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Emerging Leaders at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs become part of a network of globally fluent leaders who will continue to raise the bar for Chicago as a leading global city.

Class of 2018
National Legal Director, Sikh Coalition
Amrith Aakre headshot
Amrith Kaur Aakre joined the Sikh Coalition, a civil rights organization, in August 2017 as legal director. In this role, she coordinates legal work and manages initiatives to protect the civil rights of all Americans in areas such as hate crimes, bullying, racial profiling, workplace discrimination, and religious rights.
Amrith Aakre headshot
Principal, Sullivan High School
Headshot for Chad Adams
Chad Adams, principal of Sullivan High School in Rogers Park, has dramatically transformed the lowest-performing high school on the north side of Chicago into a flourishing neighborhood high school. Sullivan had been on academic probation for 13 years when Adams took over in July of 2013. The school is now a level 2+ school on the verge of level 1, the highest level in Chicago.
Headshot for Chad Adams
Principal, Stele Consulting, LLC
Headshot of Lauren Bean Buitta
Lauren Bean Buitta is principal of Stele Consulting, LLC. Guided by a firm belief in the power of cities to create local policies that can inform an enhanced national strategy, she works with clients to develop data-driven, innovative policies in such areas as governance, urban security, and social policy.
Headshot of Lauren Bean Buitta
Associate in Commercial Litigation Practice Group and the Bankruptcy and Financial Restructuring Group, Freeborn and Peters LLP
Headshot for Ryan Blackney
Ryan Blackney is an associate in the Commercial Litigation Practice Group and the Bankruptcy and Financial Restructuring Group and is a member of the Fraud and Internal Investigations Team. He specializes in commercial and bankruptcy litigation and focuses especially on commercial fraud, fraudulent transfers, and objection to discharge adversary proceedings in bankruptcy court.
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Cofounder and Chief Executive Officer, Arbor Lodging Partners
Headshot of Vamsi Bonthala
In his current role, Vamsi Bonthala leads all corporate efforts at Arbor Loding Partners, including investor relations, strategic relationships, acquisitions, dispositions, and asset management. He's also principal of Arbor Lodging Management, the management affiliate of Arbor Lodging Partners, recently named one of the nation’s top hotel companies of 2015 by Hotel Management magazine.
Headshot of Vamsi Bonthala
Executive Director, Alliance for Middle East Peace
Headshot for Joel Braunold
Joel Braunold is the executive director of the Alliance for Middle East Peace. He works regularly with the US State Department, USAID, the National Security Council, and Congress on the needs of the peacebuilding community. Outside the US, he has worked with national governments and multilateral institutions across Europe and the Middle East.
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Partner, Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP
Chad Doobay headshot
Chad Doobay is a partner in the government and public finance practice group of the law firm Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP, where he advises governmental entities and nonprofit organizations on financing projects that benefit the public good. Doobay works with hospitals, schools, museums, cultural institutions, and other nonprofit organizations to help them grow and advance their respective missions.
Chad Doobay headshot
Vice President, Metropolitan Planning Council
Headshot for Josh Ellis
At the MPC, Josh Ellis directs urban and regional planning initiatives, addressing a range of urban and regional challenges, and leads multiple strategies to balance community aspirations, ecosystem needs, economic growth, and sound public policy. An alumnus of MPC's research assistant program, Ellis continues to manage fellowship opportunities.
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Chief Investment Officer and Chief Financial Officer, Illinois State Treasury
Rodrigo Garcia
In his executive post, Rodrigo Garcia directs the treasury’s combined $25 billion fixed income, equity, and venture capital portfolios; all investment and financial professionals; multiple asset classes; and $300 billion in related banking and financial services in order to maximize portfolio returns and bolster the Illinois macro and micro-economy.
Rodrigo Garcia
Former Legislative Coordinator, Cook County Government
Headshot of Adrienne Irmer
Adrienne Irmer currently serves on the legislative staff of Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, and with the Cook County Bureau of Asset Management. She's a 2017 political partner with the Truman National Security Project, 2017 fellow of the Chicago Urban League IMPACT Leadership Development Program, and sits on the executive leadership board for New Leaders Council, Chicago.
