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Ali Ammoura is an assistant public defender at the Law Office of the Cook County Public Defender, where he has worked since 2013. He represents indigent individuals who have been charged with crimes or whose children have been removed for allegations of abuse or neglect. Prior to his work as an attorney, Ali taught middle and high school students in Chicago and the Bronx, NY. Ali is passionate about criminal justice reform and combating the school-to-prison pipeline, which impacts the future of entire generations of young people. Ali received his law degree from the Chicago-Kent College of Law in 2012.
Prior to his work as a public defender Ali practiced employment discrimination and civil rights law. During law school he worked in the criminal defense clinic and as a legal writing teaching assistant. Ali published a student note in the Chicago-Kent Law Review entitled Banning the Hijab in Prison: Violations of Incarcerated Muslim Women’s Right to Free Exercise of Religion. He served on the associate board of Just the Beginning – A Pipeline Organization (JTB-APO formerly JTBF) as a law student and then attorney member. JTB-APO is an organization dedicated to developing and nurturing interest in the law among young persons from various socioeconomic, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds underrepresented in the legal profession. Ali received his bachelor's degree in history and creative writing from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Ali is also a graduate of the American Muslim Civic Leadership Institute (AMCLI) Fellowship program. AMCLI builds the capacity of emerging Muslim leaders by providing them with recognition, space, tools, inspiration, and connection to other civic leaders. Ali collects comic books – he loves Saga and Ms. Marvel. And he lives in the North Kenwood neighborhood of Chicago with his wife and three children.
Rayna N. Brown currently serves as a research coordinator for the Third Coast Center for AIDS Research at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. She was born and raised in Chicago and currently lives on the South Side. She has worked in reproductive health, rights, and justice with communities of color for more than 15 years. She has also participated in maternal, sexual, and reproductive health research at University of Illinois at Chicago and University of Chicago. She has a passion for community organizing and social justice work, and has participated in numerous campaigns, including movements for affordable housing and healthcare access for all. Her passion for this work was fueled by her experiences as a Public Allies Chicago AmeriCorps member, a Midwest Academy intern, and a Core Align Innovation fellow. She is a member of the board of Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health and serves as the Vice Board Chair and Board Governance committee chair. She also holds memberships on several local HIV/AIDS advisory and community working groups. She is an alumna of Spelman College (BS in Biology), Roosevelt University (MA in Women and Gender Studies), and is completing an MPH at UIC-School of Public Health. Rayna is also an avid dancer and performer who can be found in a dance studio in her spare time.
Effee Coello is a Market Research Analyst at Eduvantis, a higher education consulting and digital marketing firm, where she oversees market data collection, analysis, and visualization efforts for strategic projects with highly renowned graduate business schools across the nation. Before Eduvantis, Effee worked in strategic research at various national nonprofit organizations and research centers in education, including the University of Chicago Behavioral Insights and Parenting Lab, the Ounce of Prevention Fund, the University of Pennsylvania Center for Minority Serving Institutions, and the Institute for Higher Education Policy. Effee is currently a Trustee for Brave Space Alliance, a young nonprofit organization serving trans people of color in southwest Chicago. She also volunteers as a mentor and coach with the Chicago Scholars Foundation and Braven, supporting first-generation students on their paths to, through, and post college. Effee received a Master of Public Policy in Survey Research from the University of Chicago, a Master of Science in Higher Education from the University of Pennsylvania, and a Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy from the University of Michigan. She also received fellowships from Education Pioneers and the Helmsley Charitable Trust.
Michael Davis is recognized as an award winning diversity educator, marketing technology sales leader, professional mentor, and civic leader. He received his business education from Western Illinois University, where he earned both a Master’s of Business Administration, and Bachelor’s of Business-Finance degree. Mr. Davis uses his business acumen to fulfill his passion for mentoring youth in his hometown of Chicago. As the Economic Empowerment Committee Co-Chair for the 100 Black Men of Chicago, Michael works with business leaders & corporate sponsors to provide financial literacy programs that enhance the lives of young people and their communities in the Chicagoland area. In addition to his work mentoring, Michael has also been active in the fight against rising unemployment & police misconduct in his hometown. He launched two consecutive campaigns (2011 & 2015) for Alderman in Chicago’s 18th Ward, and gained over 2000 votes in a highly contested race. In 2016, he helped lead the Police Accountability Task Force for the Coalition of African American Leaders (COAL). Through his work with COAL, Michael helped write policy recommendations for Chicago’s newly established Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA). He currently works at On24, the global leader in webinar-based marketing solutions, where he assists enterprise clients to develop demand generation and lead nurture campaigns.
