Staff & Board

Chicago Votes Staff

Stevie Valles

Executive Director

Stevie grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio but has lived all over the place – Virginia, Alabama, Washington DC, Dallas, Austin, and now Chicago. Even though he isn’t from the “Windy City”, he often says he got here as soon as he could. A graduate of Oakwood University with a Bachelors in Social Work, Stevie has committed his entire career to making sure all people have a voice and are welcomed as equals. Stevie joins the Chicago Votes family after working as the National Campaigns Director for the Alliance for Youth Action (formerly the Bus Federation). In this role he coordinated HUGE projects including National Voter Registration Day, which resulted in 777,321 new registered voters in 2017, and the American Voter Guide project. In addition to this experience he has worked in the United States Senate, the Texas Legislature and on a slew of campaigns ranging from presidential, gubernatorial, and affordable housing. Stevie loves music, dogs, writing, singing, star wars, dancing, legos, talking and learning about politics, and most of all playing basketball.

Jen Dean

Co Deputy Director

As Deputy Director at Chicago Votes, Jen Dean is a strategist, sociologist, youth mentor, and community organizer inside jails and prisons in Illinois. She ensures people most impacted by the criminal justice system and young people have a seat at the table when policy decisions are being made. Ms. Dean’s passion is to cultivate new social justice initiatives such as #ParadeToThePolls, #GiveAShitChicago, #UnlockCivics, and Cook County Jail Votes. She has created a rapid national movement drafting and passing legislation that protects voting rights for people inside jails; the #UnlockCivics model of civic engagement has spread to over 30 detention facilities. She has worked with groups on legalization of cannabis, Black Lives Matter, Bring Your Bag Chicago, #JusticeForLaquan, and Fight for 15. Jen recently received the Barbara Jordan award for excellence in judicial advocacy and education from Judicial Accountability PAC. Some of her current work is ensuring there is a more diverse, quality judiciary while she continues to build the bridge of criminal justice reform through transformative democracy. Jen's mission in life is to find balance between adventures, traveling, and politics while encouraging women to bring their "full selves" to the table.

Rudy Garrett

Co Deputy Director

A Hoosier native, Rudy graduated from Denison University with a B.A. in political science and international studies. She moved to Chicago in August of 2013 to attend culinary school, but found her inner activist instead. She completed the Chicago Votes Winter internship program in late winter/ early spring of 2014. After working at a law firm in the loop, she took a job as a Chicago Votes Field Organizer during the summer/ fall voter registration project and has been working with the organization ever since. Rudy is excited to show young Chicagoans that they can make a difference in their city and encourage the millennial generation to take an active role in the political system.

Josh Blair

Operations Associate

Josh was born in eastern Kentucky, but has called home to Seattle, Washington D.C., Princeton, New York City, and now Chicago for the past five years. During college, he was a Bonner Scholar, completing over 1,700 hours of community service at various nonprofits. This contributed to him receiving the Bill Emerson National Hunger Fellowship, a social justice program that trains, inspires, and sustains leaders in the arenas of hunger and poverty. He spent time at the Bonner Foundation, providing diverse, predominantly low-income students with an access to education and opportunity to serve through scholarships and service. He continued his work at Feeding America, helping food banks develop strategic planning efforts around supporting SNAP and vulnerable populations. and most recently, freelancing around equity and strategic planning.

Alex Boutros

Community Organizer

Alex is a recent graduate of DePaul University with a bachelors in Peace, Justice, and Conflict Studies. She has been an active organizer in voting rights and the criminal justice system, as well as how those two fields intersect. She also works with Christina Rivers from DePaul’s Inside Out Program, a Legislative Think Tank at Stateville prison consisting of people who are currently detained.

Brian X

Community Organizer

Brian started organizing in high school. As a member of his school’s student council he advocated against racially driven policies that had not been implemented at his school since the 1800’s. He eventually left the student council in spite of those policies for not complying with them. In response to that, he started his own Black Student Union. He continued to fight against the same policies. Ask him…he will tell you the rest. In 2014 he rallied in the protest for “School Choice Now” which was for free education. In 2017 he joined “The People’s Lobby, Reclaim Chicago and Chicago Student Action. He began to run his own student action teams on multiple college campuses including Malcolm X and Harold Washington, both teams had over 20 students. They bird dogged, hosted phone banks for gubernatorial candidates and ran activist trainings.

Chicago Votes Action Fund Board of Directors

Chakena Sims

President

Office of Commissioner Josina Morita at Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago

Ramsin Canon

Vice President

Canon Law Group

Erika Wozniak Francis

Secretary

Chicago Public Schools

Matt Blizek

Treasurer

Consultant

Alex Sims

Director

APS & Associates

Lindsay Eanet

Director

Northcenter Chamber of Commerce

Jayson (Mick) Jenkins

Director

Artist