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Congresswoman Lauren Underwood
U.S. Representative (IL-14)
Congresswoman Lauren Underwood serves Illinois’ 14th Congressional District and was sworn into the 116th U.S. Congress on January 3, 2019. Congresswoman Underwood is the first woman, the first person of color, and the first millennial to represent her community in Congress. She is also the youngest African American woman to serve in the United States House of Representatives.
Congresswoman Underwood serves on the House Committee on Education and Labor, the House Committee on Veteran’s Affairs, and the House Committee on Homeland Security. She also serves on the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee. Rep. Underwood is a member of the Future Forum, a group of young Democratic Members of Congress committed to listening to and standing up for the next generation of Americans, the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), and the LGBT Equality Caucus. As a strong supporter of addressing the gun violence epidemic, Congresswoman Underwood is a member of the Congressional Gun Violence Prevention Taskforce.
Prior to her election to Congress, Congresswoman Underwood worked with a Medicaid plan in Chicago to ensure that it provided high-quality, cost-efficient care. She served as a Senior Advisor at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), helping communities across the country prevent, prepare for, and respond to disasters, bioterror threats and public health emergencies. As a career public servant at HHS, she helped implement the Affordable Care Act — broadening access for those on Medicare, improving health care quality, and reforming private insurance. Congresswoman Underwood also taught future nurse practitioners through Georgetown University’s online master’s program. Congresswoman Underwood is a graduate of the University of Michigan and Johns Hopkins University. She graduated from Neuqua Valley High School and is a lifelong Girl Scout. She resides in Naperville, Illinois.
The Illinois Legislative Black Caucus
Chairwoman Sonya M. Harper
Sonya Harper has been a journalist and community activist on the south side of Chicago since she was 16. Sonya’s passions include promoting community, economic development and civic engagement to create more peaceful and prosperous neighborhoods.
Harper has been a member of the Illinois House of Representatives since 2015, representing the 6th district. She is the first Black Chairperson of the Agriculture & Conservation committee, and serves as Joint Caucus Chair of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus. She is Chairman of the Agriculture committee for the National Black Caucus of State Legislators (NBCSL), is a board member for the National Organization of Black Elected Legislative Women and is the Illinois State Director for Women In Government.
The state of Illinois recognizes urban agriculture and provides incentives for urban farmers because of a law sponsored by Harper. She helped author the social equity components of the Cannabis Regulation & Taxation Act, is responsible for legislation creating a statewide taskforce to develop opportunities for disconnected youth, and advocates for the equitable distribution of violence reduction funds.
Harper has received numerous awards and recognitions. She resides in West Englewood, with her daughter, and is a member of The Faith Community of Saint Sabina Church.
Leader Kimberly A. Lightford
Kimberly A. Lightford is an Illinois Senator representing the 4th District, and is the first Black woman to serve as Illinois’ Senate Majority Leader. She has dedicated her legislative career to championing education and youth development.
As former Chair of the Senate Education Committee, Lightford passed notable education reform legislation that led to stronger methods of evaluating teachers and tracking student progress, started the state’s universal preschool program, and reformed disciplinary practices that disproportionately affected at-risk and minority students.
Lightford is a champion for working class families. She was the lead sponsor of Illinois’ Equal Pay Act, fought to reform the Payday Loan industry and is responsible for raising the minimum wage in Illinois three times.
While serving as chair of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus (2015-2021), she led a four pillar agenda aimed at dismantling systemic racism in education, criminal justice, health care and human services, and the economy.
A life-long resident of her district, Lightford holds a bachelor’s degree from Western Illinois University and a masters degree from the University of Illinois at Springfield. She has received numerous awards and is a member of many organizations, including Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and the Chicago Women’s Network.
Formally established in 1968, the primary mission of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus (ILBC) is to assure that the interests of African American citizens are given equitable representation in the General Assembly and that legislative action is directed to address those interests.
SEIU Healthcare IL IN MO KS
The Pattis Family Foundation
Erica Bland-Durosinmi, Exec. Vice President
Erica currently serves as Executive Vice President of SEIU Healthcare IL IN MO KS. Since 2014, Erica has led the union’s legislative, social, racial, and economic justice agenda for homecare, childcare, nursing homes and health systems in Illinois. Erica has been a champion of raising the minimum wage at all levels of government, first helping pass a $13 minimum wage in Chicago in 2014, and ultimately, a $15 minimum wage in Chicago and Illinois in 2019. Erica has also managed local and state races, and moved meaningful legislation such as Sweet Home Chicago, Keep Chicago Renting and Raise Chicago by coalition through the Chicago City Council.