Tiffany Elking is the Vice President and Chief Counsel of a full-service government relations firm, where she divides her time between her Chicago and Springfield offices. Tiffany provides a wide range of services to both public and private sector clients, including legislative and regulatory consultation, strategic partnering and business development advisement, grassroots organization, and appropriations and procurement facilitation. If something touches government, Tiffany does it.
Prior to joining her firm, Tiffany served as Assistant Counsel to Speaker Michael J. Madigan with the Illinois House of Representatives. In this capacity, she reviewed and drafted legislation, analyzed bills, provided detailed memoranda on legislative matters of special interest to House leadership, and assisted house members with committee testimony and floor debate of legislation. During that time, Tiffany was also a member of the House of Representatives’ redistricting legal team, who obtained a summary judgment ruling following a 2011 federal lawsuit regarding the state legislative districts, which is almost unprecedented in redistricting lawsuits.
As a lobbyist, Tiffany’s job is all about building relationships, knowing the legislative rules, and securing appropriations. Tiffany will often be the quiet voice on the side of a committee room providing data and research to support her position, and she will be the first person to know the legislative statutes and ordinances like the back of her hand. With her list of clients, if you live in Illinois, there is a good chance that Tiffany is actually representing you today as a lobbyist in some capacity.
Tiffany received her law degree, cum laude, from The John Marshall Law School and her Bachelor’s Degree for DePaul University. Tiffany now serves on the Executive Cabinet for The John Marshall Law School’s Board of Directors, and she spends a significant amount of time mentoring law students pursuing alternative legal careers and counseling young women on how to exert their executive presence.
Rance Graham-Bailey is a Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) Program Manager for the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA). In that capacity, he helps CHA execute a HUD demonstration initiative to preserve, reconfigure and stabilize the funding stream for 10,937 public housing units. He directly oversees conversions of the Authority’s assets and senior residents from Public Housing to long-term Project-Based Voucher contracts, evaluates and pursues opportunities for financing, assists in implementing program and regulatory requirements and performs regular outreach to impacted residents. Before starting his current role, he worked as an affordable housing development project associate in the Chicago office of national non-profit developer The Community Builders, Inc.
Rance received a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and a minor in African and African American Studies from Stanford University and a Master in City Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a concentration in Housing, Community and Economic Development. His career has spanned government, affordable housing and community economic development, political campaigns, advocacy and he has held numerous roles with non-profit organizations across the country.
He is a resident of Chicago’s Kenwood neighborhood. During his free time, he serves on the board of the Stanford Black Alumni Association of Chicago and is a Mentor Coach with the Illinois Program of America Needs You, an organization that fights for economic mobility for ambitious, low-income college students by providing intensive career development, mentorship and professional networking.
Patrick Hanley is progressive millennial, policy analyst, community organizer, and recovering investment banker. Patrick was born and raised in Northbrook, Illinois. Following a decade in Washington D.C., where he served in the federal government, organized for political campaigns, and worked in the private sector, Patrick has returned to Chicagoland to pursue graduate degrees in public policy and business administration at the University of Chicago
Until recently, Patrick was a financial analyst and corporate consultant with The Asia Group (TAG), a Washington-based strategic and capital advisory firm. Patrick held a dual-role on the firm’s flagship corporate strategy practice, where he advised clients on political risk in India. He also served on TAG’s capital advisory practice, aptly named TAG Capital. In this capacity, Patrick supported a global deal team servicing a diverse set of small-business, startup, multinational, and fund clients. In 2015, Patrick spear-headed the opening of TAG Capital’s Hong Kong office, relocating to Asia and representing TAG Capital in China, India, and Southeast Asia. In 2014, Patrick led a small team to create TAG Foundation, a nonprofit that partners with organizations in D.C. and across the Asia-Pacific that address global issues including gender equity, adult literacy, and disaster relief
Prior to his private sector life, Patrick was a community organizer in Illinois and Virginia. During the 2012 U.S. election cycle, Patrick served as a Regional Field Director for the Obama campaign, responsible to 12 counties in central Virginia, headquartered in Charlottesville. Over the course of the campaign, the Charlottesville region hosted President Obama and Bruce Springsteen. By November, our region supported 31 volunteer teams that canvassed and called hundreds of thousands of Virginians, contributing to the President’s second statewide victory in the battleground state.
