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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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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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 who are CPS students.

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Jessica Ramos

Community Organizing Strategy Associate
(773) 877-0430
jramos@advanceillinois.org

Jessica Ramos, a Chicago native raised on the city’s South Side, is a former educator committed to advocating for underserved communities with experience spanning from rural Colorado to Illinois.  Read More

Community Organizing Strategy Associate
(773) 877-0430
jramos@advanceillinois.org

Jessica Ramos, a Chicago native raised on the city’s South Side, is a former educator committed to advocating for underserved communities with experience spanning from rural Colorado to Illinois. Jessica is a proud first generation graduate of Chicago Public Schools. She studied Journalism at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. While there, Jessica covered the activist community and built unity within Latina/o students through her involvement at La Casa Cultural Latina. Her education experience allowed her to see the urgency to organize for access to a quality education system that uplifts and meets the needs of all communities despite their zip code.

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Melissa Figueira

Senior 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

Senior 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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Ja’Neane Minor

Director of Government Relations
(312) 667-9105
jminor@advanceillinois.org

Ja’Neane Minor plays a pivotal role in legislative strategy as well as keeping our team abreast on the latest happenings at the Capitol. Prior to joining Advance Illinois, Ja’Neane served as a project manager for a management consulting firm. Earlier in her career, she advocated for education in multiple capacities.  Read More

Director of Government Relations
(312) 667-9105
jminor@advanceillinois.org

Ja’Neane Minor plays a pivotal role in legislative strategy as well as keeping our team abreast on the latest happenings at the Capitol. Prior to joining Advance Illinois, Ja’Neane served as a project manager for a management consulting firm. Earlier in her career, she advocated for education in multiple capacities. Ja’Neane is a proud alumna of Indiana University, has been married to her husband, Quinn, for 20 years, and is the mother of three children.

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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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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

Senior 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

Senior 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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Helen Zhang

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

Helen Zhang grew up in Seattle before moving to study Public Policy at the University of Chicago, with a specialization on children and families. She gained research experience as an education policy intern at the Brookings Institution and through her undergraduate thesis, which explored the role of social supports in students’ transitions to high school.  Read More

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

Helen Zhang grew up in Seattle before moving to study Public Policy at the University of Chicago, with a specialization on children and families. She gained research experience as an education policy intern at the Brookings Institution and through her undergraduate thesis, which explored the role of social supports in students’ transitions to high school. While at UChicago, Helen also created a Model United Nations accessibility program for Chicago Public Schools students, which involved launching free workshops, developing financial aid packages, and overseeing conference logistics for program participants. Helen’s experiences working directly with students and in research have given her a strong dedication to creating equitable opportunities for all children.

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