Judy Hertz Judy Hertz, Executive Director

Judy 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.

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Kweli Kitwana,
Associate Director

As the Associate Director for the Midwest Academy, Kweli plays an instrumental role in the continued evolution of the core trainings the Academy offers (Organizing for Social Change and Supervising Organizers), as well as the development and implementation of specialized training programs for outside organizations.  She helps lead the core training sessions, oversees the summer internship program, and works with adjunct trainers to ensure quality and consistency in our work.

Before coming to the Academy in 2015, Kweli worked with Planned Parenthood Action Fund, acting as the Talent Director of the Women are Watching campaign and actively recruiting and training talented staff across the country.  Prior to Planned Parenthood, Kweli was the Vice President of Political Programs at Progressive Majority, where she oversaw their national training program and regional recruitment, as well as leading the National Racial Justice Program.  She spent two years as the Deputy Director of the Center for Progressive Leadership, where she developed and implemented a national political leadership program, including progressive leadership training curriculum as well as managed state-level directors.  She also spent three years working for U.S. Action as the National Field Director, where she acted as the effective liaison between state and national programs and campaigns, ensuring communication led to action on both sides.

Kweli has a BA in Sociology from DePaul University as well as an Associates of Fine Art/Studio Art from Maryland College School of Art and Design.  She has worked with numerous grassroots organizations throughout her career and stays tapped into local-level organizing by continuing to work with a senior services coalition, helping them to enact change in their local government, as well as the state level. She has a long-standing respect for the Academy, saying, “The Midwest Academy is the foundation for all the social justice work I’ve ever done.”  Her extensive experience and wealth of knowledge is a vital asset to anyone who is lucky enough to have her as a trainer.

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Kaylee Tock,
Coordinator of Office and Training Administration

Kaylee started in the world of nonprofits as an intern for the Chicago Artists’ Coalition during her time at Bennington College.  From there, she dabbled in both the music industry and the world of women’s fashion.  Her meandering path eventually led to Midwest Academy, where she is able to put her skills to use in a place she feels 100% fulfilled and morally aligned (how refreshing!).  She is thrilled to be part of such a strong group with such a vital mission, and is the person to holler at if you’ve attended a training and found the pastry selection unacceptable.

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Steve Max, Associate Director Emeritus