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. He also serves as vice president of policy.
Benjamin came to the Chamber from U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson's office where he had been since 2008. He worked with the Transportation and 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 and history and has his master's degree in national defense and security from the U.S. Naval War College.
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 master's 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 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 bachelor's degree in Political Science and is a Certified Association Executive (CAE).
As executive director of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce Tax Institute, Keith Staats draws upon his vast experience in tax law to monitor, analyze and direct Illinois Chamber positions as they relate to taxes. He has quickly become a trusted leader among tax law specialists at the Illinois Capitol, providing background and language on tax issues and testifying on bills before state lawmakers.
Prior to joining the Chamber, Staats was a director in the State and Local Tax (SALT) practice of the international accounting firm Grant Thornton LLP. Staats was involved in tax planning, consulting and dispute resolution in all areas of state and local taxation. He represented taxpayers before the Illinois Department of Revenue Informal Conference Board and Board of Appeals. He assisted clients in audit defense before the Department and Revenue, as well as assisted clients with tax planning.
Staats was also counsel at McDermott Will & Emery, a large international law firm, and was involved in multistate tax planning, consulting and litigation. He represented businesses on a variety of state tax matters. He served as general counsel of the Illinois Department of Revenue, where he provided legal advice and support on a wide variety of tax matters including the development of Illinois tax policy through the drafting and adoption of regulations and the issuance of private letter rulings. Staats reviewed, evaluated and testified on tax-related legislation proposed by the Illinois General Assembly, and was involved in the drafting of all tax legislation proposed by the governor. Keith oversaw all tax-related litigation involving the Illinois Department of Revenue and was a member of the Illinois Department of Revenue Informal Conference Board.
Staats holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Millikin University, Decatur, Illinois, and graduated with honors with a Juris Doctor degree from the Illinois Institute of Technology Chicago-Kent College of Law. He is licensed to practice law in Illinois. Staats is a member of the Illinois State Bar Association and the Chicago Bar Association and is a professional affiliate member of the Illinois CPA Society. He is a member of the Chicago Bar Association State and Local Tax Committee and the Illinois State Bar Association State and Local Tax Section council and is a member of the CPA Society State and Local Tax Committee and was formerly Chair of the Committee.
Keith has been a frequent speaker on state tax matters before groups such as COST, the Tax Executives’ Institute, the Taxpayers’ Federation of Illinois, the Illinois CPA Society, the Institute for Professionals in Taxation and the Illinois Hospital Association.
Katie Stonewater joined the Chamber in December 2015 and serves as executive director of the Energy Council. Katie comes from a background in government and politics but most recently worked in the private industry for a women owned small business that supports multi-million dollar government contracts.
Her experience in the private sector is complimented by over 10 years in government. Katie began her career working for then-Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn as a policy fellow with a focus on energy and telecommunications issues. She helped run the Biofuels Investment Working Group, bringing the renewable fuels community in Illinois together with government to address a growing need for expanded access to renewable fuels and Illinois’ unique role in that effort.
She then went on to work for U.S. Rep Jerry Costello in Washington D.C. until his retirement from Congress. Katie worked with the congressman on energy policy legislation, working to move forward key legislative initiatives such as securing an energy future for coal, ensuring regulatory fairness in the energy economy, expanding access to renewable energy resources and supporting efforts for increased renewable energy investment. She also worked closely with the House Science and Technology Committee’s Energy Subcommittee as the congressman’s key staffer on energy issues.
Katie is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She spent a semester studying abroad in Belgium and a year teaching English as a foreign language in Prague, Czech Republic.
Aaron Winters is the owner of The Winters Group, LLC, a full service government affairs and public policy consulting firm. He previously served as Governor Bruce Rauner's deputy chief of staff for policy. In that role he acted as the Governor’s primary policy adviser and ran the administration’s legislative review process, making more than 400 bill action recommendations. His eight-person team provided policy oversight for all agencies and boards under the direction of the Governor. Prior to serving in the administration, he was the deputy transition director for the Bruce Rauner Transition Committee and the policy director for Citizens for Rauner. Aaron also previously served as a senior adviser to U.S. Senator Mark Kirk in Washington, DC. He is a graduate of Northwestern University and lives in Chicago.