The longest-serving mayor in Chicago’s history, Richard M. Daley has earned an international reputation as a leading innovator in urban development, fiscal policy, and government stewardship. During his 22-year tenure as mayor, Chicago became a prominent player in the 21st century global economy, now ranking among the top economic centers and most influential cities worldwide. A former state senator and county prosecutor, Mr. Daley was elected mayor in 1989 and re-elected five times before deciding in May 2011 to retire from government. He now serves as a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy and as Of-Counsel to Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP, a national law firm based in Chicago.
John W. Rowe is the chairman and chief executive officer of Chicago-based Exelon Corporation, one of the nation’s largest electric utilities. Rowe previously held chief executive officer positions at the New England Electric System and Central Maine Power Company, served as general counsel of Consolidated Rail Corporation, and was a partner in the law firm of Isham, Lincoln & Beale. In both 2008 and 2009, Institutional Investor named Rowe the best electric utility CEO in America. Rowe is committed to a wide variety of civic activities, with a focus on education and diversity.
Samuel C. Scott III is the retired Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Corn Products International, Inc. He was appointed Chairman of the Chicago Sister Cities International Program by Mayor Richard M. Daley in 2009. Scott serves on the board of Motorola Solutions, Inc., where he is Chairman of the Governance and Nominating Committee. He also serves on the Board of Directors of The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation, where he is Chair of the Human Resources and Compensation Committee, Abbott Laboratories, Northwestern Memorial HealthCare, The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, and the Chicago Urban League.
Carole Segal is the co-founder of Crate and Barrel, the founder and former CEO of Foodstuffs, and the president of the Segal Family Foundation. Ms. Segal is a trustee of Rush University Medical Center and chairman of the board of overseers at Rush University. She is a trustee emeritus of Bates College and a life trustee of the Illinois Institute of Technology. A graduate of Northwestern University, Segale chairs and co-chairs multiple university organizations. She is also a member of the Board of Directors of WBEZ-Chicago Public Media.
Dave Bender serves the Illinois Green Industry Association as executive director and is joining the American Council of Engineering Companies of Illinois on December 1, 2012. Since 2000, Bender has been engaged in the ongoing development of a coordinated comprehensive national communication strategy in the immigration reform effort. Previously, Bender served as chief of staff and special assistant to the Illinois lieutenant governor in two different administrations. In 1995, he was appointed assistant director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture by Governor Jim Edgar. He serves as cochair of the Illinois Business Immigration Council and the as chairman of the Logan County Republican Central Committee.
Ellen Carmell is the National Project Director of the American Jewish Committee’s (AJC) Bridging America Project. Ellen leads a major AJC / Ford Foundation initiative to strengthen Latino-Jewish relations and broaden the base of support for immigration reform. The Bridging America Project is a nationwide effort to fundamentally reframe and influence the public debate by creating unexpected coalitions of diverse leaders to promote substantive immigration reform. Ellen has more than two decades of non-profit leadership experience in arts, education, and Jewish organizations.
Governor Jim Edgar has served as a Distinguished Fellow at the University of Illinois’ Institute of Government and Public Affairs where he has been a teacher and lecturer since 1999. His career in government spans thirty years. He worked in the legislative branch of government for ten years, which included his election to the Illinois House of Representatives. Governor Edgar served for twenty years in the executive branch of government including ten years as Secretary of State and eight years as Illinois’ 38th Governor. He was first elected Governor in 1990 and reelected in 1994 by the widest margin in Illinois history.
Ricardo (Ric) Estrada was named President and CEO of Metropolitan Family Services, one of Chicago’s first and largest human services agencies, in March 2011. Prior to joining Metropolitan, Estrada served as First Deputy Commissioner of the City of Chicago’s Department of Family and Support Services (DFSS). Most recently he was appointed to Chicago Mayor-Elect Rahm Emanuel’s Transition Committee for Social Services and Healthcare. Estrada is a member of the board of Trustees at University of Illinois. His awards include being named an American Marshall Memorial Fellow, and one of Crain’s Chicago Business “40 under 40” in 2002.
Fernandez leads Cargill’s worldwide corporate affairs activities, including government relations, media, communications, brand management, marketing services, and corporate responsibility, as well as representing Cargill’s business and corporate policy interests. Before joining Cargill, Fernandez worked at State Farm Mutual Insurance as its Vice President of Public Affairs. He has led the public relations function at ConAgra Foods, CIGNA, and US WEST (now Qwest). Fernandez is co-chair of the Institute for Public Relations and serves on the boards of the Arthur W. Page Society, the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Educational Fund, and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute.
Susan Gzesh has been Senior Lecturer and Executive Director of the Human Rights Program at the University of Chicago since 2001. She teaches courses on human rights, migration, and related issues, and directs an interdisciplinary center which fosters human rights curriculum and research. In the 1980s, she practiced law in Chicago representing immigrant workers and asylum seekers. In the 1990s, she directed two projects at Heartland Alliance on regional immigration policy: the Chicago-Mexico Leadership Initiative and a coalition of North American and Central American NGOs which advocated for the human rights of migrants and refugees in the North American corridor. She is of counsel to the Chicago law firm Hughes Socol Piers Resnick & Dym.
