Advocacy Team

Heartland Alliance’s Policy & Advocacy team advocates for policies that help end poverty.

 Amy Rynell – Senior Director of Research & Policy


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Amy has worked for Heartland Alliance since 1997 and currently oversees Heartland Alliance’s Research & Policy Division which is comprised of the Social IMPACT Research Center, Heartland Alliance’s National Initiatives on Economic Opportunity, and the Heartland Alliance Policy and Advocacy Team. She provides external and internal policy and thought leadership, strategic direction and planning, financial management, and oversight of the projects throughout the division. With the Social IMPACT Research Center, best known for its reports on poverty, Amy guides dynamic research and analysis on today’s most pressing social issues.  In her role with Heartland Alliance’s National Initiatives, Amy supports policy change, research, and field building to advance and strengthen employment programs and policies that address chronic unemployment. Finally through the Policy and Advocacy Team, Amy supports the creation of state policies designed to end poverty.

With over 20 years’ experience in the nonprofit human services sector, Amy has devoted her career to  ending  poverty, homelessness and chronic unemployment and as such has developed unique expertise in these areas. Amy has in-depth knowledge of poverty and homelessness through providing direct services within a homeless system in a range of interventions, through leading the creation of plans to end homelessness, through leadership positions within the Chicago Continuum of Care and coordinating the Regional Roundtable on Homelessness, and through documenting and evaluating best practices in addressing poverty and homelessness, including having overseen the most comprehensive study of homelessness in northeastern Illinois. In addition, Amy has been involved in multiple studies of unemployed adults with multiple employment barriers, helped advise on the design and roll-out of large scale employment initiatives, and served on the boards of workforce development organizations.

Amy has the honor of holding external leadership positions including being appointed to the State of Illinois Hunger Commission and Human Services Commission, serving on the national technical working group for USDHHS’s Subsidized and Transitional Jobs Demonstration, being a leader within the National Responsible Fatherhood Roundtable, a member of the Chicago Foundation for Women Academic Advisory Council, and a member of the Chicago Alliance to End Homelessness Employment Task Group.   She is a frequent presenter at National Alliance to End Homelessness conferences, and the Welfare Research & Evaluation conferences, among others. Amy is also an adjunct professor at the University of Chicago.

Amy received her BA from University of Notre Dame and her AM from the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration.

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 Samantha Tuttle – Director of Policy & Advocacy | Budget, Economic Security, Health Care, Housing, and Human Services


Sam TuttleAs Director of the Policy and Advocacy team, Sam helps guide the team’s efforts to identify systemic barriers experienced by vulnerable populations and to advance effective solutions through administrative and legislative change, especially as they relate to economic security, health, and human services. Prior to joining the Heartland Alliance, Sam was an attorney in the housing unit at the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law where she advocated on behalf of low-income individuals and families living in or in need of public, subsidized, or affordable housing, as well as families affected by foreclosure.  Between 2009 and 2011, Sam led successful efforts to pass legislation that provides crucial protections for Illinois homeowners and tenants affected by foreclosure.  A graduate of the University of Michigan Law School, Sam began her legal career representing low-income families in a wide-variety of legal matters as a staff attorney with the Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago.

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 Kim Drew – Policy Associate | Employment & Economic Security


Kim DrewKimberly Drew is the Project Manager of Economic Security Policy at Heartland Alliance, where her work focuses on a wide range of anti-poverty issues, including workers’ rights, job quality, economic justice and access to public benefits.

Kim spends a significant amount of time each year in Springfield working to advance anti-poverty policy and defending against the erosion of protections and services.  She leads Heartland’s involvement in the Illinois Domestic Workers Coalition and Raise Illinois, the coalition working to increase the state’s minimum wage.  Kim also provides staff support and leadership to the Illinois Commission on the Elimination of Poverty, an independent state body working to cut extreme poverty.

Prior to her work in public policy, Kim logged over seven years of community organizing experience.  She previously worked as the Associate Director for the Brighton Park Neighborhood Council, a grassroots community-based organization serving Chicago’s southwest side. Kim received her BA from Kalamazoo College (yes, there really is a Kalamazoo) and her Master’s in Public Policy and Administration from Northwestern University. In her spare time she enjoys checking off destinations on her travel to-do list and collecting stamps in her National Park passport – next up: Italy, Alaska, and Historic Pullman.

