John Sirek – Interim Executive Director

Throughout his personal and professional life, John has been committed to organizations and efforts that support and promote civic and cultural life. He moved to Chicago from Washington, D.C. in 2000 to join the staff of the Robert R. McCormick Foundation. Over his 17-plus years with the Foundation, he led efforts to build the civic infrastructure in the state of Illinois through improved civic education, government reform efforts, support for military veterans, and strengthening journalism.

Prior to joining the McCormick Foundation, John was the executive director of the Alfred Friendly Press Fellowships, a visitor-training program for journalists from developing countries. He also served as an overseas studies advisor in Georgetown University’s Office of International Programs and admissions counselor at St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota.

John is and has been an active board member for a number of non-profit organizations over the years. He is currently on the board of TimeLine Theatre Company and previously served on the boards of Campus Compact, City Year Chicago, PACE: Philanthropy for Active Civic Engagement, the Voice Health Institute and Illinois’ Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service.

John has a BA degree in Communications from the University of Minnesota and an MA degree in International Affairs from The George Washington University. He has also studied in Sweden and Poland.

John was raised on a dairy farm in southern Minnesota. He is married to Colleen Loughlin. Together they have a daughter. He enjoys travel, photography, the visual and performing arts, food and wine.


Jeff Raines – Communications & Engagement Director

Jeff Raines is the Communications and Engagement Director at CHANGE Illinois, where he overseas all communications, including strategic planning & messaging, press outreach, as well as digital & social media. Before coming to CHANGE, Jeff was the Communications Director for a winning, top-tier 2016 Congressional race, where he oversaw the campaign’s communications strategy and acted as chief spokesperson and speechwriter.

Prior to that, he was a media associate at ReThink Media where he focused on other democracy issues, including money in politics and judicial selection. At ReThink, Jeff provided messaging assistance, media trainings, and strategic communications work to other good government advocates and non-profits around the country. Jeff has also served as a communications advisor for the racial justice group: Million Hoodies Movement for Justice and Chair of the Roosevelt Institute’s Student Board of Advisors. He is a graduate of American University.

For any media inquiries for CHANGE Illinois, please contact Jeff at or on Twitter: @jeff_raines.


Nelly Viramontes – Project & Operations Coordinator

As the Project & Operations Coordinator, Nelly Viramontes plays a critical role in keeping our team organized and operating at full capacity. Prior to joining CHANGE, Nelly worked for the Marj Halperin Consultants team and spent 17 years as the administrative manager and intern coordinator for the political watchdog group: the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform. She began her work in politics at the League of Women Voters of Illinois as a data entry assistant and went on to become the organization’s administrative manager and executive assistant.

Born and raised in Chicago, Nelly is a newsie who is always following key issues that impact our state. Active in local politics, Nelly is a founder and honorary board member of the Jalisco Federation of Midwest Clubs, helping unite families from her father’s home state of Jalisco, Mexico. The organization helps members find jobs here in Chicago and supports families in Mexico with nutrition and health care services. Nelly also founded “Mezquiticenses en Chicago” for families who trace their heritage to the Jalisco town of Mezquitic. She has served on the board of directors since the organization’s founding in 1996. You can contact Nelly at


George Ranney – Chair Emeritus

Deborah Harrington – Co-Chair

Brad McMillan – Co-Chair

Rev. Al Sharp – Treasurer

Hon. Kathy Ryg – Secretary

Bob Gallo – Member

David Hoffman – Member

Andy Shaw – Member

John Sirek – Member

Scott Turow – Member

Hon. Corinne Wood – Member