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

Policy 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

Policy 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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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 is finalizing an MBA 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
(305) 318-4918
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
(305) 318-4918
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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Gwen Peebles

Government Relations Specialist
(217) 993-7276
gpeebles@advanceillinois.org

Gwen Peebles grew up in the Chicago suburbs and graduated cum laude from North Central College in Naperville. Right after college, she moved to Springfield for an internship opportunity with the Illinois Speaker of the House. Read More

Government Relations Specialist
(217) 993-7276
gpeebles@advanceillinois.org

Gwen Peebles grew up in the Chicago suburbs and graduated cum laude from North Central College in Naperville. Right after college, she moved to Springfield for an internship opportunity with the Illinois Speaker of the House. She was hired on as the education research analyst in the Speaker’s office where she worked for six years before joining Advance Illinois.

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Kristin Pollock

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

A graduate of Illinois public schools, Kristin Pollock believes that every student should have access to a world-class public education. She attended public schools in Chicago’s northern suburbs before attending Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine. Read More

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

A graduate of Illinois public schools, Kristin Pollock believes that every student should have access to a world-class public education. She attended public schools in Chicago’s northern suburbs before attending Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine. Kristin remains an active alumna of Bowdoin, serving as Illinois Chair of Bowdoin’s Alumni Schools Interviewing Committee (BASIC) and Vice Chair of the college’s Alumni Fund. Other volunteer commitments include the Board of Directors of Chicago’s Development Leadership Consortium and the Metro Board of Metropolitan Family Services.

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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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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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Paige Williams

Policy Fellow
(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 Fellow
(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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