Connie Beard is an attorney with more than 30 years experience in the state and local tax field. Her areas of expertise include a wide range of state and local taxes, including income, sales, excise and property taxes. Connie is former Managing Counsel of the Illinois Department of Revenue where she was instrumental in developing Illinois tax policy. During her tenure with the Department, she advised the Director of Revenue and other key agency officials on Illinois tax issues, acted as legal liaison to the Department’s audit bureau, and supervised the litigation staff of the administrative hearings bureau. Connie worked closely with the Department’s legislative staff in drafting tax legislation and in monitoring and reviewing proposed legislation. She advised top government officials on critical state tax issues before the Illinois General Assembly and frequently represented the Department of Revenue at state and national tax conferences.
Prior to joining the Illinois Chamber she was a Manager in the state and local tax division of an international accounting and management consulting firm, where she served as a tax consultant to Fortune 500 businesses, advising them on tax strategies to reduce their state and local tax burden and assisting them in resolving Illinois audit issues. Connie is a graduate of the University of Illinois College of Law and joined the Illinois Chamber of Commerce in October of 1997 as General Counsel and Director of State Taxes. In this capacity, she serves as Executive Director of the Illinois Chamber Tax Institute.
Benjamin Brockschmidt serves as the Executive Director of the Infrastructure Council which focuses on transportation systems and public works that are essential to sustaining the Illinois economy: roads and bridges, freight and passenger rail service, waterway shipping, airports as well as access to water and sanitary sewage treatment.
Benjamin came to the chamber from U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson office where he had been since 2008. He worked with the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee which included vote recommendations and briefs on hearings and markups. He was Rep. Johnson’s point staffer on transportation issues for the Illinois Republican Delegation. In addition, he advised local airports, transit operators, engineers, and construction companies on best methods to adapt to federal policy. Benjamin has also developed professional relationships with transportation stakeholders including IDOT, USDOT and private companies in Illinois.
Benjamin graduated from Illinois State University with a dual B.S. degree in Political Science & History and has his Masters in National Defense and Security from the U.S. Naval War College.
Laura Minzer currently serves as the Executive Director of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce’s Healthcare Council, one of six business issue councils that serves as the Chamber’s primary resource for responding to and influencing healthcare policy. In that role, she serves as the Chamber’s lead on health reform, interpreting and responding to state and federal legislation and regulatory issues regarding implementation of the Affordable Care Act and other issues that impact the health insurance market and the broader healthcare system in Illinois. She has also served as a member of the Illinois State Health Improvement Planning Team 2009-2010 and is currently a member of the Illinois Department of Public Health’s Leadership Team for their Community Transformation Grant/We Choose Health initiative that supports public health efforts to reduce chronic diseases, promote healthier lifestyles, reduce health disparities and help control healthcare spending.
In addition to her role as Executive Director, Laura also serves as the Associate Vice President of Government Affairs for the Chamber, assisting in the management and lobbying of state legislative issues of interest to the Illinois Chamber and its diverse membership, including issues related to healthcare, the budget, taxes, civil law, environment and energy, workforce development and employment law, infrastructure, and procurement.
Laura joined the Chamber in 2007 after spending seven years as a legislative analyst for the Illinois House Republican Caucus, handling policy and budget issues for health and human services and K-12 education.
Laura has a B.A. in political science and international relations from Boston University. She currently resides in Springfield, IL with her husband and two boys.
As an attorney licensed to practice law in Madrid, Laura Ortega's most recent position was with the Spain Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Cooperation, Madrid for the Legal Office for Consular Affairs where she supported diplomats in conducting all legal matters relative to national and foreign Consular Offices throughout the world. She also reviewed government protocols for emergencies and managed all petitions for international judicial cooperation. Some of her previous work has been with the Consulate General of Spain-Chicago, the European Union of Counsel-Client Management with Delaney Law – Chicago; and McCORMAC College-Elmhurst.
Laura has a law degree from the University of Cordoba, Spain and a Masters degree in Diplomacy and International Relations from the Diplomatic School, Ministry for Foreign Relations and Cooperation of Spain. She is bi-lingual, with expertise in International Policy and International Client Management.
Jay joined serves as Executive Director of the Council, an organization that he founded in 1997. The Council brings together employers to improve and protect Illinois employment law and regulations to create a political climate conducive to the creation and retention of jobs in Illinois. Jay has held high-profile, senior level lobbying positions with the Associated Employers of Illinois (1987-1996), Central Illinois Public Service Co. (1983-1987) and the Independent Insurance Agents of Illinois (1978-1983). Shattuck is a graduate of the University of Illinois with a Bachelors Degree in Political Science and is a Certified Association Executive (CAE).
Tom serves as the Executive Director of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce’s Energy Council. Tom is responsible for leading the Council’s charge to encourage the development and availability of all kinds of energy and conservation measures in an environmentally responsible and cost effective way.
Tom joined the Chamber after more than 20 years as a public affairs executive, most recently as vice president with the Chicago-based firm of Jasculca/Terman and Associates. As senior strategist and project manager for corporate, not-for-profit and government clients -- as well as notable business and political leaders -- Tom's accomplishments and relationships have positioned him well as he continues to build the Chamber’s Energy Council.
Prior to his work at Jasculca/Terman, Tom worked with an international political consulting and public relations firm in Washington, DC. He received his bachelor's degree in International Relations from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.