In The Loop Guest Bios
STATE REPRESENTATIVE- 81ST DISTRICT
Ron Sandack is the State Representative for the 81st District, serving Bolingbrook, Downers Grove, Darien, Lisle, Naperville, Westmont, and Woodridge. Before serving in the House, he was appointed to complete the term of former State Senator Dan Cronin in November of 2010, who resigned following his election to become Chairman of the DuPage County Board. Upon taking the oath to serve the 21st District in the State Senate, Sen. Sandack immediately declined all state benefits associated with the position; including health insurance and participation in the legislative pension program. Prior to his appointment, he was the Mayor of Downers Grove, where he served from 2007 to 2011. Previously, Sandack served on the Downers Grove Village Council from 2003 to 2007.
Sandack is a partner at the Chicago law firm of Gaido & Fintzen. He received his Bachelor of Arts from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1986 and his Juris Doctor from DePaul University’s College of Law in 1989.
Rep. Sandack participates in numerous community and charitable activities. He is a member of the Downers Grove Area Chamber of Commerce & Industry, formerly serving as Ex Officio Board Member of the Chamber, he also serves as Ex Officio member of The Downers Grove Economic Development Corporation. He is a founding donor of the Education Foundation of Downers Grove, a Downers Grove Youth Baseball volunteer coach, and along with his wife Kevan, an active supporter and sponsor of numerous local charities and organizations including Family Shelter Services, Helping Girls Navigate Adolescence (HGNA), and The Grove Foundation.
Ron is married to his wife Kevan, who he met at the University of Illinois. They live in Downers Grove with their two children.
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR – THE GRASSROOTS COLLABORATIVE
Amisha Patel serves as Executive Director of Grassroots Collaborative and Grassroots Illinois Action, affiliated non-profit organizations working to win racial and economic justice in Chicago and statewide. Both organizations educate and mobilize Illinois residents to build real power for working families, by fighting for living wage jobs, quality public schools, affordable housing, and safe streets, and by connecting these fights to the voting booth. She has served as the director since 2007.
This follows six years at Service Employees International Union Local 73, where Amisha organized hospital employees and Head Start workers, and worked in coalition with community organizations to fight against school closings. She worked for five years doing arts-based violence against women prevention programming in communities of color in the Bay Area. The documentary that her youth created, Young Azns Rising! Breaking Down Violence Against Women, screened in numerous film festivals and won the Asian Emmy for best documentary. Amisha received Community Renewal Society’s 35 under 35 award, the 2014 Crain’s Chicago Business 40 under 40 award, and Chicago Freedom School’s Champion of Justice award.
Prior to joining the WBEZ staff in May 2007, Natalie was a city hall reporter for the Detroit News. She has also been an education reporter for the St. Paul Pioneer Press and a reporter for the Associated Press in Jerusalem. Natalie’s work has been published in Essence, Black Enterprise, the Chicago Reporter, Bitch, In These Times, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribune. She is co-author of the book "Deconstructing Tyrone: A New Look at Black Masculinity in the Hip-Hop Generation." (Cleis Press, 2006). She is also co-author of "The Almighty Black P Stone Nation: The Rise, Fall and Resurgence of an American Gang." (Feb. 2011, Lawrence Hill Press).
Natalie is a 2009 fellow at Columbia College’s Ellen Stone Belic Institute for the Study of Women and Gender in the Arts and Media, which allowed her to take a reporting trip to Libya. She's also a 2010 recipient of the Studs Terkel Community Media Award. She has won several journalism awards, including a Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. She is a member of the Windy City Chapter of The Links, Inc.
Natalie has an M.S.J. in Newspaper Management from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and a B.A. in Journalism from Howard University. She is an adjunct instructor at Columbia College Chicago and is the former program chair for the Association for Women Journalists. A native of Chicago, Natalie lives in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago.