FAQ Index


    ​​​​​​​​​​​Ellen S. Alberding, The Joyce Foundation

    Ellen is president and a board member of the Joyce Foundation, a Chicago-based policy foundation working to improve quality of life, promote community vitality, and achieve a fair society in the Great Lakes region. She was a founding board member of Skills for America's Future and Advance Illinois, served as Vice Chair of City Colleges of Chicago, and is a board member of National Park Foundation.

    Senator Pamela J. Althoff, Illinois State Senate

    Senator Althoff has served as a member of the Illinois State Senate since 2003. She has championed legislation to increase open space, expand the agricultural industry, and promote improved statewide economic growth. She is a proponent of improving the business/job climate of Illinois, obtaining equitable education funding reform, tax reforms, and senior health issues.

    Mayor Liandro "Li" Arellano Jr., City of Dixon

    Li is mayor of Dixon, Illinois. He is the first mayor to lead the city after a switch to the manager/council form of government, and he has been deeply involved in a number of structural reforms to the city government. The 35-year old entrepreneur owns multiple businesses in the Sauk Valley region and is a Sergeant in the U.S. Army Reserves.

    Heidi Brown-McCreery, Illinois Historic Preservation Agency *

    Heidi is director of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, where she oversees 56 state historic sites and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. Prior to joining IHPA, she served as chief of staff at the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity and as a leader in the discipline of ideation for State Farm's Innovation Team, where she worked for nearly 15 years.

    Alderman Ed Burke, City of Chicago 14th Ward

    Alderman Burke has served as alderman of Chicago's 14th Ward for more than 35 years. He is dean of the Chicago City Council, chairman of the Council's Committee on Finance, and member of the Chicago Plan Commission. He is an avid student of Chicago history and is the co-author of two books. He is also partner in the law firm of Klafter & Burke.

    Representative Tim Butler, Illinois House of Representatives

    As a public servant for more than 20 years, Representative Butler joined the Illinois House of Representatives in 2015. He previously served as district chief of staff for both Congressman Rodney Davis and former Congressman Ray LaHood and as director of marketing for St. John's Hospital. He serves on the boards of directors for Downtown Springfield, Inc. and the Dirksen Congressional Center.

    Gloria Cardenas Cudia, Salsa Business Network

    Gloria is a community activist in Rockford, who is the founder and current president of Salsa Business Network as well as the business committee chair of the Coalition of Latino Leaders. Gloria was elected and served as a board member for Rockford School District 205 and appointed as a Rockford Park District Commissioner, where she later worked as a marketing manager for approximately twenty years then retiring. Gloria was named Rockford Woman of the Year in 2010.

    ​Gloria Castillo, Chicago United 

    Gloria is president and CEO of Chicago United, promoting multiracial leadership in business and parity of economic opportunity for people of color. Through her 20 years of leadership in Chicago, Gloria served on the boards of The Field Foundation of Illinois, Intersect Illinois, MALDEF, City Colleges of Chicago, Chicago Workforce Investment Council, World Sports Chicago, and The Chicago Network.

    Brad Cole, Illinois Municipal League *

    Brad is executive director of the Illinois Municipal League, which is the statewide association of 1,298 cities, villages, and towns. Previously, he served as senior vice president of Pepsi MidAmerica, as downstate director for U.S. Senator Kirk, and as deputy chief of staff to Governor Ryan. He served two terms as mayor of Carbondale, and he has served on numerous boards.

    James Cornelius Ph.D., Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (ALPLM) *

    James has worked at ALPLM as collection curator since 2007. Previously, he worked at the UI Urbana Illinois History and Lincoln Collections. He co-authored Under Lincoln's Hat: 100 Objects that Tell the Story of His Life and Legacy, wrote the official report about an 1840 historic house in Gallatin County, and updated a book of architectural walking tours of Chicago.

