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Commissioner Bridget Gainer
Noted by MSNBC’s Chuck Todd as a rising star in Illinois politics, Commissioner Gainer was elected to the Cook County Board in 2010. With an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago and a strong background in finance, Commissioner Gainer’s first act as a County Commissioner was to create Cook County’s first Pension Committee. As Chairman, Commissioner Gainer led the charge to find a pension reform solution that was fair to both taxpayers and workers. To keep the public engaged, Commissioner Gainer launched an open-data pension website (OpenPensions.org) where press, the public and County employees could go for details on plans and proposals. The result was a working group of labor and government officials who drafted one of the state’s first collaborative pension reform bills.
Commissioner Gainer created the Cook County Land Bank, the region’s most comprehensive response to reduce the amount and impact of vacant land and abandoned buildings throughout Cook County. Bringing together realtors, private developers, civic and social leaders, and Commissioner Gainer’s work to create the Cook County Land Bank has been noted in the Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times and Crain’s Chicago Business.
In addition to Commissioner Gainer’s work with finance and foreclosure, she is creating a new asset for regional workforce development by bringing together community colleges, high schools and businesses to reimagine apprenticeships. Commissioner Gainer believes that if the United States is going to be a leader in the global labor market we have to ensure our job training today looks more like the economy of tomorrow. Commissioner Gainer believes rather than just focusing on the skills gap we have to fight the training gap by bringing employers into the workforce development process.
Finally, Commissioner Gainer has devoted special interest to the women and children in the County’s criminal justice system. She eliminated the practice of separating new mothers awaiting trial from their newborns, led the fight to ban shackling pregnant detainees during delivery, created the first citizen advisory Board for the Juvenile Detention Center and continues to lead the fight to reduce the number of non-violent offenders in County Jail.
Colleen is the Executive Director of Playworks Illinois. Playworks is a national organization that leverages the power of play to transform children’s social, emotional, and physical health at school.
Colleen graduated from the University of Minnesota with degrees in Global Studies and Spanish. She started her career as a Playworks program coordinator providing direct services to students at an elementary school in Baltimore, Maryland. She spent the last 15 years serving in a variety of leadership roles with Playworks in Baltimore, Oakland, and Chicago, during which she developed a strong belief in the power of play to bring out the best in everyone.
Colleen sees the value of youth empowerment and developing the whole child, striving to bring opportunities to more kids in Chicago to develop social and emotional skills necessary to succeed in today’s world.
Colleen is a Leadership Greater Chicago 2018 Fellow and a New Leaders Council Chicago 2016 Fellow. She also served as a Curriculum Co-Chair on the New Leaders Council executive board. She served as a community representative on the Local School Council for Pulaski International School, is part of the Bucktown Community Organization, and served on the Leadership Council of the Laureus Sport for Good Chicago collaborative.
When she’s not fostering safe, healthy play on the 4-square court, you can find Colleen at a farmers’ market, traveling with her spouse Adam, walking her three puggles, and running on the 606
Dr. Inger Burnett-Zeigler is a licensed clinical psychologist and Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University. She is also a mindfulness trainer and certified yoga instructor. She has over 15 years of experience providing psychological interventions to help clients with mood and anxiety disorders, stress management, interpersonal relationships and wellness promotion.
Dr. Burnett-Zeigler is an advocate for eliminating mental illness stigma and assuring that all individuals have access to high-quality, evidence based mental health care. Her research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the Greer Family Foundation. She has published over 20 research articles in psychiatry and psychiatry journals. Additionally, she has written for The New York Times, TIME magazine, The Hill and Chicago Tribune. She has been invited to speak nationwide on disparities in mental illness and treatment, the impact of trauma on mental and physical health and the use of mindfulness to promote self-care. She gave the TEDx talk “Lessons from Yoga on Living a Life with Intention”. She is on the board of directors for several non-profits including Heartland Alliance Health, Thresholds and the African-American Legacy Initiative of the Chicago Community Trust. She is currently writing the book “Unbreakable: Trauma, Love and the Emotional Lives of Black Women (Amistad Press, expected release date 2020).
Dr. Jasmin Searcy
"Challenging Minds, Changing Lives and Uplifting the Human Spirit" is the central mission of Dr. Jasmin Searcy. She is a Licensed Clinical Health Psychologist at Near North Health Service Corporation, a Federally Qualified Health Center. Dr. Searcy earned her Master of Science Degree in Clinical/Community Counseling from Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, Maryland) and a Doctoral Degree in Clinical Psychology from Jackson State University (Jackson, MS). Prior to Near North, Dr. Searcy provided behavioral health services in a variety of settings, including hospitals and community clinics, most recently at La Rabida in Chicago, Illinois. She also currently serves as Clinical Lecturer/Professor(and Course Developer) at Northwestern University.
At Near North Health, Dr. Searcy specializes in collaborating with primary care (i.e., Pediatrics) and specialty providers (i.e., Early Intervention Services for HIV) in efforts to provide trauma-informed assessment, therapy, and consultation services. In her work, she offers an eclectic set of evidence-based interventions, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), motivational interviewing (MI), clinical hypnosis, and parent management training to patients presenting with general outpatient mental health concerns (e.g., depression, anxiety) and complications secondary to chronic or acute medical conditions (e.g., diabetes mellitus). The focus of her practice is the interactions between the mind and the body and the powerful ways in which biological, psychological and social factors affect physical health and well-being. Additionally, Dr. Searcy has published journal articles across a range of clinical topics, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and pediatric sickle cell disease.
Regarding hobbies, Dr. Searcy has run several 5k/10k walk/runs including the Chicago Half Marathon. Before pursuing psychology, she was featured in Ebony magazine (April 2008) as Miss Jackson State University. Dr. Searcy has given countless motivational and mental health seminars to various audiences to include community and social groups, and various organizations such as the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and American Psychological Association. She is also a member of the esteemed Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated and was recently inducted into the 2021 IMPACT Leadership Development Program cohort with the Chicago Urban League to name a few. When she is not engaging in her work, she enjoys opportunities for civic engagement, spending time with her energetic family, and running/biking