Contact Name: Angelo J. Morinello
Position Title: New York State Assembly
Angelo J. Morinello was elected to the New York State Assembly on November 8, 2016. His district includes parts of Niagara and Erie Counties.
As a lifelong resident of Western New York and retired judge, Angelo recognizes the importance of qualifications, experience and life lessons. His tour in Vietnam as a combat soldier, his education, work experience as a lawyer and a judge, and as a community resident, enables him to truly understand what it takes to be a representative in Albany.
Committed to reforming Albany, Angelo is ready to address the culture of corruption in state government. Throughout his legal and judicial career, he has been guided by the strictest ethical standards and is ready to question the lack of standards in the Legislature today. He will also work to implement workforce development programs, create more jobs and address the impact of drugs and violence on New York’s families.
Prior to being elected to the Assembly, Angelo was the former in-house counsel for his family’s business, Certo Brothers Distributing Co., former county assistant district attorney, counsel to Niagara Falls Community Development and an attorney in business law. Before retiring, he also served as the Niagara Falls City Court Judge from 2001-2015.
Angelo’s diverse background will ensure the citizens of the 145th Assembly District have a strong and skilled representative in Albany who can address the important issues.
Contact Name: Edwin Donnelly
Position Title: President, New Jersey State Firefighters Mutual Benevolent Association
Edwin Donnelly, known to his friends as Eddie, serves as the 45th President of the New Jersey State Firefighters Mutual Benevolent Association (NJ FMBA). Eddie is a 22-year veteran of the Union Fire Department, where he was elected as Vice President of FMBA Local 46 in 2002 and continues to serve as President since 2009.
Eddie was elected President of the NJ FMBA in 2013 and was subsequently reelected unanimously in 2015, 2018 and 2021. As President of the New Jersey State FMBA, Donnelly is charged with leading advocacy efforts of career Firefighters, EMTs, Dispatchers and their families in Trenton and across the state. Retirement security, health care, and safety on the job are just a few of the issues Eddie continues to fight vigorously for during his time in this position.
With over 5000 members, the NJ FMBA, under the direction of President Donnelly, continues to grow and is recognized as the leading labor union for Firefighters, EMTs, and Dispatchers in New Jersey. Donnelly is passionate about supporting burn survivors, as well as supporting widows and children of fallen firefighters. Through his ardent leadership, the NJ FMBA continues to distinguish itself as a champion of those in greatest need.
In February of 2019, Eddie was elected the first chairman of the Police and Fire Retirement System of NJ. As one of the main authors of this monumental legislation, Eddie, along with the new board, will have greater power to protect the retirement securities of all NJ Firefighters and Police Officers.
In addition to his service to his department and his union, Eddie is an active member of the Irish American Society of Union, and the Union County Emerald Society. Eddie is a Knight of Columbus Third Degree. Eddie is Pipe Major Emeritus and Founder of the Union County Police and Fire Pipes and Drums Band.
Eddie is also involved in many civic and community causes. He is a participating member of the Saint Barnabas Burn Foundation and takes great pride in volunteering as a counselor at the Connecticut Children’s Burn Camp, an organization near and dear to Eddie’s heart.
Eddie is most proud of his role as father to Eddie, 23, Jack, 15 and Isabella Rose, 13. Eddie is the son of Edwin and Louise Donnelly and brother to Police Director Chris Donnelly, Township of Union Police Department.
Contact Name: John T. McDonald
Position Title: New York State Assembly
John T. McDonald III is serving his fifth term in the New York State Assembly representing the 108th Assembly District, which consists of parts of Albany, Rensselaer and Saratoga Counties. It includes Cohoes, his hometown where he previously served as Mayor for 13 years, sections of Albany, Troy and the communities of Green Island, North Greenbush, Rensselaer, Waterford and Watervliet.
A life-long resident of Cohoes, John is a graduate of Keveny Memorial Academy and the Albany College of Pharmacy where he received a BS in Pharmaceutical Sciences in 1985 and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humanities as well. John is a practicing pharmacist and the President of Marra’s Pharmacy. Marra’s Pharmacy has been a resource for thousands over its 88 years focused their large selection and excellent customer service which John has carried into his time in government as well.