Headshot of Adrienne Irmer
Millennial Pastor, Willow Chicago
Headshot of Tim Jones
Tim Jones is an 11-year veteran of organizational leadership, community outreach, and project management. He has spent the last seven years leading nonprofit enterprises. Jones’ tenure at Willow Chicago has consisted of roles in project management, program management, budget process, volunteer/database management, and fundraising.
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Partner, Barack Ferrazzano Law Firm
Headshot of Shermin Kruse
Shermin Kruse is also a TEDx speaker; an accomplished negotiator, facilitator, and mediator; the author of the critically acclaimed, best-selling novel Butterfly Stitching; a contributor to the Huffington Post; a director of the ACLU of Illinois; cofounder and director of Pasfarda Arts and Culture Exchange; a director of Heshima Kenya; and a mother of four.
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CEO, Cain Millwork Inc.
Headshot for Daniel Levin
Daniel Levin is the CEO of Cain Millwork Inc, a manufacturer of custom architectural millwork. Cain Millwork is a privately held, family-owned company with over 75 employees and an annual turnover greater than $20 million. Cain works regularly with 11 of the top 15 general contractors in Chicago and has a portfolio of high-profile work nationwide.
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Gastroenterologist, Mount Sinai Hospital
Headshot for Benjamin Levy
At Mount Sinai Hospital Benjamin Levy serves as the head of gastroenterology education for residents and medical students from several international medical schools. He founded a gastroenterology clinic for refugees resettling in Chicago, and also serves on the American College of Gastroenterology's Patient Care Committee where he is organizing a colon cancer screening campaign.
Headshot for Benjamin Levy
Chief of Staff and US Director, CEO Council for Sustainable Urbanization, Paulson Institute
Rebecca Neale Hampson
As chief of staff, Rebecca Neale Hampson is a senior advisor to the Paulson Institute’s chairman, former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, on his efforts to strengthen the US-China relationship. She also oversees Paulson’s strategic priorities and special projects and serves as a chief advisor on his initiatives to tackle US economic challenges and global environmental protection.
Rebecca Neale Hampson
Partner, Jenner & Block
Headshot for Shoba Pillay
Shoba Pillay is a partner in Jenner & Block’s Investigations, Compliance, and Defense Practice, and the Data Privacy and Cybersecurity Practice. As a former federal prosecutor in Chicago, she was tasked with investigating and prosecuting matters involving a range of federal crimes, including cybercrime, terrorism, espionage, export control and sanctions violations, and complex fraud.
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Executive Producer of Visual Media, Rotary International
Headshot for Rebekah Raleigh
Rebekah Raleigh is the executive producer of visual media at Rotary International, where she leads creative and narrative development for video, stills, and interactive graphics. Her team creates content that has been picked up by major international media, as well as shared across social channels from the US Olympic Committee to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
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Director of Global Programs, Chicago Regional Growth
Headshot for Lisa Reijula
Lisa Reijula is the program manager at Metro Chicago Exports where she works to increase the area’s economic competitiveness through international trade. Reijula designs and implements strategic programs to help businesses overcome barriers to export, such as grants to offset financial risk, an intensive strategic plan development cohort, and pitch competitions for small businesses.
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Senior Vice President and Chief of Staff, Edelman Chicago
Headshot for Stephanie Sutton
Prior to joining Edelman, Stephanie Sutton served in the Obama administration as chief of staff of the Bureau of International Information Programs at the US Department of State. In this capacity, she advised the coordinator, an assistant secretary-equivalent; directed his strategic communications and travel; and drove strategies to implement managerial and programmatic priorities.
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Consultant, SC Johnson
Headshot for Nitida Wongthipkongka
Nitida Wongthipkongka is a social impact strategist and believes there is a significant role for the private sector to play in improving the quality of lives around the world. She works in the field of social enterprise, which is the utilization of market-based principles while creating social impact. Wongthipkongka currently works at SC Johnson (SCJ) in the base of the pyramid group.
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Educator and Author
Headshot for Kristin Ziemke
Kristin Ziemke is an educator and the author of Amplify: Digital Teaching and Learning in the K-6 Classroom. Since establishing her own consulting company in 2011, Ziemke has worked with schools around the world to develop learning experiences that redefine school. Recognized as an international expert, she leads teams to develop curriculum that is student-centered, personalized, and authentic.
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