Who is State Matters?
We are an eclectic group of artists, designers, developers, policy wonks and writers.
We founded State Matters in 2017 to make Illinois government clear and unintimidating. We believe that civic knowledge is the bedrock of a thriving democracy. As a nonpartisan educational organization, our agenda is to engage, educate, and inspire — regardless of who you are or where you’re coming from.
At first, we were just looking for some basic answers about how the state worked (or didn’t work). But our state government is dense with bureaucracy and the existing online resources were either too biased, too superficial, or flew right over our heads. When we couldn’t find what we were looking for, we built it ourselves.
We don’t want to just make government easy to understand. We also want to make it fun, beautiful, and enjoyable. Because that’s what we like. By focusing on striking and imaginative content, we appeal to people who want to be civically-engaged but might not have the time and energy to engage with in-depth journalism or unravel complicated legislative lingo.
Public Relations Manager
Social Media Manager
Brandon Salesberry currently serves as the Founder & Principal of Salesberry Group. At Salesberry Group he provides part-time or short-term financial and operational services to various organizations, including non-profits, political organizations, and for-profits with a social impact focus. In the past he has served as the Director of Finance for Organizing for Action and the Manager of Research Administration at Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago. He has more than 12 years of experience in all levels of operations, finance, administration, facility, IT and volunteer management. Outside of the Salesberry Group, Brandon spends his time running, working on home renovation projects, and spending time with his family. He lives in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago with his wife and 2 children.
Adeshina Emmanuel is a Chicago-based journalist focused on race, class, inequality, social problems, and solutions who has been published in The New York Times, Ebony, Chicago Magazine, and by ATTN.com. He's a former reporter at the Chicago Reporter, Chicago Sun-Times, and DNAinfo Chicago.
Dean Alonistiotis is a son of Chicago. He is a product of Chicago Public Schools for both elementary and high school. He attended DePaul University for his Undergraduate degree and Northwestern University for Graduate school. He currently serves as the Director of Economic Development for the City Treasurer's office here at the City of Chicago. His professional experience has both local and state government and non-profit advocacy experience. He is huge Chicago sports fan but an even bigger fan of things politics at all levels of government.
As a civil rights attorney, mediator and legislative consultant, I see firsthand the power of laws. My mission is to show people how to take control of their lives through the legal and legislative process that our society is built on. Laws undeniably reflect the moral code of a community. I don’t just want to talk about unjust laws, I want to help others understand the process of developing and writing legislation that creates long-term solutions. The most vulnerable individuals in our communities deserve advocacy, and it is by their success that we should be judged. However, before we can tackle the task of empowering others, we must be sure of the person we are. Movements of any kind can go dangerously off course if individuals aren’t sure of their convictions and what they’re fighting for. It's with that in mind that I started The Skinless Project, which provides role models of empowerment, and More Than Pretty, a book that serves as a guide to finding your purpose. All sales proceeds from the book is donated to The United State of Women.
Scott has 30 years of experience in technology, personnel and business management. His background includes significant experience in strategic planning, cyber security, and process improvement. Scott currently owns and operates Saxe Enterprises and is the Managing Director for Charity Resources LLC. Prior to Saxe Enterprises, Scott was Chief Information officer at Cbsi (Consumer Benefit Services, Inc) for nearly 15 years, has previously served on the Board of Trustees for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS), and has served on the Board of Directors for Community Health Charities – Midwest Region. In 2013, he joined the Illinois Advocacy Committee for the American Heart Association, and is currently their Chair-elect. Scott has been an advisor to the Board of Directors for Culinary Care since its founding in 2013. Wanting to have an even greater impact, Scott founded the Illinois Coalition for Advocacy, Responsibility and Education (ICARE) an advocacy coalition in Illinois to foster collaboration among health organizations and to have a stronger voice in Springfield.
Caleb Gardner is an insatiably curious digital strategist with unique professional experience, from startups to nonprofits, from Fortune 100 clients to heads of state. He has more than a decade of experience in digital leadership and social impact, building content strategies and developing operational frameworks for a variety of organizations in the public and private sectors, turning online communities into social movements, and building trust at scale. For more than three years, Caleb was the lead digital strategist for OFA, Barack Obama's political advocacy group. Caleb brought his unique leadership to one of the largest digital programs in existence, with a millions-strong email list and massive social media following -- including the fourth largest Twitter account in the world. Now as the co-founder and managing partner of 18 Coffees, a digital strategy and innovation firm, Caleb helps build digital capability within businesses trying to change the world, powered by a community of digital talent that helps organizations solve problems, bring ideas to life, and get a foothold in the future.
Peter Cunningham is the Executive Director of Education Post, a Chicago-based non-profit communications organization promoting education reform. Previously, Peter was President of Cunningham Communications, a Chicago-based communications company serving public, private and non-profit sector clients. He is also affiliated with Whiteboard Advisors, a DC-based education policy and research firm. He recently served as Assistant Secretary for Communications and Outreach in the U.S. Department of Education during the Obama Administration's first term. Prior to that he worked with Arne Duncan in Chicago when he was CEO of the Chicago Public Schools. For several years Peter was affiliated with the political consulting firm Axelrod and Associates, and also served for five years in the administration of Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley. A native New Yorker, Peter began his career as a journalist with small weekly newspapers in New York. He earned an M.S. in Journalism from Columbia and a B.A. in Philosophy from Duke. He is married to an artist, Jackie Kazarian and they have two adult children who are proud graduates of the Chicago Public Schools.
Tara Raghuveer is the Housing Campaign Lead at People’s Action, a national network of grassroots organizations committed to economic and racial justice. She also leads the Kansas City Eviction Project. Prior to joining People’s Action, Tara was the Deputy Director of the National Partnership for New Americans (NPNA), a coalition of the nation’s 37 largest immigrant rights organizations. Tara has been featured in outlets such as the New York Times, The New Yorker, Washington Post, NPR, The Guardian, and Slate. She has also written for TIME and VICE, and her research on eviction and poverty in Kansas City is cited in the Pulitzer Prize-winning book Evicted. Tara graduated from Harvard College, where she served as student body president. She is an Australian-born, Indian-American immigrant who came to the US with her family in 1995.