The Emerging Leaders Class of 2017 is spending one year examining key issues that affect the world and impact the global city of Chicago. They will hear from experts on issues such as the global economy, international diplomacy, energy and the environment. In October, they traveled to Washington D.C. to meet with senior government leaders. In addition to meeting regularly as a class, they are working on individual projects with Council experts to examine key global challenges. The cohort of leaders from around Chicago was chosen by an independent selection committee from a highly competitive pool of applicants. Learn more about the Emerging Leaders Program.
Lead Consultant, Strategy
Jailan Adly leads strategy for Amplifier’s philanthropic partnerships, and plans and executes internal strategic initiatives to build the agency’s capabilities. She is a social impact strategist who believes in the power of business to tackle and solve complex global challenges and brings over 10 years of experience building the capacity of impact-driven initiatives around the world. Adly has designed, developed, and managed corporate social responsibility, international development and employee engagement programs for various Fortune 500 companies from the IT, health, agriculture, finance, and transportation sectors in countries including the United States, Ghana, Tanzania, South Africa, Morocco, India, Tunisia, Bangladesh, and Indonesia. She has designed training curriculum to prepare business professionals to provide high-caliber consulting services to enterprises, entrepreneurs, and NGOs in emerging and frontier markets. Adly has a strong background in non-profit capacity building and has forged mutually beneficial relationships between diverse stakeholders from the private, public, and social sectors. She has held consulting roles in Lebanon, Egypt, and Jamaica where she designed sustainable tourism strategies for the public and private sectors. She holds a BA in International Affairs and a master's in Tourism from The George Washington University.
Director, Advocacy and Intergovernmental Affairs
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Illinois
Khadine Bennett is Associate Legislative Director with the ACLU of Illinois. She drafts, testifies and lobbies on a wide variety of legislative issues. Bennett began her ACLU of Illinois career as a Legal Fellow with the Reproductive Rights Project where she was involved in the Project’s litigation and advocacy efforts. She began her social justice career in the California Bay Area where she worked as an organizer, program director, consultant and director of various human rights, juvenile justice, youth development and reproductive justice organizations including WILD for Human Rights, Youth Force Coalition and the California Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League. Bennett has served on the boards of the Third Wave Foundation, WILD for Human Rights, Exhale, the Chicago Abortion Fund, and the juvenile justice initiative. Prior to joining the ACLU of Illinois in 2008, Bennett attended American University, Washington College of Law in Washington, DC. and was a part of the International Human Rights Clinic. Bennett received her undergraduate degree in American Studies and African-American Studies from Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT in 1999. Bennett is a member of the Illinois Bar.
World Sport Chicago
Kam Buckner leads the living legacy of Chicago’s bid for the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games at World Sport Chicago, an independent non-profit that use sports as a tool to provide an opportunity to Chicago youth in under-served communities. Prior to that, Buckner lead the Government and Neighborhood Relations efforts for the Chicago Cubs as the team worked through several iterations of the $675 million plan to renovate and expand Wrigley Field. Previously, he worked for Mayor Mitch Landrieu of New Orleans and as an aide to US Senator Dick Durbin. He is on the board of Major League Soccer’s Chicago Fire Foundation and is a member of the Business Leadership Council and the Economic Club of Chicago. The Southside native holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Illinois, where he was a member of the Varsity Football team, and a JD from DePaul University College of Law.