After graduating from Concordia University, Larry and his wife left for Papua and New Guinea to serve from 1963-1968 where he served as a teacher with the New Guinea Lutheran Mission. Upon returning to the United States, Larry sought further education alongside a long career of teaching and serving as a junior high principal. Larry was elected to his first full term as Mayor in 1997 and was reelected in 2001, 2005, and 2009. Additionally, he has served as a member of the Education Funding task force of the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus and currently is chairman of the Diversity task force and chairs the Board of Directors of the Caucus.
Father Dennis Holtschneider is president of DePaul University, the nation’s largest Catholic university with more than 25,000 students. DePaul University was founded in 1898 to make educational opportunities available to the children of immigrants, and continues to this day its outreach to first-generation, minority and low-income students. A Vincentian priest ordained in 1989, Father Holtschneider holds degrees in mathematics, theology and a doctoral degree in higher education policy from Harvard University. He is a director of the Chicago Economic Club, the Chicago History Museum, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and currently serves as vice chairman of Ascension Health, the nation’s largest Catholic health system, and as chairman of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, the national association of all Catholic universities in the United States.
Joshua Hoyt has been with the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights since May of 2002. During this time the Coalition has fought vigorously for citizenship for the undocumented, to protect civil liberties in the wake of the attacks of September 11, 2001, and for a full integration of immigrants into the American Dream. The Coalition has helped to make Illinois one of the most immigrant friendly states in the United States. Hoyt has testified before Congress, published opinion pieces and articles in the Chicago Tribune, Washington Post, the Huffington Post, and other magazines, and directed several political campaigns.
Kareem Irfan served as the first Muslim president of the Council of Religious Leaders of Metropolitan Chicago and is a former Chairman of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago. He has advised the U.S. State Department and led leadership and inter-faith delegations on multiple global initiatives on Government-Community collaborations, international peace, multifaith bridge-building and counter-extremism. With 25+ years of private law practice & corporate management experience, Irfan currently serves as Chief Strategy Officer & General Counsel for a global conglomerate of IT businesses. His honors include the Distinguished Community Leadership Award from the U.S. Department of Justice and the Excellence in Interfaith Leadership Award from the City of Chicago.
Biju Kulathakal is an entrepreneur and an Active Angel Investor. He is currently Chairman and CEO of Trading Block Holdings Inc, a retail broker-dealer in Chicago. He was an early investor and partner at GetAMovie which was later sold to McDonalds and is now RedBox. Previously, he was a founder of Enterprise Logic Systems, which is a software development firm that specialized in the financial services and trading industry. He is a board member of the Beck Foundation. He has previously served on the board of the Chicago Charter School foundation, Civitas Schools, Leap Learning Systems and the Heartland Institute.
Ngoan Le is vice president of program for The Chicago Community Trust, the Chicago area regional foundation that provides significant funding support to immigrant integration efforts. Prior to her position with the Trust, Le served in leadership positions for over 15 years at the Chicago Department of Human Services, the Illinois Department of Human Services and the Illinois Governor’s Office. Le also served on President Clinton’s Advisory Commission for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. She is a refugee from Vietnam who came to the United States in 1975.
Mr. Ochoa is President and Chief Executive Officer with the Miramar Group, a full service international public relations firm with offices in Chicago and Mexico City. Mr. Ochoa was previously the Chief Executive Officer for the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority (MPEA), which owns and operates McCormick Place, North America’s largest convention center; Hyatt Regency McCormick Place Hotel; and historic Navy Pier, the Midwest’s top tourist and leisure destination. Prior to joining the MPEA, Mr. Ochoa served for ten years as the President and CEO of the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (IHCC). Additionally, Mr. Ochoa has served on the Board of the Hispanic Congressional Caucus Institute for the past six years.
In January 2009, Sylvia Puente began serving as Executive Director of the Latino Policy Forum. Through the Forum, she works with more than 100 organizational leaders in the Chicago metropolitan region. She has been recognized as one of the “100 Most Influential Hispanics in the U.S.” by Hispanic Business magazine. Along with many other civic organizations in which she is active, Puente serves as a board director of Advance Illinois, a public policy agency working to improve education in the State, and was appointed by Governor Quinn to serve as chair of the Education Funding Advisory Board.
After coming to the U.S. from Peru in 1984, Segura coordinated the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago’s refugee resettlement program for six years. Since 1999, Segura has served the Archdiocese of Chicago including ten years as the diocesan director of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. Currently she is the founding director of the archdiocesan Office for Immigrant Affairs and Immigration Education, and is the first U.S. diocesan office dedicated to immigrant issues. In 2010, her new Office for Immigrant Affairs launched an Immigrant-to-Immigrant Ministry which empowers immigrants to engage in service and justice actions, serving to form them as leaders for their parish communities.
Alejandro Silva cofounded Evans Food Group Ltd. in 1979 and serves as chairman of Evans Food Products Co. He has been in the food industry since 1972. Prior to acquiring Evans Food Group in 1985, Silva served as operating manager and assistant plant manager of KIR Alimentos S.A. Silva serves on numerous boards, including The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Walgreens, The Private bank, and he is chairman of the finance, audit and budgeting committee for the Chicago Transit Authority. He is the recipient of several awards: the Double Eagle Award from the United States-Mexico Chamber of Commerce and the Mexican American Chamber of Commerce of Illinois Food Industry Award.