As Mayor of the City of Cohoes, John focused on financial accountability, improved quality of life, and expanding economic opportunity. He pursued an aggressive economic development agenda centered on downtown revitalization, adaptive reuse of historic buildings, Hudson and Mohawk Riverfront developments and gateway improvements. John created a platform for a more transparent and open process for conducting city business as well, which increased the city’s financial stability when he left office in 2012. Just as importantly during John’s tenure, the City of Cohoes’ population grew by more than 8% which was the first population increase for the City of Cohoes since 1930.
John has also been an active member of the New York State Conference of Mayors where he served as President of the statewide organization. He has also chaired the Capital District Transportation Committee, RiverSpark, the Cohoes Industrial Development Agency and the Cohoes Local Development Corporation. In addition, he has served on the boards of the New York State Heritage Areas Advisory Board, New York State Workforce Investment Board, State Comptroller’s Local Advisory Team, the NYS Local Government Records Management Council and the Board of Governors for the New York State Municipal Insurance Reciprocal as well as many other regional councils and commissions. John currently serves on the board of the Albany Convention Center Authority.
As a member of the NYS Assembly, John serves as the Chairperson of the Oversight, Analysis, and Investigations Committee and sits on the Alcoholism & Drug Abuse, Health, Insurance, Higher Education, Real Property Taxation, and Ways and Means committees. His focus is on his strengths in local government, health care, and small business. John has worked on legislation pertaining to reducing unfunded mandates to local governments, containing property taxes, job growth and creation, sensible health care and an aggressive and complete attack on the heroin/opioid crisis that is ravaging our state and our communities.
Contact Name: Kathryn Thomas
Position Title: Chief Executive of National Museums NI
Kathryn Thomson has been Chief Executive of National Museums NI since March 2016.
National Museums NI is the custodian of the 1.4 million objects in the national collection carefully assembled over two centuries, which are multidisciplinary, diverse and span all time periods, referencing Northern Ireland within and to the wider world. It is responsible for four museums – Ulster Museum, Ulster Folk Museum, Ulster Transport Museum and the Ulster American Folk Park. National Museum NI’s vision is to celebrate who we are; telling the stories of our past, challenging our present and shaping our future. It is committed to making the collections it holds accessible and engaging to the largest, broadest and most diverse audiences – operating for the public and national benefit, not just for this generation but for future generations and for visitors to Northern Ireland.
Prior to National Museums NI, Kathryn was Chief Operating Officer at Tourism NI for 11 years. Before that she worked in the senior finance team within NHS Greater Glasgow, primarily involved in business and financial planning. Kathryn holds a BCom (Hons) degree in Business Studies from the University of Edinburgh, completed her accountancy training at PwC and has a professional qualification as a Chartered Accountant with the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA). In addition, Kathryn holds a public appointment as a Director of the Strategic Investment Board. Currently she is the Chair of the Board of Visit Belfast and a member of the Board of Tourism Ireland, as well as being a Director and Trustee on the Board three charities – the Grand Opera House, Open House Festival and Culture Perth and Kinross.
Contact Name: Keith P. Brown
Position Title: New York State Assembly
Keith P. Brown was elected to the New York State Assembly on November 3, 2020. His district is comprised of parts of Suffolk County, including the towns of Huntington, Babylon, and Islip.
Utilizing his legal expertise and small business background, Keith will immediately seek to provide help to the small business community and boost economic growth for the Long Island region. With multiple family members in the law enforcement community, he has a distinct understanding of the impact of the difficulties associated with New York’s latest criminal justice reforms and increased efforts to “defund” the police. In an effort to keep our communities safe, he is seeking to restore greater judicial discretion and repeal bail reform measures. Keith is also committed to lowering taxes, creating a cleaner Long Island Sound, and seeking greater investment from the state to address water and sewer infrastructure needs.
Keith is a graduate of SUNY Albany where he interned his final semester for former New York State Senator Norman J. Levy. He graduated from Touro College Law Center in 1990, where he serves on the Advisory Board for the Institute on Land Use and Sustainable Development Law. Before starting his own law firm, Keith practiced litigation and was appointed to the New York State Office of the Attorney General, where he served as Assistant Attorney General in the Litigation Bureau defending New York in federal and state courts.