Director, Global Corporate Citizenship
The Boeing Company
Mike Cassel is director of Global Corporate Citizenship (GCC) for The Boeing Company's corporate offices in Chicago and in the broader Great Lakes Region. Cassel manages the region’s charitable portfolio to ensure that all investments and activities align with company strategy and result in lasting success within the local community. Prior to his current role, Cassel was chief of staff for the State & Local Government Operations team where he managed enterprise-wide strategy related to public policy issues that impact the company across the United States and helped guide Boeing’s GCC strategy and charitable investment efforts. Cassel began his career at Boeing in 2011 as director of Strategy for Government Operations, Boeing Commercial Airplanes (BCA). Previously, Cassel worked at the Export-Import Bank of the United States as deputy chief of staff to the Chairman and President. Cassel also served the President of the United States as the director of White House Services within the Office of Management and Administration. Prior to serving in the White House, Cassel worked on the Obama-Biden transition team and on President Obama’s first presidential campaign. Cassel holds a BA degree in Political Science from the University of Arizona and received a JD from the DePaul University College of Law. He currently serves on the board of directors of Mikva Challenge and the Advisory Council of Becoming a Man (Youth Guidance).
Sidley Austin LLP
Patrick Croke is an attorney at Sidley Austin LLP, where he has represented a wide variety of clients, including Fortune 100 companies, technology start-ups, venture capital and private equity funds, the US Ambassador to the Dominican Republic, and international companies, in a variety of litigation regarding transactional, regulatory, business, political, and criminal matters. Croke also teaches at Northwestern University’s McCormick School of Engineering. Croke has been named a Super Lawyers Illinois Rising Star every year since 2012 and was named an Irish Legal 100 Rising Star in 2016. Prior to joining Sidley Austin, Croke worked in politics and government as a lawyer for Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign, in Senator Ted Kennedy’s Committee Office, and in the City of Chicago’s Office of Intergovernmental Affairs. He is a member of the board of Urban Initiatives, a nonprofit organization that runs health, education, and character development programming for over 15,000 Chicago Public School students. He is also a Truman National Security Political Partner and on the Illinois Advisory Committee of the US Global Leadership Coalition.
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP
Rebecca Delaney is the youngest engineering team leader for the design firm of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill’s (SOM) sustainable engineering studio in Chicago. SOM is one of the largest and most influential architecture, interior design, engineering, and urban planning firms in the world. Delaney leads multidisciplinary sustainable-engineering project teams for projects including the design competition for the world's tallest office tower, a LEED Gold high school for Chicago Public Schools, and a boutique high-rise art museum in New York. She was selected as the ASHRAE "New Face in Engineering" in 2014, received the Penn State "Alumni Achievement Award" in 2015, and was named one of Consulting-Specifying Engineer magazine’s “40 Under 40” in 2016. She has authored several articles related to her life as a young female engineer. Delaney also has developed a passion for the people and culture of Eastern Africa. Her work has included protecting clean water, facilitating business workshops for female entrepreneurs, and designing a school to be a beacon of hope in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya. Delaney received her bachelor's and master's of Architectural Engineering from Penn State University, where she is a founding member of the College of Engineering’s Young Alumni Board. Delaney lives in Chicago with her husband, Tom.
Mark Fastabend is the General Manager for a newly launched foodservice equipment division within the Marmon Group. He has spent his career building businesses around innovative solutions that meet the needs of the global market ranging from medical devices to food and beverage ware. Specializing in new product development, Fastabend leads a team of professionals with the unique expertise necessary to grow conceptual ideas into full-scale commercialized businesses. Today, his efforts focus on tailoring solutions to the diverse and specific needs of customers in more than 100 countries including major food service companies like McDonald’s and Restaurant Brands International. This personalized approach in the international marketplace distinguishes his work across established, mature economies to the leading edge of developing markets. Fastabend has a degree in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Iowa where he was a 4-year student-athlete and captain of the men’s swimming team.
