Meet the hardworking team that curates programs, makes introductions, advocates on behalf of business, plans events, shares your news, and supports you in every way.

Chamber Senior Executives

Jack Lavin

President & Chief Executive Officer, Chamber Senior Executives

Jack has more than 35 years of financial and management experience in both the public and private sectors. Throughout his career, Jack has focused on economic and business development in order to create jobs and improve the quality of life for people in Chicago and Illinois. 

Jack served as Director of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, the state’s economic and workforce development agency. He also served as Chief of Staff for Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, and Chief Operating Officer of the State of Illinois. He led the passage and implementation of the largest capital infrastructure bill in Illinois history and was responsible for managing the operations of the Governor’s office and all State government agencies. 

Jack serves his community on the boards of the Chicago Children’s Theatre and the University YMCA. He also served on several task forces for the Mayor of Chicago, including most recently The Museum Campus Working Group and the Central Business District Recovery Task Force. Jack is a strong advocate for people with disabilities. He led a Task Force for Mayor Daley on Special Education in the Chicago Public Schools and serves on the advisory board of the Adult Down Syndrome Center. 

BS, University of Illinois, Finance
MS, International Relations, University of Chicago
MBA, University of Chicago Booth School of Business 


Sara Barnett

Senior Vice President of Operations & Administration, Chamber Senior Executives

Sara guides strategic planning efforts and directs timelines and resources for both the Chamber and Foundation. She advises the Chamber’s senior management on human resources, financial planning, budgeting, cost efficiencies, cash flow, investment priorities, and policy matters. 

Previously, Sara served as the President and CEO of the destination marketing organization, Visit Oak Park, promoting the 18 community area covering western Cook County to leisure and business travelers.

Prior to that, Sara served as Chief of Staff and Chief Transition Officer for the Illinois Lottery, and her role included management of the relationship with the Lottery’s first-ever private manager. She served as the key policy advisor on the historic launch of Internet Lottery ticket sales and provided oversight to four specialty funded lottery tickets supporting health and veterans services. Sara served as chief of intergovernmental affairs and led the Lottery’s legislative initiatives, and she was named one of Global Gaming Business Magazine’s 40 Under 40 for 2015 for her work.

Outside of work, Sara enjoys swimming, biking, and attending concerts with her husband. She is an active Berwyn resident, and she previously served on the Board of Oak Park’s Unity Temple Restoration Foundation.  

BA, Marquette University, Political Science 
MA, Northwestern University, Public Policy and Administration


Jan Kostner

Senior Vice President, Membership & Corporate Relations, Chamber Senior Executives

She has a wealth of experience in both the private and public sectors. She began her career at Jasculca Terman Strategic Communications, where she served many corporate clients. In government, Jan was the longest-serving Director of Tourism for the State of Illinois. She later was part of the team that created the University of Chicago Institute of Politics. Most recently, Jan served as Director of Marketing at the Chicago Architecture Biennial.

BA, New England College, Communications
Certificate in Social Media Marketing, DePaul University


Emily Cooper

Vice President, Programs, Chamber Senior Executives

As the Vice President of Programs, Emily drives innovative and impactful programming for the Chamber. She leads a dynamic team, working collaboratively with government relations, communications, and events teams to ensure the successful implementation of events and strategies. Emily’s focus on Emerging Leaders, DEIA programming, Technology Council, Workforce and Talent Council, and Mid-Market Chicago has enhanced membership engagement and contributed to the advancement of advocacy and policy priorities in the Chicago business landscape. 

Previously, Emily held the role of Director at the Illinois Science and Technology Coalition, where she spearheaded the development of partnerships and initiatives with top companies.  

Outside of her professional commitments, Emily enjoys traveling, exploring Chicago’s thriving culinary scene, and practicing Pilates and yoga. She is also involved in several community organizations, including the Illinois Science and Technology Coalition, All Raise Chicago, Chicago Youth Centers, and Chicago Women in Philanthropy. 

BA, Indiana University, Sociology
MPP, American University, Public Policy 


Brad Tietz

Vice President, Government Relations and Strategy, Chamber Senior Executives

Previously, Brad served as the Director of Legislative Affairs for the Illinois Department Commerce and Economic Opportunity. In this role, Brad was successful in shepherding through the legislative process a number of bills that created new programs and modernized existing programs always with a focus on transparency and ensuring greater access for small and minority-owned businesses. Before that, he served as a Senior Legislative Analyst for revenue and labor issues for the Illinois House Republican Caucus.

