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.