Our Staff

Ginger Ostro

Executive Director
(312) 235-4538
gostro@advanceillinois.org

Ginger Ostro joined Advance Illinois as Executive Director in January 2016. Ostro previously served as Chief Financial Officer of Chicago Public Schools, where she helped usher in a more equitable, student-based school funding model while responsible for financial operations of the third largest district in the country and a nearly $6 billion annual budget.
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Executive Director
(312) 235-4538
gostro@advanceillinois.org

Ginger Ostro joined Advance Illinois as Executive Director in January 2016. Ostro previously served as Chief Financial Officer of Chicago Public Schools, where she helped usher in a more equitable, student-based school funding model while responsible for financial operations of the third largest district in the country and a nearly $6 billion annual budget.

Ostro’s career has been devoted to addressing inequities in education, human services and juvenile justice. Her experience in education includes roles in K-12 and higher education. Prior to joining Chicago Public Schools, she worked in state government in a number of roles including Director of the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget and later as Deputy Executive Director of the Illinois Student Assistance Commission, where she helped strengthen the Commission’s role in helping low-income students access and complete college. While at Chicago Metropolis 2020, a non-profit organization focused on improving life in the Chicago Metropolitan region, Ostro worked on efforts to reduce youth involvement in the juvenile justice system, policies to help the formerly incarcerated, and a system to identify and intervene with young children who had been exposed to violence. She also has worked at Governors State University, helping to develop a curriculum to prepare students for work in human services and an innovative Family Development Center on the university campus to serve children from birth through 4th grade and their families.

Ostro holds a Bachelor’s degree in Politics, Economics, Rhetoric and Law from The University of Chicago and a Master’s degree in Public Policy, Health and Human Services from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

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Benjamin Boer

Deputy Director
(312) 235-4536
bboer@advanceillinois.org

Benjamin Boer has been with Advance Illinois since 2008. He takes a leadership role in policy development and forming partnerships with stakeholder organizations. He sits on the Performance Evaluation Advisory Council for the Illinois State Board of Education and supports the work of a number of Illinois P-20 Council committees.  Read More

Deputy Director
(312) 235-4536
bboer@advanceillinois.org

Benjamin Boer has been with Advance Illinois since 2008. He takes a leadership role in policy development and forming partnerships with stakeholder organizations. He sits on the Performance Evaluation Advisory Council for the Illinois State Board of Education and supports the work of a number of Illinois P-20 Council committees. Ben was born in the Netherlands and went to school both there and New Jersey. He earned both a Bachelors and Masters of Science in Computer Science from Brown University and a Masters of Public Policy from the Harris School at the University of Chicago. He is married and has two young daughters, both of whom attend a local Chicago public school.

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Alexandra Baptiste

Data Analytics Associate
(312) 784-1167
abaptiste@advanceillinois.org

Alexandra Baptiste was born and raised in southern California and graduated from Princeton University with a degree in Politics and and African American Studies. Read More

Data Analytics Associate
(312) 784-1167
abaptiste@advanceillinois.org

Alexandra Baptiste was born and raised in southern California and graduated from Princeton University with a degree in Politics and and African American Studies. While in school, she was the project coordinator for a community tutoring center that primarily served minority students whose parents did not graduate from college. She spent her undergraduate summers tutoring at Harlem Village Academies and working on an education strategy case for the Boston Consulting Group.

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Jessica Catlin

Development Director
(312) 235-4533
jcatlin@advanceillinois.org

Jessica Catlin leads the resource development program for Advance Illinois. Prior to joining AI, Jessica served a number of nonprofits — including Chicagoland Habitat for Humanity, the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, and Phoenix Children’s Hospital – in development and communications roles. Read More

Development Director
(312) 235-4533
jcatlin@advanceillinois.org

Jessica Catlin leads the resource development program for Advance Illinois. Prior to joining AI, Jessica served a number of nonprofits — including Chicagoland Habitat for Humanity, the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, and Phoenix Children’s Hospital – in development and communications roles. Earlier in her career, Jessica worked in the federal government for three U.S. Senators and the White House Press Office. Jessica is a proud alumna of St. Charles (East) High School in suburban Chicagoland and graduated with honors from the political science program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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Angelica Chavez

