Women Making Waves 2017


2017 Honored Guest:

Lori Gold Patterson

Panel Members:

Litesa Wallace, Nikita Richards, Theresa Mah, Renee Jackson, Danielle Chynoweth, Susan Ogwal, Janice Marie Collins



Welcome from Carol, 2017


Dear Friend,

Thank you for joining me today. I appreciate your continued support of my candidacy. I am proud to say that my second legislative session has been a successful one. For the second session in a row, in partnership with state Senator Scott Bennett, I have helped create the Mahomet Aquifer Task Force to protect our drinking water from current and future threats (SB611). I have sponsored multiple pieces of vital legislation, including a bill to create the Illinois Muslim Advisory Council (SB 1696) and HB1317, which aims to protect Illinoisans from any reduction or elimination of health care protections or coverage that were provided under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Just in time to print this program, HB690 was signed into law, ensuring the safety and dignity of working conditions for temp workers. This bill puts Illinois at the forefront of temporary worker rights and protections. And I followed up last year’s prison phone justice bill with one to ensure face-to-face visits remain an option in all Illinoi prisons.

In addition to a busy legislative schedule, my constituent services office has also been an integral part of serving. We have assisted hundreds of people in the last two years with individual issues, fielded hundreds of phone calls with requests for services and information, and held numerous educational events for community members. During the budget impasse we advocated for over $10 million dollars of disbursements to Champaign-Urbana agencies.

We also have a robust and crucial internship program. Since taking office in 2014, we have had over 80 interns assisting with all the work in our office: constituent services, event planning, social media, our community advisory legislative panels, and much more.

The Community Advisory Panels, over the last two legislative sessions, have reviewed almost every bill before a House committee and provided me with valuable feedback on how the bill will impact the 103rd district, the state as a whole, and guidance on what questions to ask when a bill comes up for a vote. If you are not a member of one of our six subject-based advisory panels, please join us! You can find more information on my website, staterepcarolammons.com.

2018 is a pivotal year for Illinois. Not only do we have a chance to end the destruction and devastation of a Rauner governorship, but we can reinforce our Illinois House and Senate to defend against the continuing barrage of hateful Trump policies. Democracy is a participatory sport and for this election, we need everyone on the field.

As for today, please enjoy the dynamic lineup of local and state legislative leaders and activists for a discussion of policy, strategy, and the importance of having a strong representation of women in all levels of government.

Thank you again for your support. It has been an honor to serve as a state Representative.





Lori Gold Patterson

Lori co-founded Pixo, a software engineering consulting firm, in 1998. Since then, her staff size has grown from three to 33 people. A Mechanical Engineering graduate from the University of Illinois, Lori brings the experience of working in corporate management to the entrepreneurial adventure of being the business mind behind a team of bright engineers and creatives at Pixo.

She spent the first ten years of her career in corporate America, first working for Andersen Consulting (Accenture) in Chicago before she was hired by Caterpillar to head up a 20 person product development team. She then moved on to join Solo Cup where she re-engineered processes and products throughout the company.

At each company, she found herself with a unique vantage point to observe the ineffectiveness of impersonal, discriminatory management styles from within. She left corporate America to create a different kind of business environment based on unconditional respect and trust and one that, even in a highly competitive industry, would provide a place where she and a diverse body of employees could achieve greatness without compromising their values. This experiment has proven that work-life balance and success can and should go hand in hand. Lori returned to corporate America through project engagements and speaking to empower corporate management to embrace methodologies that increase employee creativity, risk-taking, and happiness and result in a measurable business value.

Being raised ensconced within the black community and having raised three racially and religiously diverse children with her childhood sweetheart of 33 years, (Dr. William Patterson) Lori has a somewhat unique perspective on cultural inclusion. She brings this perspective to the operations of her company and the consulting she does for hundreds of startups and established organizations.

Lori chaired the Urbana Business Association for many years and then joined the board of the Economic Development Corporation where she recently completed her tenure as Chair. Lori received the Woman on the Rise award from the Illinois State Treasurer’s Office, the Entrepreneurial Excellence in Management Award, and the Athena Award and she is proud to be a Leadership Illinois graduate and active alumni. Lori is a budding speaker and blogger and can be found at medium.com/@lorigoldpatterson and on Twitter at @lorigpatterson.

