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Program Staff

Executive Director

E. Hoy McConnell, II

Even before Hoy McConnell became BPI’s Executive Director in September 1999, he was active on the Board of Directors — as a member since 1981 and president from 1990-96. Previously Hoy led a distinguished career in the advertising agency business. At the Leo Burnett Company, Hoy was Senior Vice President, Account Director. He joined Burnett from D’Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles Worldwide (DMB&B), where from 1983 until 1995 he served as Managing Director of DMB&B/Chicago, leading the 160-person Chicago office, which steadily grew under his direction. Hoy received a BA magna cum laude from Yale University and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Did you know?  Hoy and his wife Patti have biked together in 15 countries on 6 continents.

Contact E. Hoy McConnell, II

Senior Education Associate

Angela M. Bailey

Angela joined BPI in 2013. Before BPI, Angela worked as a Policy Associate at the Chicago Jobs Council where she managed the organization's advocacy strategy for regional workforce and economic development initiatives, including the proposed CTA Red Line South Extension and the Chicagoland Green Collar Jobs Initiative. Prior to this, at the University of Chicago, Angela worked as a Research Assistant under Dr. Charles Payne as part of the Woodlawn Children’s Promise Community. Angela is a 2008 graduate of Knox College with an MA from the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration, where she was a 2009 City of Chicago Mayoral Fellow.

Did you know? Angela does Olympic-style weightlifting.

Contact Angela M. Bailey

Co-Director, Public Housing; Senior Staff Counsel

Julie Elena Brown

Julie Elena Brown joined BPI in 1989 and currently is co-leader of BPI’s public housing program, directing both policy development and litigation efforts. Prior to BPI, Julie began her career as Assistant Corporation Counsel with the City of Chicago Law Department. She holds a BA from the University of Wisconsin and a JD from the University of Wisconsin Law School, where she was a member of the Law Review and an editor at the International Law Journal.

Did you know? Julie’s husband, also a lawyer, is an accomplished jazz musician.

Contact Julie Elena Brown

Staff Counsel, Polikoff-Gautreaux Fellow

Mara Easterbrook

Mara is originally from Bethesda, Maryland, with brief detours in Virginia and in Belgium.  She has called Chicago home since moving here for college.  She graduated from the University of Chicago Law School, where she was a member of the Law Review, and served on the board of Spring Break of Service, an organization that sends law students to work at public defender offices across the U.S. during their spring break. Through Spring Break of Service, she worked at the Orleans Public Defender and the Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights. During law school, she also worked at the Cook County Public Defender’s Office, the Criminal and Juvenile Justice Clinic, the Texas Civil Rights Project, and Jenner & Block LLP.  She graduated with general honors from the College of the University of Chicago in 2013, with a B.A. in Law, Letters, and Society, and a Thesis on the intentional infliction of statelessness in the Dominican Republic.

Did you know? Mara took a year off college to work full time on the ’08 Obama presidential campaign in New Mexico. Ever since, she’s had a high tolerance for spicy food.

Contact Mara Easterbrook

Director of Development

Ellen Elias

Ellen has led BPI’s fundraising efforts since she joined the organization in 2000. She was formerly Assistant Director of Development at the John G. Shedd Aquarium. Active in many organizations in the nonprofit sector, Ellen was a member of start-up teams for two Web-based companies. She holds a BA in English Literature from Loyola University and a JD from the DePaul University College of Law.

Did you know? Ellen has been a fundraiser her whole life, beginning with raising money for Catholic missions in grade school and the United Farm Workers in high school.

Contact Ellen Elias

Director, Affordable Housing

Adam Gross

Adam Gross joined BPI in 1995 and now directs BPI's Affordable Housing Program and its Justice Reform Program. Currently, Adam’s housing work focuses on developing and building support for state and local policies to create and preserve affordable housing and to stabilize communities struggling to address vacant property challenges. Adam’s Justice Reform work focuses on reducing the number of youth and adults in prisons and jails in Illinois, and improving services for people in the criminal justice system. Previously at BPI, Adam worked on the legal, policy, and planning issues involved in the transformation of public housing and the development of mixed-income communities.  He received a BA from Yale University, a Master in Public Policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and a JD from the University of Chicago Law School.