Patrick has cultivated a unique global perspective. In 2011, Patrick studied conflict resolution in Beirut at the dawn of the Arab Spring. Earlier, he conducted research on nationalism in Paris and Brussels. In 2010, Patrick studied media at the American University of Paris. In the summer of 2008, Patrick lived in Indonesia, teaching English with Learning Enterprises. He is an inspired but unsuccessful linguist and speaks only bits and pieces of Mandarin and Spanish.
Patrick is currently a fellow at the Chicago City Treasurer’s Office, focusing on access-to-capital issues and responsible investment practices. Patrick writes for the Chicago Policy Review, hosts Illinois-centric policy roundtables with the Prairie State Society, mentors undergraduate nonprofit consultants with campusCATALYST, and participates in the Northfield Democrats Finance Committee. He is a member of the Polsky Exchange, Men4Choice, and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. Patrick is an alumnus of Wellstone Action, a progressive advocacy organization.
Patrick lives between Hyde Park and Northbrook, where he reads history, supports local candidates, and struggles to understand game theory and municipal finance. He is an M.P.P. and M.B.A. candidate at the University of Chicago.
Jaye Hobart is the Grants and Project Manager at Woods Fund Chicago, a grantmaking foundation that promotes social, economic, and racial justice through the support of community organizing and public policy advocacy. She works primarily on the regional Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation (TRHT) initiative and the Grassroots Alliance for Police Accountability (GAPA). Jaye works closely with the President to develop and manage grantmaking processes and program evaluation for TRHT and GAPA.
Prior to joining Woods Fund, Jaye worked at the Civic Federation and the Center for New Community. She also served as the Project Coordinator at the ACLU of New Mexico’s Regional Center for Border Rights, advocating for civil and human rights along the U.S.-Mexico border. She received her M.A. from the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago and a B.A. in women and gender studies from Luther College. She has volunteered for organizations like Asian Americans Advancing Justice Chicago, Planned Parenthood of Illinois, Women Employed, and the CME Group. Jaye is a board member of Korean Adoptees of Chicago (KAtCH), which is a group that supports and serves Korean and transnational adoptee communities in the Chicagoland area.
Courtney Hrejsa currently serves as a Program Officer for the Education team at the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, where she collaboratively stewards $6 million dollars in annual grants for early childhood initiatives across the state of Illinois. Previously, she was the Senior Manager for Curriculum and Instruction in the Chicago Public Schools' Office of Early Childhood Education. She managed complex projects that resulted in, among other achievements, a redesigned kindergarten report card, a teacher leadership pipeline pilot, and a districtwide second grade early literacy intervention. Courtney effectively served as a liaison between senior CPS academic leaders, external partner organizations, Network Chiefs and related city agencies.
Having begun her career in the classroom and as the proud child of career teachers, Courtney approaches all of her work from the perspective of how policies and programs play out on the ground. She holds Masters degrees in Applied Anthropology and Elementary Education, from University of Maryland, College Park and National Louis University respectively. When not geeking out about learning sciences and systems change, Courtney can be found volunteering with Green Star Movement or continuing her quest to eat at every Thai restaurant in Chicago.
Nicole Johnson is a Chicago native, born and raised in Englewood, where she is a current resident. Nicole's interests and professional commitments are an intersection of education, transparent economic development in urban communities, narrative shifting, and civic engagement. Her life mantra is “Lifting as I climb”.
