Board of Directors

Officers

Heather Booth, Chair (Democracy Partners)

Heather BoothHeather Booth is one of the country’s leading strategists and organizers for progressive issue campaigns.  She began organizing with the civil rights movement. She is the founding director of Midwest Academy, a training center for organizers. She has directed many elections campaigns and was the training director for the Democratic Party. She was the founding director of theNAACP National Voter Fund that helped increase African American voter turnout by nearly 2 million votes in 2000. She was the lead consultant, setting up the campaign for comprehensive immigration reform. She was the director of the AFL-CIO health care campaign and ran the campaign for the first Obama budget. She was the director of Americans for Financial Reform, the coalition leading the fight to hold the big banks accountable that passed the Dodd/Frank bill. She is now the consultant to the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare that built a rapid response field operation that successfully helped to prevent the Super Committee from making cuts to those programs.

Jackie Kendall,  Secretary/Treasurer (Democracy Partners)

Jackie Kendall

After winning a successful campaign to get freshness dates on food, Jackie Kendall attended the Midwest Academy and went on to help build Illinois Public Action one of the first statewide multi-issue coalitions. In 1982 she moved to the Midwest Academy where she made arming progressives with the Midwest Academy organizing fundamentals her life’s work.  She has trained thousands of organizers from a wide range of organizations: labor, civil and human rights, faith based, women’s, disability, LGBT, senior citizen and student groups.

As Executive Director of the Midwest Academy (1982-2010), Kendall steered the Midwest Academy to meet the needs of the progressive movement. In the mid 80’s she identified the need to routinely infuse the movement with new generations of skilled organizers and forged a partnership with the United States Student Association (USSA) to create the Grassroots Organizing Weekends (GROW).  In that same spirit, she expanded Midwest Academy’s reach with a paid Internship Program specifically for students and young people interested in learning direct action organizing.

With extensive experience working in electoral campaigns (both partisan and non-partisan), Kendall was part of the team that developed and delivered the first Camp Obama trainings for volunteers going to Iowa the summer of 2007 through the Iowa Caucuses. Kendall is co-author of Organizing for Social Change: Midwest Academy Training Manual by Kim Bobo, Jackie Kendall, and Steve Max having over 500,000 copies sold.

 

Directors

Paul Booth, Director (AFSCME)

Paul BoothPaul Booth was a leader in the 1960’s at the beginning of the student movement as National Secretary of Students for a Democratic Society, the largest organization of the emerging youth movement.  In 1965 he directed the first march on Washington, D.C against the War in Vietnam and issued the statement to “build not burn” and organized the first sit-in at the ChaseManhattan Bank exposing it as a “partner in Apartheid”.  He joined the labor movement in 1966 as Research Director for the United Packinghouse Workers of America and then joined the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) in 1974, working to build Illinois AFSCME (Council 31) and then moving to the International as Organizing Director for 10 years. Paul currently serves as Executive Assistant to President Lee Saunders.

Saqib Bhatti, Director (ACRE)

Saqib BhattiSaqib Bhatti is the Co-Executive Director and co-founder of the Action Center on Race and the Economy (ACRE), where he works on campaigns to dismantle structural racism and economic inequality by taking on the financial sector. Born and raised in an immigrant Muslim family in Chicago, Saqib became involved in the movement against the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq while he was a student at Yale University. His first paid organizing job was as a Midwest Academy intern in 2003, when he organized Muslim and Latinx communities in the Chicago suburbs around immigration issues. After college, he worked as a researcher for the Culinary Workers Union in Las Vegas and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). At SEIU, he became the union’s leading expert on the financial sector, and worked on campaigns with local unions and community partners across the country. He was awarded a Nathan Cummings Foundation Fellowship in 2013, which he used to launch the ReFund America Project (RAP), an organization aimed holding Wall Street accountable for its role in contributing to public budget crises and driving austerity policies. As this work evolved and it became clear that organizers in the racial and economic justice movements were often working in silos, Saqib co-founded the Action Center on Race and the Economy in 2017.