Keith is a founding partner of Brown & Altman, LLP which represents various corporate clients in real estate related matters, including zoning and land-use regulations.
Keith resides in Northport with his wife, Barbara, and their three children.
Contact Name: Ken Walsh
Position Title: CEO, Alfond Youth Center, Waterville, Maine
Ken was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. one of 7 children of an Irish and Italian catholic family.
Ken earned his degree in Physical Education with a minor in Sports Management at SUNY Cortland.
After graduating in 1985, Ken accepted his first job as the youngest director of the Boys and Girls Clubs of New Rochelle, NY where he served as the Assistant Executive Director for 7 years.
In 1992 Ken moved to Waterville, Maine and accepted the challenge to lead the Waterville Area Boys and Girls Club organization as their Executive Director. Quickly after 2 years he started fundraising efforts to redefine the Boys and Girls Club and successfully raised 2.1 million dollars to renovate the old Main Street building. After the completion of the Capital Campaign the Club merged with the YMCA. Ken was named Chief Executive Officer of the only merged Boys and Girls Club and YMCA in the country resulting in a new campaign to build a new facility.
After a two-year Campaign the BGC/YMCA raised over 11 million dollars. In May of 1999 with the presence of Governor King (now Senator Angus King) and General Colin Powell, the Boys & Girls Club and YMCA at the Alfond Youth Center was opened. The youth membership soared from 1,200 youth members to over 8,000. The towns served increased from 33 to over 190 towns. Ken also expanded the service of his outreach opening eight other Clubs through out the State. Five on Indian Reservations. The organization is the largest accredited licensed childcare center in the State.
In 2005 Ken, his staff and the Board continued the fundraising efforts with the support of the New Balance Foundation and raised over 5 million dollars to develop and enhance the Camp Tracy operation in Oakland, Maine. Now the Camp serves over 200 kids per session and is the premier Day and Residential Camp operation in Maine.
In 2006 Ken continued the Capital Campaign efforts and increased the size of the Alfond Youth Center by another 14,000 square feet becoming the Alfond Youth & Community Center (AYCC). The addition added another floor to the facility as well as a new Teen Center, Gymnastics area, Climbing Wall, Karate Dojo, Youth Wellness Center and Library. During the pandemic the AYCC finished another 7M campaign adding another 15,000 sq. ft. creating a new wellness center “The Gronk Zone”, indoor track, teaching kitchen, locker room and lobby renovations in partnership with Maine General Hospital. In 2020-2022, Ken has embarked on 3 new capital campaign projects: a new community Hockey Rink arena (12M), a Teen Center (3M) in the Capital City of Augusta, Maine and renovations of Camp Tracy adding a new dining facility, athletic dome, and rope course (4M). Ken is most proud of the serve his team provided during the pandemic, serving over 85,000 hot meals to families of need and providing essential childcare services to the medical community during a time of need.
Ken led the effort to build two of the only licensed MLB replica ball fields in country, Fenway Park and Wrigley Fields. With the endorsement of Major League Baseball, Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation, the field was dedicated by the Iron Man of Baseball Cal Ripken Jr. In 2022 the AYCC was the host of the Cal Ripken Youth World Series. First ever in Maine. In May of 2022, Ken was selected to the Maine Baseball Hall of Fame.
Ken has dedicated his life to improving the wellbeing of youth and families. His recent efforts have been to develop a long-lasting opportunity for kids now and into the future. Ken has been on an endowment campaign in which he has raised over 30 million dollars to date. His goal is to add another 25 million within the next 10 years. A new legacy campaign is now beginning with the goal to reach another 100 new gifts by 2024. Ken has raised over 75 million dollars for youth programming in his 30 years serving the Greater Waterville community.
Ken will be publishing is 4th book “Passion for Life” scheduled to be released in 2023.
Ken lives in Waterville, Maine with his wife Suzanne his son Sean and daughter Kate.
A lifelong resident of Staten Island, Michael J. Cusick came to the New York State Assembly with valuable experience at all levels of government. Prior to his election, Cusick served as Director of Constituent Services for U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer. His duties included serving as Senator Schumer’s liaison to New York State elected officials, as well as various federal agencies. In addition, he managed the day-to-day operation of the senator’s New York City office.
Previously, Cusick served as the Chief of Staff to former Staten Island Assemblyman Eric N. Vitaliano, managing staff and overseeing the assemblyman’s Albany and Staten Island offices.
Shortly after graduating Villanova University in 1991, Cusick began his career in public service as a Special Assistant to the President of the City Council. He served as the office representative for the Borough of Staten Island.
An active member of many civic organizations, Assemblyman Cusick has served on the Staten Island Board of Directors of the Catholic Youth Organization and the Boy Scouts of America. He was the Staten Island Chapter President of the Villanova Alumni Association, and is a member of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, John D. Kearney Division 3, as well as the Staten Island Athletic Club. He also chairs the Handicapped Parking Task Force on Staten Island, working with community groups to address the parking concerns faced by disabled individuals.
Cusick’s outstanding work in the community has brought him honors from the Seaview Hospital and Rehabilitation Center and the Alzheimer’s Foundation of Staten Island. He is an honorary member of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 120, Richmond Engine #1, the Oceanic Hook and Ladder Co. #1 and was inducted into the Monsignor Farrell High School Alumni Hall of Fame in 2007.
In Albany, Assemblyman Cusick has been a member of the American Irish Legislators Society of New York State since 2003, and was elected President of the organization in 2009, a position he continues to hold.
Since his election to the New York State Assembly in the fall of 2002, Cusick has worked to improve the quality of life for all Staten Islanders. In 2003, he authored a law creating a moratorium on building that made the Mid-Island Blue Belt a reality (Chapter 84 of 2003). In an effort to curb runaway development, Cusick authored legislation requiring notice to neighborhood landowners of an application to build on wetland areas. He also sponsored legislation assuring that Staten Island will never again be responsible for the rest of New York City’s waste.
A tireless advocate for his hometown, Cusick labored on behalf of Pouch Camp, a New York City Boy Scout sanctuary. He continues his efforts for this venerable Staten Island institution.
In 2008, Assemblyman Cusick created a program called the “Total Fitness Challenge” which encourages Staten Island students from grades pre-kindergarten through 8th grade to read and exercise during their summer break. A tireless advocate against childhood obesity, he challenges children to keep track of their activities and turn their score cards in upon returning to school.
On the legislative front, Cusick has sponsored numerous bills, including a law he authored in 2006 (Ch.566) that counters protestors at funeral services through the creation of a 100-foot “buffer-zone.” This law was enacted in response to funeral protests that were taking place at military funerals across our country. As these protests continue, Assemblyman Cusick passed two pieces of legislation in 2011 to further strengthen this law. The first bill increases the buffer zone to 300 feet around a religious service, funeral, burial or memorial service (Ch.528). The second requires the implementation of a permit process for such demonstrations (Ch.527). Assemblyman Cusick also introduced legislation in the 2011 Session to establish a real time drug prescription monitoring program that requires medical professionals and pharmacists to report and track prescriptions of controlled substances. These bills aim to link the medical profession with the pharmacies to combat the abuse of controlled substance prescriptions.
Another important piece of legislation Cusick sponsors is a bill that requires age appropriate dating violence education in the annual school curriculum for students in grades seven through twelve and age appropriate respect education and self-esteem education for students in grades kindergarten through six.
In 2011 Cusick was selected to serve as Chair of the Assembly Election Law Committee. In 2018, he took over as Chair of the Assembly Energy Committee, a position he still holds. As Chair of the Energy Committee, Cusick has taken an active role in efforts to secure the energy grid against cybersecurity threats, worked to increase the adoption of electric-drive vehicles, and supported efforts to bring the offshore-wind industry to New York. In addition to sitting on the Assembly Committees on Governmental Employees, Higher Education, Veterans Affairs, and Ways and Means, Cusick is a member of the National Conference of State Legislators Energy Task Force and the Council of State Governments Energy and Environment Committee.
Contact Name: Michael J. Norris
Position Title: New York State Assembly
Michael J. Norris was elected on November 8, 2016 to the New York State Assembly and re-elected in 2018 and 2020. His district includes parts of Niagara, Erie and Orleans counties.
As a Member of the Assembly, Mike has focused on improving our infrastructure, including roads, bridges, and parks, along with the library system in the Western New York region. He has also fought for stronger ethics laws, including pension forfeiture, supported a more open and transparent state government by sponsoring the State Contracts Sunlight Act, and championed legislation to expand coverage and opportunities for our volunteer fire service.
As Co-Chair of the “Learning for Work” Minority Conference Task Force, Mike has advocated for a greater emphasis of vocational job training opportunities and enhancing skill career paths for students.
Mike currently serves as Chairman of the Minority Conference, the Ranking Minority Member of the Election Law Committee, and as a member of the Rules, Ways and Means, Transportation, and Judiciary committees. Mike has also previously served as a member of the Aging, Cities, Health, Higher Education and Tourism, Parks, Arts and Sports Development committees.
Mike received his Bachelor of Arts Degree from Niagara University and Juris Doctorate from Albany Law School. He was admitted to the New York State Bar in 2006.
Since his admission to the Bar, Mike has engaged in general practice and is a partner in the law firm of Seaman Norris, LLP. He has served as the Town Attorney for the town of Lockport, town of Somerset, and village of Cassadaga; the Third Corporation Counsel for the city of Lockport; and the Prosecutor for the towns of Lockport and Hartland.Mike is a member of the Lockport, Niagara County, Erie County and New York State Bar Associations.
Previously, Mike worked for the New York State Senate and Assembly, served as a Niagara County Election Commissioner, and interned in the city of Lockport Mayor’s Office.
An active community leader, Mike is a member and past-President of the Lockport Rotary Club and member of All Saints Roman Catholic Church in Lockport. He is also a past member of the Tony Nemi’s Youth Sportsman’s League and LCTV Board of Directors. Mike was one of 12 members selected in the Greater Niagara Newspapers’ Inaugural Under 40 Class in 2015 and received the Paul Harris Award from Lockport Rotary in 2013.
Mike is a lifelong Lockport resident and graduate of Lockport High School.
Contact Name: Michael Meade
Position Title: Group CEO, Sullivan’s Brewing Company New York
Michael Meade is the Group CEO of Sullivan’s Brewing Company. Michael is also the Founder and Co-
Managing Partner of 1702 Irish Ales Group LLC, a vehicle which was formed to provide Sullivan’s
Brewing Company with its initial seed capital as well as additional ongoing investment. Recently Michael
co-founded and is Co-Managing Partner of Foraging Partners LLC, an entity for investing in start-up and
early-stage companies. Michael spent twenty-five years on Wall Street, the first half of which was in
Institutional Fixed Income roles across the spectrum of credit products at Deutsche Bank and Morgan
Stanley, primarily covering central banks, asset managers, public pensions, and state treasury clients.
Ultimately, Michael held Managing Director positions in Equity Finance at both Morgan Stanley and Citi,
with his primary focus being on the hedge fund client base. Michael earned his double major in Political
Science (elected to Pi Sigma Alpha, the National Political Science Honor Society) and Spanish Studies at
Fordham University in the Bronx.
Contact Name: Michele Shirlow
Position Title: CEO FoodNI
Michele is the Chief Executive of FoodNI, a membership organisation dedicated to enhancing the reputation of Northern Ireland’s food and drink, representing over 400 member companies (including 150 Taste of Ulster Restaurants) and acting as a strategic driver to support the industry to achieve greatness. Michele was central to delivery in 2016 of the first ever Year of Food and Drink, which increased positive visitor attitudes towards Northern Ireland food and drink by 23% and resulted in Northern Ireland winning the International Travel and Tourism Awards – Best Food Destination 2018-19. She is now spearheading the Our food, the power of good strategy to establish Northern Ireland as a leading food region in the UK by 2025.
Contact Name: Patrick Burke
Position Title: New York State Assembly
Pat Burke is a Buffalo native, where he resides with his wife and three kids. From January of 2014 to December of 2018, Pat served the community as an Erie County Legislator. He also serves as a political science instructor at Buffalo State College.During Pat’s tenure on the legislature, his notable legislative accomplishments include a ban on microbead plastics, a repeal of Sunday Blue Laws, a million-dollar emergency fund created to combat the opioid crisis and the formation of the Erie County Broadband Committee.
With three kids of his own, protecting the health and well-being of children has been at the forefront of Pat’s legislative efforts. He banned smoking in a vehicle with children, wrote the PENCE Bill (Prevention of Emotional Neglect and Child Endangerment) to end harmful gay conversion therapy, and championed a local law implementing a Youth Concussion Protocol to ensure the safety of minors playing contact sports.
Pat also introduced legislation that would make the pharmaceutical industry pay its fair share to keep our local drinking water free of medical waste, and not pass the burden onto taxpayers. And, he introduced the Invest in Erie, Invest in America Act promoting and encouraging local businesses in Erie County.
Contact Name: Raquel McKee
Position Title: Poet and actress, African Caribbean Society of Northern Ireland
Raquel McKee is a Jamaican national who has been living and working in Northern Ireland for roughly 20 years. She has made a name for herself as a leader within the ACSONI community, as a poet, a storyteller, an actress, radio commentator, teacher, podcast host and activist.
ACSONI Community Leader
Raquel is currently the chairperson of the ACSONI Education Team and was formerly the chair of the Strategy and Lobbying Working Group and Vice Chair of the Caribbean Association in Northern Ireland. As a part of her voluntary work Raquel has spear headed the Sunshine in Ulster and Exodus exhibitions. She was part of the steering group for the Emancipation Day events, Links and Legacy 400 commemorations and the Jamaica 50 celebrations. As chair of the ACSONI Education Working Group, Raquel has been working with National Museums N.I. as it makes advances in decolonising the museums. She is integral to the work that brought the Inclusive Global Histories Exhibition 2022 – 2023 to reality and is part of the work behind the Global Voices, Local Choices exhibition which is in the developmental phase. She has represented ACSONI at numerous events in her nearly 20 years of community service.
Raquel is perhaps the foremost Caribbean born performance poet living and working in Northern Ireland. Her work typically reflects life in Northern Ireland through a Caribbean lens. She has been commissioned by Ulster Museum, Cuirt International Festival of Literature, Commumity Arts Partnership, ACSONI’s Links & Legacy project, and the Four Corners festival. Raquel is a member of the John Hewitt Society Committee where she coordinated and hosted the first performance poetry event in its summer school history in 2021, and the first virtual poetry event from an international location in 2022. She is also a Poetry in Motion Schools facilitator, and a member of Poetry Ireland’s Writers in Schools programme and a member of Women Aloud. Raquel is one of the key poets celebrating the life and work of Mary Ann McCracken and was part of the 2022 annual event of the Mary Ann McCracken Foundation. Raquel has been included in anthologies such as Four x Four, Writing Home, Her Other Language, [email protected], ‘Threshold’ anthology from Community Arts Partnership and ‘The Corridor’ from the Irish Writers Centre. Her performances include a range of festivals as well as Culture Night, Caribbean Week , Stormont Commonweath Day events, Derry/Londonderry inaugural Black History Month event, Belfast City Hall amongst others.
A storyteller for over 20 years, Raquel created N.I.’s first Children’s storytelling festival ‘Through the Rainbow’. She has told stories across the breadth of N. Ireland in libraries, schools, cross cultural community groups, council events and Culture Nights.
Perhaps her most memorable role has been that of Asha the asylum seeker in Rosemary Jenkinson’s Lives in Translation which toured N.Ireland and the republic in 2018 with Kabosh Theatre. She has also been a part of the spin off radio drama Lives in Transit. She was part of the Terra Nova Intercultural Cohort 1 with the piece ‘IN Justice’, was Chloe in Sam Kwan’s film ‘Hope Explored’ and La Tanya in the one-woman play Pages which she wrote as part of the Terra Nova/ East Side Arts first Home project.
Raquel appears frequently as a writer and presenter on BBC’s Thought for the Day. She has also been a commentator on other BBC programmes. Raquel has also been one of the voices of BBC Radio Ulster, introducing various shows.
Raquel teaches P1 children in Glengormley Integrated Primary part-time and a NISTR sub teacher straddling both primary and secondary level schools.
Raquel is one of the 4 Pivot ladies who host on UnMute Now podcast which deals with issues relevant to migrant communities. This summer Pivot has been training young people in personal development and podcasting techniques and are set to include them in the next series of UnMute Now podcasts.
As an activist Raquel speaks up on issues of racism and was part of the BLM protest at custom House Square which has led to a number of churches reviewing their policy and practice and caught the attention of Amnesty International’s N.I. personnel.
Contact Name: Sean Tenner
Position Title: President, KNI Communications
KNI Communications President Sean Tennerhas spent his career working for organizations and officials dedicated to social justice and the public interest. Tenner served on President Obama’s campaign staff during both his U.S. Senate and Presidential campaigns and has worked for 20 years to successfully elect Democrats at every level of government. He has held leadership roles in a wide variety of innovative non-profit organizations addressing both local and global issues.
One of Tenner’s personal passions is addressing the alarming rise of hate crimes, bigotry and intolerance in our current political climate. He helps lead Illinois public policy for the Simon Wiesenthal Center, one of the world’s leading anti-hate groups. The Center runs the acclaimed Museum of Tolerance and carries on the legacy of the Holocaust survivor and acclaimed Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal.
Tenner was appointed by Illinois Governor Pat Quinn in November 2012 – and reappointed in 2015 – to the Illinois Holocaust and Genocide Commission following years of human rights work. On the Commission, he works alongside legislators and other state leaders to develop initiatives related to holocaust and genocide education. He was an early leader in the Save Darfur movement in Illinois and works closely with refugees from the violence in Darfur and South Sudan who have built new lives in Chicago. Tenner also works with Chicagoans who fled Apartheid in South Africa, serving on the Board of Color Me Africa Fine Arts which brings Apartheid-era protest artists to Chicagoland to share their stories and their lessons in perseverance.
Tenner has done work related to post-conflict reconciliation in both Rwanda and Northern Ireland, and has also been profiled by CNN for his work founding the Uptown-based Abolition Institute, which successfully advocated for $4.5 million in federal funding to fight modern day slavery in West Africa.
As a former President of Susan G. Komen for the Cure’s Chicagoland Affiliate, Tenner has worked for years with state leaders including Illinois House Majority Leader Greg Harris and State Senator Sara Feigenholtz to pass landmark pieces of breast cancer legislation in the Illinois General Assembly: requiring insurance coverage of breast cancer screenings recommended by physicians, requiring insurance coverage of medical costs related to cancer clinical trials, establishing numerous crucial new state programs to fight breast cancer through the “Reducing Breast Cancer Disparities Act,” and requiring insurance coverage and state standards for potentially lifesaving clinical breast exams. Tenner is also working to address the epidemic of youth suicides through his work on the Board of Directors of Hope for the Day/Sip of Hope — one of the nation’s most innovative mental health organizations.
He has worked for some of the most prominent elected officials and organizations in Illinois and Washington, DC – including President Barack Obama (US Senate Primary and General Elections, 2004 and Presidential Campaign, 2008), the Illinois House of Representatives Democratic Majority, Washington, DC City Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, Evanston (IL) Mayor Steve Hagerty and the late Aurora (IL) Mayor Tom Weisner. He has helped elect numerous members of the Illinois judiciary, the Illinois legislature, the Chicago City Council and the Washington, DC City Council. News outlets have touted Tenner’s “enviable record of success in the judicial campaigns he’s quarterbacked.” and his team has won over25 Judicial campaigns in recent cycles. He served as lead consultant on the successful 2018 campaign of Cam Davis, President Obama’s Great Lakes protection lead, who won the largest number of write-in votes in modern Illinois history – beating a state record previously held by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. In March of 2020, voters in his home 46th Ward of Chicago elected him Democratic Committeeman.
Tenner is a native of Naperville, Illinois and a graduate of Georgetown University in Washington, DC. He lives in the Buena Park neighborhood of Chicago with his wife Shiwali, who founded the non-profit Indian dance organization Tribhang to raise awareness of global women’s rights issues. He is proud of his mother Nancy, a former pre-school teacher and his father Gene who was recently honored by the City of Chicago as 46th Ward Senior of the Year for his tireless community work.