in the U.S. in 2007. After resettled in the U.S, Paw recognized that her family and other refugee families struggled with learning the new language, the system, as well as seeking employment due to lack of skills and language barriers. Once she learned how to speak English, she started to help other refugee with interpreting, seeking jobs, and performing other basic duties relating to social services, school, and hospital. She has an understanding of first-hand struggles of what refugees go through especially when entering a new country and finding a way to survive. She works hard to catch up with her peers to learn the language and was the first person in her family generation to graduate from college. Currently, she is a vice president board member at Chicago Burmese Community Center and an Educational Ministry Chair at North Shore Baptist Church. In May, 2015, Paw graduated from Northeastern Illinois University with a major in Justice Studies and minor in Human Resource Development. In addition to her work, Paw continues to get involved in her community. During her free time, she enjoys doing yoga, singing, cooking, and going to gym. She is looking forward to develop her leadership skills and continue to advocate for social justice for vulnerable people.

Douglas McGinnis, Captain, IL National Guard

DouglasMcGinnis.jpgDouglas McGinnis is an east coast native who is passionate about community development. He was an undergraduate at West Virginia University during the attacks of September 11th. In response, he enlisted in a West Virginia National Guard military police unit where he deployed to Iraq and responded to several state emergencies. Following graduation with a degree in urban planning, Doug became a commissioned infantry officer in the U.S Army. During his 14 years military experience, Doug deployed a total of four times to Iraq and Afghanistan where he conducted counter insurgency operations, community building, and security force training. As a company commander leading over 150 soldiers, Doug was responsible for training U.S. Army commissioned officers in leadership and for mentoring foreign government officials. Doug worked hand-and-hand with local communities to identify issues and partnered with their local governments to develop sustainable solutions. In Samarra, Iraq, Doug helped stimulate economic growth by enabling small businesses access to needed resources. In Afghanistan, Doug encouraged community connectivity and improved commerce travel by improving road construction and safety. He also worked with farmers on crop choice and irrigation methods in order to increase farmer profitability at local markets. Doug has trained both U.S. military forces and Iraq and Afghan police forces on community interaction through less aggressive postures. These approaches promoted safety for security forces and the community. Through his military service, Doug has been honored to receive a number of distinguished awards including two Bronze Stars, the Purple Heart, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Army Commendation Medal for Valor, and the Ranger tab. Doug has recently left active duty as a Captain and moved to Chicago to be with his fiancée. He is continuing his military service through the Illinois National Guard and is a recent member of the Truman National Security Project. Doug is excited to bring these experiences to the city of Chicago by focusing on comprehensive solutions that will drive safety, stability, and growth.

Kevin Moore, Manager, Walk-In Clinic Howard Brown Health

KevinMoore.jpgKevin A. Moore is Manager of Walk-In Clinic Services at Howard Brown Health, one of the nation’s leading LGBTQ+ healthcare, education, and research nonprofit organizations. Their passion for social justice, health equity, and advocacy – both at the individual and community level – is what motivates them to create a more equitable world. At Howard Brown, Kevin strives to improve access to essential health and social services to Chicago’s most vulnerable, resource-restricted populations. Kevin envisions a world in which people are recognized on the basis of their humanity; until then, they are working to cultivate capital/agency among marginalized communities as part of an effort to dismantle systems of oppression. Outside of their occupation, Kevin serves as Co-Chair of the AIDS Foundation of Chicago Associate Board, a diverse group of young leaders working to combat the HIV/AIDS epidemic through advocacy, education, fundraising, and direct service. Additionally, they serve on the Steering Committee as Co-Chair of Membership & Community Engagement with the Chicago Area HIV Integrated Services Council (CAHISC), a group of committed leaders working alongside the Chicago Department of Public Health to address challenges in HIV/AIDS funding, prevention, and care. Kevin graduated from Yale University with a Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology – concentrating in Neuroscience - and having completed pre-requirements for entry into medical school. They intend to pursue graduate studies in Medicine and/or Public Policy, and will remain determined to reduce health disparities and social inequities throughout Chicago and beyond. You’re likely to catch Kevin running around the city (when it’s warmer, of course) in a bright pair of sneakers, or exploring Chicago’s eclectic landscape in search of their next favorite dish or performance.