    Harry L. Crisp II, Pepsi MidAmeric​​a

    Harry is CEO of Pepsi MidAmerica where he took the helm in 1975. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps, on E.I.U. Foundation Board, as chairman of SIU-Carbondale Foundation Board, as chairman of Illinois Community College Board, as member of Illinois Board of Higher Education, and as charter member of John A. Logan Community College Board of Trustees.​

    John Crowley, Comcast

    John is senior vice president of Comcast's Greater Chicago Region, which serves more than 2.5 million residential and business customers in Illinois, including Chicago - the largest market the company serves - Northwest Indiana, and Southwest Michigan. He oversees 4,500 employees, whose responsibilities range from sales, marketing, and technical operations to human resources and community investment. ​

    Richard M. Daley, City of Chicago     

    Richard served as Mayor of the City of Chicago from 1989 – 2011. Previously, he was elected as Illinois State Senator and Cook County State's Attorney. He now serves as Of Consul to Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP, Executive Chairman of Tur Partners, Distinguished Senior Fellow at the University of Chicago's Harris School, and a Director on the board of The Coca-Cola Company.​

    ​Karen Darch, Village of Barrington

    Karen was elected president of the Village of Barrington in 2005, and she is also president of the Illinois Municipal League. She began her service as a village trustee in 1995, is past president of Northwest Municipal Conference, and is former chair of Metropolitan Mayors Caucus and Barrington Area Council of Governments. Karen was also co-chair of TRAC.

    Randy Dunn, Southern Illinois University System

    Randy is president of the SIU System. He previously worked as president at two other state institutions and as the state superintendent of education. He has served on several committees and boards including the American Council on Education, American and Illinois Associations of School Administrators, Illinois Board of Higher Education, and Illinois Association of School Boards.

    Richard Edelman, Edelman

    Richard is the president and CEO of Edelman, a leading communications marketing firm. He was recently named a most powerful executive by PRWeek and the third highest rated CEO by Glassdoor. He serves on the board of directors of the Ad Council, Atlantic Council, Children's Aid Society, 9/11 Museum, University of Chicago Medical Center and National Committee on US China Relations.

    Fabian Elliott, Black Tech Mecca Inc.

    Fabian is founder and CEO of Black Tech Mecca and an advertising technology consultant at Google. He is recognized by Builtin Chicago as one of the Top 50 Tech Influencers to follow and served as the inaugural global co-chair of the Black Googler Network. He is a New Leaders Council Chicago 2016 Fellow and past secretary of the 100 Black Men of Chicago.​

    llene S. Gordon, Ingredion Incorporated

    Ilene is chairman, president & CEO of Ingredion, a leading global ingredient supplier. Previously, she held executive positions at Alcan Packaging, Packaging Corporation of America, Signode, and Boston Consulting Group. Ilene is a director of Lockheed Martin, International Paper, the Executives' Club of Chicago, and World Business Chicago. She is the first female chairman of Economic Club of Chicago.

    Grant Hammer, Illinois Department of Agriculture *

    Grant is chief of staff at the Illinois Department of Agriculture, which regulates agriculture industries, promotes Illinois agribusinesses, and protects our natural resources. In addition, the agency oversees the Illinois and Du Quoin State Fairs. He is an unpaid, elected official for Springfield's public park system and serves on boards for the Springfield Youth Hockey Association and Capital Area Sports Commission.​

    Lori Healey, Metropolitan Pier & Exposition Authority *

    Lori is CEO of MPEA, where she is charged with sustaining Illinois' and Chicago's leadership in the convention and trade show, meetings, and sports/entertainment industry. She organized the 2012 NATO Summit and managed Chicago's bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics. Lori previously served as chief of staff for Mayor Richard M. Daley, and she worked at Tur Partners and John Buck Company.

    Cory Jobe, Illinois Office of Tourism *

    Cory is Director of the Illinois Office of Tourism, where he leads the state's tourism industry marketing and development efforts. He previously served as deputy chief of staff for the Illinois Office of the Comptroller, as 6th ward alderman for the City of Springfield, as leader of Peoples Economic Development Corporation, and as director of economic development for Illinois State Treasurers Office.

