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Emerging Leaders Class of 2021

The Emerging Leaders Class of 2021 spent a year examining key issues that affect the world and impact the global city of Chicago.

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 2021
Senior Researcher, Center for Interdisciplinary Inquiry & Innovation in Sexual and Reproductive Health, University of Chicago
Headshot for Suchi Bansal
Suchi Bansal is a senior health research specialist at The Center for Interdisciplinary Inquiry and Innovation in Sexual and Reproductive Health (Ci3) at the University of Chicago, an innovative and interdisciplinary research center aimed at improving the health and wellbeing of young people in Chicago and globally. At Ci3, Bansal supports the research and implementation of global health projects.
Headshot for Suchi Bansal
Commissioner, State of Illinois Human Rights Commission
Headshot for Barbara R. Barreno-Paschall
Barbara Barreno-Paschall is a commissioner with the State of Illinois Human Rights Commission following her appointment by Governor JB Pritzker in 2019. As a commissioner, Barbara adjudicates complaints of discrimination filed under the Illinois Human Rights Act. She also chairs the Commission’s Technology Committee.
Headshot for Barbara R. Barreno-Paschall
Business Development Manager, Parker Hannifin Corporation
Headshot for Brandon Bodor
Brandon Bodor serves as a business development manager with Parker Hannifin Corporation, a Fortune 250 global leader in motion and control technologies. Prior to this role, he held a variety of cross-sector roles focused on national security and national service. From 2012 to 2014, Bodor was appointed by former Governor Pat Quinn to serve as executive director of the Serve Illinois Commission.
Headshot for Brandon Bodor
Senior Director, External Affairs – Japan, Emerging Markets, and Australia, AbbVie
Headshot for Claudia Carravetta
Claudia Carravetta is the head of external affairs for the Japan, Emerging Markets, and Australia (JEM&A) business at AbbVie, a biopharmaceutical company based in North Chicago. In this capacity, she develops and drives public affairs strategies and advances policy solutions to improve access to innovative medicines across Latin America, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia Pacific.
Headshot for Claudia Carravetta
SVP, Global Head of AML Risk Management Oversight, Citigroup
Headshot for Ainsley Cathcart
Ainsley Cathcart is head of global anti-money laundering risk management oversight at Citigroup, where she is a senior vice president and leads a global team responsible for developing innovative strategies to identify and mitigate risks related to financial crimes. Cathcart is a certified anti-money laundering specialist with 10 years of experience at top financial institutions.
Headshot for Ainsley Cathcart
Managing Director and Partner, William Blair
Headshot for Manuel Chavez
Manuel Chavez joined the firm William Blair & Company in 2010 and works in the healthcare group, focusing on pharmaceutical services and outsourced medical device manufacturing sectors. He's passionate about the healthcare industry and works closely with clients in providing strategic advice as they look to achieve their short and long-term objectives.
Headshot for Manuel Chavez
Director, Public Sector Strategy, KPMG
Headshot photograph of Lauren Densham
In her current role, Lauren Densham supports public sector, higher education, and nonprofit clients evolve their organizational strategy and processes to more effectively achieve their mission and better serve constituents. While at KPMG, she has supported leading public and private sector organizations with strategy development, organizational transformation, and sustainability initiatives.
Headshot photograph of Lauren Densham
Senior Product Manager, BMO Financial Group
Headshot for Kay Fillingham
Kay Fillingham is a senior product manager at BMO Financial Group where she oversees delivery of treasury products to clients in specialty industries, including Canadian cannabis entities, money services businesses, third-party payment processors, and virtual currency exchanges. Previously she served in a range of national security, intelligence, and policy roles in the US government.
Headshot for Kay Fillingham
Founder, Remnant Strategy
Headshot photograph of Joi Freeman
Joi Freeman is the founder of Remnant Strategy consultancy where she works at the intersection of culture and commerce to help businesses navigate the ever-evolving global terrain. As a strategist, youth culture enthusiast, and advocate for voices of vulnerable populations, Freeman is regarded as a brand “fixer” who connects the dots between corporate strategy, brand marketing, and social impact.
Headshot photograph of Joi Freeman
Chief of Staff, BMO Financial Group
Headshot for Sonia Gabrielson
Sonia Gabrielson became chief of staff to a BMO Financial Group Vice Chair in April 2018. In this role, she identifies and facilitates business connections for all operating groups, including capital markets, personal and commercial banking, and wealth management. Gabrielson also engages in thought leadership activities to reinforce and expand BMO’s corporate missions.