Lori Gold Patterson

Lori Gold Patterson

Panel Speakers: 

State Representative and Lt Governor Candidate Litesa Wallace

Litesa is a progressive champion for working people and families. Litesa grew up in a union household, and is the daughter of a law enforcement agent and postal worker. She began her career as a counselor, working with abused children, families in crisis, and people struggling with substance abuse. After completing a master’s degree and doctorate at Northern Illinois University, while raising a son on her own, Litesa taught psychology courses.
Litesa’s experiences as a counselor and educator drew her to public service. She began volunteering, and working directly with policy-makers on issues most important to her. Eventually, Litesa ran for the Illinois House of Representatives -- and she won.
As a single mom and sole breadwinner for her family, she understands the struggles of the millions of Illinoisans who are also trying to get by.
As a woman of color, she understands that justice and opportunity aren't equally distributed or readily available to everyone.
As a social and economic justice champion in the legislature, she's a proven fighter for the issues and people that have too often been forgotten by the powers in Springfield.

Litesa Wallace

Litesa Wallace

State Representative Theresa Mah

Theresa Mah is the Democratic State Representative in the 2nd District of the Illinois State Legislature, a district that includes large portions of the Bridgeport, Chinatown, Pilsen, and McKinley Park neighborhoods.

A former college professor with a Ph.D. in American history and teaching experience in ethnic studies, Theresa first came to Chicago for graduate studies at the University of Chicago over 20 years ago. She has been a homeowner and community resident in McKinley Park for almost ten years.

As a senior advisor in former Governor Pat Quinn’s administration, Theresa gained valuable insight and experience in state government. She worked with legislators, Cabinet members, and co-workers at state agencies on efforts to improve diversity and minority representation in state government. She worked with advocacy groups on issues such as immigrant rights, voting rights, and language access. She has been involved in the legislative process as well as the implementation of policies supported by Governor Quinn.

Prior to her position in the Governor’s Office, she spent several years working in the area of immigrant rights, initially with the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) and then in the Chinatown community and to improve the conditions, community resources, access to elected officials, and voting power of the immigrant community there. Working with a coalition of community organizations that made up the Coalition for a Better Chinese American Community (CBCAC), she was instrumental in efforts to increase voter registration, voter education and turnout; increasing the voting power of the Chinese American community through redistricting; advocating for a new Chinatown library and field house; preventing the closure of the Chinatown Post Office; and educating community members, including seniors, parents, and youth, to become more involved in lobbying their elected officials on various issues.

Her activism and community involvement continue to the present as she currently serves on the UIC Task Force to support educational opportunities for undocumented students. She is an elected Community Representative on the Local School Council at Thomas Kelly High School, where she has been a strong proponent of bilingual education, civic engagement, and the pursuit of higher education. She is also active with Bridgeport Alliance in the effort to restore CTA bus service along 31st Street. She serves on the Advisory Board of the Chinese-American Museum of Chicago and is a member of the McKinley Park Progressive Alliance.

Theresa’s election to the 2nd District legislative seat made history. There has never been an Asian American in the Illinois General Assembly. She is the first Asian American to serve in the state legislature in Illinois, but her commitment is to be a unifying leader who represents all 2nd District constituents in Springfield.

Theresa Mah

Theresa Mah

Judge D. Renee Jackson

LLM educated Illinois licensed attorney who draws from experience as an attorney, business owner, legal instructor, legal administrator, project manager, litigation paralegal, mentor and volunteer in the legal community.

Background includes handling legal issues in a variety of legal arenas: private practice, small businesses, law firms, Fortune 500 companies and a governmental entity.

Practice Areas: state and federal litigation, family, criminal, small business consulting, intellectual property, real estate, environmental, insurance, product liability, commercial transactions, contract review, consumer protection, personal injury, civil rights and school law.

Bar Admissions:

~ State of Illinois, 2006

~ Northern District of Illinois, Trial Bar Member, 2007

~ United States Supreme Court, 2012

Teaching Experience:

Robert Morris University (Paralegal Program)

~Commercial Law

~Family Law

Judge D. Renee Jackson

Judge D. Renee Jackson

Nikita Richards

 First as an advocate and now as a candidate in the 2018 election for McLean County Clerk, Nikita Richards has always been a voice of reason, a voice for those who struggle to find their own and one known to tackle the hard issues.

Nikita has been involved in the works of policy, human services and community engagement for most of her life. It is this desire to confront government’s most critical problems that catapulted her into a journey of advocacy— first as an organizer, and now as a candidate.

