Board of Directors


Board of Directors

Hon. Suzanne Bassi

Suzanne H. Bassi was elected to the Palatine District 15 School Board in 1987 after 10 years of teaching French in both Chicago and Hillside, Illinois. During part of her school board tenure, she served as chairman of ED-RED, a suburban education advocacy group. Suzie was elected as a State Representative for Illinois’ 54th District in 1998.  Suzie championed important legislation during her 12 years in the House, including a bill integral in creating the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, and Cindy’s Law, an anti-stalking initiative to protect victims around the state.

Kristina Cercone

Kristina is an Associate at Jones Day in Chicago. Kristina represents clients in complex commercial and other litigation in federal and state courts. Her practice focuses on product liability issues facing pharmaceutical and health care clients. She is a graduate of Illinois Wesleyan University and Harvard Law School.  Kristina is a former Paul Simon Fellow and worked at ICPR in 2007 & 2008.

Hon. Beth Coulson, Vice Chair

Beth Coulson is a former member of the Illinois House of Representatives, where she represented the 17th District from 1997 to 2011. She is a trained therapist, physical therapist and was a Department Chair at the Chicago Medical School from 1981 to 2002. She is a member of various community and civic organizations in the Chicago area.

William Fehrman

Bill Fehrman is Vice President of Development for Easterseals’ National Headquarters in Chicago. He has an undergraduate degree in Philanthropy from DePaul University and is working towards a Master’s Degree in Policy Studies, also at DePaul. Bill lives in Park Ridge with his wife and three children.

Hon. Susan Garrett, Chair

Susan Garrett is a former Illinois State Senator who represented the 29th District from 2003 to 2013. She had previously represented the 59th District for four years in the in the Illinois House of Representatives. Sen. Garrett earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from Lake Forest College, and resides in Lake Forest with her family.

Oren Jacobson

Oren Jacobson currently works as a multi-sector consultant helping to develop effective strategies for the businesses and non-profits across the country. He holds an MBA and is currently working on his Master’s in Economics and Policy Analysis at DePaul University.

Carl Johnson

Carl Johnson is currently working as Assistant Corporation Counsel for the Employment Litigation Division of the City of Chicago Department of Law. He earned his undergraduate degree in Sociology from Yale University in 2010 and his J.D. from Columbia Law School in 2014. In the 2016 election cycle, Carl was a Deputy Voter Protection Director in Wisconsin, and in the fall of 2014, he was a Legal Research Fellow at ICPR.

Michelle K. Jordan

Michelle is on the Board of Governors of the Chicago Council of Lawyers and the Judicial Reform Issues Specialist for the League of Women Voters of Illinois. She works as General Counsel to Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin.

Hon. Jin Lee

Jin Lee is the Director of Business Planning & Development and Government Relations at the Albany Park Community Center. He is active in Chicagoland’s Asian American community, and received the President’s (life time) Call to Service Award in 2008. He was awarded a McCormick Tribune Foundation Scholarship for Loyola University Chicago’s Leadership Certificate Program, and serves as the Chairman of the Secretary of State’s Asian American Advisory Council, a Member of State Comptroller’s Asian American Advisory Council, and an Economic Development Commissioner for the City of Des Plaines. In spring of 2013, Lee was also elected to the Maine Township District 207 School Board.

Jack Lockhart, Student Representative

Jack Lockhart is a current Senior at the University of Chicago, pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. Jack previously worked as Policy & Research Director at ICPR, during which time he assisted the Executive Director in publishing news updates on wide-ranging topics, including water quality in Illinois, the 2016 General Election results, and campaign finance reform.

David Melton, Treasurer & Senior Advisor

David Melton was elected to the Board of Directors in May, 2013 and resigned that position in July to assume the duties of Executive Director. In January of 2016, he resumed his position on the Board as Treasurer and Senior Advisor to the organization. Melton was an attorney in private practice, most recently with Mayer Brown and Foley & Lardner, with extensive experience in intellectual property matters. Melton was part of the pro bono team of attorneys that sued the State of Illinois to compel compliance with federal statutes requiring “Motor Voter” registration. A former Board member (including a term as President of the Board) of the Chicago Council of Lawyers, Melton has devoted significant time and expertise to improving judicial selection and protecting civil liberties.

Hon. John Millner

John Millner is a former Illinois State Senator who represented the 28th District from 2005 to 2013. Previously, he had represented the 55th District from 2003 to 2005 in the Illinois House of Representatives. From 1986 to 2003, Sen. Millner served as Chief of Police of Elmhurst, Illinois.

Hon. David Orr

As Cook County Clerk since 1990, David Orr is the chief election authority for suburban Cook County. A progressive voice in Chicago politics for 32 years, Orr has been nationally commended for his leadership on election reform, the Motor Voter law, early voting, and student election judge programs. Orr’s innovative efforts to boost productivity and improve efficiency in his office have also garnered recognition from Microsoft and the National Association of County Officials.

Hon. Sandra M. Pihos

Sandra Pihos is a former member of the Illinois House of Representatives where she represented the 42nd and 48th districts from 2003 until 2015.  She earned a Master of Science in both Secondary Education and Guidance and Counseling from Northern Illinois University and has received numerous awards for her work in the legislature.  She has been a leader in many community and civic organizations in the Chicagoland area.

Dana Pownall, Secretary

Dana Pownall received her Juris Doctor from Chicago-Kent College of Law in 2014. During her studies, Dana focused on public interest law, access to justice issues, legislative advocacy, and civic engagement within the law school community. She served as Vice President and President of her law school’s student chapter of the American Constitution Society, and currently serves as the Vice Chair of the Board of Directors of the lawyers chapter of ACS. Prior to receiving her degree, Dana worked extensively in marketing and fundraising in both the private and public sector.