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 Lucy Mullany Senior Policy Associate | Asset Building


Lucy MullanyLucy Mullany leads the Financial Empowerment Policy Project at Heartland Alliance, which includes serving as the coordinator of the statewide coalition, the Illinois Asset Building Group (IABG).  She advocates for policies that close the racial wealth gap, expand access to the tools families need to build long-term financial security, and protect consumers from predatory financial products.

During her time at Heartland Alliance, Lucy has spearheaded successful efforts to pass state legislation that enables families to become more financially stable. Her successful campaigns include creation of the country’s first automatic retirement savings program, the Illinois Secure Choice Savings Program. She also led efforts to remove the asset test from the TANF program–making Illinois only the eighth state to do so–and passed legislation that provides the strongest protections in the nation for workers paid via a payroll card. Lucy is currently working with parents across the state to expand access to college savings opportunities and, ultimately, create a universal children’s savings account program.
Prior to working at Heartland Alliance, Lucy advocated for policies to expand the federal tax credits for working families and secure federal funding for free tax-preparation programs while working at the Center for Economic Progress. Her interest in policy change was cultivated while participating in local organizing efforts at LIFT Chicago.

Lucy currently serves on the CFED Assets & Opportunity Steering Committee and the Bank On Chicago Initiative’s Steering Committee. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Loyola University Chicago and a Master’s in Social Science from the University of Chicago.  Lucy grew up in Australia and Minnesota, leading to a unique accent. She has an amazing fat cat and an annoying but sweet dog.

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 Daniel Rabbitt – Project Manager | Health Policy


Heartland Alliance: Daniel Rabbitt photographed at Andrew Collings Photography studio, Chicago, IL. October 26, 2015. Photo by Andrew Collings.

Dan Rabbitt is the Project Manager for Health Policy at Heartland Alliance, leading their efforts to ensure the health care system is effective and accessible for all people. Dan’s work regularly takes him to Springfield to directly influence policy-makers at the state level. His consistent presence in Springfield leads to work with numerous partners aiming to expand access to health insurance, promote successful health programs, and protect vulnerable populations.

Prior to working at Heartland, Dan was the legislative coordinator for the National Health Care for the Homeless Council, where he advocated for federal legislation allowing homeless health clinics to continue to serve formerly homeless individuals in housing programs and protecting access to public benefits such as food stamps and Medicaid. His drive to improve systems serving vulnerable populations arises from the injustices he observed early in his career as a counselor working with adults with mental illness. Fundamentally, Dan strives to correct these injustices.

When Dan is not seeking social justice for all people, he is likely to be pursuing his interests in music production, travel, and participating in flash mobs. Dan has also occasionally obtained formal training, earning his Bachelor’s in Psychology and Master’s in Social Work from the University of Maryland.

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 Jody Blaylock Policy Associate | Asset Building


Heartland Alliance: Jody Blaylock photographed at Andrew Collings Photography studio, Chicago, IL. October 26, 2015. Photo by Andrew Collings.

Jody Blaylock is a Policy Associate at Heartland Alliance, focused on advancing state and local policies that help Illinoisans build savings and become financially secure. As part of this role, she supports the Illinois Asset Building Group (IABG), a statewide coalition promoting financially security.

Prior to joining Heartland Alliance, Jody worked at the Greater Chicago Food Depository as the Advocacy Coordinator, where she worked with community leaders to protect and strengthen federal anti-hunger programs. Jody’s anti-poverty policy experience includes prior work with Chicago Coalition for the Homeless and Community Organizing and Family Issues (COFI).

Jody hails from the sunny state of Florida, where she received a Bachelor’s in Social Work from the University of Central Florida. Jody holds a Master’s degree from the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago. She now spends her time trying to stay warm in the Chicago winters. Jody is a fan of unfortunate sports teams, including the Jacksonville Jaguars, and hopes to be a fan of a winning team one day.

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Jean Lam Program Coordinator


Jean LamJean Lam is the Administrative Coordinator for Heartland Alliance’s Research and Policy Division. Jean provides specialized clerical support and administrative assistance to the three teams that make up Heartland Alliance’s Research and Policy Division. Jean enables the staff to achieve their goals of greater social change and make a difference.

Jean’s educational background is in programming, along with her past experiences in information services support and database management, has given her the technical skills and knowledge to deepen her role on the team.

Jean’s interests include reading biographical literature, cooking, taking online courses, and watching Chicago Bulls games. She supports the nearby school youth group and she volunteers in local community housing assistance services.

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