    David Joens, Illinois State Archives 

    David is the director of the Illinois State Archives. A lifelong resident of Illinois, Joens earned a B.A. from Northern Illinois University, an M.A. from the University of Illinois at Springfield, and a doctorate in History from Southern Illinois University. He is the author of From Slave to State Legislator: John W. E. Thomas, Illinois' First African American Lawmaker.  ​

    Jim Kinney, Illinois Realtors

    Jim is immediate past president of the Illinois Realtors, and he is vice president of luxury home sales for Baird & Warner. He served on boards for the National Association of REALTORS®, Council of Real Estate Brokerage Managers, and Chicago Association of REALTORS®. Jim is former dean of the REALTOR® Institute of Illinois and past president of the Real Estate Educational Foundation.

    Jan V. Kostner, JVK

    As a strategic marketing consultant, Jan specializes in tourism, public and government relations. She previously served as Director of the Illinois Office of Tourism and sat on the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission and 150th Anniversary of the Lincoln-Douglas Debates Commission. Jan served as adjunct professor at Kendall College and volunteers for Spark Ventures.

    Brent Krebs, Illinois Department of Natural Resources *

    Brent is chief of staff for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, and he has more than 20 years of legal and private sector executive experience including roles at Sigma-Aldrich Corporation, Prairie State Generating Company, HesseMartone, and St. Jude's Medical. He previously worked  for the Illinois General Assembly and for Illinois Governor James Edgar.​

    Marilyn Kushak, Mid-West Family Broadcasting

    Marilyn is president of Mid-West Family Broadcasting, four locally-owned radio stations in Springfield. She served as Illinois Lincoln Bicentennial Commission chair, Mayor's Readiness Committee chair for the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum opening; chair of the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce; and chair of the Springfield Better Government Association Advisory Board.

    Brittany Ladd, Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity *

    As acting assistant director of the Illinois Department of Commerce, Brittany oversees strategy and operations with a focus on business development, international trade, and innovation. She previously served as the Department's COO, director of operations for the Office the Governor, management consultant for Accenture, and alumna of the Romney and McCain presidential campaigns.

    Mayor James O. Langfelder, City of Springfield

    A lifelong resident of Springfield, Jim took office as Mayor of Illinois's capital city in 2015. He served as city treasurer from 2003-2015 and prior to becoming a public servant, he worked in banking for 14 years. Mayor Langfelder oversees City operations including Convention & Visitors Bureau, the Police, Fire, and the city's own utility CWLP.

    Alan C. Lowe, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (ALPLM) *

    Alan is the executive director of the ALPLM where he is dedicated to telling the story of our 16th President and the history of Illinois through exhibits, research, and education. Prior to his work here, Alan served at other presidential and congressional archives and museums, including leadership roles at the George W. Bush Library and the Howard Baker Center.​

    Allen James Lynch, Veteran

    Allen is a former U.S. Army soldier and recipient of the military's highest decoration, the Medal of Honor, for his actions in the Vietnam War. After the war, he worked for the Department of Veterans Affairs, where he advocated for increased benefits for disabled veterans. He later served as chief of the Illinois Attorney General's Veterans Rights Bureau until his retirement in 2005.

    Shirley Madigan, Illinois Arts Council

    Shirley is chairman of the Illinois Arts Council, an agency of the State of Illinois, whose mission is to build a strong, creative, and connected Illinois through the arts. She also serves on the boards of After School Matters, Cultural Advisory Council for the City of Chicago, Erikson Institute, Lincoln Academy of Illinois, and Loyola University Chicago.

    Melissa Mahoney, Office of the Illinois Attorney General

    Melissa is the deputy chief of staff for administration at the Office of the Attorney General. As the chief legal officer of the state, the Attorney General has the constitutional duty of acting as legal adviser to and legal representative of State agencies.