Robert Creamer, Director (Strategic Consulting Group)

Robert Creamer Head shot

Robert Creamer has been a political organizer and strategist for over four decades. During that time he has worked with many of the country’s most significant issue campaigns. He was one of the major architects and organizers of the successful 2005 campaign to defeat the privatization of Social Security. He has been a consultant to the campaigns to end the war in Iraq, pass universal health care, hold Wall Street accountable, pass progressive budget priorities, and enact comprehensive immigration reform. He works with Americans United for Change where he helped coordinate the campaign to pass President Obama’s landmark jobs and economic recovery legislation.

During the 2008 Presidential Election he worked for the Democratic National Committee as National Coordinator of field based rapid response to Republican candidates McCain and Palin. During his career, he has worked on hundreds of electoral campaigns at the local, state and national level. Creamer began his organizing career in 1970 working with Chicago’s Citizen Action Program (CAP) which had been organized by Saul Alinsky’s Industrial Areas Foundation. CAP successfully campaigned to reduce the sulfur dioxide in Chicago’s air by almost two thirds.

In 1974 Creamer founded the Illinois Public Action Council – later known as Illinois Citizen Action – which became the state’s largest consumer advocacy organization and progressive political coalition. He directed the organization for 23 years. He has been a full time political consultant since 1997 when he co-founded the Strategic Consulting Group.

Jacky Grimshaw, Director (Center for Neighborhood Technology)

Jacky Grimshaw head shotJacky joined the Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT) in 1992 and has developed CNT’s capacity to engage in public policy advocacy, transportation research, public participation tool development, GIS mapping, and community economic development.

Jacky serves on numerous boards, including: Congress for New Urbanism, Chicago Transit Authority’s Citizens Advisory Board, Renew America-Renew the Earth, Smart Growth America, Smart Growth Network, Surface Transportation Policy Project, and the National Academy of Sciences’ Transportation Research Board’s Committees on Women’s Issues in Transportation and Environmental Justice. She was a member of the Energy and Transportation Task Force of the President’s Council on Sustainable Development and has been a longtime activist for social justice.

Prior to CNT, Jacky spent time as a researcher in hematology and gastroenterology, in both state and federal government, in the Chicago Public School district and served in numerous other capacities, including political advisor for the late Mayor Harold Washington and Director of the Mayor’s Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, Deputy City Treasurer and talk show host for the Chicago NPR and ABC affiliates, and columnist for Crain’s Chicago Business. Jacky has completed the M.A. in Public Policy requirements at Governors State University and holds a B.S. in Biology from Marquette University in Milwaukee.

Judy Hertz, Executive Director

Judy HertzJudy served as Director of Special Projects at the Midwest Academy from 1999- 2010 and became the Executive Director in 2011. She serves as a trainer at the five-day Organizing for Social Change workshop, and consults with a variety of organizations, from neighborhood organizations to state and national groups. Judy is co-developer and co-trainer for the Midwest Academy’s newest training session, Supervising Organizers.

Prior to joining the Academy, Judy worked as a community organizer in Chicago for 20 years. She began with an institution-based organization on the southwest side, and then served for ten years as executive director of Rogers Park Tenants Committee, Chicago’s largest and most powerful neighborhood-based tenants’ rights organization. During her time there, she helped lead campaign to pass the Chicago Tenants’ Bill of Rights, which dramatically transformed renters’ rights in Chicago, and helped launch the Lead Elimination Action Drive, which improved Chicago’s response to lead paint poisoning. She guided the organization through a transition into a multi-issue organization, changing its’ name to Rogers Park Community Action Network (RPCAN).

Following her work with RPCAN, Judy spent two years working on Organizing and Family Issues, conducting leadership training in a feminist organizing model with low-income Hispanic mothers. Judy was a member of the founding board of the National Organizers Alliance, a professional association for progressive community, issue, and labor organizers. She was also a founder and member of the Board of the NOA Retirement Pension Plan, a multiple employer pension plan for community organizers.