Senior Vice President, Government Programs
Nicholas Gross is the Senior Vice President for Government Programs at AAR Corp, a leading provider of aviation services to the worldwide commercial aerospace and government/defense industries. Gross oversees a diversified portfolio of capabilities, including aviation supply chain and contractor logistics support (CLS) supporting government agencies and commercial customers in established and emerging markets. Prior to joining AAR, Gross previously served as the Chief Operating Officer, International Operations for Michael Baker International, an engineering, development, intelligence and technology solutions organization with global reach and mobility. Gross was responsible for over 3,000 international employees, supporting operations that have spanned over 150 countries and six continents. He brings over 16 years of experience in international management, strategic development, and project execution. Prior to this position Gross served as the chief operating officer at KS International since 2011, successfully leading the integration of operations of three separate companies, improving performance and bottom line profitability. For KS International, Gross also served as the executive vice president for Engineering and Professional Services and the executive vice president for Defense Programs. Previous to joining KS International, Gross was responsible for strategic planning for contingency emergency services for KBR, Inc. in the Middle East. Prior to that time, he worked in a variety of international management positions with DynCorp and KBR. Gross is a USAF veteran serving four years in the Civil Engineering Squadron with numerous international deployments. Gross truly operates with a global mindset having also lived in numerous countries throughout Europe, South America, and the Middle East.
Ben Hernandez is an entrepreneur, founding and serving as the CEO of NuMat Technologies: a venture-backed start-up re-imagining how the world stores, separates and transports gasses. Since their founding in 2013, NuMat’s been recognized by Google as a “Solve for X” innovator, won the Kleiner Perkins “Green Tech Innovation” prize, and has been recognized by the Department of Energy as one of the most promising energy start-ups in the United States. Based in Chicago, NuMat is a global-facing organization with a partner base in Asia and Europe. Prior to NuMat, Hernandez worked at a global private equity firm based in the Middle East with over $30 billion in invested capital. He was responsible for leading board-level strategy, operations and human capital initiatives at portfolio companies to drive enterprise growth. Prior to this, he worked as a management consultant, supporting strategic growth and operations initiatives at Fortune 500 companies. Hernandez studied at Northwestern University, receiving engineering, business, and law degrees from the McCormick School of Engineering, Kellogg School of Management, and the Northwestern School of Law.
Schuette Clinical Fellow in Health and Human Rights
Northwestern Pritzker School of Law
Anna Maitland works along-side marginalized communities to support locally owned and led struggles toward progressive and sustainable change. She has engaged in the Americas and Africa on statelessness, asylum, sexual rights and social and economic rights. She currently serves as the inaugural Schuette Clinical Fellow in Health and Human Rights at the Center for International Human Rights at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, where she works with the Access to Health Project (ATH). ATH partners with local communities around the world to build targeted, interdisciplinary strategies to address barriers to health. Prior to coming to Chicago, Maitland cofounded and codirected a social and economic rights non-profit in Nigeria, Justice & Empowerment Initiatives (JEI), which partners with informal settlements to build community-based justice and accountability mechanisms, provides pro-bono legal services and supports a growing Nigerian Slum/Informal Settlements Federation. Seeing the synchronicity of approaches, ATH and JEI are currently partnering to bring sustainable strategies to partner communities in Lagos. Maitland holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder, a JD from American University Washington College of Law, and an MA from American University School of International Service.
Director, Strategic Projects
Chicago Public Schools
Luis Narváez was born and raised in Mexico City, Mexico. As the Director of Strategic Projects for the Chicago Public Schools Office of Language and Cultural Education, he helps ensure that the city’s over 70,000 English Language learners receive adequate instructional support at school, along with recognizing graduating seniors bilingual and biliterate skills through the implementation of the State Seal of Biliteracy. His work is also focused on the promotion of postsecondary access within Chicago’s immigrant and Latino communities. Narváez has presented his work and participated on panels at several local and national conferences, and is involved with The College Board’s Midwestern Regional Council, along with the Consulate General of Mexico in Chicago’s Institute for Mexicans Abroad, or IME. At home in Chicago’s East side, he lives with his wife and two boys, while also enrolled at Northeastern Illinois University’s master's in Educational Leadership program with a concentration in Higher Education.