    Dan Mahoney Sr., Fort Knox Studios and 2112 Chicago

    Dan is managing partner and co-founder of Fort Knox Studios - the  largest music, film, and creative industries' collaborative ecosystem on earth that houses hundreds of bands, writers, producers, and sound engineers - and 2112 - the first-ever creative industries' small business tech incubator, which was recently hailed by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel as, "A pearl in the oyster that is Chicago." ​

    Richard Mark, Ameren Illinois

    Richard is chairman and president of Ameren Illinois, and he serves on a variety of boards including Enterprise Bank and Trust, Madison Mutual Insurance, American Gas Association, and St. Louis Police Foundation. He received three honorary doctorate degrees for his civic and community work. Black Enterprise magazine named him one of the 100 Most Powerful Executives in America. ​

    Fidel Marquez, ComEd

    As Senior Vice President of Governmental and External Affairs, Fidel leads ComEd's economic development and legislative initiatives with over 400 municipalities, large commercial and industrial customers, and civic organizations. He is a member of the Board of Trustees for BUILD, Inc; the National Museum of Mexican Art; Luna Negra Dance Theater; and Easter Seals of Metropolitan Chicago.

    Susana Meza, Wintrust Financial Corporation

    As vice president of corporate citizenship, Susana and her team ensure the future profitability of Wintrust while preserving their mission and values. Susana leads efforts to identify new markets and collaborates across the organization to drive revenue. She has over 15 thought-leadership contributions and serves as chair for the International Business Council for the Illinois Chamber of Commerce.

    Oscar Munoz, United Airlines

    Oscar is CEO of United Airlines – a global carrier operating more than 4,500 daily flights to nearly 340 airports. Before joining United, he served as president and COO of CSX Corporation, CFO and vice president of consumer services at AT&T, and in leadership roles for Coca-Cola Enterprises and PepsiCo. He was named one of the "100 Most Influential Hispanics" by Hispanic Business magazine.

    Kelly Nicholl, Intersect Illinois *

    Kelly is chief marketing officer at Intersect Illinois, the state's new nonprofit that will take decisive, focused action to put Illinois back on the path to economic growth and prosperity based on national best practices for economic development. Kelly previously served in similar capacity for the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, and she consulted for a multitude of clients.

    Stephanie Pace Marshall, Ph.D, The Lincoln Academy of Illinois

    Stephanie is chancellor of The Lincoln Academy of Illinois; founding president and president emerita of Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy; founding president of National Consortium  of Specialized Secondary Schools of Mathematics, Science, and Technology; trustee of The Society for Science and the Public; and a past president of International Association for Supervision and  Curriculum Development. 

    Donovan Pepper, Walgreens

    Donovan is national director of local government relations for the nation’s largest drugstore, Walgreens. He previously worked for the Illinois Restaurant Association, AT&T, and the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Civic Federation and the Greater North Michigan Avenue Association. He is the past president of the Chicago Area Public Affairs Group.

    Rikeesha Phelon, President and CEO, Phelon Public Strategies

    Rikeesha Phelon has held senior communications positions in nonprofit management, governmental leadership and political campaigns. Phelon served as a nonprofit media director, a public information officer for the Illinois Department of Human Services In 2009, she became the press secretary to President John Cullerton.

    John Powers, Union Street Tin Company

    John in an executive at Union Street Tin, which designs, manufactures, and distributes metal packaging products.  He previously worked at PayPal and Expansys USA in Engineering and Executive positions.​


    Beth Purvis, Illinois Secretary of Education *

    Beth was named Illinois Secretary of Education by Governor Bruce Rauner in 2015. Previously, she served as CEO of the Chicago International Charter School - a network of 16 schools in Chicago and Rockford, as a special education teacher in Maryland and Tennessee, and as an assistant professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

    Jerry Reinsdorf, Chicago Bulls & Chicago White Sox

    Jerry has been chairman of the Chicago White Sox and Chicago Bulls for over 30 years and has delivered seven world championships for the city. He is a noted philanthropist who has won many awards for his commitment to the community, including Chicago Public Schools, the Boys & Girls Club, and the Greater Food Depository. He currently serves on the board of directors for the Baseball Hall of Fame.​

    Tom Ricketts, Chicago Cubs

    As chairman of the Chicago Cubs since 2009, Tom is the proud winner of the 2016 World Series trophy, the first in 108 years for the Cubs. Focuses now include a $750 Million ballpark renovation and redevelopment of its surrounding area. In addition, Tom is CEO of Incapital LLC and a director of TD Ameritrade Holding Corporation.

