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Ald-Elect Pawar Fills Out Transition Committee

By Mike Fourcher | Thursday, March 24, 2011

Ald.-Elect Ameya Pawar (47th). Photo from campaign.

Last night Ald-Elect Ameya Pawar (47th) released his complete Transition Committee through a press release. With the exception of “advisory” members Dan Hynes and Dick Simpson, the 27 members of the Committee are mostly comprised of non-profit administrators, policy and community activists and campaign donors and volunteers.

Largely absent from the Committee are people with direct Chicago city government experience and ties to outgoing Alderman Eugene Schulter.

“The number one thing [assigned to the Transition Committee] would be community participation and reaching out to people,” said Transition Committee Chair, David Brown. “That’s what [Pawar] charged us from the beginning to assemble this team..to start that process of listening.”

Brown says the Committee held its first organizational meeting last Monday night.

Ald. Pawar is vacationing in Costa Rica this week for the next two weeks, according to his staff, and will be unavailable for comment until he returns in mid-April.

The make-up of the committee lacks members of outgoing-Ald. Eugene Schulter’s political organization or people who have been active in the community through Ald. Schulter, according to a number of former Schulter supporters who spoke on background to Center Square Journal.

“I don’t know any of these people. Where’d he find these people?” said one Schulter precinct captain.

“Don’t know him. Don’t know him. Don’t know him.” said another long-time 47th Ward political operative when read the list of Committee members.

Research into the background of the Committee members finds four common threads: Riverbank Neighbors, Epiphany UCC, the Chicago Waldorf School and campaign donors and volunteers.

Was there a conscious effort to keep out old-line Schulter supporters?

“I wouldn’t say I wasn’t even aware of that distinction, let’s leave it at that,” replied Brown.

The Committee, which includes ten working groups, is meant to, ”develop working groups across various community impact areas as identified by the Alderman-elect,” according to Pawar’s press release.

Although the release does not provide any specific powers to the Transition Committee, last night’s release says the Committee, “is responsible for identifying and recruiting key individuals from across the ward that are relevant to the community impact areas and coordinate meetings.”

“It’s not that the transition is being managed by the members of this committee,” said Brown. “They are to be out talking to people in the ward and invite them to participate in a listening exercise.

“The thing to keep in mind is that Ald. Pawar will be the Alderman and will be making the decisions. It is mostly that he wants to take in various view points.

“We are encouraging anyone in the ward who does have an interest in this process to get in touch with us.” said Brown, who encourages interested 47th Ward residents to contact him at davidbrown@renewchicago.com.


The following is a list of the committee members provided by Ald-Elect Pawar’s staff along with biographical information assembled by Center Square Journal. A complete copy of the campaign’s press release is at the bottom of this article.

Dan Hynes and Dick Simpson were also listed as “Advisory” Committee members. Additional information here.

Charna EpsteinBio
Policy Director

Jim Poole
Outreach Director

  • Field Director for Pawar aldermanic campaign

Sam Yanover
Transition Director

  • Campaign Manager for Pawar aldermanic campaign
  • Worked on former Cook County Board member Forrest Claypool’s campaign in 2006
  • Worked on 2002 Rahm Emanuel Congressional campaign as field organizer

Nancy BenjaminBio
Community Participation and Communication Chair

  • Lincoln Square Garden Walk organizer
  • Provided voice for auto-dial call to voters in week before election day.

Ann Breen-Greco
Ward Gala Event for Community Fundraising Chair

  • Attorney, administrative law judge and women’s rights activist
  • Well known anti-war protester, who conducted a series of community meetings against Iraq war authorization. “Very vocally opposed Emanuel when he was congressman for his Iraq vote,” according to one local political operative.
  • Active with Riverbank Neighbors

David BrownBio
Transition Committee Chair

  • Board Member and active with Common Pantry, Epiphany United Church of Christ and Rogers Park Montessori School
  • Volunteer Account Director with Taproot Foundation and previously on the Board of Roscoe Village Neighbors
  • Owns his own national commercial real estate business – Harrington Brown, LLC – with offices in the Ravenswood Corridor
  • Resident of Graceland West and Roscoe Village for 15 years
  • See additional detail here.

Martha Cameron

Rev. Jason CoulterBio
Religious Organizations Chair

Eileen Dordek
Senior and Social Services Chair

  • Social worker with an office in West Lakeview

Melissa FlynnBio
Business & Economic Development Chair

Jamie HagueBio

  • Hedge fund manager

Julie HobertBio
Community Participation and Communication Chair

Tom Jacks
Community Health Chair

  • Opponent in 2011 aldermanic campaign
  • Environmental policy consultant

Sonia Kwon
Education Chair

Randy NeufeldBio

  • Professional bicycle transit activist

Mary OsmanBio

  • Former management consultant, now stay-at-home mother
  • Campaign volunteer

Reece Pendleton

  • Freelance writer for Chicago Reader and other publications.