Director of Customer Intelligence & Insights
Citi/Citi Retail Services
As a Director of Customer Intelligence & Insights for Citi Retail Services, Hinsley Njila helps develop strategy and mitigation solutions for Credit Customer Lifecycle Management. Citi Retail Services delivers consumer and commercial credit card products, both private label and co-brand, to retailers and their clients across North America. Backed by the global power of Citi, the business serves nearly 90 million accounts for a number of iconic brands, including Best Buy, ExxonMobil, Macy's, Sears, Shell and The Home Depot. Citi Retail Services offers cutting-edge digital options, multi-channel retailing expertise and industry-leading data analytics capabilities that help retailers from a broad range of industries grow their businesses. Prior to financial services, Njila was an active-duty member of the US Air Force, led teams on several operations in the Middle East, including Northern & Southern watch, working with coalition forces to prosecute the global campaign against terrorism. Njila earned an MBA from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Njila has lived in Africa and the Middle East and has traveled extensively in China and Europe.
Vice President for Global Business Development
Jacob Plummer's background is in management, operations, and investment in technology-enabled health services, and he leads global business development at Allscripts, an international health software company. At Allscripts, he has led a variety of investment initiatives covering North America, the United Kingdom, Singapore, Australia, and the Middle East, where he also served as acting managing director of Saudi Arabia. Currently, he is engaged with leading US and global hospitals to enable precision medicine software powered by insights stemming from the mapping of the human genome. After studying economics at Knox College, Plummer began his career in Chicago for the office of Richard M. Daley where he was a Mayoral Fellow, research analyst, and speechwriter. He completed graduate coursework at The University of Chicago where he received a master's of Public Policy, a certificate of Health Policy, and a MBA and where he was a faculty teaching assistant, a McCormick Tribune Fellow, and a recipient of the Dean's Leadership Prize. Plummer is an advisor to several Chicago-area healthcare startups, is vice president and chair of the Governance Committee for the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy Fund Board, and a mentor for the Harris School of Public Policy at The University of Chicago.
Alisa Roadcup believes when you empower a girl; you empower an entire community and generations to come. Her career spans 20 years as a human rights defender, social entrepreneur and advocates passionately about creating a safe and just world for women and girls. Roadcup started with Heshima Kenya in 2012 overseeing US operations, and transitioned into the role of executive director in 2014. Before joining Heshima Kenya, Roadcup was director of communications and development at The Council for a Parliament of the World's Religions. Her previous roles include program associate at Amnesty International USA’s Urgent Action Network and vice president of the board of directors at Rape Victim Advocates. Roadcup advised on campaign strategy and membership mobilization in support of the promotion and protection of women's human rights as a founding member of Amnesty International USA’s Women Human Rights Coordination Group. Roadcup holds professional certification in Forced Migration Studies from Northwestern University, an MA in Comparative Religions and a BA in Humanities. In 2015, she was named a Cordes Fellow, and recently presented at the Skoll World Forum in Oxford, UK on The Future Social Enterprise and the Artisan Economy. She frequently speaks at conferences and universities on local, national and international women's rights issues.
Chief Executive Officer
Kais Salhut is the Chief Executive Officer of iConnect Technologies, a software development and outsourcing company based in the Chicago area. In 2009, after visiting his hometown of Jerusalem, Salhut started a software development outsourcing company in Ramallah, Palestine to tap into the largely underutilized talent pool Palestinian universities produced each year. The company he started merged its operations into iConnect Technologies in 2014. While in Palestine, Salhut was very active in promoting the development of the technology echo system where he spoke at Palestinian universities and sat on the board of Peeks (Palestinian Geeks, a grassroots organization aimed at building a sustainable knowledge-based economy in Palestine). He is currently a board member of the Arab Americans Business and Professional Association (ABPA) and Americans for a Vibrant Palestinian Economy (AVPE). He holds a BA in Economics and International Business from Dominican University in River Forest, IL.