He currently resides on the northwest side of Chicago with his wife and son.

BA, Illinois Wesleyan University, Political Science


Joel Reese

Vice President, Marketing and Communications, Chamber Senior Executives

Joel oversees the communications and marketing strategy for the Chamber. He creates thought leadership, directs content initiatives, puts together messaging plans, and more. He communicates and presents the Chamber’s benefits to members, supporters, Chicago’s civic community, the media, and a broad audience of influencers and decision-makers.   

Prior to joining the Chamber, Joel served as the Director of Editorial and Content Services at Kivvit (now Avoq), where he wrote speeches for C-level executives and global leaders, including President Barack Obama; led content initiatives for Fortune 50 clients; and contributed to major publications such as Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Miami Herald, Boston Globe, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and more. He previously worked at several international ad agencies, and before that was an award-winning journalist in Montana and California. 

He lives in Chicago with his wife and daughter. When he’s not at the Chamber, you can find him on a climbing wall or teaching his daughter how to throw a Frisbee forehand. 

BA, Lawrence University, English
MA, University of Montana, Journalism 


Chamber Staff

Hannah Ashby

Coordinator, Events, Chamber Staff

Hannah ensures the seamless execution of over 85 Chamber events annually, including the Burnham Dinner, which brings in more than 700 guests. Hannah utilizes CRM technology to promote events and analyze data, develops tactical plans to assist with the execution of the Chamber’s four signature events, manages and allocates budgets related to membership events, and conducts post-event evaluations to measure success and determine opportunities for growth. 

Prior to joining the Chamber, Hannah served as an Engagement Coordinator at Impact House, where she curated social media content and managed community newsletters. 

Outside of work, she enjoys hanging out at local coffee shops, rollerblading along the lakefront, attending spin classes, and pursuing creative activities like painting ceramic pottery. Hannah also serves as the Communications Chair on the associate board of Children’s Place Association. 

BA, Communication, Hope College 


Chase Berman

Manager, Member Engagement, Chamber Staff

Chase’s role entails recruiting new Chamber members and reactivating former members. By driving engagement with prospective and current members, he works to spread the Chamber’s mission to businesses across Chicagoland.

Previously, Chase was at Command Transportation (later acquired by Echo Global Logistics), a freight brokerage company. There, he worked in sales, customer service, new business development, and learned the complexities of government-business relationships.

In his spare time, Chase explores new restaurants around Chicago — and the world — with his wife.

MA, University of Arizona, Political Science


Corbett Campbell

Coordinator, Membership Retention, Chamber Staff

Corbett’s responsibilities include helping Chamber members achieve short- and long-term success, consulting with members to understand their business goals, facilitating connections within the Chamber community, and advising companies on opportunities for involvement. 

Prior to joining the Chamber, Corbett worked as the Programs and Events Manager at the Jeffersontown Chamber of Commerce in Louisville, Kentucky, where he organized programs and events. During his time there, the organization was awarded the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce Executives Excellence in Events Award for 2021. 

Outside of work, Corbett can be found honing his rock-climbing skills or planning his next skiing or camping adventure. 

BA, Centre College, International Studies 


Pati Flannery

ETIP Consultant, Chamber Staff

Pati manages partnerships between the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) and various stakeholders, including universities, community colleges, and trainers. This role helps the process of upskilling employees in Illinois-based companies and nonprofits through the employee training grant programs. 

Previously, Pati served as Director of Strategic Partnerships at Ariadne Maps and as Director of Strategic Sponsorships for the Illinois Governor’s Conference on Travel and Tourism. In this role, she developed partnerships for analytics, print, digital, and social media campaigns that generated billions of dollars in economic value for the travel and tourism industry in more than 40 states.   

When she’s not at the Chamber, you can find Pati exploring Chicago’s neighborhoods and Midwest running trails chasing the elusive runner’s high. She’s also an avid book lover of enlightening non-fiction, historical fiction, inspiring biographies, and thrilling mysteries. 

