Chicago Leaders Class

By Malik Alim, Ashlei N Ross, Alejandro Erick Mendez, Ruby Valle, Brody Ford, Svyatoslav Yushchyshyn, Grace Mladenik |

From widespread privatization to the new Illinois state budget, Chicago has problems that demand solutions. Chicago Leaders Class (CLC) brings together students from Chicago area schools each semester for a crash-course in local public policy issues, grassroots organizing, and political discourse– helping to engage students during in the crucial upcoming local elections. CLC is an incubator for leaders; past participants have started Roosevelt campus network chapters at University of Illinois at Chicago, DePaul, and Moraine Valley, with more in development at Northwestern, the University of Illinois, and more.

Through CLC undergraduate students  develop critical public policy and organizational leadership skills in researching, writing and enacting change on their campus and in their Illinois community. The spring 2018 class will focus on a policy topic chosen by the students during our application process. We build our meeting schedule, our topics, and activities all around students availability.

Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until February 16th. A class of 10-20 accepted students from colleges and universities across Chicago will have the opportunity to join the 10 week long  Chicago Leaders Class. During the semester-long workshop, students will learn the basics of researching, writing and advocating for local policy change, meet policy professionals at the state and local level, and prepare to launch Roosevelt chapters on their campus.

Check out our Chicago Leaders Class FAQ’s for additional information about the program.

Applications for the fourth Chicago Leaders class are now open. Use the form below to apply today.



Learn more about our Spring 2017 Leaders and the Roosevelt Institute Illinois team below.

Malik Alim is the Illinois Organizer at Roosevelt Institute. He is responsible for cultivating a diverse network of students and developing new Roosevelt chapters at colleges and universities. As a trainer, facilitator, and organizer, Malik provides students with the tools and resources to mobilize their peers around policy issues, build strong chapters, and develop conscientious leaders. Malik has previously been involved in several grassroots campaigns in Chicago, including the demand for an elected Civilian Police Accountability Council (CPAC), the Chicago Police Torture Survivors Memorial, and the Coalition to Save Dyett High School. He also serves as the Chicago chapter Membership Co-Chair for the Black Youth Project 100, a national collective of young Black organizers. In his spare time, Malik enjoys taking road-trips, reading, and having spirited debates.

My name is Ashlei N Ross. I attend Northeastern Illinois University and a double major in Social Work and inner city studies, with a minor in Child Advocacy Studies. I am currently the Student Government Association President for NEIU. I am also the Basileus (President) of Sigma Eta of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, President of Justice Studies Club, Pre-Law Society, National Council of Negro Women, and secretary of United Greek Council. I am currently working on establishing my own non-profit, Helping Others Persevere. My future career is being a civil right lawyer and eventually becoming a politician. I live by the motto: If you do not stand for something, you will fall for anything. Our children and youth are the future, let's teach them well and fight for what is right.

Alejandro Erick Mendez is a current Junior and President of the Political Science Student Union at the University of Illinois at Chicago majoring in Political Science with a planned double minor in Philosophy and Business Administration. Alejandro has been an active participant in the political atmosphere of Chicago since his freshman year despite not growing up in Chicago. Working with Young Invincibles, Mikva Challenge, and NextGen Climate has given him exposure to Chicago's field organizing world and is currently on-board with the Fritz Kaegi campaign. He aspires to move to D.C and work on Federal policy within a Senatorial team. Alejandro enjoys reading, writing, boxing, meeting new people.

Ruby Valle is a sophomore and currently double majors in Criminology and Political Science with a minor in English and Italian. She is also Pre-Law. Ruby holds the position of Risk Manager for Chi Sigma Omega, Event Planning Chair for Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity and Publications Director for the Pre-Law Society. Ruby is planning on becoming a criminal prosecution lawyer and working her way up to the White House one day. In her spare time, Ruby enjoys training for martial arts, belly dancing and researching crime cases. She one day hopes to improve the United States Justice System.

Brody Ford is a sophomore at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He is studying Political Science and Communications, with a special focus on urban development and media. In a globalized world, Brody believes cities hold the power to push us into the future through innovation and policy. Through the Roosevelt Institute, he hopes to learn some of the best ways to make this change happen. In his downtime, Brody enjoys writing, photography, and exploring anyplace new.

Svyatoslav Yushchyshyn (Sly) is a third-year student at the University of Chicago majoring in Public Policy and minoring in Human Rights. He decided to concentrate on a degree in the social sciences in order to study the complexities and intrigues of societal problems. He hopes that the insight he will gain from it will also allow him to address and alleviate some of those problems. Currently, he serves as Vice President of UChicago Common Cause, a club on campus that has fought for automatic voter registration and removing money from politics. This year, the club will focus on raising awareness and advocating for rent control policies. In his free time, Sly enjoys reading, biking, and traveling.

Grace Mladenik is a third-year student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign pursuing a Bachelor's Degree in Agricultural Consumer Economics with a concentration in Public Policy and Law. She has a passion for human rights and is the President of the student chapter of Amnesty International on campus. Grace is also the Illinois Student Activist Coordinator for Amnesty International USA. This position helps all Amnesty student chapters in Illinois to organize and mobilize around Urgent Actions released from the New York headquarters and Washington, D.C. offices of Amnesty International USA. Grace has been striving towards being a human rights lawyer in Washington, D.C. fighting for corporate social responsibility. This is because she identifies the importance of holding businesses accountable for human rights violations that may occur in a business supply chain. In her free time, Grace enjoys to cook, misses her dogs, and keeps up with Chicago sports with her family.