Mike Lux, Director (Progressive Strategies)

Mike LuxMike Lux is the co-founder and CEO of Progressive Strategies, an innovative consulting firm that is guided by a mission of building the progressive movement through collaborative work between progressive organizations, issue campaigns and causes. Progressive Strategies assists a variety of clients in political positioning, coalition building, developing short and long-term public education campaign strategies, and by turning ideas into reality.

Mike is an active player in the blogosphere and a frequent blogger on Huffington Post, Daily Kos, and Crooks and Liars. He is the author of the book, “The Progressive Revolution: How the Best in America Came to Be.”

Mike currently serves on the boards of several important organizations, including the Arca Foundation, Netroots Nation, Midwest Academy, Americans United for Change, and USAction, the latter two of which he helped to launch. Mike sits on the Advisory Board of the Democratic Strategist. He also was a co-founder and a former board member of Ballot Initiative Strategy Center, Progressive Majority, Women’s Voices/Women Vote, and the Center for Progressive Leadership. He played a role in helping launch the Center for American Progress and Air America, as well as MoveOn.org and People for the American Way PAC (PFAW PAC). From January 1993 to mid-1995, Mike served in as a Special Assistant to the President for Public Liaison in the Clinton White House. He has played a leadership or staff role on five Presidential campaigns.

Eddy Morales, Director (Democracy Alliance)

Eddy Morales head shotEddy brings more than ten years of senior leadership experience to the Democracy Alliance, most recently serving as the Deputy Director of Voto Latino, an organization founded by actor Rosario Dawson aimed at increasing Latino civic engagement. While there, he helped increase the annual operating budget and oversaw strategy and day-to-day operations.

Previously, Eddy was the Deputy Director of Leadership Development at the Center for Community Change, where he launched a leadership development program to recruit and nurture low-income community organizers of color into community based organizations.

At the DA, Eddy is the Director of the Latino Engagement Fund, a collaborative effort between individual and institutional donors designed to strengthen high-performing Latino civic engagement organizations and increase the political power of the growing Latino population. Since 2009, Eddy has been continually recognized by Washington Life Magazine as” one of the most influential people under 40 in DC” and also is a proud Midwest Academy Alum.

Marvin Randolph, Director (Southern Elections Fund)

A nationally recognized expert in voter registration, voter contact and Get Out The Vote operations, Marvin has worked on over 120 campaigns in 31 states.  Past work includes: Senior Vice President for Campaigns at the NAACP; Director of Organizing and Politics at the Center for Community Change; DNC Political Mail Consultant at the Baughman Company; Western Regional Political Director, SEIU; Southern California Field Director, AFL-CIO Labor ’98 Campaign; National Executive Director, 1994 Project Vote; and Managing Partner at Urbanomics Consulting Group. He is a long-time friend and supporter of the Midwest Academy.

Alicia Ybarra, Director (SEIU)

First generation Chicana activist, Alicia Ybarra grew up in Los Angeles and by the age of 14 became involved with MEChA (Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán), a student group organizing Latino youth. She attended Stanford University, where she majored in political science and continued to work with MEChA. Alicia became active in the United States Student Association and became part of the staff that same year.  While at USSA she became a GROW Trainer with the Midwest Academy.  Upon, leaving USSA, Alicia was recruited by Citizen Action to open a new office in New Mexico where she served as the Program Director for a single-payer healthcare campaign.  Alicia then returned to the east coast where she became the founding Director of Hispanic PAC USA in 1994, and later went on to join the 1996 electoral political action drive of the Service Employee International Union member NY local 1199.  She has also worked with Unite For Dignity and Jobs with Justice in Miami, Florida organizing and training Latino and Haitian immigrants.  Alicia is currently working as the Training Director of SEIU International.

*Organizations are listed for identification purposes only