Executive Vice President
Jones Lang LaSalle
Based in Chicago, Julie Steffen leads the Midwest hub for the International Desk. In this role, she is responsible for expanding the growth of our international business across the Americas, Europe, Middle East, Africa and the Asia-Pacific regions, as part of the International Desk. Steffen is working closely with our industrial and supply chain group, working with clients such as Spencer Stuart, Steelcase, Greif, HB Fuller, Baxalta, and others. Prior to her move to Chicago in October 2012, Steffen was part of the Palo Alto hub of the International Desk, working with clients such as Levis, Hitachi Data Systems, Twitter and Halliburton during this time she oversaw and facilitated approximately 70 global transactions a year. Steffen joined JLL in 2007 as a member of the Regional Transaction Management team in Shanghai, China, where she was responsible for leading major MNC accounts such as Nortel, Whirlpool, Unisys, Computer Associates, and Motorola. In this role, she managed account transactions for over 10 million s.f. of portfolio across the Asia Pacific region. Steffen worked closely with the Regional Transaction Management teams in both Europe and the United States to ensure process consistency. During this time, she authored and distributed many international best practices, which have been shared throughout JLL as well as with many of her clients. Prior to joining JLL Steffen worked throughout Germany, Luxemburg, and China. She completed work placements with Bertelsmann’s service division Arvato, as well as the private bank Sal. Oppenheim. She holds a BA (Hons) in European Business from Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, UK with majors in both Finance and Accounting. She is a native speaker of German.
Northern Illinois University - College of Law
Morse Tan, elected for promotion to full professor at Northern Illinois University's College of Law, directs the international law certificate program. A US Supreme Court Fellowship Finalist and a member of the US Supreme Court Bar, he previously worked at the University of Texas Law School as a Visiting Scholar and Senior Research Fellow. He has published extensively in law reviews, including the most such publications on North Korea. His book North Korea, International Law, and the Dual Crises was published by Routledge. He has spoken extensively domestically and internationally, such as at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and Queens Law School in Canada, and in media outlets including the National Law Journal, United Press International (UPI), the Jurist, and Radio Free Asia. Tan invests as the Managing Partner of Lux Ventures, LP through which he has normally achieved returns higher than the S&P 500. With credits transferred from Stanford, the Harvard Book Award and a National Merit Scholarship, he received his BA & accelerated MA from Wheaton College and his JD with an international law concentration from Northwestern University School of Law.
Rebecca van Uitert
Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen, and Loewy, LLP
Rebecca van Uitert has created a unique professional pathway which combines a successful business immigration practice with a sustained commitment to pro bono representation of vulnerable immigrants. At Fragomen, the world’s largest immigration law firm, she serves as primary outside immigration counsel to multiple Fortune 500 international corporations, advising them in all aspects of hiring and retaining top global talent. She also established and leads her office’s thriving pro bono program, serving as co-counsel for dozens of asylum, DACA (“Dreamer”), and U visa (criminal victim) applicants each year. Van Uitert was the first Fragomen attorney to volunteer at a family immigration detention facility in Artesia, New Mexico. She shared her experience widely, inspiring over thirty Fragomen volunteers to follow in her footsteps at other family detention facilities along the southern border. Van Uitert serves as a passionate advocate both for her faith community and through her professional pursuits, which currently include positions on the Executive Board of the National Immigrant Justice Center and the Board of Directors of the J. Reuben Clark International Law Society, Chicago Chapter. Rebecca was awarded a BA in International Studies from Brigham Young University and a JD from St. John's University School of Law.
Manager, Strategy and Operations
Shawn Zhou is a strategy consultant with a passion for addressing global healthcare needs. At Deloitte Consulting, Zhou leads projects for multi-national life sciences companies on their R&D, business development and commercial strategies. Recently, Zhou worked with a pharmaceutical company to improve access to care for patients who struggle to afford medications. Previously, Zhou worked at the Clinton Foundation's Health Access Initiative (CHAI) where he led programs to increase access to HIV/AIDS treatment for over 10,000 patients across China and South East Asia. Zhou holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Dartmouth College and an MBA from The University of Chicago Booth School of Business where he concentrated in marketing, operations and healthcare administration, and policy.