Institute of Politics

  • About
  • Our Team

Our Team

Our team is committed to fostering a culture of free expression, civil discourse and a spirit of public service.


Heidi Heitkamp

Heidi was the first woman elected to the U.S. Senate from North Dakota. She is Co-Founder and Chair of the One Country Project. She has served as the Director of the IOP since January 2023.

Zeenat Rahman

Zeenat manages day-to-day operations at the IOP, overseeing budget development, financial operations, human resources, fundraising, and program execution. She works closely with the director to establish and implement the overall strategy and goals of the Institute, including short- and long-term planning and developing new initiatives.

Zeenat comes to the IOP with more than two decades of experience in the public and social sectors working to strengthen democracy and civil society. She previously served at the U.S. State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development.

Koran Addo

Koran works to support all IOP programming through external communications and media relations. He works directly with students on projects centered on voter registration and journalism. Before joining the IOP, Koran was communications director for the St. Louis Mayor’s Office and worked as a political and education reporter at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, The Advocate and other publications.

Emma Deutsch

Emma helps to produce and oversee IOP’s Speaker Series, including strategic planning, speaker and attendee hospitality, and working closely with students at each event. Emma holds a bachelor’s degree from Bard College in New York state, where she also worked in fine dining, event management, and program administration.

Joel Ebert

Joel manages production of the Speaker Series, ranging from event ideation and guest relations to securing venues. He works closely with dozens of students to produce events. Prior to joining the IOP, Joel spent nearly a decade reporting on state government in South Dakota, West Virginia, Tennessee, and Illinois. He is author of Welcome to Capitol Hill: 50 Years of Scandal in Tennessee Politics.

Ashley Jorn

Ashley manages the daily operations of the Pritzker Fellows program. She also oversees the student volunteers who are part of the Fellows Ambassador program. Before joining the IOP in 2015, Ashley worked in education as a teacher, tutor, and coach.

Laresa Lund

Laresa coordinates 300+ annual IOP internships in our summer and academic year portfolios with the Career Development team. She also runs career workshops and provides student career advising throughout the year. She previously worked in higher education at Indiana University and in the conservation field through AmeriCorps and the Student Conservation Association.

Katrina Mertens

Katrina oversees all budget, human resources, and facilities matters for the IOP. Katrina has a been a career public servant, working at the Illinois State Board of Education and in the narcotics unit of the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office before joining the IOP in 2012. Katrina has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and urban studies from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee and a Master’s degree in counseling from Roosevelt University in Chicago.

Sarah Palmisciano

Sarah aids both the Pritzker Fellows Program and the Speaker Series in logistics, event coordination, and general management. Before joining the IOP, Sarah graduated from Hobart and William Smith Colleges where she was active in local voter education and registration efforts.

Purvi Patel

Purvi creates civic engagement student experiences and leads the advising and support for several student-led groups at the IOP. Prior to joining the IOP, she worked as an administrator in diversity and student life at Washington University in St. Louis, Loyola University Maryland, and Oberlin College.

Gabe Pimsler

Gabe manages key IOP outreach resources, including the newsletter, social media and email marketing. He elevates the student experience at the IOP by capturing and sharing the small and large moments that happen across the institute. Before coming to the IOP, Gabe worked in government relations in Washington, D.C., and was a Fulbright fellow in Ukraine.

Dani Salazar

You'll see Dani taking photos and videos at most of our events. They are also responsible for designing graphics and creating multimedia content for the IOP's social media. Before coming to Chicago, they worked as a videographer in Florida, where they were also involved in community organizing.

Mark Schauerte

Mark works to place 300 students each year in internships nationwide and runs career workshops to teach students how to prepare for jobs in public service. He previously served as chief of staff to Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-IL. Mark is an attorney and practiced law in Chicago in addition to working as a journalist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and Chicago Lawyer magazine.

Jennifer Steinhauer

Jennifer programs our large public events and assembles a cohort of Pritzker Fellows each quarter, drawing from a broad array of political figures, activists, journalists and policy experts. Previously, Jennifer was a long-time reporter at The New York Times and has written two cookbooks, a novel and a chronicle of the first year of the largest female Congressional class.

Headshot of Matilda Thornton Clark

Matilda Thornton Clark

Matilda, a Libra, works on the IOP’s Civic Engagement team. She advises our student groups, the Student Advisory Board, supports civic engagement treks and programs, and oversees the campus’s voter engagement strategy. Before joining the IOP, Matilda was an organizing director for the Student Public Interest Research Groups, where she trained college students to run public interest and environmental campaigns in their communities.

Lindsey Winters

Lindsey is a member of the IOP's executive team and provides administrative support for the institute's director and executive director. Prior to joining the IOP, Lindsey worked for Cook County as an office manager for the Cook County Board of Commissioners 10th District.

Careers at the IOP

In all job openings, we seek a diverse pool of applicants who wish to join a vibrant, mission-driven organization. The IOP encourages a diversity of perspectives, experiences, and ideas to engage with students, stakeholders, and the broader community.

Logistics Coordinator

Reporting to the Senior Director, Speaker Series & Pritzker Fellows Programs, the Logistics Coordinator will work closely with the IOP’s Assistant Director of Production to support managing event logistics, developing timelines for planning and day-of-event activities, providing operational support for a series of events, or planning and executing a full spectrum of logistics (e.g., facility selection, menu planning, transportation arrangements, and audio/visual equipment) for Speaker Series events, as needed.

Internal UChicago Applicants apply online via Workday.

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