Thomas Ogorzalek, Assistant Professor, Northwestern University

ThomasOgorzalek.jpgThomas Ogorzalek is an Assistant Professor in Political Science and Urban Studies and a Civic Engagement Fellow at Northwestern University, and the Co-Director of the Chicago Democracy Project @ Northwestern. He is an avid student of politics and policy that help the well-being of large metropolitan areas and their residents, and his research focuses on urban politics, the politics of race and ethnicity, and the history of American politics.





Juliana Pino, Policy Director, Little Village Environmental Justice Organization

JulianaPino.jpgJuliana Pino is the Policy Director at the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO) and the Digital Strategist and Technology Manager at the National Center on Domestic Violence, Trauma & Mental Health (NCDVTMH). Born in Tuluá, Colombia, and raised in both Colombia and the United States, Juliana’s life is transnational and her labor is interdisciplinary. As a queer Afroindigenous Latina activist, Juliana’s personal and professional work focus on subverting, mitigating, and challenging patterns of systemic violence committed by institutions and individuals against marginalized people in society. At LVEJO, Juliana analyzes, researches, and advocates for environmental justice in local, state, and federal environmental policy. Her work focuses on: advancing energy democracy and community self-determination in regulatory and legislative policy arenas; creating just transition with meaningful collaborative and participatory management of shared environmental resources; and centering frontline community leaders as generators of transformative policy ideas and visionary governance models. At NCDVTMH, Juliana focuses on leveraging design and technology to disseminate complex information and build public awareness about the issues impacting agency and systems-level responses to survivors of intimate partner violence and other lifetime trauma. Juliana is committed to cultivating collaborative processes that promote social justice and public health. She has facilitated in a number of coalitional and agency spaces and believes ethical collaboration and jointly confronting power are key strategies for doing accountable organizing in groups. Juliana also has experience in multi-party negotiation and mediation, and she works to build robust decision-making frameworks that center the perspectives of those most affected by both broader structural oppression and the specific policies being deliberated. Juliana has recently joined the Board of Directors of the Illinois Environmental Council, a statewide organization that promotes sound environmental policy and protections for land, air, water, wildlife, and human health. Juliana is a graduate of the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment (MS, Environmental Policy and Planning; Environmental Justice), the University of Michigan Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy (MPP, Public Policy Analysis), and the University of Chicago (AB, East Asian Languages and Civilizations). Previously, Juliana has contributed to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Great Lakes Commission, and the U.S.-China Chamber of Commerce, among others.

Ariel Rainey, Creative Consultant, Ariel the Mogul Consulting

ArielRamey.jpgAriel DeNey Rainey (Ariel the Mogul) is a young Entrepreneur that believes that change only occurs when one has faith! Born and raised in Englewood on the Southside of Chicago she works hard to be the ""Enabler of Change"" that is needed for today’s Millennial generation. As a young girl Ariel spent most of her time online and studying music from artists such as Frank Sinatra, RUN DMC, Shirley Caesar to Queen. This love for music led her to become the Director of Communications of one of Chicago’s pioneer music websites called CHIGROUND.COM. There she coordinated events such as the Trey Songz Meet and Greet, the Day 26 Panel Discussion with Bad Boy Records and the arrangement of many interviews with local and nationwide artists. Eventually, this position led her to create the first Hip Hop Twitter Chat #HHSCHAT where she teamed up with Hip Hop Legend MC Lyte's Hip Hop Sister organization and became its Social Media Marketing Manager and later a member of the Advisory Board. Being a former Teen Mom inspired her to create the Hustle Mommies nonprofit organization where she focuses on empowering inner city moms to become leaders in their homes and their communities. Her work with inner city moms has led her to receive awards from the City of Compton and its Mayor for her work with the moms in that city. She previously sat on the Board of Directors for Social Media Club LA on the Program/Sponsorship Committee and enjoys volunteering to serve the homeless.

