Empower Southwest will build on the infrastructure and momentum of the Abdelnasser Rashid for Cook County Commissioner campaign, which garnered 49.4% of the vote, sending shockwaves through the west and southwest suburbs and demonstrating that reform-minded Democrats can compete in an area previously considered deeply Republican.
Empower Southwest will engage 600 volunteers to support and endorse candidates and advocate for policies that help the middle class, put people before profits, protect the health and well-being of our families, and support good government.
Founding Member and Chair
Clem Balanoff grew up in an activist family and has dedicated his life to fighting for progressive issues and candidates. At 10, in 1963, he marched with Dr. King in Washington, DC and organized a bike parade in support of a local candidate fighting the machine.
Later Clem would serve the area as State Representative and 10th Ward Democratic Committeeman. Upon leaving the legislature, Clem served as Director of Elections for Cook County and was the longtime Chief of Staff for Cook County Clerk David Orr.
When he retired he was the political director for the Chuy Garcia for Mayor campaign, Illinois Director for the Bernie Sanders campaign and coordinated campaign the that successfully elected Congressman Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, State Representative Aaron Ortiz and Cook County Commissioner Alma Anaya. He has deep ties in the African American, Latino, labor and progressive communities. Clem chairs Our Revolution Chicago and is the political director of the Amalgamated Transit Union. He has won numerous awards including the prestigious Democratic Party Builder Award in 2017.
Clem will serve as the Chair of Empower Southwest.
Founding Member and Treasurer
Hanah is the CEO and Founder of P2 Consulting, a firm which has provided communications, fundraising, and strategy consulting to dozens of high profile candidates. Hanah’s “all-in” philosophy has earned her a reputation as a trusted advisor and fiercely effective strategist. She was recognized by Crain’s Chicago Business as one of 20 most influential people in Illinois.
She’s managed dozens of campaigns at the local, state and federal level. She helped elect Congresswoman Robin Kelly, and newly elected Congressman Jesus “Chuy” Garcia. Most recently, she has served as a fundraiser and strategic consultant to the campaigns of and newly elected Attorney General-Elect Kwame Raoul and Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi.
Hanah will serve as the Treasurer of Empower Southwest.
Director of Organizing
Julie grew up in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, where she got her start as an activist when she attended school board meetings and marched in defense of her high school teachers during difficult contract negotiations.
As a student at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, Julie became involved with immigrant rights organizations, organized labor, and governmental affairs. She helped create a coalition of undergraduate students to support the striking Graduate Employees Organization (GEO) workers. She has worked at Arise Chicago and for State Representative Carol Ammons. Julie has degrees in History, Spanish, and Labor Relations.
Julie has dedicated her career to grassroots organizing and campaigns. She served as the Lead Organizer of Our Revolution Illinois and as an advisor for Abdelnasser Rashid’s campaign for Cook County Commissioner.
Julie will serve as the Director of Organizing for Empower Southwest.
Abdelnasser Rashid, 29, has spent his career finding solutions for families, voters, and taxpayers. He was the Democratic nominee for 17th District Cook County Commissioner in the 2018 election, nearly unseating the incumbent by garnering 49.3% of the vote.
Abdelnasser fought for property tax relief for homeowners and small businesses while campaigning to elect a new property tax assessor, Fritz Kaegi. He served as Field Director for Congressman Jesus “Chuy” Garcia’s mayoral campaign and Illinois Deputy State Director for the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign. As Deputy Chief of Staff for Cook County Clerk David Orr, Abdelnasser was dedicated to making government more efficient, ethical and transparent.
Abdelnasser is a graduate of Harvard University and currently serves as the Chief Policy & Intergovernmental Affairs Officer for Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi.
Ahlam Jbara was born in Palestine and immigrated with her family to Chicago in 1974. Ahlam has worked for over 20 years on creating and administering programs that have positively changed the lives of women and children.
Ahlam worked at the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) as both the Deputy Director and as the Immigrant Family Resource Program (IFRP) Director. She served on the Bernie Sanders campaign as the Arab and Muslim American Outreach Director, and was the Campaign Manager of the Abdelnasser Rashid for Cook County Commissioner campaign.
She is on the board of Our Revolution Chicago, Arab American Action Network, Council on American Islamic Relations Chicago, and Illinois Immigrant Action.