Julie PetersonVideo
Environment Chair

Marcy Rumsfeld

  • Daughter of one-time Illinois Congressman and U.S. Defense Secretary (story here)
  • Former president of Chicago Waldorf School
  • Active in Anthroposophical Society Library on Lincoln Ave
  • Campaign volunteer

Dara Salk
Administrative Transition Chair

Andrew ScottBio

  • Land use attorney with Dykema Gossett

Paul Shadle – Bio

  • Land use attorney with DLA Piper

Peter Skosey - Bio
Zoning, Land Use and Development Chair

Michael Wilkinson

Roger Wright

  • Job training consultant and author
  • Maintains blog here

Ald-Elect Ameya Pawar Ward 47 Transition Committee

Correction: Since first publishing the article, some of Sam Yanover’s political biography was amended and corrected. His first campaign work was not with Forrest Claypool in 2006. He had been working on campaigns for at least four years prior.

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  • Anonymous

    Hi, Nancy Benjamin here. Might want to add that I was on the board of the Ravenswood Community Council with Tom O’Donnell (along with the president of the 47th ward and others) as were 2 more of our transition members. I’m on the board of the Chamber’s Foundation. I also worked on Schulter’s Greening of Ravenswood and even received an environmental award from Gene. And I’m not affiliated with any of the groups you mentioned. A 47th ward organization guy who doesn’t know us? Anything’s possible. (Though perhaps it’s because several of the precinct captains do not currently live in the ward.) This a core group of currently active citizens that’s happy to contribute to our home base.

  • Anonymous

    Hi, Nancy Benjamin here. Might want to add that I was on the board of the Ravenswood Community Council with Tom O’Donnell (along with the president of the 47th ward and others) as were 2 more of our transition members. I’m on the board of the Chamber’s Foundation. I also worked on Schulter’s Greening of Ravenswood and even received an environmental award from Gene. And I’m not affiliated with any of the groups you mentioned. A 47th ward organization guy who doesn’t know us? Anything’s possible. (Though perhaps it’s because several of the precinct captains do not currently live in the ward.) This a core group of currently active citizens that’s happy to contribute to our home base.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for the article. The Alderman elect has made known the people on the transition team. This may be new for the 47th but often, this is what transparency looks like. It is a pity that the “long time political operatives” did not want to provide their names. I would encourage all 47th ward residents including those resident precinct captains who live in the ward (of whom there are many) to contact the chair of the committee in which they have interest or expertise. Personally, I think this ward needs all of us. I have met, as of course all of us have, many who became involved during Ald. Schulter’s tenure who have a lot to offer the ward. Whether you voted for the Alderman-elect or not, this is a good time to step up. We have too many important needs to be divided. Full disclosure – I too was a volunteer for the candidate I thought best, but I am so glad that Alderman Elect Pawar reached out to Tom Jacks who seemed to me to be a smart, articulate young man who cared. If you judge people by the company they keep, for me, I think, our new alderman-elect did well. Just my opinion neighbors.

  • http://spudart.org spudart

    Thanks for putting together this list. I never saw such a complete list and background behind a alderman’s staff

  • Anonymous

    Could the anonymous precinct captains and political operatives be any more stereotypical? They may as well have said “We don’t want nobody that nobody sent.”

  • http://profiles.google.com/ericrojas2 Eric Rojas

    Great reporting. I like what I see and glad there’s at least a hedge fund manager in the mix! I think the a move away from this “Old Chicago” way attitude is great. I don’t need “precinct captains” creeping around making people feel like they are getting favors for votes. All these folks on the list are out there, in the light. My German and Cuban sides of the family are all from Chicago. We’ve never had a “go along to get along” attitude. I’ve lived in the city for good since 1999 and have owned three homes now. Raising the family here. I think we have a great ward but it will be nice to cut out the level of underlining graff, favors and even intimidation of having to “know” someone. 30 years in an political office is way too long even for the best intended.

  • Anonymous

    From Reece Pendleton: As one of the listed members of the team, I just wanted to provide a bio update which more fully reflects what I do for a living (the Reader freelancing is a side-project). I’m a clinical social worker by training and I’ve been a child custody mediator with the Cook County circuit court’s Marriage and Family Counseling Service for the past 10 years. I’ve also been a resident of the 47th ward (if memory serves) for a total of 14 years.

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