Community Engagement Organizer
(312) 784-9418
achavez@advanceillinois.org

Angelica Chavez graduated from Chicago Public Schools and believes every child should have access to a high-quality education. She continued on to graduate from Columbia College Chicago with a degree in journalism. Read More

Community Engagement Organizer
(312) 784-9418
achavez@advanceillinois.org

Angelica Chavez graduated from Chicago Public Schools and believes every child should have access to a high-quality education. She continued on to graduate from Columbia College Chicago with a degree in journalism. During her internship with Invisible Children in California, she quickly developed a deep passion for advocacy and community development. Before joining Advance Illinois, she worked as a community organizer for Charter Parents United. Angelica attributes her experiences and opportunities to her parents who immigrated from Mexico and El Salvador and taught her the importance of belonging to a larger sense of community.

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Bob Dolgan

Communications Director
(312) 734-1446
rdolgan@advanceillinois.org

Bob Dolgan is responsible for developing and executing Advance Illinois’ marketing and communications strategy. He previously led the Greater Chicago Food Depository’s communications and school nutrition initiatives. Early in his career, Bob developed stories and content for Anixter Center, a Chicago social services agency, and the Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch newspaper. Read More

Communications Director
(312) 734-1446
rdolgan@advanceillinois.org

Bob Dolgan is responsible for developing and executing Advance Illinois’ marketing and communications strategy. He previously led the Greater Chicago Food Depository’s communications and school nutrition initiatives. Early in his career, Bob developed stories and content for Anixter Center, a Chicago social services agency, and the Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch newspaper. A native of Ohio, he graduated from Kenyon College with a degree in Anthropology and History and earned an MBA in Marketing Management from Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. Bob is the husband of a Chicago Public Schools teacher and father of two daughters, including a CPS student.

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Melissa Figueira

Policy Associate
(312) 784-9403
mfigueira@advanceillinois.org

Melissa Figueira was born and raised in Miami, Florida, where she attended public schools before moving to New York City to study Political Science and Sociology at Columbia University. She earned her Masters Degree in Education Policy from Teachers College at Columbia University, with a focus on K-12 Education. Read More

Policy Associate
(312) 784-9403
mfigueira@advanceillinois.org

Melissa Figueira was born and raised in Miami, Florida, where she attended public schools before moving to New York City to study Political Science and Sociology at Columbia University. She earned her Masters Degree in Education Policy from Teachers College at Columbia University, with a focus on K-12 Education. Her interest in advocacy and her firm belief in the need for comprehensive educational opportunity for all children grew out of several years of volunteering as an art teacher and summer school teacher in both Florida City and Harlem. Prior to joining Advance Illinois, Melissa worked with the Research and Policy Support Group at the New York City Department of Education.

 

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Jim O’Connor

Project Director
(312) 235-4537
joconnor@advanceillinois.org  

Jim O’Connor grew up on a farm near Kankakee, Illinois and has degrees from University of Notre Dame, the University of Chicago, and National Louis University.  Before joining Advance Illinois, Jim was a Noble Street Charter School teacher, and the founding principal at KIPP Ascend Charter School in Chicago, where he was a principal for six years.  Read More

Project Director
(312) 235-4537
joconnor@advanceillinois.org  

Jim O’Connor grew up on a farm near Kankakee, Illinois and has degrees from University of Notre Dame, the University of Chicago, and National Louis University.  Before joining Advance Illinois, Jim was a Noble Street Charter School teacher, and the founding principal at KIPP Ascend Charter School in Chicago, where he was a principal for six years.  Jim was also the Executive Director of Student Services at School District U-46 in Illinois, where he administered SES tutoring for 1,000 students.  Jim is an elected school board member in an elementary school district with about 5,600 students (including his two children) in Oak Park, Illinois. Jim works to ensure that every student has the opportunity to attain an excellent education.