Nicole is the Data & Communications Manager at Teamwork Englewood. In her role, she engineers the organization’s impact narrative, and communicates it to the organization’s various stakeholders. She has also developed the Englewood Planning Advisory Council review process, to increase communication between the Englewood alders and the community. She also tracks the progress of achieving Englewood Quality of Life Plan outcomes. Prior to this role, Nicole served as the Policy & Program Manager for Chicago Votes. Here, she drove the organizations’ last leg of voter registration, facilitated election season GOTV townhalls, and steered the execution of the “Parade to the Polls” with Chance the Rapper. Nicole is a former 3rd grade Chicago Public Schools Mathematics teacher on Chicago’s southwest and west sides.
Nicole’s leadership extends beyond her professional duties. In 2017, she was selected as a Peer Advisor for the Obama Foundation’s inaugural Civic Engagement Training Day. She serves on the Chicago Metro YMCA Associate Board. She was nominated as a Chicago Scholars 35 under 35 Young Leaders Making an Impact Award, selections are pending. Nicole has been a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, since 2010. As a member, she served as the Scholarship Chair where she awarded $5,000 in scholarships, and Academic Success Chair for the ASCEND mentoring program where she helped 55% of mentees get full ride scholarships. She served on the Host Committee of the United State of Women 2017 Chicago training, birthed from the White House Council on Women.
Nicole earned a Master’s of Science in Education Policy at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education, a Master’s of Arts in Teaching from National Louis University, and a Bachelor’s of Arts in Political Science at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor (Go Blue!). She is a 2012 Chicago Scholars alum and a proud Chicago Public School graduate (Go Dolphins!).
Joan Jones is a vision oriented leader focused on creating innovative projects in pursuit of economic justice in the United States. She attended University of California- Berkeley majoring in American Ethnic Studies and Political Science. As a student, she led UC Berkeley's longest running progressive political organization where she directed over 200 volunteers to help elect progressive people of color to student government every year. After graduation, she joined the American labor movement where she went on to organize Spanish speaking Childcare Workers. While an organizer with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) 925, she coordinated a statewide campaign to organize workers, parents, and politicians to keep Migrant Head Start workers with the union when an outside federal contract threatened to take away union representation. She also helped chair bargaining in several units which improved living wages and benefits for almost all workers in those units. Besides numerous other campaigns she helped along, toward the end of her time at SEIU 925, she helped found their Organizational Equity and Inclusion work which is ongoing in the organization to this day.
Her work on the intersection of education, leadership development, and organizing landed her a job in Washington DC working at SEIU headquarters where she served as the National Young Workers Coordinator for three years. As the National Young Workers Coordinator, she advised union staff and leadership on innovative ways to build the next generation of labor leaders while helping to coordinate issue based campaigns on student debt and Black Lives Matter with members of SEIU’s National Millennial Advisory Committee. Joan specializes in taking despair felt in communities and channeling it into building a positive outcome by providing people a platform to amplify their concerns and giving them the tools they need to succeed. Currently, Joan is looking to expand on her work in the labor world to win economic justice for the country's most vulnerable.
Jennifer Leininger, MEd, has ten years of nonprofit experience in Chicago, including arts education, community engagement, and education policy. Since 2009, Jennifer she has provided family-centered patient support while working in Lurie Children's Division of Adolescent Medicine where she currently manages the Gender & Sex Development Program. As program manager, Jennifer leads policy and advocacy initiatives in schools, communities, and professional organizations.
Her work combats the discrimination that many transgender youth and their families face in their communities. She has developed and facilitated more than 100 professional development sessions that focus on gender-inclusive practices. These trainings are conducted at school districts, community organizations, conferences, and nonprofit institutions throughout the region with over 1,800 educators and administrators in attendance. The success of these sessions led several diverse school districts, including Chicago Public Schools, to seek her assistance in drafting and implementing policies to ensure the protection of gender expansive and transgender students.
Jennifer is proud to act as both a collaborator and an advocate with school professionals, other nonprofits, and most importantly, youth and parents. In addition to her work at Lurie Children's, Jennifer has worked on adolescent and children's programming with other nationally recognized organizations, including the Museum of Contemporary Art, Old Town School of Folk Music, and About Face Youth Theatre.