Xavier Ramey, Senior Assistant Director for Social Innovation and Philanthropy,
University of Chicago, Office of Civic Engagement

XavierRamey.jpgXavier Ramey is a Chicago native, hailing from the North Lawndale community. A graduate of Whitney M Young Magnet High School, he went on to DePaul University to receive his Bachelors of Science in Economics, and graduated from the Honors Program. Xavier began his career as a commodities trader with Harrison Trading Group and Nuering Capital Investments, both derivatives arbitrage start-ups based in the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Later, Xavier served as the Director of Development and Marketing for the North Lawndale-based Young Men's Educational Network. There, he oversaw a $1.5m capital campaign, as well as a nearly 80% increase in the organizational operations budget. From there, he worked as a consultant to two nonprofits based in Ethiopia and Kenya, respectively, as a fundraising and marketing consultant. Upon his return, he was recruited by the United Way of Metropolitan Chicago to serve as the Senior Manager of Community Investments-Income. In this role, Xavier oversaw the workforce development strategy for the six-county footprint on behalf of UWMC. He also managed nearly $4m in workforce and economic development funding representing a diverse social impact portfolio of 58 Chicagoland nonprofits. In 2014, Xavier accepted the role of Senior Assistant Director for Social Innovation and Philanthropy at the University of Chicago where he now develops and directs unique programs and experiential learning opportunities to move forward issues of social justice, economic equity and opportunity, racial justice, and innovative entrepreneurship. Xavier is committed to the civic infrastructure of Chicago, focusing primarily on the arts and economic development. He serves on the Executive Board of Young Chicago Authors, as well as the Board of the Chicago Center for Arts and Technology. He founded and operates Xavier Paul Photography, as well as serves as the Operations Director for The #LetUsBreathe Collective--an artist-activist collective committed to political education and economic justice. Xavier is an alumni of the Skinner Leadership Institute’s Masters Series for Distinguished Leaders in Washington, D.C. as well as the Chicago Urban League & UChicago Booth School of Business’ IMPACT Leadership Program. Xavier has been honored by many organizations in Chicago, and serves as a prominent speaker locally and nationally on the topics of social justice, race, theology, and economics.

Swapna Reddy, Co-Director Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project (ASAP),  Urban Justice Center

SwapnaReddy.jpgSwapna Reddy is founder and Co-Director of the Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project (ASAP) at the Urban Justice Center, as well as an Equal Justice Works Emerson Fellow. Since its founding, ASAP has prevented the imminent deportation of more than 200 refugee women and children and secured their release from detention; provided legal information to thousands of refugee mothers; and mobilized hundreds of volunteers. ASAP’s clients and founders have also been featured in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and, among other publications. Prior to law school, Swapna conducted technical and empirical research for the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab, the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, the Indianapolis Colts, and TERC, an educational research nonprofit. Swapna also worked abroad, assisting a community organization to develop a microfinance program on the Buduburam Refugee Camp in Ghana, and designing randomized controlled trials to identify the best means of educating low-income voters in India. Swapna graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University in 2009, with a degree in Computer Science and Mathematics and minor in Economics. A John Harvard Scholar, her thesis research was published in Artificial Intelligence. Swapna earned her J.D. from Yale Law School in 2016, where she co-founded ASAP. As a member of the Worker & Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic, Swapna argued in the First Circuit on behalf of the Reid v. Donelan class of immigrants subjected to prolonged detention, and directed a Know Your Rights program for immigration detainees in Greenfield, Massachusetts. She also traveled to Jordan to assist Iraqi refugee clients as Legal Director of the International Refugee Assistance Project at Yale, and gain legal experience providing civil rights and immigration legal services at Brooklyn Defender Services, the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, the National Immigrant Justice Center, and Ross Silverman LLP. Born in Illinois, she is the daughter of Indian immigrants.

