Alumni Spotlight

Over the past ten years, Chicago Votes has graduated over 200 young people from our leadership development programs and had the privilege of working with some pretty amazing people. Our alumni have gone on to start their own nonprofits, run for office, lead campaigns throughout the city, and so much more.

Aziz Hsouna

2021 Civic Leader

Aziz Hsouna was a part of the 2021 Civic Leaders program. Through this program, he led our court watching and judicial accountability work.

While reflecting on his time with Chicago Votes, Aziz stated, “I got to experience what it is like to work with a nonprofit with an abolitionist lens.”

Violet Gallardo

2016 DemocracyCup Fellow

Violet joined Chicago Votes in 2016 for the Spring DemocracyCup program and returned to the team in 2021 as our social worker! “My experience with CV prepared me for my path in Social Work because I saw the incredible need for accessible and culturally affirming mental health services for not only the youth I worked with but for their mentors and community as well,” explains Violet.

“Since finishing my fellowship at CV I graduated from a dual master program in social work and women & gender studies and am currently studying for my clinical license at the end of the summer. I have worked as WOW Counselor in Pilsen for 3 1/2 years and am a proud dog mom.”

Troy Alim

2016 DemocracyCup Fellow

Troy was a part of the 2016 DemocracyCup Civic Fellowship and has stayed active in our work ever since.

“My time at Chicago Votes was a direct pipeline into what I’m doing now,” says Troy. Since his program, he helped start the Young Advocates program in the midwest office of Young Invincibles, moved from organizing fellow to engagement manager at Young Invincibles, and launched PodLab Studios.

Chakena Perry

2013 DemocracyCorps Fellow

“Chicago Votes was my intro to community organizing. It was an opportunity for me to see the city of Chicago in a different light… I was actually meeting everyday residents learning how government has or has not worked for them,” reflects Chakena.

Since being a 2013 DemocracyCorps organizer, Chakena has organized local and state political campaigns, worked for CPS, received her master’s degree from the University of Chicago, and now serves as the youngest Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Commissioner.

Nick Santaniello

2017 Summer Intern

In 2017, Nick Santaniello was a Chicago Votes summer intern. Since Chicago Votes, Nick earned his master’s in political science and is working towards his MBA, while considering pursuing a law degree down the road! “My favorite part of being a member of the Chicago Votes Family is that I always have a solid foundation to rely on in times of need. CV is composed of kind-hearted and encouraging people who are ready to help at a moment’s notice. Being a part of CV means lifelong friendships, a second home, and consistent support for any path you choose,” says Nick.

Caleb Dunson

2020 Brian Sleet Fellow

Caleb was the 2020 Brian Sleet fellow, organizing with our team ahead of the 2020 general elections. While reflecting on his program, he stated, “Chicago Votes really gave me the introduction to organizing that I really needed for college and beyond.”

Since going off to college, Caleb has accomplished A LOT! He became a columnist & the first Black opinion editor for Yale University’s student newspaper, joined student government, interned with Congressman Danny Davis, and interned in a New Haven elected official’s office. Next spring Caleb will be attending University of Oxford to study political theory and labor economics!

In Memoriam

Malik Alim was a member of the Chicago Votes family for five years, leaving a lasting legacy. Malik came into our lives in 2016, starting as a leader in our Democracy Cup program. He moved on to other organizing gigs but stayed with us, eventually becoming the President of our Board of Directors.

Shaun Harris was a leader in the Give A Sh*t Creative Collective and a close friend of our staff. He founded Project HardKnocks, hosting food and clothing drives and aiding members in underserved communities. Shaun’s kindness and willingness to help, wherever needed, will be remembered.

Bryant joined the Chicago Votes team as a 2021 Civic Leader, meeting with lawmakers and organizing constituents to pass the Unlock Civics Policy Platform.

Bryant excelled at this—testifying for legislation, calling lawmakers, strategizing and power mapping—while dazzling us with his outfits along the way.

Danton Valenzuela, known by many as Dante, joined the Chicago Votes family in 2018 as a DemocracyCorps organizer. With a passion for political organizing, he was an energizing force. Our Give A Sh*t logo is also the result of Dante’s inistence that the i in Sh*t be a fist.

We will continue fighting for the world they dedicated their lives to creating.