Jennifer holds a Master of Education from DePaul University, as well as a Bachelor of Science in Marketing and a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre from Miami University of Ohio.
Samantha Loo is the Senior Associate Director at the Center for Health and the Social Sciences at The University of Chicago. In this capacity, she collaborates with academic health economists and university administrators to advance foundational research and improve health care delivery. Previously, she worked as the Project Manager at Office of the Chicago City Clerk, where she managed the complete overhaul of the outdated 100+ year old policy of seasonal sales of the City Vehicle Sticker (Chicago Wheel Tax) to year-round sales through policy and program development and implementation, documentation, and training. She is a highly efficient and emotionally intelligent leader, with a passion for public health and social justice, which is exemplified in her volunteer work with local nonprofits. In 2017, Samantha served as the Associate Board President of EverThrive Illinois and launched a public speaker series for emerging women leaders, for which she continues to lead the event planning committee. She possesses a master of science with distinction in leadership and public policy from DePaul University, where she focused her research on how access to comprehensive sexual health education could decrease a woman’s likelihood to depend on welfare programs. As an NLC Fellow, Samantha is most excited about the skills she will gain that may help her run for office or pursue a public health leadership position in the future.
Harold Moore is a consultant, trainer, organizer and recruiter from Chicago, Illinois. He works at the intersection of social good and technology and his specialties include community outreach, integrations across on and offline channels, training and data collection. He’s worked nationally for causes, candidates and organizations including Obama for America, the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), the New Organizing Institute, Blue State Digital, Color of Change, Rock the Vote and many more in a variety of technical, managerial and advocacy roles.
Currently he works with organizations like the Sierra Club, Wellstone and the Skoll Global Threats fund to increase staff technical capacity by developing plans that increase activist capacity to use data to make richer, more authentic connections with their communities using cutting edge tools and strategies. He also provides data analysis services to groups like the Seventh Generation, League of Conservation Voters, and others using like SQL, VAN, Excel, Google Analytics and much more.
Harold has served as a trainer or coach for the Kairos Digital Fellowship, the Congressional Black Caucus, and Airbnb, and as a board member of the Mikva Challenge and Web of Change. When not working with social change organizations, Harold enjoys travel and rugby.
Alberto Morales is a Chicago native, and lives in the Gage Park neighborhood on the southwest side where he was raised. He lived on the east coast for eight years and recently returned to Chicago to invest in his community. He currently serves as the Data Manager in the Communities Program for the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, an organization that has invested more than $1.5 billion in the areas of journalism, education, social services, civic engagement, and veterans’ programs. He is responsible for evaluating the grantmaking portfolio, with a focus on racial equity, to help inform program impact and strategies, grant recommendations, and donor communication.
Alberto began his career at McCormick as the Education Program Associate where he supported family engagement strategies. Previously, Alberto served as Assistant Director of the Georgetown Scholarship Program, empowering over 600 first-generation students. Alberto has also worked on education, immigration, voter and reproductive rights, and civic engagement policies through his positions at Brown University, Voto Latino, and Latino Victory Project.
He holds a Master of Public Affairs from Brown University, and a B.Sc. in Health Care Management and Policy from Georgetown University. He also serves on the Leadership Advisory Council for Cristo Rey Jesuit High School, his alma mater.
A love of science and helping others led Jocelyn to pursue a B.A. in Applied Psychology at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). As a queer, undocumented Latina, they combine their passion and skills to challenge negative, mainstream narratives, and addresses root causes within their personal and professional life. Jocelyn has worked at the UIC Latino Cultural Center (LCC) since 2013. As a student educator, they led bilingual mural tours and dialogues with the LCC’s Awakening of the Americas indoor mural. Jocelyn is now assisting with the development of public programs, initiatives, and oversees the LCC’s digital marketing intern and graphic designer. Their organizational skills, commitment, and love for photography and social justice were a perfect match for the center along with the Centers for Cultural Understanding and Social Change. During Jocelyn’s undergraduate efforts, they volunteered with various student organizations, and co-founded Fearless Undocumented Alliance to institutionalize resources for undocumented students across campus. Jocelyn has also volunteer with Organized Communities Against Deportations, the IL Student ACCESS Coalition, Mujeres Latinas en Acción and the Chicago Legal Clinic, among others. They believe in collaborative processes, sustainable practices and accountability. Jocelyn’s interests on education, immigration, reproductive justice, wellness, and overall vision of a better Chicago for disenfranchised communities led them to join the NLC community.
