Meet Our Team
Harish I. Patel
Harish I. Patel is the Director of Economic Security for Illinois. Previously, Harish was the deputy director of New America Chicago, a non-partisan policy innovation lab, Violence Prevention Coalition-Organizer on Chicago’s Southwest side, and Social Innovator for Accelerate Change, where they help social change organization build financially sustainable membership benefits. Harish also was a co-owner of a fair-trade clothing line, Ishi Vest and co-founded Chicago Votes, a non-profit organization that has played a critical role in the passage of few landmark voting rights laws in recent years in Illinois.
Harish holds a Masters Degree in Urban Planning and Policy from the University of Illinois at Chicago. He has been a fellow at Green For All, New Leaders Council, Imagining America’s Publicly Active Graduate Education, South Asian American Policy and Research Institute and UIC Social Justice Initiative.
Harish is a proud immigrant who moved to Illinois from Gujarat, India at 14 and now lives on Chicago’s Northwest Side. He is obsessed with his plants and staying caffeinated by drinking mochas!
Amber Wilson is the State Coalition Manager for Economic Security for Illinois. Previously, Amber worked as the Director of Parent and Community Engagement at a Title IV elementary school, where she worked to help students and parents merge home and school life and gain access to necessary resources. In her previous work, Amber executed a passion for helping underserved populations while assisting in the dissemination of health and social resources to at-risk populations. Amber also has experience coordinating programs in the non-profit sector and for personal passions.
Amber completed her undergraduate studies at Indiana State University in Terre Haute, Indiana, where she is also completing her M.S. in health sciences with a concentration in public health.
Amber is originally from Indianapolis, Indiana and has been living in Chicago for three years. She enjoys visiting new restaurants around the city and in her spare time, she leads a virtual life group where women can come together for support, accountability, and community building. She looks forward to progressing the mission of the Cost of Living Refund Coalition and working with grassroots partners to support the mission of ESIL.
Jenna Severson is the Communications & Digital Manager for Economic Security for Illinois. Prior to this, Jenna served as Communications and Development Associate at the research and policy nonprofit Woodstock Institute, where she fought for fair financial services policy at the local-, state- and national-level. Jenna worked in various nonprofits in Chicago, including Envision Unlimited and RefugeeOne. She also mentored youth in townships of Cape Town, South Africa, at Yabonga, a community-run HIV/AIDS organization.
The Loyola University Chicago grad earned her B.A. in English and Women’s Studies Gender Studies, where she was awarded both departments’ top honors. Jenna currently serves as a co-chair of Equality Illinois' Emerging Leaders Circle.
Jenna proudly hails from generations of strong, unapologetic, feminine women; she carries their legacy in both her attitude and her closet. The West Michigan native now lives in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood.
Hadiya Afzal is the Digital Organizer for Economic Security for Illinois. Before this, Hadiya served as a Regional Coordinator at the non-profit Campus Vote Project, where she worked to recruit student poll workers for the November 2020 Election. Hadiya’s previous work and volunteer roles have focused on delivering equitable policy solutions to working communities.
Hadiya completed her undergraduate degree with Honors Distinction from DePaul University, where she studied Political Science.
Hadiya is the proud daughter of Pakistani immigrants and an even prouder plant mom! She is currently based out of the west Chicago suburbs.