Staff

STAFF

Ra Joy – Executive Director

Ra Joy is executive director of CHANGE Illinois, a non-partisan coalition leading systemic political and government reform. A civic entrepreneur with a proven track record as a coalition builder, Ra has a decades-long commitment to advancing democracy and the arts. Prior to CHANGE, Ra served as executive director of Arts Alliance Illinois where he led statewide and citywide initiatives to elevate the role of the arts and culture in people’s lives, schools, and communities. Previously, Ra served as a senior aide to U.S. Representative Jan Schakowsky, specializing in appropriations and community and economic development initiatives.

Ra’s commitment to civic and social change has resulted in numerous awards, including the 2015 Chicago Community Trust Fellowship, the 2015 Cultural Champion Award from the Chicago Cultural Alliance, and the Paul Harris Fellow Award from the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International.  Ra is a Leadership Greater Chicago fellow (2005), a member of The Economic Club of Chicago, and a member of the City of Chicago’s Cultural Advisory Council.  He is a frequent speaker on democracy reform, civic participation, and the arts in America. You can connect with Ra on Twitter or email him at info@changeil.org.

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, and 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, specifically money in politics and fair courts. At ReThink, Jeff provided messaging assistance, media trainings, and strategic communications work to other good government advocates 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 jeff@changeil.org or on Twitter: @jeff_raines.

Nelly Viramontes – Project Coordinator

As the Project 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 city. 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.

BOARD MEMBERS

George Ranney – Chair Emeritus

John Sirek – Board Chair

Hon. Kathy Ryg – Secretary

Hoy McConnell – Treasurer

Deborah Harrington – Vice Chair

Brad McMillan – Vice Chair

Peter Bensinger – Member

Bob Gallo – Member

David Hoffman – Member

Rev. Al Sharp – Member

Andy Shaw – Member

Martin Torres – Member

Scott Turow – Member

Hon. Corinne Wood – Member