Militza M. Pagán is a Staff Attorney and Skadden Foundation Fellow at the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law. The Shriver Center is a national organization that advances laws and policies that secure justice to improve the lives and opportunities of people living in poverty. The Skadden Foundation Fellowship is a national program that provides funding for two-years for graduating law students to engage in public interest work. Militza, the proud daughter of a Chicago Teachers’ Union member, has focused her work on workplace justice for domestic workers, emphasizing the application of a feminist and racial equity lens. Militza graduated from Yale University and Chicago-Kent College of Law with a certificate in Public Interest Law. Prior to law school, Militza worked on a variety issues including education, immigrants’ rights, and combating gentrification to protect existing communities in Chicago’s Northwest side neighborhoods. She was the Deputy Director of the Puerto Rican Cultural Center and an AmeriCorps Fellow at the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. Militza was born in Puerto Rico, raised on the Northwest side of Chicago, and continues to reside there.
Luis Roman is the Deputy Policy Director for the City of Chicago’s Office of the City Clerk. In this role, Luis is committed to working with community members to strengthen the relationship between local government and its residents, and develop public policies that support all Chicagoans.
Luis was born in Mexico, and grew up in a working class neighborhood in northeast Los Angeles. He began organizing when he was 16 years old, established his High School’s Gay Straight Alliance club and got connected to the GSA Network, a statewide organization supporting young LGBTQ activists. As an undergraduate student at UCLA studying ethnic and gender studies, Luis focused his academic research and activism on issues that impacted underrepresented communities. He was the Student Director for a Chicana/o access and outreach project, and was appointed to the Academic Senate’s Committee on Undergraduate Admissions and Relations to Schools. As a result of his McNair research, and advocacy work at UCLA, he received the Ezekiel Webber Leadership in Activism & Education Award, and is also a recipient of the Chancellor’s Service Award.
He relocated to Chicago to participate in an AmeriCorps program with the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) and Lambda Legal. Most recently, Luis worked with Illinois Action for Children’s Public Policy and Advocacy Department where he supported local collaborations across Illinois working on a systemic change, and also advocated for policy solutions to increase access and quality of early childhood education program for working families. He recently completed a Community Engagement Launchpad Fellowship with the Young Professionals in Nonprofit Network (YNPN), where he helped shape the organization’s plan on equity, diversity, and inclusion. He is also an alumnus of the Latino Policy Forum’s Multicultural Leadership Academy.
In June 2013, Luis was recognized by the Windy City Media Group as one of the 30 under 30 outstanding LGBT leaders.
Aviva Rosman is the COO and co-founder of BallotReady, an award-winning voter guide to every race and referendum on the ballot. Started in 2015 with support from the National Science Foundation, the Knight Foundation, and the University of Chicago's Institute of Politics, BallotReady makes it easy for voters to vote informed on their entire ballot.
Aviva grew up working on campaigns at all levels, and has done work in campaign fundraising, research, and GOTV. In 2014, she was elected to a Local School Council in the Wicker Park neighborhood. Aviva began her career teaching high school math and leading the special education department as a corps member with Teach for America. Aviva has worked as a policy analyst with Stand for Children and as a public sector consultant with Deloitte.
She has been named one of Chicago Crain's 20 in their 20s, Pacific Standard's 30 Thinkers Under 30, WeWork's Young Innovators, and was honored with the 2017 Midwest Women in Tech Award for Social Impact. Aviva is passionate about increasing voter information and voter turnout, recruiting new candidates, and bringing greater attention to local politics. She has a BA and masters' from the University of Chicago, both in public policy.