    Todd Schwebel, The Schwebel Company

    Todd, an eighth-generation Illinoisan, is principal at The Schwebel Company, a residential design & development firm in Chicago. He also manages his family's Central Illinois real estate and agricultural interests as president of Hoffer Holdings. He has chaired major events for University of Chicago, Art Institute of Chicago, Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, Chicago Botanic Garden, and Facets Film Center.   

    David Scott, Illinois State Historical Society

    David earned a Ph.D. from Northwestern University in political science. He taught state and other American government courses in Illinois universities and was a senior policy and management analyst for the Illinois State Board of Education. He has been for years an active member of the Illinois State Historical Society, serving a term as president, writing articles, and chairing its Publications Committee.

    Ruth Slottag, Slottag Communications

    Ruth is a partner in Slottag Communications and is president of the Sangamon County Historical Society. She has more than 25 years’ experience in public relations and marketing management in the fields of media, education, government, and business. She has served on numerous boards including the Daughters of the American Revolution and Springfield Commission on International Visitors.

    Melody Spann-Cooper, Midway Broadcasting Corporation

    Melody is chairman of Midway Broadcasting Corporation, the parent company of WVON and WRLL radio stations in Chicago. She joined an elite list of America's female broadcast owners after purchasing the company's controlling interest in 1999. Melody serves on many boards including Choose Chicago, the Business Leadership Council, and the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters.

    Larry Spivack, Illinois Labor History Society

    Larry is president of the Illinois Labor History Society and regional director for AFSCME Council 31. He has dedicated his entire adult life to the labor movement and has worked for AFSCME since 1984 as an organizer, staff representative, and collective bargaining supervisor. Previously, he was a teacher in the public school system.

    Joyce St. Clair, Northern Trust

    Joyce is chief capital management officer and a member of the Northern Trust Executive Management Group. Previous positions at Northern Trust included president of operation & technology, chief risk officer and integration lead during the acquisition of the Barings Financial Services Group. Prior to joining Northern Trust, Joyce was an associated partner with Accenture's Financial Services Group. 

    Aaron Tennant, Simplex Leasing, Inc. 

    Aaron is CEO of Simplex Leasing Inc., a trucking and transportation company based in Orion, IL. He is also the CEO of several other companies throughout the Illinois Quad Cities region including Total Solutions, Corn Crib Nursery , B&B Truck and Trailer Repair, P2 Leasing, Tennant Logistics, Centrux, and Tennant Yard Management. 

    ​Samuel Wheeler, Ph.D., Illinois Historic Preservation Agency *

    Samuel is the tenth state historian in Illinois history, specializing in both the diverse history of the twenty-first state and the remarkable life and legacy of Abraham Lincoln. In his role as state historian, he is the historian of record for the state's fifty-six historic sites and is the director of research and collections at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Illinois.  ​

    Rocky Wirtz, Chicago Blackhawks

    Rocky is chairman of the Chicago Blackhawks, co-chairman of Breakthru Beverage Group, and president of Wirtz Corporation. He serves on executive committees for Chicago's United Center, National Hockey League, and NHL's Audit Committee. He's chairman of Chicago Blackhawks Charities, member of Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago and a trustee at The Field Museum and Northwestern.

    Dick Wolf, Wolf Entertainment/NBCUniversal​

    Dick is a television creator and producer, known in Illinois for his hit shows "Chicago Fire," "Chicago PD," "Chicago Med," and the upcoming "Chicago Justice." He is a two-time Emmy-winning producer, best known as the creator and executive producer of the "Law & Order" – branded series. He won a Grammy and an Oscar and has been nominated for 17 Emmy Awards.

    Bernanda "Bernie" Wong, Chinese American Service League​ (CASL)

    Bernie is the president & CEO of the Chinese American Service League (CASL). She previously served as director of social services for East Chicago Heights Community Service Center and chaired the Chicago Mayor's Advisory Council on Asian Affairs. She was the first Asian appointed to the boards of United Way of Chicago, the Chicago Public Library, and the Obama Foundation Inclusion Council. ​

    * Non-Voting