Edgar Fellows Program Welcomes Ninth Class Forty leaders from across Illinois to meet in Champaign, August 1 through 5

URBANA, IL — A group of emerging leaders from across Illinois has been selected to be part of the ninth annual Edgar Fellows Program and will gather in Champaign August 1 through 5.

The Edgar Fellows Program is an initiative designed by former Illinois Governor Jim Edgar to inspire respectful and collaborative leadership to address the state’s major challenges.

The 40 participants selected this year (listed below) were chosen from a field of 187 nominees and reflect Illinois’ political, racial, ethnic and geographic diversity. They include elected and appointed officials from all levels of government, leaders of non-profit organizations and individuals who are making their mark in the business world.

“Each year, the Edgar Fellows Program brings together a group of leaders, with different backgrounds and different politics, from all over Illinois. They share and learn from those unique life experiences and, ultimately, find out that they have more in common than they have differences,” said Edgar, who launched the program in 2012. “People who were strangers on Sunday become good friends by Thursday, and it has been so gratifying to watch that happen over the eight years we’ve had this program. It’s what the Edgar Fellows program is all about, finding common ground and respect, so our fellows can work together throughout their careers to help shape a better Illinois.”

The Edgar Fellows week includes an intense executive training program designed and hosted by Edgar and the University of Illinois Institute of Government and Public Affairs. The fellows will engage with more than two dozen policy experts and experienced practitioners. But most importantly, they will learn from each other in discussions of issues such as workforce development, climate change, public safety, disaster planning and intergovernmental cooperation.

The 2021 class will bring the number of fellows who have completed the program to 353. After completing the initial program, fellows continue to meet at least twice annually at alumni gatherings designed to increase their knowledge and help build their professional networks.

The Edgar Fellows Program is funded by donations from a diverse group of individuals, organizations and companies interested in promoting competent, ethical and solution-oriented leadership in Illinois.

An advisory board chaired by Alexander Lerner, the Chief Executive Officer of the Illinois State Medical Society, helps to guide the program. Other board members are:

MarySue Barrett, President, Metropolitan Planning Council

Mark Boozell, Government Policy Advisor, Dykema Law Offices

Kirk Brown, Director, Hanson Professional Services and former Illinois Secretary of Transportation

Nikki Budzinski,former Chief of Staff for the White House Office of Management and Budget

Kevin Callis, Vice President of Operations, State Farm

Miguel del Valle, President, Chicago Board of Education, and former state senator and Chicago City Clerk

Julian D’Esposito, retired partner in the Mayer Brown LLP law firm

Mark Denzler,President, Illinois Manufacturers’ Association

Jason Francque, Director of Government Affairs, John Deere

Allen Grosboll, Legislative Director, Environmental Law and Policy Center

Carter Hendren, retired partner at Hendren Taylor Consulting, and former Chief of Staff for Illinois Senate Republicans

John Kamis, Partner, Turing Strategies

Mike Lawrence, former Director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at SIU-Carbondale, and former Press Secretary and Senior Policy Adviser to Governor Jim Edgar

Lisa Madigan, Partner in the Kirkland & Ellis law firm and former Attorney General of Illinois

Janet Mathis, Executive Director, Edgar Fellows Program

Felicia Norwood, Executive Vice President and President, Government Business Division, Anthem, Inc., and former Director of the Illinois’ Department of Healthcare and Family Services

Howard A. Peters III, President, HAP Incorporated, and former Secretary of the Illinois Department of Human Services

Mark Peterson, Chief Strategy Officer, Globetrotters Engineering Corporation

Sylvia Puente, Executive Director, Latino Policy Forum

James Reilly, independent consultant on Regional Projects, former Chairman of the Illinois Capital Development Board, and former Chief Executive Officer of the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority

Gene Reineke, Chairman and Founder, Hawthorne Strategy Group

Robin Steans, President, Advance Illinois and Board Chair, Steans Family Foundation

John Varones, Managing Principal, Systima Capital Management

Edgar Fellows Class of 2021
Photos of fellows available upon request

Representative Dagmara Avelar, Bolingbrook

Dr. Jay Bhatt, Chicago, chief clinical product officer, Medical Home Network and ABC News Medical Contributor

Suzy Brown, Morris, CEO, The Newberg Group

Representative Kambium Buckner, Chicago

Kahalah Clay, O’Fallon, Circuit Clerk of St. Clair County

Anna Crane, Chicago, associate general counsel, Office of Governor JB Pritzker

Representative Margaret Croke, Chicago

Representative Eva-Dina Delgado, Chicago

Bryan K. Echols, Chicago, senior advisor, Office of Illinois Treasurer

Senator Laura Clymore Ellman, Naperville

Tasha Green Cruzat, Chicago, president, Children’s Advocates for Change

Representative Jackie Haas, Bourbonnais

Greg Hart, Hinsdale, board member, DuPage County Board

Senator Adriane Johnson, Gurnee

Ianna Kachoris, Chicago, senior director of policy and advocacy, The Chicago Community Trust

Kristina Koch Stephenson, Metropolis, district operations staff serving 58th and 59th senate districts

Representative Lindsey LaPointe, Chicago

Jake Lewis, Chicago, communications director, Chicago Federation of Labor

Representative Camille Lilly, Chicago

Representative Mark Luft, Pekin

Matthew Martin, Chicago, alderman, 47th Ward

Illinois Senate Minority Leader Dan McConchie, Hawthorn Woods

Representative Martin McLaughlin, Barrington Hills

Lesli Melendy, Huntley, executive director, Metro West Council of Government

Juan Morado, Jr., Chicago, partner at Benesch

Kevin Morrison, Mount Prospect, Cook County Commissioner, 15th district

Margaret Nunne, counsel, State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company

Dulce Ortiz, Waukegan, executive director, Mano a Mano Family Resource Center

Representative Tim Ozinga, Mokena

Megan Peck, Springfield, vice president of governmental relations at Community Bankers Association of Illinois

Manuel Perez, Chicago, Deputy Mayor for Intergovernmental Affairs, City of Chicago

Senator Robert Peters, Chicago

Rikeesha Phelon, Springfield, executive director of marketing, communications and engagement at SIU School of Medicine and trustee, Lincoln College

Laura Roche, Springfield, chief of staff, Illinois Environmental Protection Agency

Mark Schauerte, Park Ridge, speakers’ series director at the University of Chicago Institute of Politics

Samir Tanna, Chicago, senior policy advisor, Office of Governor JB Pritzker

Mario Treto, Jr., Chicago, acting secretary, Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, state of Illinois

Representative Dave Vella, Rockford

Rickey Williams, mayor of Danville

Ashley Wright, Chicago, chief of legislative affairs, office of Illinois Attorney General