BS, Business Management, National Louis University 


Ramiro Hernandez

Manager, Government Relations & Public Policy, Chamber Staff

Ramiro’s responsibilities include assisting the Vice President of GR and Strategy as they lobby the city, county, and state levels of government. He also provides government relations services to members, and he helps staff the Chamber’s PPC, PAC, and Infrastructure & Digitalization Committee. 

Before joining the Chamber, Ramiro spent eight years as a senior research analyst for the Illinois House Minority Leader, where he gained experience in legislative affairs and campaign management. During his time working for the State of Illinois, he staffed the House Revenue & Finance, and Labor & Commerce Committees for the Caucus. Outside of his legislative work, he was involved in and managed numerous political campaigns. 

Outside of work, Ramiro enjoys watching his beloved Chicago White Sox and attending live music shows across the city. 

BA, DePaul University, History; minors in Political Thought and Professional Writing 


Eric Horn

Business Advisor, SBDC, Chamber Staff

Gena Killian

Manager, Events, Chamber Staff

Gena oversees and collaborates closely with the Events Coordinator for Membership Events, engages with the VP of Corporate Development for Signature Events, and provides support to the VP and Manager of Programs as needed.  

Prior to joining the Chamber, Gena served as a Senior Program Manager at Tangerine Meetings & Events, where she oversaw national sales meetings and incentive programs for prominent health care companies. Before that, her work included stints at Jefferies LLC, Barclays Capital, and Lehman Brothers.  

Outside of work, Gena cherishes moments with her husband, two sons, and stepdaughter, and enjoys culinary adventures with friends and family. 

BS, University of Dayton, Marketing


Alex Krebs

Director, Marketing and Communications, Chamber Staff

Alex orchestrates comprehensive marketing strategies that enhance organizational visibility and engagement. He also manages the Chamber’s social media and email campaigns, maintains the website, provides graphic design work, and assists with events.  

Before joining the Chamber, Alex served as Assistant Director of Marketing and Fan Engagement at Oregon State University Athletics Department, where he spearheaded several marketing initiatives. He helped direct the successful “We Are Family” campaign, which led to significant increases in ticket revenue and digital engagement.  

Outside of work, he enjoys playing pond hockey in the winter, beach volleyball in the summer, and basketball year-round. 

MS, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Recreation, Sport, and Tourism 
BS, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Recreation, Sport, and Tourism 
Currently attending University of Chicago Booth School of Business part-time MBA program


Adrienne McFarland

Center Director, Illinois Small Business Development Center at the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, Chamber Staff

Adrienne provides leadership, managing operations, fosters community engagement, and monitors the performance of the Center to ensure it effectively supports the development and growth of small businesses in the Chicagoland area.  

Adrienne previously served as the Senior Midwest Regional Development Representative at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, where she helped generate revenue, manage donor efforts, and orchestrate impactful fundraising events. Additionally, she previously co-owned and operated an event furniture rental and retail company called Chaibles.  

Outside of her work, Adrienne enjoys spending quality time with her husband and children, and exploring the vibrant city of Chicago. 

BA, Mass Communication, Tennessee State University 
M.Ed, Sports Administration, Tennessee State University


Sofia Rivera

Manager, Programs, Chamber Staff

Sofia collaborates closely with the Vice President of Programs, contributing to program development, strategic planning, and execution. She builds awareness for Chamber programs by developing effective communication strategies; securing venues, panelists, and sponsorships; and managing various councils and programs, including the UNITY program, which celebrates diversity within the Chamber.  

Previously, Sofia held other positions within the Chamber, including Board Liaison, Executive Assistant to the President and CEO, and Programs Intern. Prior to this work, she supported the Pulaski Elston Business Association, and gained administrative experience at an insurance company headquarters.  

Outside of the Chamber, Sofia is an avid traveler who immerses herself in diverse cultures and traditions. She also runs a small business specializing in personalized gifts and collaborates with artisans from Guatemala, championing fair compensation and helping them develop sustainable practices in their craft. 

BA, Northeastern Illinois University, Business Administration
MBA, Northeastern Illinois University, Business Administration


Thorsten Sahlin

Manager, Member Engagement, Chamber Staff

Thorsten fosters strong relationships with members and creates meaningful engagement between them and the Chamber. His responsibilities include prospecting and onboarding new members, organizing member events, providing advice to ensure an optimal Chamber experience, and facilitating collaborations among members. 

