David Amerson

Staff Attorney

Policemen's Benevolent & Protective Association of IL

David Amerson is a staff attorney with the Police Benevolent Labor Committee. David is also the Chair of the Illinois State Bar Association’s Labor and Employment Law Section Council, and is an adjunct faculty member with the University of Illinois’ Labor Education Program. Previously, David was the coordinator of AFSCME Retirees - Chapter 31, and Executive Vice-President of the Illinois Alliance for Retired Americans. He has also represented federal workers in the legal department of the AFGE, and as a legal advisor to the Graduate Employee Organization (IFT-AFT). Additionally, David provides legal counsel to a number of national non-profits.  He is a graduate of the University of Illinois- College of Law and is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps.

Margaret Angelucci


Asher Gittler & D'Alba Ltd.

Carlos S. Arevalo


Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, Ltd.

Carlos Arévalo is a partner at Klein, Thorpe & Jenkins, Ltd. with over 20 years of experience.  He represents public and private sector clients in the areas of labor and employment law and local government law.  Carlos advocates for his clients in state and federal courts, in administrative agencies and in arbitration and collective bargaining proceedings.  Carlos has been active in leadership for the Illinois State Bar Association Local Government Law and Labor & Employment Law Section Councils having served a past chair in both.  He sits on the board of directors for the Friends of McHenry County College Foundation, the Regional Board of Mercyhealth System and is a Past-President of Stateline SHRM in McHenry County.  He has also served in the Legislative Committee for IPELRA and is a member of the Leadership Greater McHenry County Class of 2013.  Carlos frequently speaks on labor and employment issues at the state and local level and is honored and pleased to once again serve as a panelist at the Illinois Public Sector Labor Relations Law Conference at Chicago-Kent.

Melissa Auerbach


Dowd, Bloch, Bennett, Cervone, Auerbach & Yokich, LLP

Gary Bailey


Illinois Fraternal Order of Police Labor Council

Gary Bailey has served as a labor attorney for the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police Labor Council for over 25 years. He is involved in negotiations, grievance arbitrations and interest arbitrations on behalf of sworn peace officers and law enforcement personnel across the State of Illinois. Mr. Bailey is an active member of the American Bar Association’s Section of Labor and Employment Law and was elected in 2017 to the Section Council, which serves as the governing board. He served as Co-Chairman of the State and Local Government Bargaining and Employment Law Committee from 2009-2012 and presently serves as Union Co-Chair for the Sub-Committee on Interest Arbitration. Mr. Bailey received his undergraduate degree from Northwestern University and his Juris Doctor from Chicago-Kent College of Law, where he is a member of the Senior Partner Council. He was inducted as a fellow of the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers in 2008. 

Leah Bartelt

Deputy Public Access Counselor, Public Access Bureau

Illinois Attorney General’s Office

Leah Bartelt is the Deputy Public Access Counselor in the Public Access Bureau of the Illinois Attorney General’s Office.  She joined the office in January 2015. The Public Access Bureau works to educate public bodies and citizens about the Illinois Freedom of Information and Open Meetings Acts, and to address allegations that public bodies have violated those laws. Prior to joining the Attorney General’s Office, Leah practiced law with the ACLU of Illinois and Sidley Austin LLP, and served as a law clerk for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. Leah is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Law School, and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from the University of Chicago.

Beth Barton

UniServ Director

Illinois Education Association, NEA

Beth Barton has worked for the Illinois Education Association as a UniServ Director for 6 years.  During her time at IEA, Beth has bargained many contracts and bargained virtually through the COVID19 pandemic. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Education, a Master’s Degree in Reading Education, A Master’s Degree in Educational Technology and a Master’s Degree in School Administration. Prior to joining the IEA, Beth was a teacher for Oak Park District 97.

Mark W. Bennett


Laner Muchin, Ltd.

Mark joined Laner Muchin in 1997 as an associate and has been a partner at the Firm since 2003. He regularly negotiates collective bargaining agreements on behalf of employers for bargaining units ranging from four (4) to approximately 37,000 employees. Mark also regularly represents employers in Union election and representation cases and unfair labor practice cases before the National Labor Relations Board, the Illinois Labor Relations Board, and the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board.

Mark also represents employers in charges of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation before the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Illinois Department of Human Rights. In addition, he provides advice to employers on nearly a daily basis on labor and employment law issues, as well as representing employers in labor matters before independent arbitrators.

Mark has taught courses on labor relations at Benedictine University, is a regular speaker on labor issues at the Chicago-Kent School of Law Public Sector Labor Law Forum, and has conducted seminars for management personnel on legal and practical employment relations matters. Mark also served as an Extern with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board handling traditional labor law issues while in law school.

Thomas Bradley, Senior Counsel


Laner Muchin, Ltd.

Mr. Alex Breland

Counsel, Litigation & Employment

CDK Global

Alex Breland is an attorney who represents management in a variety of matters related to the employer-employee relationship in union and non-union workplaces. His varied experience allows him to provide sound advice and representation to clients at all points of the employment relationship from the hiring process through employee separation.

James Q. Brennwald


John Brosnan

Special Counsel

Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board

Beverly Bunch

Professor, Department of Public Administration

University of Illinois-Springfield

Beverly S. Bunch is a Professor in the Public Administration Department at the University of Illinois Springfield (UIS) with a joint appointment in the Center for State Policy and Leadership. She conducts research on state and local government budgeting and financial management. She is a co-associate editor of the Illinois Municipal Policy Journal and is leading a team of UIS researchers who are working with the Volcker Alliance on its Truth and Integrity in State Budgeting project.  She has co-authored a book with Dalitso S. Sulamoyo titled Community Action Leaders: Rooting out Poverty at the Local Level (Routlege 2017).

Lisa R. Callaway


Engler Callaway Baasten & Sraga LLC

Chelsy Castro

CEO and Founder

Castro Jacobs Psychotherapy and Consulting

Chelsy Castro, JD, MA, AM, LCSW
Chelsy Castro is CEO and Founder of Castro Jacobs Psychotherapy and Consulting (CJPC), a firm specializing in lawyer well-being. An attorney turned psychotherapist and performance strategist, Chelsy counsels individuals and the organizations they work for on how to achieve their goals in healthy and productive ways. Chelsy’s publications and trainings focus on science-based skills and strategies for improving performance and increasing well-being in high-pressure professions. After practicing law as a multilingual attorney in the field of international regulatory compliance, Chelsy later earned her clinical degree at the University of Chicago and shifted her focus to lawyer well-being. Prior to launching CJPC, Chelsy designed, developed, and managed clinical programs for the legal profession, and provided evidence-based psychotherapy and training for lawyers, judges, and law students.

Nicholas Christen

Director of Field and Organizing

Illinois Federation of Teachers

Kelly Coyle


Clark Baird Smith LLP

Kelly has a well-rounded background in Labor and Employment Law and frequently assists clients with their traditional labor issues. Kelly also advises and represents clients on a variety of other employee issues including disability pension matters and Public Employee Safety Benefit Protection Act, as well as issues regarding Title VII, the ADA, and the FMLA.

Robb Craddock

Senior Director, Labor & Employee Relations

University of Illinois

Robb B. Craddock currently serves as Senior Director of Labor and Employee Relations – Illinois Human Resources for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  At the University, Mr. Craddock serves as chief spokesperson and is responsible for the administration of twenty (20) different labor agreements covering university employees.  Mr. Craddock represents the University’s Chancellor in grievance matters. Prior to working for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Robb Craddock served as the Deputy Director of Labor Relations for the Illinois Department of Central Management Services from September 2008 through January 2015. In that role, he successfully handled labor relations matters on behalf of the Office of the Governor.  Mr. Craddock represented the largest employer in the State of Illinois.  His tenure as the State of Illinois’ chief labor negotiator exposed him to multiple labor unions including American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Service Employees International Union, Teamsters and various trade unions.  In 2019, Robb Craddock returned to Illinois Department of Central Management Services in conjunction with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to serve as Chief Labor Relations Negotiator and Executive Branch Labor Relations Advisor.  While in that capacity, he successfully negotiated an agreement with AFSCME Council 31; ending a four (4) year labor dispute.  In October 2013, Mr. Craddock accepted on behalf of the Illinois Department of Central Management Services the James Baird Leadership Award for 2013 presented by the Illinois Public Employer Labor Relations Association (IPELRA).  This annual award recognizes leadership and achievement in Illinois public sector labor relations.  Robb is an at-Large Member of the IPELRA Board of Directors, and a member of the Legislative Advocacy Committee. Mr. Craddock received his Master of Public Administration with a graduate certification in Public Sector Labor Relations from the University of Illinois at Springfield.  Mr. Craddock received his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Western Illinois University.

Tamara Cummings

General Counsel

Illinois Fraternal Order of Police Labor Council

Tamara Cummings serves as General Counsel to the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police, a large public sector union representing law enforcement bargaining units. She has held that position since January, 2010.  She has worked as an attorney for the Labor Council since 2003, and in this capacity she has represented law enforcement officers and civilian employees in all areas of labor and employment relations.  She has acted as lead counsel in contract negotiations, grievance arbitrations, interest arbitrations, discipline hearings and various court cases in circuit and appellate courts throughout the State of Illinois. Tamara has been responsible for organizing picket lines and civic protests.  Tamara oversees member and employee training and is the chief speaker at Labor Council Critical Incident Seminars which have been held across the State and attended by union members, State’s Attorneys, Chiefs of Police and County Sheriffs. Tamara is also actively involved in the legislative process, working closely with lobbyists to analyze and draft legislation. She has testified on numerous occasions both in support of and in opposition to various pieces of legislation that impact the membership. Tamara is a fellow of the American Bar Association’s College of Labor & Employment Lawyers. The College of Labor & Employment Lawyers is a non-profit professional association honoring the leading lawyers nationwide in the practice of Labor and Employment Law. Prior to joining the Labor Council, Tamara worked for the Law Offices of Joseph V.  Roddy where she primarily defended and represented Chicago Police Officers in administrative, criminal and civil matters. She tried cases in the Cook County Law, Municipal and Criminal Divisions as well as in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.  She also prepared and argued appeals before the Illinois Appellate Courts, and the United States Court of Appeals, both the Seventh and Eighth Circuits. Tamara received her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Chicago and her Juris Doctor degree from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri

Stacy Davis Gates

Vice President/Executive Vice President

Chicago Teachers Union/Illinois Federation of Teachers

Stacy Davis Gates is the Vice President of the Chicago Teachers Union and the Executive Vice President of the Illinois Federation of Teachers. Prior to her current role at the CTU, she served as the union’s Political and Legislative Director. In the fall of 2019, she helped to lead a 15-day strike and to negotiate an historic contract that provides for smaller class sizes, ensures a nurse and social worker in every Chicago public school, secures sanctuary protections for immigrant families, and supports students and families experiencing homelessness. While at the CTU, Ms. Davis Gates has been the architect of bold political and legislative campaigns for the schools and city that all Chicagoans deserve. She has raised millions of dollars to elect classroom teachers to all levels of local government and to challenge school privatizers and union-busters. Ms. Davis Gates has also spearheaded statewide legislative campaigns to pass the strongest charter school accountability measures in the country, push for the restoration of the bargaining rights of Chicago Public Schools employees, and fully fund public education by ending tax loopholes for the 1%. In 2017, Ms. Davis Gates was elected Chair of United Working Families, an independent political organization by and for working-class people and our movements. She also serves as a board member for the Action Center on Race & the Economy (ACRE), a nexus for organizations working at the intersection of the struggle for racial justice and Wall Street accountability. Ms. Davis Gates is currently on leave from the classroom, where she taught high school social studies for over a decade at Englewood, Clemente, and Mason Community Links High Schools. She attended Saint Mary’s College, the University of Notre Dame, and Concordia University. Ms. Davis Gates lives on the South Side of Chicago with her husband and three children.

Bryan Diemer


IUOE Local 150

Bryan Diemer is an attorney with the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 150, AFL-CIO.  Bryan received a law degree with honors from Chicago-Kent College of Law, as well as a master’s degree in labor and industrial relations and a bachelor’s degree in economics-- both from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  Throughout his career, he has represented labor unions and related Taft-Hartley benefit funds in federal and state court, as well as administrative agencies such as the National Labor Relations Board and the Illinois Labor Relations Board.  Bryan has also negotiated many public and private sector collective bargaining agreements and arbitrated many grievances arising under those collective bargaining agreements. 

Jennifer Dunn


Franczek P.C.

Felicia Frazier


Odelson, Sterk, Murphey, Frazier & McGrath, Ltd.

Felicia L. Frazier is a managing partner at Odelson & Sterk, Ltd. where she provides experienced counsel in the areas of school, municipal, and labor law. A graduate of Illinois State University with a degree in psychology, she earned her Juris Doctorate from John Marshall Law School. Previously, Ms. Frazier served as Assistant State’s Attorney with the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office. As a trial attorney, she prosecuted hundreds of cases in both bench and jury trials. In addition, she provided domestic battery training for Area 4 Police Headquarters personnel. Ms. Frazier presently serves as general counsel to numerous school districts, as well as village attorney for multiple municipalities. Her public sector experience includes personnel issues, labor and employment matters, and contract negotiations. She represents employers in state and local labor board hearings, as well as grievance and arbitration hearings. Ms. Frazier has served as a speaker at school and municipal conferences on topics including employee discipline, discharge, pension related issues, and social media. She has also conducted training programs for a variety of employers on labor and employment law issues. Ms. Frazier is a member of the Illinois Council of School Attorneys and the Illinois State Bar Association. She is admitted to practice in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. Along with her husband and two children, Ms. Frazier volunteers at homeless shelters and food pantries.

Leslie JP Fyans III

Legal Counsel

Teamsters Local Union No. 916

J.P. joined Teamsters Local 916 in 2008 as their legal counsel and he represents our members on disciplinary matters, grievances, contract negotiations and arbitrations. Originally from Springfield, J.P. received his Bachelor of Arts from Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington and his Juris Doctorate Degree from The John Marshall Law School in Chicago. He is licensed to practice law in Illinois, Wisconsin, and the United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois. In 2012, JP was named to the Springfield Business Journal’s “40 under 40.” In 2014 JP joined Local 916’s Executive Board as the Recording-Secretary. Since 2016, JP has served as a Trustee to the Teamsters Employer’s Welfare Trust of Illinois overseeing and administrating health care plans for Teamster members. He has presented numerous times at the Illinois Public Sector Labor Relations Law Conference and at the statewide NAACP conference. He also sits on the Joint Council 25 TVIP committee. He and his wife, Kristin, live in Sherman with their sons Jackson and Charlie.

Benjamin Gehrt


Clark Baird Smith LLP

Ben Gehrt focuses his practice on traditional labor law and employment litigation.  He has experience in grievance and interest arbitration cases, contract negotiations, and unfair labor practice charges.  Ben also represents clients in EEO and wage-hour litigation.  Prior to practicing law, Ben worked as a Plant Manager for a food manufacturing company in suburban Chicago.  His experience as a supervisor and a manager gives him a unique perspective that helps him relate to the day-to-day challenges our clients face while managing people.

Ben has represented public and private sector clients in contract negotiations and interest arbitration.  In those settings, he has helped clients obtain significant cost savings through changes in staffing levels, wage schedules, retiree insurance benefits, sick leave buyback benefits, and work rule changes, among other things.

Ben is also an experienced litigator.  In addition to representing clients in grievance arbitration proceedings, Ben has also litigated cases in the state and federal trial courts.  His litigation experience includes cases involving allegations of discrimination, employment cases alleging deprivation of constitutional rights, wage-hour disputes, and disputes over employee benefits under both ERISA and Illinois state law.  In addition to his trial court experience, Ben has successfully represented clients in the state and federal courts of appeal.

Additionally, Ben has developed a niche practice at Clark Baird Smith LLP, counseling the firm’s clients on a wide variety of wage and hour issues under both state and federal law.  In addition to handling the traditional wage payment questions that arise with private sector businesses, Ben is skilled at answering questions that are unique to the public sector, such as questions about compensatory time, 7(k) work periods, pay for canine handlers, and duty shift trades, to name a few.

Ben has been selected as a Leading Lawyer and an Illinois Super Lawyer.  

Ben has also authored and contributed to numerous books and articles regarding labor and employment law.  He is a co-editor and chapter author for Much Smarter Bargaining.  He has also authored contributions to the NPELRA Legal Corner, The Developing Labor Law (BNA), How To Take A Case Before The NLRB (8th Ed. BNA), and a chapter in the Municipal Law Deskbook (ABA 2015) published by the American Bar Association’s Section on State and Local Government Law.

In addition to his practice, Ben volunteers as a judge and advisory board member for the NICASA Teen Court.

Jeff Goelitz


Hodges, Loizzi, Eisenhammer, Rodick & Kohn LLP

As a partner in the firm and a member of the firm’s Management Committee, Jeff Goelitz represents Illinois schools and school leaders, focusing primarily on labor and personnel issues. He has guided school boards through numerous contract negotiations with teachers and staff and frequently advises superintendents and HR professionals on RIFs, evaluations, grievances, and employee misconduct investigations and termination cases. A former educator and coach himself, Jeff offers practical, actionable advice to school leaders, enabling them to focus on their core mission of leading their team and students. In addition to working through day-to-day issues with clients, a hallmark of Jeff’s practice is proactive training. Jeff is a frequent speaker at professional organizations for school boards and school administrators, including for the Illinois Association of School Boards as part of its new board member training and at annual conferences of the IASB, the IASPA, and the IASBO. Jeff approaches the practice of law from the premise that a lawyer’s job is to simplify complex issues and offer practical solutions that clients can understand and implement. School leaders know that when they work with Jeff, that’s exactly what they’ll get. In his spare time, Jeff enjoys spending time with his wife and two boys and volunteering his time to help individuals and couples regain control of their personal finances through basic budgeting strategies. 

Thaddeus H. Goodchild

Deputy General Counsel

Chicago Teachers Union

Nick Gutierrez

Staff Attorney/Investigator

Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board

A. Lynn Himes

Equity Partner

Himes,Petrarca & Fester Chtd.

Lynn Himes’ experience as a management labor and employment lawyer began when he left the Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps (JAG) and joined the Washington, D.C. law firm of Braude, Marguiles.  His clients were construction contractors, architects and surety bond companies.   In 1979, Lynn moved to Chicago and joined the law firm of Brydges, Riseborough, Morris, Franke and Miller, where he became a partner and practiced labor, employment, construction and school law. He joined Himes, Petrarca & Fester in 1986 as an equity partner.  Lynn represents Boards of Education and other units of local government.   He has negotiated hundreds of collective bargaining agreements and he has handled countless grievance arbitrations and unfair labor practice charges before the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board and the Illinois Labor Relations Board.   He devotes substantial time to defending employers against claims of employment discrimination. He also has a breadth of experience handling school law matters including construction issues, student issues and detachment/annexation hearings. Lynn has completed the IEA Interest Based Bargaining training, its training as an IBB facilitator and its Trainer of Trainers coursework.  He has also completed the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service’s IBB training.  Lynn regularly represents school boards using IBB and often serves in the dual role as the facilitator and the board’s legal representative. Lynn is currently a member of the Board of Directors of the National Council of School Attorneys.  He is a past Chairman of the Illinois Council of School Attorneys and a past member of its Board of Directors. He is a member of the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board’s Advisory Committee and the Board of Advisors for the Chicago Kent Law School Public Sector Labor Relations Annual Conference. Lynn also serves on the Illinois Association of School Business Officials, Committee on Legal Practices. A native of North Carolina, Lynn attended Davidson College, North Carolina on ROTC and football scholarships. Thereafter, he received his Juris Doctor degree from the University of North Carolina, School of Law. Lynn served as a captain in the Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps, and ultimately served as a Senior Trial attorney for the Department of the Army. In addition to the law degree, he received from the University of North Carolina School of Law, Lynn also received his Masters of Laws and Letters in Labor Law from Georgetown University. Lynn has been selected by his peers as a Martindale Hubbel AV Preeminent attorney and, also, selected to the Super Lawyers of Illinois, the Leading Lawyers of Illinois, and the Top Lawyers of Chicago.

Kimberly M. Jannotta


Del Galdo Law Group LLC

Kimberly M. Jannotta is a Partner and Chair of the School Law Practice Group with Del Galdo Law Group, LLC. The School Law Practice Group represents community colleges, elementary school districts, high school districts and a private learning institution as both general and special counsel.  Ms. Jannotta concentrates her practice in the areas of school law, labor and employment law, transactions and litigation. She has represented clients in State and Federal Courts as well as before the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Illinois Department of Human Rights. Her experience includes arbitrations, mediations, settlement conferences, advising on Open Meetings Act and Freedom of Information Act issues, presiding over Board meetings, conducting workplace investigations, engaging in collective bargaining agreement negotiations, reviewing student discipline matters, evaluating employee discipline and grievance issues and handling unfair labor practice charges as well as discrimination, harassment and retaliation claims.  Ms. Jannotta is admitted to practice in the State of Illinois and the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and the Supreme Court of the United States.  She received her B.A. from Purdue University and her J.D. from Valparaiso University School of Law.  

Alice Johnson

General Counsel

Cook County College Teachers Union -Local 1600

David A. Johnson


Franczek PC

John Kelly

Ottosen DiNolfo Hasenbalg & Castaldo, Ltd.

Helen J. Kim

General Counsel

Illinois Labor Relations Board

Mary M. M. (Betsey) Madden

Chief Legal Counsel & Ethics Officer

Illinois Department of Human Rights

Mary M. (Betsey) Madden joined the Illinois Department of Human Rights in November 2017 as the agency’s Chief Legal Counsel and Ethics Officer.  She advises the agency’s Director and staff in enforcement of the Illinois Human Rights Act and oversees the work of the Legal Division.  She previously served as Personnel Counsel at the Illinois Department of Central Management Services, where she had responsibility for employment litigation matters and providing legal representation before the Department of Human Rights, Illinois Human Rights Commission and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Within the State government, Ms. Madden also served for three years as Deputy Inspector General at the Office of Executive Inspector General (OEIG), where she managed the work of attorneys and investigators on matters under the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act.  Prior to the OEIG, she spent eight years as an Assistant Attorney General at the Illinois Attorney General’s Office, representing the interests of the State in employment litigation matters. In addition to her experience defending employment discrimination claims on behalf of the State, she also worked for several years in a small plaintiff-side employment litigation practice. Prior to attending law school, Ms. Madden was a Federal Investigator with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, in their Chicago and Washington, D.C. offices.  She is a graduate of Brown University and the Hamline University School of Law.

Jerry J. Marzullo


Asher Gittler & D'Alba Ltd.

Jerry Marzullo is a shareholder with the firm and also serves as one of the Deputy General Counsel for the Illinois Public Pension Fund Association. Jerry concentrates his practice in the area of public sector labor and employment law (where he represents both State and Federal Sector Unions) as well as public and private sector pension law and retirement systems. He has successfully represented clients in both pension and labor matters including collective bargaining, discipline, arbitrations, pension hearings (representing Pension Boards), administrative review and declaratory judgment proceedings on Administrative, State and Federal Levels. He has argued on behalf of clients in the Circuit and Appellate Courts in Illinois and before the Illinois Supreme Court. He has also represented numerous clients in Federal Court. Jerry has considerable experience in both litigation and appellate work with numerous reported, and Rule 23, decisions. Jerry is also a former Cook County Assistant State's Attorney. 

Jerry received his Juris Doctorate from the Loyola University Chicago School of Law and his Masters in Business Administration (MBA) degree from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business with a dual concentration in Strategic Management and Managerial and Organizational Behavior.

Jerry is licensed to practice law in Illinois at the State and Federal levels. He is affiliated with the Illinois State Bar Association and serves as an Advisory Committee Member for the IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law’s Illinois Public Sector Labor Relations Law Conference.

He has previously taught both undergraduate and Master’s Degree courses in various topics at the University level on both labor and other law topics. Jerry has been a frequent speaker on both labor and pension related issues for the Illinois Public Pension Fund Association, the Metropolitan Alliance of Police, the Associated Firefighters of Illinois, the Illinois Professional Firefighters Association, the Illinois Government Finance Officers Association and the Chicago-Kent Illinois Public Sector Labor Relations Conference. Jerry has authored legal articles for publication including, most recently, the Illinois Public Employee Relations Report (A Statement of Facts: The Reality of Public Safety Employee Pension Funds in the State of Illinois; Vol. 37 No. 3; Possible Wisdom and Wit regarding the Arbitration of Discipline; Vol. 39 No. 3). He has also helped train command staff police officers and firefighters at the Northeastern Illinois Public Safety Training Academy (NIPSTA).

Jerry is a City of Berwyn Battalion Chief (IAFF-AFFI Local 506) where he currently has 23 years of creditable service and is former President of the City of Berwyn Firefighter's Pension Fund and former Vice-President of IAFF-AFFI Local 506. He is a Certified Fire and Arson Investigator, Advanced Technician Firefighter and Chief Fire Officer.

Finally, and most importantly, he is happily married to one of Chicago's finest Police Lieutenants and has two evil pugs that he barely restrains from taking over the world.

Susan M. Matta


Asher Gittler & D'Alba Ltd.

Susan is a shareholder with Allison, Slutsky & Kennedy, P.C.  Her union career began in 1995, when she entered the AFL-CIO Organizing Institute’s Apprenticeship Program, and later became a staff union organizer at UFCW Local 951, where she worked on NLRB election campaigns and corporate pressure campaigns.  After graduating from law school, Susan served as a Law Fellow with Service Employees International Union on a corporate pressure campaign against a local hospital chain, where she represented individuals who were sued for medical debt.  Susan then served as the General Counsel for Service Employees International Union, Local 73 for almost ten years, where she represented both public and private employees.  As in-house General Counsel, Susan gained invaluable and extensive knowledge of the institutional concerns and needs of unions, conducted numerous trainings for both staff and members, and gained extensive experience representing the union in negotiations, arbitrations, State and Federal Court, and before the National Labor Relations Board, Illinois Labor Relations Board, Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board, Illinois Department of Human Rights and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.   

In 2013, Susan transitioned to private practice with Carmell Charone Widmer Moss & Barr, where she became a partner and focused on representing firefighter clients.  She is also experienced at representing firefighter unions in contract negotiations, contract enforcement, interest arbitration, unfair labor practice proceedings, and court litigation.  In 2022, she joined Allison, Slutsky & Kennedy, P.C., where she continues to represent public and private sector clients.

Joseph R. Mazzone

Chief Counsel

Metropolitan Alliance of Police

Joseph R. Mazzone is Chief Counsel at the Metropolitan Alliance of Police. He has had long term relationship, representing this union for the past 30 years. Mr. Mazzone attended St Ignatius College Preparatory High School and attended college at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He then attended the John Marshall Law School graduating with a Juris Doctorate degree in 1979. He volunteered for the United States Army being honorably discharged as a Military Police Officer in October, 1971. Mr. Mazzone was a police officer with the Romeoville Police Department, then served as a Special Agent with the Illinois Bureau of Investigation. He was a prosecutor for the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office leaving that office in 1984. He then joined the Schenk Law Firm becoming a partner in 1988. His practice concentrates in the fields of Labor and Employment Law.

Melissa Mlynski

Associate Vice Chancellor of Human Resources

University of Illinois Springfield

Taylor Muzzy

Jacobs, Burns, Orlove & Hernandez LLP

Mike Newman

Deputy Director

AFSCME Council 31

Erin O'Boyle

Deputy Director, Labor Relations

State of Illinois, Central Management Services

Jill P. O'Brien


Laner Muchin, Ltd.

Jill O’Brien is an Equity Partner at Laner Muchin, Ltd. She is a member of the Firm’s Executive Committee and the firm’s Hiring Chairperson. Throughout her 30 years of practice with Laner Muchin, Ltd., her practice has focused on the representation of public and private sector employers in a wide variety of labor relations and employment matters, including collective bargaining negotiations, grievance handling, mediation and interest arbitration hearings. She also defends employers in employment disputes and labor proceedings in court and before agencies such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Illinois Department of Human Rights, Illinois Human Rights Commission, Chicago Human Rights Commission, the Illinois Department of Labor, and the National Labor Relations Board. She also counsels employers and offers management training programs concerning day-to-day labor and employment and human resource issues such as terminations, disciplinary issues, leaves of absence, policy issues, wage and hour issues. She received a B.S. in law enforcement administration from Western Illinois University and a J.D. from John Marshall Law School.

Karl Ottosen

Managing Partner

Ottosen DiNolfo Hasenbalg & Castaldo, Ltd.

Karl R. Ottosen is Managing Partner and Shareholder of Ottosen DiNolfo Hasenbalg & Castaldo, Ltd. Hehas over 28 years of experience representing governmental bodies, private corporations, and individuals in a variety of labor and employment law issues. Mr. Ottosen frequently negotiates contracts with unions representing bargaining units in law enforcement, fire protection, education, public works, and other public services, as well as with private sector manufacturing units. Mr. Ottosen is regularly selected to speak at seminars and workshops on labor, employment, and local government law issues. His topics include issues in finance, litigation, anti-discrimination compliance, supervisor training, sexual harassment, violence in the workplace, and other general labor and employment concerns. He received a B.S. from Western Illinois University and a J.D. from University of Illinois College of Law.

Brenda D. Pryor


Federal Mediation & Conciliation Service

Brenda Pryor joined the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) in October 2019, as a Commissioner in the Chicago, IL Field Office. In this capacity, she assists parties in the private, public and federal sectors in contract negotiations, in grievance mediation and in resolving workplace disputes. She is available to train labor and management advocates in collective bargaining, contract administration and grievance processing, steward/supervisor relationships, labor management committee structure and process, problem solving, communication and decision making. Prior to her career at FMCS, Ms. Pryor served as an Associate General Counsel for Labor & Employment Law at SIU School of Medicine. Additionally, Ms. Pryor spent a decade as Legal Counsel for the Cook County College Teachers Union Local 1600 representing faculty, professional staff, and paraprofessional employees. In both positions, she was engaged in collective bargaining, contract administration, grievance arbitration, and employee training. Ms. Pryor also has extensively presented on a variety of subjects at the national level for the American Bar Association Section on Labor & Employment Law, the AFL-CIO’s Lawyer’s Coordinating Committee, and served as a Co-Chair of the ABA’s ADR in Labor & Employment Law Subcommittee. Additionally, she is an active member of the Illinois State Bar Association’s Labor & Employment Law Section Council. Ms. Pryor holds a Juris Doctor from the James E. Rogers College of Law at the University of Arizona, and a Bachelor of Science from the University of Minnesota. Ms. Pryor is a born and raised native of Chicago, IL.

Brian E. Reynolds


Brian E. Reynolds has been a labor arbitrator, based in Springfield, Illinois, since 2004.  From 1985 until 2003, Mr. Reynolds served as Executive Director of the Illinois Labor Relations Board.  Prior to joining the Board, he served as a labor attorney for the Illinois Department of Central Management Services and as an attorney for the Illinois Attorney General’s Office and the Illinois Commerce Commission.  Mr. Reynolds received his J.D. degree from the University of Illinois in 1978 and his B.A. in Economics from the University of  Dayton in 1975.

Tyson Roan

Chief of Staff

Illinois Federation of Teachers

Mr. Roan is Chief of Staff for SEIU Local 73, where he advises the executive leadership team that represents 30,000 workers in Illinois and Indiana.  Local 73 represents service, clerical, technical and professional workers primarily in the public sector in Illinois and Indiana who are employed in state government, local government, school districts, publicly funded social service agencies and colleges and universities.  Previously, Mr. Roan worked for over a decade in Local 73’s legal department as counsel and general counsel, where he oversaw the comprehensive legal strategy of the union and handled hundreds of cases before arbitrators, in court, and before labor boards and other administrative bodies.  Mr. Roan is a 2008 graduate of Chicago-Kent College of Law, and a 2005 graduate of the University of Illinois at Springfield. 

Andrew Slobodien

Associate Director, Labor and Employee Relations

University of Illinois at Chicago

Andrew Slobodien is currently Associate Director for Labor and Employee Relations at University of Illinois – Chicago.  In this role, he is lead negotiator and administrator of contracts with the U of I hospital’s unions (residents, nurses, security, support workers) and UIC police and faculty unions.  Previously, Andrew was Managing Attorney for Labor Relations at Chicago Public Schools where he lead a team of lawyers defending the district’s grievance arbitrations and unfair labor practice cases.  Before joining the public sector in 2013, Andrew was a partner at the international law firm Wildman, Harrold, Allen & Dixon, where he advised and litigated on behalf of management on labor and employment matters. Andrew received a B.A. from Haverford College, an M.A. from the Univesity of Chicago and a J.D. from Chicago-Kent College of Law.

Amber Spainhour

Assistant Director, Labor Relations

State of Illinois, Central Management Services

Amber Spainhour is Assistant Director of Labor Relations at the State of Illinois, Department of Central Management Services. Amber leads and assists in negotiating State of Illinois master collective bargaining agreements, including the State’s largest contract with AFSCME, covering approximately 38,000 employees. She provides advice on interpretation of complex collective bargaining agreements and statewide personnel policies to agencies under the jurisdiction of the Governor. She also serves on a team developing statewide labor policy for employees under the Governor and represent the State in grievance and unfair labor practice hearings with various labor unions. Amber received a B.S. from Eastern Illinois University and an M.P.A. from the University of Illinois Springfield.

Kimberly Stevens

Executive Director

Illinois Labor Relations Board

Kimberly Stevens is the Executive Director of the Illinois Labor Relations Board. Prior to her current position with the Labor Board, Ms. Stevens was most recently Deputy General Counsel at the Illinois State Board of Education. Ms. Stevens has also worked for the Illinois Labor Relations Board as an Administrative Law Judge, and she previously served as labor relations counsel for the Department of Central Management Services, representing the State of Illinois in contract negotiations, arbitration hearings, and cases before the ILRB. Ms. Stevens began her legal career at the Illinois Attorney General’s office in the civil trials bureau, where she was responsible for government defense litigation in State and federal courts as well as administrative matters before State merit boards and commissions. Ms. Stevens received her Bachelor’s degree summa cum laude in history, political science, and humanities from Valparaiso University and her Juris Doctor degree magna cum laude from the Valparaiso University School of Law.

Ellen Maureen Strizak

General Counsel

Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board

Chuck Sullivan


Associated Fire Fighters of Illinois

Chuck is President of the Associated Fire Fighters of Illinois.  He has served in that role since January of 2020.  The AFFI represents over 15,000 firefighters and paramedics in 225 locals across the state.

Prior to becoming the President, he served as the AFFI Central District Legislative Representative from 2008-2020.  During that time, he worked extensively on legislation and rules within Article 4 of the Illinois Pension Statute that affects Downstate and Suburban Firefighters. Chuck Sullivan was appointed to the Firefighters’ Pension Investment Fund Board on January 31, 2020. Chuck has served as Chairperson of the Board of Trustees since the Board’s inception.

Chuck has an Associate’s degree in Fire Science and a Bachelor’s degree from Eastern Illinois University. He was a firefighter with the City of Champaign from 1995 until his retirement in March of 2022 at the rank of Battalion Chief.  In addition he is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force and served in Desert Storm.

Anita Tanay

General Counsel

ATU Local 308

John J. Weathers


Federal Mediation & Conciliation Service

John Weathers is Commissioner of Mediation in the Peoria, Illinois field service area of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS). Mr. Weathers joined the FMCS in 2016 after working as labor counsel for the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police Labor Council (ILFOPLC) in Springfield, IL for over six years. While with the ILFOPLC he negotiated and administered numerous collective bargaining agreements, presented cases in grievance and interest arbitration, and handled various court and labor board issues. Prior to his employment with the ILFOPLC, Mr. Weathers worked for the State of Illinois Department of Central Management Services (CMS) for nearly four years. His duties at CMS included grievance arbitration, unfair labor practices charges filed against state employees and agencies and negotiation of collective bargaining agreements.. Prior to practicing labor law Mr. Weathers was an State of Illinois Assistant Attorney General focused on defending the State in Federal and State Courts against various constitutional claims. Mr. Weathers received his undergraduate degree in political science from the University of Illinois and his law degree from the Kent College of Law at the Illinois Institute of Technology.

Dennis L. Weedman


Robbins Schwartz

Dennis L. Weedman is a partner in the Collinsville office of Robbins Schwartz. He represents school districts, community colleges, county boards and other units of local government in labor negotiations and employment related matters, including complaints and charges of discrimination, wrongful termination litigation, claims of sexual harassment, civil rights violations and unfair labor practice charges. He also advises clients on the handling of grievances, as well as represents public entities in labor arbitration hearings. Mr. Weedman also counsels clients in all areas of personnel management, as well as in the areas of board governance, general education law and student rights and responsibilities. Mr. Weedman has served on the Illinois State Bar Association's Labor and Employment Section and is a frequent presenter for the Illinois Association of School Boards and at statewide conferences, including the Chicago-Kent School of Law Public Sector Labor Relations Conference. Prior to joining Robbins Schwartz, Mr. Weedman served as an Administrative Law Judge with the Illinois Labor Relations Board and was Labor Relations Counsel for the Illinois Department of Central Management Services. Mr. Weedman received his B.A. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and his J.D. from Southern Illinois University School of Law.

Joel M Weisblatt


New Jersey Public Employment Relations Commission

Joel Weisblatt serves as full-time Chair of the New Jersey Public Employment Relations Commission (NJ PERC) with jurisdiction over all public sector collective negotiations relationships in New Jersey. The Agency has divisions of Conciliation and Arbitration, Unfair Practices and Representation and of a General Counsel. Prior to joining NJ PERC, Mr. Weisblatt engaged in practice as an arbitrator, mediator and fact finder in labor relations disputes. He served as an impartial third party in over 5,000 matters involving employers and unions in both the public and private sectors and in various other employment disputes including individual employment contracts and employment issues involving statutory claims (e.g. FLSA, EEO and FMLA). From 1977 – 1982 he served as a staff mediator with the New Jersey Public Employment Relations Commission and assisted the parties in several hundred disputes including numerous crisis bargaining situations. Mr. Weisblatt received a B.S. from Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations and a J.D. from Brooklyn Law School.

Steve A. Yokich


Dowd, Bloch, Bennett, Cervone, Auerbach & Yokich, LLP

Stephen A. Yokich graduated from Northwestern University in 1978 and cum laude from the University of Michigan Law School in 1981. He clerked for the Honorable George Clifton Edwards, the Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit from 1981 to 1982. Stephen served as the General Counsel for Labor for the Education and Labor Committee of the United States House of Representatives from 1993 to 1994 and as Associate General Counsel for the International Union, UAW in the UAW’s Washington D.C. office from 1995 to 1998. He currently holds a part-time position as Associate General Counsel for the UAW. Stephen represents private and public sector labor unions in cases before state and federal labor relations boards and in state and federal trial and appellate courts. This representation encompasses the enforcement of union contracts and the defense of cases involving allegations of discrimination, breach of the duty of fair representation and state law torts. He represents unions in cases with the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration and with State occupational safety and health agencies. He also represents individuals and classes of individuals in suits under the civil rights acts, in suits involving the wage and hour laws and in suits involving retiree health and pension benefits. Stephen is admitted to the bar of the State of Illinois and to the Northern, Central and Southern Districts of Illinois and the Northern District of Indiana. He is also admitted to the bar of the United States Supreme Court and to the United State Courts of Appeals for the District of Columbia, and the Third, Fourth, Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Circuits.