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.
Jennifer is responsible for leading the Health Care Council’s charge to develop and take actions to achieve affordable, accessible, efficient, high quality healthcare for the employers and residents of our state. Having served as Governor on the Illinois State Bar Association Board of Governors, Member of the Scope and Correlation Committee and the Standing Committee for Review of Collaborative Law Proposals as well as serving on the Standing Committee on Budget and Audit, the Illinois Chamber recognizes the significant value Hammer adds to its efforts.
Jennifer graduated with her B.S. from Arizona State University and received her J.D. from Southern Illinois University School of Law
Randy Nehrt serves the Illinois Chamber as Vice President of Legislative Relations and as Executive Director of the Energy Council. The Council confronts and addresses energy-related issues critical to Illinois’ future. He is poised to work with members with developments in the energy arena as he has a strong background in energy regulation. Previously, Randy served as the Bureau Chief of External Affairs at the Illinois Commerce Commission starting in 2007. In that capacity, he directed the ICC’s Office of Governmental Affairs, Office of Public Affairs and Consumer Services Division.
Before that, Nehrt held the role of as Deputy Press Secretary for Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White for seven years. From 1992 to 1999, he worked with legislators, staff, and interest groups on a broad range of issues as a staff member for Illinois Speaker of the House Michael J. Madigan.
Nehrt graduated from Southern Illinois University Carbondale in 1991 with a bachelor of science degree in finance.
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).