Did you know? Adam was in the movie Meatballs.

Contact Adam Gross

Policy Analyst

Betsy Lassar

Betsy Lassar joined BPI for the second time in 2007 (she was staff counsel from 1977-84), as a member of our Affordable Housing team.  Immediately prior to BPI, Betsy served as  Housing Planner for the City of Highland Park, where she played a leading role in developing and implementing the city’s Affordable Housing Plan.  Betsy is a founder of Community Partners for Affordable Housing, where she chairs the Program and Evaluation Committee and serves on the Advisory Board.  Betsy holds a JD from Northwestern University and a BA from the University of Michigan. Betsy was elected to BPI's Board of Directors in September 2007.

Did you know? Two of Betsy’s former boyfriends were guests on The Colbert Report.

Contact Betsy Lassar

Director, Education and Early Learning

Susannah Levine

Susannah has worn many hats since joining BPI in July 2003.  She currently leads our Altgeld-Riverdale Early Learning Initiative, a community-based effort that includes a coalition of more than two dozen member organizations, all focused on strengthening early learning opportunities for young children from birth to age 8.  Susannah holds an MA in Public Policy from the University of Chicago Irving B. Harris School of Public Policy Studies and a BA from Brandeis University. Her other roles at BPI have included policy analysis, advocacy, research and community organizing for BPI's Affordable Housing program.  Prior to joining BPI, Susannah was a Public Policy Associate at Illinois Action for Children, where she led lobbying efforts and conducted legislative advocacy on behalf of low-income families.

Did you know? Susannah has run four marathons.

Contact Susannah Levine

Staff Counsel, Skadden Fellow

Nora Mahlberg

Nora Mahlberg is a graduate of Harvard Law School. Nora was an intern for the Legal Assistance Foundation (LAF) in Chicago and at the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia. For two years during law school, Nora was a student attorney at the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau in its housing practice, where she also served as the Bureau's Outreach Director and co-led its foreclosure task force. She was also on the board of the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review. Prior to law school, Nora spent two years working on housing issues for the Public Justice Center in Baltimore, and one year on Indian child welfare matters for the Lakota People's Law Project in South Dakota. Nora graduated magna cum laude from Carleton College in 2009 with a degree in Sociology and Anthropology, and a concentration in Environmental Studies.

Did you know? Nora has played the cello since third grade and is trying to teach herself the accordion. She loves Argentinean tango music because of the accordion riffs.  


Contact Nora Mahlberg

Co-Director, Public Housing; Senior Staff Counsel

Alexander Polikoff

Alexander Polikoff has served as lead counsel in the landmark Gautreaux public housing litigation for more than 40 years. Alex joined BPI one year after its founding in 1970 as Executive Director, a position he held for almost 30 years. Previously, he was a member of the Chicago law firm Schiff Hardin & Waite (now Schiff Hardin LLP). He holds a BA and MA in English Language and Literature and a JD from the University of Chicago. He is the author of three books, The Path Still Open: A Greater Chance for Peace Than Ever Before (2009), Waiting for Gautreaux: A Story of Segregation, Housing, and the Black Ghetto (2006), and Housing the Poor: The Case for Heroism (1978).

Did you know? Alex is known as a great Winnie the Pooh reader in his family.