Headshot for Sonia Gabrielson
Chief of Policy and Advocacy, Office of the City Clerk, City of Chicago
Headshot photograph of S. Mayumi Grigsby
S. Mayumi "Umi" Grigsby is the chief of policy and advocacy for the Office of the City Clerk of Chicago. Under the leadership of City Clerk Anna Valencia, Grigsby is responsible for leading the city clerk’s policy initiatives, including the CityKey Municipal ID program, the Fines, Fees, and Access Collaborative, and the Status of Women and Girls’ Working Group.
Headshot photograph of S. Mayumi Grigsby
Research and Evaluation Partner, Rotary International
Headshot photograph of Rachel Hermes
Rachel Hermes is a research and evaluation partner at Rotary International. Rotary is a worldwide organization comprised of 1.2 million business and professional leaders that promote local community initiatives with global action. In her role, she leads Rotary’s five-year global grant model evaluation to understand the effectiveness of the estimated $80 million of grants awarded annually.
Headshot photograph of Rachel Hermes
Project Manager, Sargent & Lundy
Headshot photograph of Jon Horek
At engineering consulting firm Sargent & Lundy, Jon Horek advises clients and delivers projects in the electric utility, gas utility, heavy industry, institutional, and commercial building sectors. He broadly focuses his work on three trends transforming global energy infrastructure—efficiency, decarbonization, and resiliency.
Headshot photograph of Jon Horek
Elizabeth McCostlin
Regional Managing Director, Midwest, UNICEF USA
Headshot for Elizabeth McCostlin
Beth McCostlin and her UNICEF USA Chicago-based colleagues support UNICEF’s work for every child through fundraising, advocacy, and education throughout the Midwest. Prior to UNICEF, McCostlin worked in development for the Joffrey Ballet and is also a US Army Reserve veteran, having spent a year in Baghdad, Iraq as a public affairs officer from 2009 to 2010.
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Assistant United States Attorney, US Attorney's Office, Northern District of Illinois
Headshot for Paul Mower
Paul Mower is an assistant United States attorney in the violent crimes section of the US Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois, where he prosecutes federal crimes involving gang violence, racketeering, illegal firearms, and narcotics. He is also a major-select in the US Marine Corps Reserve, where he serves as a civil affairs officer and civil-military operations planner.
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Senior Manager, Growth and Strategy, Accenture
Headshot for Allison Myers
At Accenture Allison Myers focuses internally on Accenture’s efforts to grow and evolve its North American business. Previously, Myers was in a client facing role within Accenture Strategy focusing on energy, mobility, and built environment sectors helping clients develop new strategies to solve for challenges and opportunities related to new and emerging business models or technologies.
Headshot for Allison Myers
M&A Senior Director, EY-Parthenon
Christopher Myers
Chris Myers is a Chicago-based businessman, military officer, community servant, investor, and political activist. He's a senior manager in Ernst & Young’s merger and acquisition (M&A) consulting practice where he specializes in international M&A transactions. He is also an officer in the United States Navy Reserves where he currently supports Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 25.
Christopher Myers
Principal, Smolinski Rosario Law, PC
Headshot for Nelson M. Rosario
At Smolinski Rosario Law, PC, Nelson M. Rosario works with clients in a variety of industries, but primarily works with companies building new technologies. His practice has a strong focus on intellectual property, particularly patents and trademarks, contracts, and in legal issues related to blockchain and cryptocurrency.
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Assistant Director, American Jewish Committee
Headshot for Jason Rosensweig
Jason Rosensweig is assistant director for advocacy and international affairs at the American Jewish Committee (AJC) in Chicago, a global Jewish advocacy organization. He handles AJC's federal and local political advocacy in the region, visiting dignitaries like ambassadors, and working with elected officials, community partners, and consuls general of the Chicago Diplomatic Corps.
Headshot for Jason Rosensweig
Partner, Sidley Austin LLP
Headshot photograph of Kendra Stead
Kendra Stead has extensive experience in every phase of litigation and typically represents companies and professional services firms in commercial disputes, securities litigation, and professional liability actions. She counsels corporate clients regarding their contractual rights and obligations and regularly pursues and defends large-scale contract disputes.
Headshot photograph of Kendra Stead
Chief of Staff, Crime and Education Labs, University of Chicago
Headshot for Meredith Stricker
Meredith Stricker is also a senior fellow at The Soufan Center, a think tank focused on global security and emerging threats. She previously served as the founding executive director and led the organization’s research team and speaker series, building on years of experience with counter-terrorism and other security matters.
Headshot for Meredith Stricker
Chief of Staff, Chicago State University
Headshot photograph of Kim H. Tran
As the senior advisor to President Zaldwaynaka Scott, Kim H. Tran facilitates critical processes and manages an array of issues in areas across the university such as academic affairs, budget, external affairs, foundation development, human resources, and risk management.
Headshot photograph of Kim H. Tran