Nils Robbins, Communications Director, Democratic Municipal Officials

NilsRobbins.jpgNils Robbins is a shoes on the pavement style organizer with a passion for uphill battles. Nils serves as the Communications Director for Democratic Municipal Officials, the DNC association that advocates for mayors, council members, and other local electeds who identify with the values of the Democratic Party. In addition to communications, he manages day to day operations, data, and events for the organization. Before joining DMO, Nils was a campaign field organizer. He got his start in politics volunteering on Ilya Sheyman’s congressional campaign, soon leaving Illinois to work for We Are Wisconsin, Obama for America 2012, and Beveridge for City Attorney. Unable to stop knocking on doors, he continues to advise and support quality progressive candidates in the Chicago area. Nils is active in the fight to maintain reproductive rights for the women of Illinois. He co-chairs the Political Committee for Personal PAC’s Future Voices Council, and is a Founding Member and Board Member of Men4Choice. These organizations enable him to help elect pro-choice candidates who hold the line in Springfield. Nils continues to activate men and support the women leading the movement, promoting fundraisers, organizing days of action, and serving as a clinic escort. He graduated from The George Washington University with a double major in Political Science and International Affairs, adding on a minor in biology for fun. Nils enjoys listening to podcasts and eating breakfast at all hours of the day.

Tatyana Shestopalova, Founder & CEO, GiftOn

TatyanaShestopalova.jpgTatyana Shestopalova is the Founder & CEO of GiftOn, an online community where users share real-life gift stories. GiftOn takes a new approach to solving a fundamental gift-giving problem: people want to give great gifts but don’t always know how. The stories shared by the GiftOn community offer new perspectives on gifting that transcend the traditional retail focus on product suggestions. Tatyana is also a full-stack web application developer. Before coding, she studied mathematics and economic theory at New York University and worked as an investment banker at Wells Fargo Securities. While at Wells, she took an international assignment in Hong Kong to advise companies on mergers and acquisitions. When she’s not stringing together code, you can find Tatyana volunteering as a Ruby on Rails teacher, composting food scraps, and training for her next marathon.


Victoria Thomas, Doctor of Medicine Candidate, University of Chicago

VictoriaThomas.jpgVictoria is currently a fourth year medical student at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine. While at Pritzker, she served on many community service boards and volunteered at several free healthcare clinics throughout Chicago. She is one of the charter members for the White Coats for Black Lives initiative at Pritzker. Her research explores the relationship between cardiovascular disease, healthcare disparities, and women’s health. Victoria is a registered nurse and before attending medical school she worked in the cardiac critical care and step down units in Nashville, TN. While in Nashville, she started a “Let’s Move and Make Healthy Choices” campaign at a local Head Start, a program that provides comprehensive child development services to economically disadvantaged children and families. She has attended many health care fairs in the role of educator or speaker discussing high blood pressure, heart failure, and CPR. Victoria has served on international mission trips delivering quality healthcare in Nyahururu, Kenya, and Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Victoria lives by the motto “lifting while climbing” in her daily walk. She looks forward to continuing her service as a healthcare provider to underserved communities and fighting for quality healthcare access to all.

Sierra Wallace, Assistant State's Attorney, Cook County State's Attorney Office

SierraWallace.jpgSierra’s passion is fighting for justice. As an Assistant State’s Attorney for Cook County, ensuring equity and justice reform remains the focus of Sierra’s career. Sierra was born and raised in Chicago public housing and believes her formative experiences and struggles have helped shape her passion to serve and empower underserved communities. Despite consequences and obstacles, Sierra is committed to being the voice for the voiceless and is not afraid to stand up for what’s right. Presently, Sierra is Regional Director of the National Black Prosecutors Association and is a progressive prosecutor promoting holistic and progressive policies in prosecution. She believes in moving forward and creating innovative approaches to address societal challenges. Sierra currently serves as an Auxiliary Board member for Lawyers Lend a Hand and Junior Board member for Just the Beginning- A Pipeline Organization. Sierra has also previously served as a constitutional law adjunct professor in the city of Chicago. Sierra received her Bachelor's degree and Juris Doctorate from Howard University and is a proud “double-bison.” While in law school, Sierra was Vice President of the Criminal Law Society, an elected Graduate Student Representative and a member of the Huver I. Brown Trial Advocacy Team. In 2013 Sierra was selected as a NAACP Legal Fellow and gained firsthand experience addressing national civil rights issues. She has held various legal internships which include United States Senate Committee of the Judiciary and the U.S. Attorney’s office in Washington D.C. While in D.C., Sierra also worked for Vestige Strategies, a public affairs firm that specializes in grassroots community and civic engagement strategies.