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.

judy (at)




Kweli Kitwana,
Associate Director

Kweli has been working with us for the past year as an adjunct trainer, but her association with the Academy goes way back. “I wouldn’t be organizing at all if it weren’t for Jackie Kendall. The Midwest Academy is the foundation for all the social justice work I’ve ever done, it has been my professional linchpin.”

Before coming to the Academy, Kweli worked with several local organizations and then Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the Center for Progressive Leadership, Progressive Majority, and USAction. She brings a wealth of experience and contacts, and we are excited to have her on board.

kweli (at)




Breana Ross,
Development Manager 

Breana started her organizing career at the University of California Riverside, serving on the board of directors for the United States Student Association and the University of California Student Association. She has organized around accessibility to higher education, police brutality, sexual assault, and other civil rights issues. Prior to her time at Midwest Academy Breana served as Vice President and President of the United States Student Association (USSA), the nation’s oldest and largest student-led education organization. With her experience as a GROW (GrassRoots Organizing Weekend) Trainer and her student organizing background, Breana is passionate about training and developing young organizers to build power and develop a winning strategy.

breana (at)




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.

kaylee (at)


Steve Max, Associate Director Emeritus