The CTU is pleased to welcome three new dynamic, powerful leaders and activists to our team, bringing years of experience to our organizing and political work.

Photo of Abbie Illenberger, special assistant to CTU President Stacy Davis Gates.

Abbie Illenberger

Abbie Illenberger has joined the CTU as a special assistant to CTU President Stacy Davis Gates. In their new role, Abbie will collaborate in the overall development and implementation of the union’s strategic and organizational plans and campaigns. They also will be focused on building and strengthening strategic community partnerships and supporting leadership development of CTU staff members.

Abbie is a veteran organizer and movement builder with 30 plus years of community, labor and political organizing experience. They have worked alongside courageous workers and community members, building the power needed to win racial and economic justice for working people. For the past 10 years, Abbie served as a staff member of the Grassroots Collaborative, one of CTU’s key partner organizations.

At Grassroots Collaborative and United Working Families, Abbie worked hand-in-hand with CTU and dozens of allied organizations, helping organize the successful 2015 referendum for an elected representative school board, fighting against Rahm Emanuel’s racist school closings, organizing community partner support for the 2019 CTU strike, electing progressive champions to office at the city, county and state level, and leading campaigns to win the progressive revenue necessary to fund the schools and communities we deserve.

Prior to joining Grassroots Collaborative, Abbie served as a senior staff member with We Are Wisconsin and as the National Deputy Political Director for UNITE HERE.

Head shot of CTU member and aldermanic candidate Lori Torres.

Leonor (Lori) Torres Whitt

CTU member Leonor (Lori) Torres Whitt joins the CTU team as political coordinator after serving our students in the classroom for 24 years. In that time she also served our members in her roles on our executive board and as chair of the political action and legislative committees.

Lori is a mother of three CPS students. She has lived in the West Town/Humboldt Park community her entire life and she and her husband are raising their three children just a few short blocks from where she grew up. Her story is built on the community she was raised in and the community she surrounds herself with on a daily basis. Coming from a family where her father was the sole income earner in a home with five siblings, her mom taught her how to make the best of every opportunity.

Lori graduated from Roberto Clemente High School then went to Wilbur Wright City College and then to Eastern Illinois University where she earned her degree in Elementary Education. She later earned a Master’s degree in School Leadership and Administration from Concordia University in River Forest.

After earning her Bachelor’s degree, Lori came home to serve bilingual CPS students who were learning English as a second language, just as her mother had. As a bilingual teacher, who then went on to become a school delegate and then a community organizer, Lori has continued to help support those who worked to make our city better. Her work alongside so many throughout the years, whether in community or in our schools, helped Lori decide to run for alderwoman of the 36th Ward. Lori will use her political experience to help advance the union’s agenda at the city, state and county level.

Photo of CTU Organizer Graciela Guzman.

Graciela Guzman

Graciela Guzman has joined the CTU as an organizer. Most recently, Graciela served as chief of staff for former Senator Cristina Pacione-Zayas and political director for Illinois Senator Omar Aquino. Graciela has organized policy campaigns around healthcare, child welfare, economic justice, and immigration. She derives her passion for these struggles from her family’s early experiences immigrating to the United States from El Salvador to escape the Salvadoran Civil War.

Graciela’s vision for a more equitable and just Chicago has led her to join the Chicago Women’s March, Health and Medicine Research Policy Group, and ACA Consumer Advocacy. She reimagines a better city through her hyperlocal work organizing with the Police District Response Team, Belmont Cragin Mutual Aid and Chicagoland Food Sovereignty Coalition.

Graciela graduated from Grinnell College in 2011 with a degree in anthropology. She now sits on the university’s board of trustees.