BGA Announces Key Staff Hires, Changes

<p>Personnel moves bolster investigative, policy and social media efforts.</p>

The Better Government Association is making some significant changes and additions to its Investigative and Policy teams that are designed to expand the scope and impact of our watchdog work.

Investigations

Brett Chase is being named Editor of Investigations. A longtime editor and senior reporter with deep journalism experience, Brett will work closely with and directly report to Bob Herguth, Director of Investigations, on developing and editing our team’s stories. In addition to these new duties, Brett will continue to report and write investigations.  The title change is effective immediately.

Katie Drews will become the BGA’s Education Investigator, effective immediately. During her three years with the BGA, Katie has established herself as a dogged investigative reporter and a gifted writer. She replaces Sarah Karp, who leaves us this week to join WBEZ. Katie will also continue to work on selected municipal investigations.

Meanwhile, the BGA is adding two new investigators.

Casey Toner will join us Feb. 29.  Casey is a longtime local journalist who worked for over four years at the Southtown Star on major beats and investigative stories. Most recently, Casey has worked as a government/political reporter for AL.com, a statewide online reporting site operated by a consortium of Alabama newspapers.  At the BGA, Casey will do general assignment reporting with an emphasis on statewide government investigations.

Julie Patel will join us March 7. Julie recently taught writing and reporting at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg. Prior to that assignment, she worked as an investigative reporter at the Center for Public Integrity and at a public radio station in Washington, D.C. She spent most of her career at major daily newspapers in South Florida and San Jose, California. At the BGA, Julie will do general assignment reporting with an emphasis on campaign finance issues and public health, including Medicaid.

Development and Communications

Stephanie Hardiman Simon is now the BGA's Communications Manager. In addition to her work managing the BGA's social media presence and communications internship program, she will take on the organization's email marketing and other various communication projects. The title change was effective in January.

Policy

Alex Gilewicz is now a BGA Policy Analyst. The title change reflects Alex’s robust policy work, research advances and legislative achievements, especially working with Policy Coordinator Judy Stevens on Chicago City Council matters.  Alex will be focusing more on the Council while moving into a wider array of policy matters. Her title change is effective immediately.

Danish Murtaza has joined the BGA as a Policy Associate. This is a new position. Danish is a graduate of Loyola University. While there, he was involved in student government and for nine months was a government affairs intern at the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Chicago. Danish will focus on BGA policy and FOIA-related event planning and policy research.

It is shaping up to be a groundbreaking 2016 for the BGA and these staff changes will provide us with greater depth and breadth in pursuing our mission.