Contact Alexander Polikoff

Staff Counsel, Polikoff-Gautreaux Fellow

Emily Powers

Emily Powers graduated cum laude from Northwestern University School of Law. During law school, she worked with the Center on Wrongful Convictions of Youth, the Illinois Attorney General's Office, the DCFS Inspector General’s Office, Equip for Equality, and BPI. Emily traveled to South Africa to conduct legal research on the right to housing, and to Turkey to study Syrian refugee children’s access to education. Prior to law school, Emily worked in Senator Harry Reid’s “War Room” press office and spent three years as an early intervention coordinator for D.C. Public Schools. Emily graduated summa cum laude from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas in 2009 with a B.A. in English, a B.A. in Political Science, and a Thesis in Playwriting. She was named Nevada Regents’ Scholar and was also named one of 60 Truman Scholars in the U.S.

Did you know? She played the Queen of Hearts in her high school's production of Alice in Wonderland and was too good at it. She would yell “Off with their heads!” in class.

Contact Emily Powers

Director of Communications

Andrea Rosen

Andrea (Andi) Rosen joined BPI in the summer of 2016 as its Director of Communications.  Prior to BPI, Andi served as the Director of School-Community Relations at North Shore School District 112 in Highland Park for five years.  Over the course of her career, Andi has worked as a newspaper and magazine reporter, a textbook research editor, and a journalism instructor.  She also served two terms as an elected school board member for Skokie School District 73.5.  Andi holds a Master’s Degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, and holds a BA from Antioch College in Yellow Springs, OH.  

Did you know?  Andi’s late dog Boomer was featured twice on the Colbert Report, his favorite show.

Contact Andrea Rosen

Staff Counsel

Julia Schlozman

Julia Schlozman was born and raised in Boston, and joined BPI in September 2016 for a special one-year position to assist with BPI’s justice reform initiative. She arrives fresh from a clerkship for the Hon. Eric L. Clay on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, and at the end of her BPI service will go on to a clerkship for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. After graduating from Harvard Law School in 2013, she worked at the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute, where her work included representing public benefits recipients in child care, TANF cash assistance, and SNAP (Food Stamp) cases. In law school, she was a student attorney in the housing and foreclosure division of the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School and served on the board of the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review. Julia graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College in 2009 with a degree in history of art and architecture, and remains passionate about medieval art and culture.

Did you know? Julia is a College Bowl national champion.

Contact Julia Schlozman

Administrative Staff

Finance Manager

Gloria Gatz

Gloria joined BPI in 2013 as Finance Manager after serving many successful years as a financial and accounting consultant to individuals and businesses.  Gloria is a Certified Public Accountant in the State of Illinois, a graduate of the DePaul University School of Commerce, and a life-long Chicagoan.

Did you know? Gloria has owned three Corvettes, the first one being a 1975 orange one.

Contact Gloria Gatz


Deborah Johnson

Deborah has been with BPI since 1997 and is well known and popular with BPI’s many visitors. A Chicago native, Deborah takes special pride in going the extra mile to help others.  She is past president of the Horner Homes Local Advisory Council and continues to volunteer in her community.

Did you know? Deborah has twice been featured in local newspaper articles.

Contact Deborah Johnson

Technology Coordinator/Administrative Assistant

Paula Kruger

Paula joined BPI in 1988 as a legal secretary and has assisted countless BPI staffers for over 25 years.  Today, Paula is BPI’s technology expert and trouble-shooter. A graduate of Chicago Public Schools, Paula won second place in a citywide shorthand contest her senior year of high school.  Her first job was with the Federal Reserve Bank, which she left to become a legal secretary in 1970. 

Did you know? Paula knew how to stilt walk by age nine.

Contact Paula Kruger

Administrative Director

Marissa Manos

Marissa first came to BPI for a very short stint (three days) as a temporary secretary.  In 1983 (a year later), Executive Director Alex Polikoff lured Marissa away from her position with a teddy bear manufacturer, and since that day Marissa has been BPI’s Administrative Director, celebrating her 30th anniversary in 2013.  For 25 years, Marissa has also used her Realtor’s license to help others find new homes, especially those toiling in the public interest field. 

Did you know? Marissa once cooked breakfast at a top level meeting Mayor Harold Washington held in his home.

Contact Marissa Manos

Recipient of the MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions

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