Erica is the mother to a beautiful boy, Miles, and fights every day to make the world a better place for him. In 2020, she received the Ida B. Wells Award from Illinois Democratic Women, and in 2021, she received the Billie Paige Advocacy Award from the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus.
SEIU Healthcare IL IN MO KS is the fastest-growing union of healthcare, child care, home care and nursing home workers in the Midwest. Uniting more than 91,000 workers who provide vital care to our states’ children, seniors, patients and people with disabilities, we are committed to quality care and quality jobs for home care, hospital, nursing home and child care workers. We organize together to build power to demand and win social and economic justice for our communities. Our vision to live in a society defined by freedom and justice, where we can all have quality education, healthcare and jobs, and where we can all live a full and plentiful life of our choosing.
Lisa and Mark Pattis
Lisa and Mark Pattis serve as President and CEO of Next Chapter Holdings, an investment management firm. They are also Directors of The Pattis Family Foundation.
Prior to joining Next Chapter, Lisa was Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary of Wintrust Financial Corporation and before that was a partner in the corporate group of the law firm Sidley Austin LLP. Lisa also worked for the Agency of International Development focusing on micro-enterprise loans in Africa and Latin America. She serves on the Board of Directors for Women Employed, which she chaired from 2013 until 2020, as a Trustee of the Newberry Library, on the Board of Directors of the Children’s Home & Aid Foundation and on the National Steering Committee of PEWIN. Lisa was recognized as a Leadership Greater Chicago Fellow and was named to Crain’s “40 under 40.”
Mark Pattis joined National Textbook Company in 1978 and served in various capacities including Publisher and CEO until 1996 when the company was acquired by the Tribune Company. He then served as President and CEO of Tribune’s NTC/Contemporary Publishing Group which grew under his leadership to be one of the ten largest supplementary educational publishers in the country producing approximately 1,000 new titles annually. Mark previously served as a member of the Investment Committee of the Swarthmore College Endowment, as a member of the Board of Directors of the Seminary Coop and a member of the Board of Directors of the Chicago Book Clinic. Mark was awarded the Palmes Academiques from the French government for his contribution to French language education and the Sony Electronic Book Award of Excellence for his contribution to electronic book publishing.
The Pattis Family Foundation actively supports programs which allow talented students with limited financial resources to take advantage of opportunities available to them. With a grounding in books and the value of the written word, The Pattis Family Foundation also supports a variety of health, education and cultural initiatives.
The Pattis Family Foundation is delighted to continue to support The Summer Leadership Program at Women Employed. We believe the program’s unique combination of providing exposure to the non-profit sector and professional skill building for students while expanding the capacity and reach of Women Employed is a winning combination for all. We are especially pleased to see the far-reaching impact of many of the program’s past participants and look forward to witnessing the accomplishments of future cohorts.
Illinois Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton
Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton is excited to serve Illinois as the state’s 48th Lieutenant Governor.
As the first African American to hold this office, Stratton is passionate about equity and putting passion into government policy making.
Her portfolio includes leading the Justice, Equity and Opportunity Initiative, and chairing the Illinois Council on Women and Girls, the Governor’s Rural Affairs Council, the Military Economic Development Council and the Illinois Rivers Coordinating Council.
She is the chair of the R3 Board (Restore, Reinvest, Renew) and she co-chairs the Opioid Prevention and Recovery Steering Committee. Lieutenant Governor Stratton currently serves as treasurer of the National Lieutenant Governors Association.
Previously, Stratton represented the 5th District in the Illinois House of Representatives. Her first elected office was serving as Chair of the Kenwood Academy Local School Council.
As a lifelong advocate for youth and creating safe spaces for our young people, Lieutenant Governor Stratton is a restorative justice practitioner and trained peace circle keeper. She believes that where there is a void, we must take action to fill that need.
Stratton was born and raised on the South Side of Chicago. She is a proud graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and DePaul University’s College of Law.
She and her husband Bryan live in the Bronzeville community and have four daughters.