Originally from Chicago, IL she is a United States Navy Veteran, a mother and an advocate for those most vulnerable in her community. After being honorably discharged from the Navy, Nikita decided to enroll at Illinois State University to receive her Bachelor’s degree in Political Science & Legal Studies, along with an ABA-accredited paralegal certification. Shortly after, Nikita achieved a Masters in Communication with a focus on Public Relations.

15 years later and still residing in McLean County, Nikita has served on numerous boards & commissions. From managing the Police & Fire commission to serving on the Bloomington Cultural District Commission, advocacy for diversity and social justice and standing up for our neighbors with disabilities have been some of her great achievements. She helped to create Administrative Court in Bloomington, IL and then served as Clerk of Administrative Court. Nikita is now the Employment Coordinator for the City of Bloomington. And if that wasn’t enough, this public servant has been featured in the Huffington Post and has landed in The Business Insider magazine.


Nikita Richards

Nikita Richards


Women of Distinction


Danielle Chynoweth

Danielle is currently the Cunningham Township Supervisor and has formerly been an Urbana City Council Member. Danielle co-founded the Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center and led its purchase of Urbana's downtown post office building for conversion to a media and arts center.  At the Prometheus Radio Project, she managed the successful campaign to pass the Local Community Radio Act. She served on Urbana's City Council for seven years spearheading public arts, wireless, and broadband projects. Danielle served as Organizing Director at the Center for Media Justice, home of the Media Action Grassroots Network (MAG-Net). She has presented on media in Thailand, Burma, Italy, the United States, and as an Evans Scholar at Evergreen State College. She holds a Masters degree in Political Science from the New School for Social Research and a sculpture degree from New College. She is momma to 6-year-old Ezra Shine.

Danielle Chynoweth

Danielle Chynoweth


Susan Ogwal

 Susan Ogwal, born the oldest child of Ms. Catherine Ocen and Dr. Mike Ogwal, began her journey in her native country, Uganda.  After traveling and living in other parts of the world, such as Holland and Kenya, Susan and her family finally settled in Illinois. Growing up in Champaign County, Susan was a very active teenager at both church and school. She obtained her Associate’s degree in Liberal Arts with honors from Parkland College and also her B.A. in Sociology with honors from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2004. As a public servant, she has lent her time towards many projects. Currently, she is a board member of the University of Illinois YMCA, University of Illinois African Student Organization, and C-U Immigration Forum.  Professionally, Susan has worked in social services and counseling for over 12 years, with various focus on families, mental health, and student services. She now turns her attention to teaching and training.

At present, as a Ph.D. student in Education Policy at the University of Illinois, Susan is focusing on completing research in Global Studies with an emphasis on African immigrant transition to the U.S. Together with her studies, Susan continues her passion for education and empowerment to local, regional and international immigrant issues. As a sought out speaker,

Susan has a passion for teaching, motivating, and building others up. She serves as consultant and trainer to various groups, families, and organizations in the area of international diversity and transition. In her spare time, you will find her listening to music, reading, writing, traveling and spending time with family and friends.

Susan Ogwal

Susan Ogwal


Mistress of Ceremonies

Dr. Janice Marie Collins is a multi Emmy, Associated Press, Best of Gannett award-winning journalist with more than 20 years of experience in the journalism industry and a nationally award-winning researcher, professor and person of service with 14 years of teaching experience on the university level. She was selected as one of the Top 50 Journalism Professors in the nation of 2012 by Journalismdegree.org and was awarded the Baskett Mosse National Award for Faculty Development 2017, and won second place in “Best in Digital,” AEJMC 2017, for her website of Inclusion called Hearmyvoiceonline.com. Over the past five years at UIUC, Collins has consistently made the Teachers of Excellence List. Her research, creative endeavor, teaching, and service focus is on de-marginalization and leadership development.  

Dr. Janice Marie Collins

Dr. Janice Marie Collins


Thank you to all the sponsors of WMW 2017

  • Ameren
  • AFL-CIO of Champaign County
  • AFSCME Council 31
  • Associated Fire Fighters of Illinois
  • AT&T Illinois
  • Chicago Federation of Labor
  • Chicagoland Operators
  • Chicago Teachers Union
  • Illinois AFL-CIO
  • Illinois Credit Union Association
  • Illinois Educators Association
  • Illinois State Medical Society
  • Illinois Laborer’s Legislative Committee
  • Lyft
  • Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 149
  • SEIU HealthCare II
  • Turner Group