The Career Achievement Award, Rising Star Award, and CC DuBois Alumni Service Award are to be presented at Harris Connect Weekend.

Four accomplished alumni of the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy will be recognized Friday, May 6 at the Alumni Awards Dinner held in conjunction with Harris Connect Weekend. Dean Katherine Baicker and Barbara Barreno-Paschall, MPP’17, the Harris Alumni Council awards chair, will present Erika Poethig, MPP’96, with the Career Achievement Award; Chasse Rehwinkel, MPP’15, with the Rising Star Award; and Melissa Baker, MPP’05, and Alfredo Gomez, AM’91, with the CC DuBois Alumni Service Award. 2021 winners will also be presented with their awards at that time.

For more about the winners:

Rising Star Award

Chasse Rehwinkel, MPP’15

Chasse Rehwinkel, MPP'15

Chasse Rehwinkel serves as the Director of Banking for the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. Rehwinkel was appointed by Governor JB Pritzker in June of 2019. In this role, he oversees the regulation of Illinois’ state chartered banks, trust companies, student loan servicers, mortgage loan originators and pawnbrokers. Rehwinkel has spearheaded the passage of the Illinois Community Reinvestment Act, the implementation of the Predatory Loan Prevention Act, and the chartering of the first de novo Illinois bank in over a decade.

Previous to his appointment, Rehwinkel served as the Chief Economist and Director of the Bond Division for the Illinois Office of Comptroller where he worked on issues of state liquidity, public budgeting, debt issuance and access to capital. Rehwinkel has served as the Comptroller’s advisor on inter‐fund borrowing, short‐term lending, bond issuance and other fiscal issues. He has also counseled the Comptroller on a number of Boards and Commissions, including the Illinois State Board of Investment, State Employees’ Retirement System and Illinois Secure Choice.

Prior to his role with the Comptroller’s office, Rehwinkel was the Director of Policy for the Illinois State Treasurer, where he oversaw the creation of the National ABLE Alliance, a coalition of 16 different state governments that created a set of affordable savings programs for people with disabilities.

Rehwinkel is a member of the Illinois Bank On Commission and has served on the ISAC fiscal advisory board, the Chicago Resilient Task Force and the board of the Society of Government Economists. He received his Master in Public Policy with a focus in municipal finance from the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy and his Bachelor’s Degree from Gettysburg College. Rehwinkel was also a 2018 Edgar Fellow.

CC DuBois Alumni Service Award

Melissa Baker, MPP’05

Melissa Baker, MPP'05

Melissa Baker, MPP'05, is a team leader at the Office of Evaluation and Inspections with the Office of Inspector General, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  Her evaluation work is primarily focused on prescription drugs, including supply chain security, biosimilar drugs, copayment coupons, and conflicts of interest in drug coverage decisions.  She has more than 15 years of experience in health policy.  Before joining HHS OIG, Melissa led the Kids Count Data Book project for Voices for Illinois Children, worked a consultant for MAXIMUS, and was a policy advisor at the Illinois Governor’s office. She also has more than 5 years of journalism and communications experience, developing for award-winning trade magazines and serving as a spokesperson for the Cook County Clerk.  Melissa has been an active member of the Harris alumni community. She was a founding member of the Harris Alumni Council and held various leadership roles, including vice president from 2018 to 2019, secretary from 2013 to 2018, and chair of the Alumni Awards Committee for 3 years. She also has been a Harris mentor to second-year students since 2015.

Alfredo Gomez, AM’91

J. Alfredo Gómez, MPP’91

J. Alfredo Gómez, MPP’91, serves as a Director in the Natural Resources and Environment team of the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO). He is a national leader in environmental and natural resources issues. He manages a group of over 30 public experts who meet Congress’s need for information related the portfolio he oversees. His team produces about 15 in-depth reports a year at the request of leadership of congressional committees. He has testified in over a dozen Senate and House hearings on a variety of environmental protection and climate change issues. He has actively worked to facilitate GAO goals on diversity and inclusion. Alfredo left GAO to work for the Honolulu City Council where he audited local government agencies, and subsequently returned to GAO in 1998. Alfredo has been a lifelong advocate and supporter of the Harris School, its students and alumni. He served on the Harris Alumni Council for three years, and also co-chaired his Harris reunion committees. Alfredo also serves as a Harris mentor, and has volunteer on many DC area alumni activities and functions.

Career Achievement Award

Erika Poethig, MPP’96

Erika Poethig, MPP'96

Erika Poethig, MPP'96, serves as Special Assistant to the President for Housing and Urban Policy at the White House’s Domestic Policy Council. Previously she served as vice president and chief innovation officer at the Urban Institute. She led the Research to Action Lab, which is an innovation hub serving decisionmakers and creative thinkers eager to effect social change.

Before joining Urban, Poethig was acting assistant secretary for policy, development, and research at the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. During her tenure in the Obama administration, she was also deputy assistant secretary for policy development and was a leading architect of the White House Council for Strong Cities and Strong Communities. As associate director for housing at the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, she developed grantmaking strategies focused on rental housing policy research and housing matters. In the 1990s, she was assistant commissioner for policy, resource, and program development at the City of Chicago’s Department of Housing and developed Mayor Richard Daley’s campaign to combat predatory lending, prevent foreclosures, and stabilize communities. Previously, she was associate project director of the Metropolis Project, which produced the Metropolis 2020 agenda for regional leadership around the major issues faced by metropolitan Chicago. Poethig served on the boards of the Low Income Investment Fund, Mercy Housing, the College of Wooster, and the Center for Community Progress.

She was a Phi Beta Kappa member at the College of Wooster and a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Vienna, and she has an MA with honors in public policy from the University of Chicago.

Read more about Erika’s career and her time at Harris.