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Teresa Ramos

Director of Community Engagement
(312) 467-5904
tramos@advanceillinois.org

Teresa Ramos engages community members in policy, advocacy, and community-building to strengthen the Illinois public school system. Prior to joining Advance Illinois, Teresa was an education organizer and manager of the Grow Your Own Teachers program at ONE (now ONE Northside).  Read More

Director of Community Engagement
(312) 467-5904
tramos@advanceillinois.org

Teresa Ramos engages community members in policy, advocacy, and community-building to strengthen the Illinois public school system. Prior to joining Advance Illinois, Teresa was an education organizer and manager of the Grow Your Own Teachers program at ONE (now ONE Northside).  Teresa completed her Ph.D. in Anthropology, focused on school culture and educational policy, with a minor in Latina/Latino studies at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. While there, Teresa was a researcher with the Ethnography of the University Initiative and Center on Democracy in a Multiracial Society and spent five years working with student affairs and TRIO programs at the Office of Minority Student Affairs.  She grew up in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood and attended Chicago Public Schools.

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Jose Resendiz

Graphic Design Associate
(312) 784-1173
jresendiz@advanceillinois.org

Jose Resendiz began his work in the organization as a graphic design intern in 2014 and is now part of the communications team at Advance Illinois. He designs visual media to help foster public understanding of the education system. Read More

Graphic Design Associate
(312) 784-1173
jresendiz@advanceillinois.org

Jose Resendiz began his work in the organization as a graphic design intern in 2014 and is now part of the communications team at Advance Illinois. He designs visual media to help foster public understanding of the education system. Jose attended public schools in Atlanta, Georgia and graduated summa cum laude from Reinhardt University with a degree in Graphic Design, Marketing & Advertising. He received his Master’s Degree in Visual Communication Design at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Prior to joining Advance Illinois, Jose volunteered at Mi Familia Center where he taught ESL and Computer Apps classes to low-income Hispanic/Latino families.

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Jessica Rosolowski

Office Manager / Executive Assistant
(312) 235-4531
jrosolowski@advanceillinois.org

Jessica Rosolowski grew up on the south side of Chicago and is a graduate of Illinois public schools.  She attended South Suburban College for Paralegal Studies where she obtained her paralegal certificate.  Read More

Office Manager / Executive Assistant
(312) 235-4531
jrosolowski@advanceillinois.org

Jessica Rosolowski grew up on the south side of Chicago and is a graduate of Illinois public schools.  She attended South Suburban College for Paralegal Studies where she obtained her paralegal certificate.  Before joining Advance Illinois, Jessica worked at the Fraternal Order of Police for nearly 11 years as an advocate to Chicago police officers.  She is also the proud mother of two sons.

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Anna Schneider

Communications Associate
(217) 993-7276
aschneider@advanceillinois.org

Anna Schneider is part of the communications team at Advance Illinois. She ensures effective communication strategies forward the organization’s mission. Read More

Communications Associate
(217) 993-7276
aschneider@advanceillinois.org

Anna Schneider is part of the communications team at Advance Illinois. She ensures effective communication strategies forward the organization’s mission. Prior to joining Advance Illinois, she led the marketing and communications efforts at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Illinois to increase awareness and support to better serve over 1,200 disadvantaged youth across 10 Club locations. For the past five years, she has been dedicated to strengthening partnerships between Springfield Public Schools and quality after school programs. Anna was raised in Quincy, Illinois and graduated with honors from the University of Illinois at Springfield. She has one daughter who attends a public school in Springfield.

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Paige Williams

Policy Associate
(312) 734-1445
pwilliams@advanceillinois.org

Paige Williams was born and raised just outside of Detroit, Michigan, and studied psychology and comparative human development at the University of Chicago. She specialized in culture and community and worked in the UChicago Social Justice Neuroscience and Psychology Laboratory. Read More

Policy Associate
(312) 734-1445
pwilliams@advanceillinois.org

Paige Williams was born and raised just outside of Detroit, Michigan, and studied psychology and comparative human development at the University of Chicago. She specialized in culture and community and worked in the UChicago Social Justice Neuroscience and Psychology Laboratory. Prior to Advance Illinois, Paige worked on a research team at Cuyahoga Community College that designed interventions to address the achievement gap and taught at the Exploration School. She credits her passion for public education to her parents, who were administrators with Detroit Public Schools.

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