Jianan Shi is an equity centered young professional from Boston who is going into his second year living in Chicago. Jianan serves others as a high school science educator at Eric Solorio Academy, a level 1+ Chicago Public neighborhood high school. Jianan currently teaches biology and honors neuroscience to juniors and seniors. As a strong believer that a passionate teacher makes an incredible difference, Jianan constantly works to improve his pedagogy. Throughout his 5 years as a teacher, Jianan has designed, revised and implemented numerous curriculum that caters and empowers his students to succeed at the college level and beyond. Aside from instruction, Jianan seeks out ways to amplify the voices of his amazing students. He is one of the faculty supervisors for the DREAM team, a group of badass undocumented students who raise awareness about issues around immigration at the school and in the community.
One of the main reasons that Jianan has fallen in love with Chicago (aside from giardiniera) is how it has helped develop the activist inside of him. Over this past year, his colleagues and students have inspired him to fight for a more immigrant strong community in his school. His volunteer work with local organizations (Asian American Advancing Justice, Chicago United for Equity, BPNC, CBCAC) have also pushed that identity to front and center. Before Chicago, Jianan taught three years at Codman Academy, an expeditionary learning school in Boston. He is a double eagle; receiving both his undergraduate and masters degrees from Boston College. Specifically, Jianan had the honor to be part of the Donovan Urban Teaching Scholars cohort and was a NOYCE fellow. In his “free time”, Jianan enjoys his new role of being the away team and roots for his Boston sports teams.
Robert Smith III is an arts administrator, curator, and educator leveraging the power of art and memory to build a more just society. He currently serves as Associate Director of the National Public Housing Museum, set to open on Chicago’s Near West Side in late 2018. NPHM is the only cultural institution devoted to telling the story of public housing in the United States. Its mission is to preserve, promote, and propel the right of all people to a place where they can live and prosper — a place to call home.
Robert has held positions at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Walker Art Center, the Minnesota Historical Society, and the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (now known as OutRight Action International). Born and raised in South Florida, he is a graduate of Brown University and the University of Minnesota.
Originally from Kansas City Missouri, Ryan is currently serving as a Research and Inclusion intern at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies in Washington D.C. He graduated from Loyola University of Chicago with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies in May 2017. Ryan plans to attend graduate school in the near future with hopes to pursue a career in creating policy decisions that are informed in technology, privacy, and racial equity. While at Loyola Chicago, Ryan was involved in a number of extracurricular activities: President of the Chicagoland Coalition for Minority Advancement, Vice President of Inside Government, Cofounder of Edgewater Kids United mentoring program for at-risk youth, a Model United Nations delegate, a Student Government senator, and an Emerging Leaders Program graduate.
Ryan was also Founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Black Tribune, a student of color run media publication focused on amplifying the narratives of Black folks and other marginalized communities. Through Ryan’s leadership, the publication achieved over 80,000 unique site visitors and over 100,000 page views in only their first three months of existence. The Black Tribune was also awarded a press pass to the Black Radical Tradition conference in Philadelphia, where they interviewed Cornel West, Marc Lamont Hill, Angela Davis, and numerous other prominent figures in civil rights advocacy. After launching the Black Tribune, Ryan found his way into community organizing where he co-organized the single largest demonstration in Loyola history with over 1,000 students and faculty in attendance. The demonstration was covered by The Chicago Tribune, Associated Press, TheBlaze, Chicago Reporter, USATODAY, amongst other media outlets. The demonstration led to numerous university policy changes including a near abolishment of the demonstration policy as well as initiatives improving the recruitment, retention, and resources of Loyola’s Black students. After organizing the demonstration, he coauthored a national call to action which was published and disseminated by The Black Tribune, leading to a response by 50 universities across the country who held demonstrations on their own campuses to advocate for students of color.
Ryan then transitioned into a corporate internship where he worked at Walker Sands, one of Chicago’s leading PR companies in the B2B tech PR space. Ryan has also served as a contributing writer at Blavity, a Black-owned, venture-backed technology and media company and one of the fastest growing digital media outlets on the web, reaching more than 7 million millennials a month. In Ryan’s current capacity at the Joint Center, he is leading the initiative to curate a database of all of the Black Elected Officials in key areas of the United States. He is also helping inform policy for the Joint Center’s latest initiative on how emergent technology will impact marginalized communities.
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