Prior to his current role, Thorsten worked at Groupon as a Merchant Success Manager, where he was promoted three times within a two-year span. 

Outside of his professional commitments, Thorsten is an avid painter with a studio in Humboldt Park, he skateboards and snowboards, and he is writing a novel. 

BFAW, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Creative Writing (Poetry) 


Jackson Stalowir

Executive Assistant to the President and Board Liaison, Chamber Staff

in his capacity as Board Liaison, Jackson directs communication between the Board of Directors and the Executive Committee; as Executive Assistant to President and CEO Jack Lavin, Jackson manages schedules and coordinates logistics for senior Chamber leadership. Jackson also plays a pivotal role in event planning for Board and Executive Committee meetings and signature events, and he maintains the office environment and assists with supply orders.  

Previously, Jackson contributed to successful electoral campaigns as a Production Associate at The Strategy Group, where he analyzed voter and survey data and helped create hundreds of direct mail pieces. Jackson worked on 16 different local, state, and federal elections, and 15 of those resulted in successful outcomes.  

Outside of work, Jackson enjoys reading fiction, refining his drawing skills, exploring Chicago’s vibrant neighborhoods, and cooking.  

BBA, Loyola University of Chicago, Economics 
BA, Loyola University of Chicago, Political Science 


Jill Synoga

Controller, Chamber Staff

Jill manages the Chamber’s finances, and her responsibilities include overseeing financial operations, preparing monthly statements and annual budgets, coordinating audits, and managing cash reports for grants.  

Jill has been with the Chamber since graduating from college, starting as a Staff Accountant and progressing through roles such as Senior Accountant, Director, and Senior Director before assuming her current position.  

During her free time, Jill enjoys baking cookies and staying active by swimming and participating in 5K walks. 

BS, St. Xavier University, Accounting
MBA, St. Xavier University, Finance


Sarah Tuohy

Director, Member Engagement, Chamber Staff

Sarah focuses on bringing new members onboard and ensuring existing members utilize their benefits effectively, including attending networking and programming events.  

Before she began working at the Chamber, Sarah worked as a Senior Event Marketing Representative at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, where she organized impactful fundraising events in the Midwest and cultivated relationships with sponsors, donors, and volunteers.  

Outside of work, Sarah enjoys traveling with friends and hosting cocktail and dinner parties. She also volunteers for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, JDRF, and Gateway to Learning. 

BA, St. Norbert College, Sociology 


Nico Varela

Associate, Member Resources, Chamber Staff

Nicolas oversees a wide variety of responsibilities at the Chamber, including updating the organization’s database, handling member invoicing, and creating reports and dashboards to gauge campaign performance — all while integrating user experience best practices.   

Previously, Nicolas worked as a register operator at Hyvee, where he ensured customer satisfaction by assisting them during their visits and purchases and provided translation services.

Outside the Chamber, Nicolas plays in several soccer leagues and enjoys exploring the city.  

A, Briar Cliff University, Business Administration


Heng Vong

Staff Accountant, Chamber Staff

Sokheng helps manage the Chamber’s finances, which includes overseeing accounts payable, reconciling balance sheets, handling accounts receivable, and ensuring the accuracy of financial records.  

Prior to joining the Chamber, Sokheng worked as a Junior Staff Accountant at Afable Consulting LLC, where he gained experience in bookkeeping and balancing accounts. Sokheng was also actively involved in college organizations such as the Asian/Pacific-Islander American Coalition Club and the Sigma Pi Fraternity.  

Outside of work, Sokheng enjoys spending quality time with his cat Mochi and searching Chicago for the perfect bowl of ramen. 

BS, Illinois State University, Finance 


John Yoo

Senior Manager, CRM Administrator & IT, Chamber Staff

John oversees the management of the Chamber’s CRM/database, builds queries for custom reporting, handles day-to-day CRM issues, and collaborates with IT vendors on upgrades and new projects.  

Prior to joining the Chamber, John worked at Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese as a Web Developer and Microsoft SharePoint Administrator, where he was responsible for all stages of DNN website development and maintenance. 

Outside of work, John enjoys staying active with workouts at the gym and CrossFit, reading about technology and world news, exploring the city with friends, and watching documentaries. 

BS, Michigan State University, Business Administration/Management Information Systems