Jonathan Tan

Jonathan Tan currently serves as a Strategic Initiatives Manager at Black & Veatch, a global critical human infrastructure engineering and construction firm in Chicago. His group, Smart Integrated Infrastructure is a leader in data management, analytics and technology for Smart Cities, Transportation, Energy, Water, Telecommunications and Government.  He received his Master of Business Administration from Lake Forest Graduate School of Management and has worked in energy, water, telecommunications and Smart City marketing and business initiatives.  Jonathan is an active member of the Cleantech Open, the world’s largest small business incubator focused on clean technologies, the Smart Cities Council, the International Organization of Standards’ (ISO) Technical Committee 268 on Smart Cities, and The American Society of Civil Engineer’s (ASCE) Energy Executive Committee and its Committee for the Adaptation of Climate Change (CACC), among many others.

Vanessa B.M. Vergara

Vanessa B. M. Vergara earned her B.A. in Political Science and English from Hamline University and J.D. from Northwestern University School of Law.  She served as a law clerk to the Honorable Karen Nelson Moore of the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.  Vanessa practiced law at the Chicago law firms Goldberg Kohn and Grippo & Elden.   She has extensive experience in the area of complex commercial litigation including securities fraud, lender liability, insurance coverage disputes, class action defense, multidistrict litigation and mediation.  She is actively involved in her parish and her child’s school and resides in the far Southwest Side of Chicago with her family.

Stephanie A. Victor

Stephanie A. Victor owns SAVvy Investments of Illinois LLC, a real estate management and investment company specializing in sound investment opportunities in the rental real estate market. Her volunteer and fundraising commitments range from generating legislation and lobbying for fair landlord/tenant laws as Vice President of the Illinois Rental Property Owners Association to Jewish values serving as a board member of the American Jewish Committee and her synagogue, Temple Jeremiah.



Advisory Board


Steve Alfred, Former ICPR Board Member

Steve Alfred retired from the ICPR Board in 2013 after serving for 13 years, most of that time as an officer. Prior to that, Mr. Alfred was the executive director of Common Cause/ Georgia in Atlanta, the mayor of Shaker Heights, Ohio, and a partner in the international law firm Squire Sanders in its Cleveland office. He is a graduate of Princeton University and the Harvard Law School.

Jim Bray, Policy and Communications Consultant

Jim Bray is a policy and communications consultant working primarily with non-profit organizations. He provided communications and lobbying assistance to ICPR from 1999 to 2012.  Before becoming a consultant in 1999, Bray served 13 years in state government as press secretary to Gov. James R. Thompson and chief of staff to Lt. Gov. Bob Kustra.  He previously was a newspaper reporter for 10 years.

Suzanne B. Calder, Former Board President, ICPR

Suzanne Calder is a former Board President for ICPR. Previous to that she has been President of the League of Women Voters of Illinois and is a member of the Evanston League of Women Voters.

Cynthia Canary, Former Executive Director, ICPR

Cynthia Canary helped found ICPR in 1997 and served as executive director until 2011. After leaving, she served on Mayor Emanuel’s ethics task force. Prior to her work at ICPR, she served as executive director of the League of Women Voters of Illinois, where she helped Illinois implement the National Voter Registration Act. Ms. Canary has also worked in the Public Education Division of the American Bar Association.

Mike Lawrence, Former Director, Paul Simon Institute

Mike Lawrence a former director of the Paul Simon Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University, which he joined in 1997 before being promoted in 2004. He was press secretary and senior policy adviser to Governor Jim Edgar for almost a decade. For 25 years previous, he worked as a journalist mostly covering Illinois government and politics.

Mark Levy

Mark Levy was Vice President – Tax at Henry Crown and Company where he led the Tax Department until his retirement. Previously Mark was a Tax Partner with Arthur Young and Company. Mark’s volunteer activities include serving on the Board of the Jewish Children’s Bureau of Chicago, where he was President at the time of its 100th Anniversary, Jewish Child and Family Services, and the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago. Mark received his BBA degree from the University of Michigan and his JD degree from the University of Chicago Law School.

Suzanne McBride

Suzanne McBride is an Associate Journalism Professor and Chair of Communications & Media Innovation at Columbia College Chicago. She has over three decades of experience in journalism as both a reporter and editor, and has worked for the Indianapolis Star, WTHR/13, and the Terre Haute Tribune-Star, among others. Suzanne currently works as a part-time editor for the Chicago Sun-Times.

Ron Michaelson, Former Board Member, ICPR

Dr. Ron Michaelson served in Illinois government for 33 years, 27 of which as Executive Director of the Illinois State Board of Elections. He currently has a joint appointment as a Visiting Assistant Professor of Political Studies and as a Research Fellow with the Institute for Legal, Legislative and Policy Studies. He earned his Ph.D. in Government at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.

Kent Redfield, Emeritus Political Science Professor, University of IL

Kent Redfield is a professor of Political Studies at the University of Illinois at Springfield. There he works at the Institute for Legislative Studies, where he has been a research fellow since 1979. He also has an appointment in the University of Illinois’ Institute of Government and Public Affairs. Dr. Redfield has been engaged in research on the financing of political campaigns in Illinois and political ethics since 1991.

Paul Ryan, Attorney, The Campaign Legal Center

Paul Ryan is the senior counsel at the Campaign Legal Center which he joined in 2004. He litigates campaign finance issues in both state and federal courts though out the US. Mr. Ryan has tesitified before Congress and other state and municipal bodies on election law. He graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law’s Program in Public Interest Law and Policy in 2001.


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