Jim Poole

Chief of Staff

Jim Poole is a resident of Chicago’s Albany Park neighborhood. As a residential counselor in both Louisville, Kentucky and Baltimore, Maryland, Jim helped teenagers and adults with behavioral issues and chronic mental illness improve their lives and increase their self-sufficiency. After working for several years in ground-level social services Jim decided that he wanted to help shape policies that were impacting his clients. He returned to school at the University of Chicago where he focused on studying policy and decision analysis techniques alongside policy advocacy. Jim is particularly interested in policies impacting poverty and inequality. During his studies, Jim worked at Inspiration Corporation in Uptown and at the Corporation for Supportive Housing. He also worked with After School Matters in their downtown office coordinating an inclusion program for teens with special needs. As Chief of Staff, Jim is the primary assistant for Ald. Pawar. He has been deeply involved in local capital planning, city service delivery, and the alderman’s legislative agenda. Jim was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky and received a Congressional scholarship to study abroad in Germany during his junior year of high school. Jim graduated from the University of Kentucky in 2006 with a BA in History and German and received his Master’s degree from the University of Chicago in Social Service Administration in 2011.

 

Ernie Constantino

Planning & Development Director

Hailing from the 48th Ward, Ernie was an aide to Alderman Mary Ann Smith for over 13 years — accomplishing major streetscapes, cutting-edge environmental initiatives, many new park improvements and dazzling community-designed murals. He has been passionate about his community since becoming a local block club leader soon after moving into Edgewater in 1989. Founding the Greening Ridge Improvement Project in 1995, he coordinated hundreds of community volunteers in building over 50 large planter boxes along Ridge Avenue for which he fundraises and organizes annual plantings of flowers. Ernie has also assumed leadership roles at the Edgewater Community Council and the North Lake Shore Earth Day steering committee. His past job positions have included Director of Research and Computers Systems at a Chicago City College, teaching at the college and gifted junior high school level, program evaluation and statistical analysis, and gut-rehabbing two apartment buildings. Born in the Philippines and raised in San Francisco, Ernie credits his college experience at Cal-Berkeley in developing his open and critical mind. His knowledge of social policy and its impact on human development was further refined in grad school at Northwestern University. Outside of work, Ernie is a world adventure traveller, loves the outdoors and is known for his homemade pies.

 

Brad Gregorka

Program Coordinator &
Constituent Services Liaison

Brad is the newest staff member in the office and will be concentrating on providing program coordination and constituent services related to transportation, sanitation, and other public infrastructure issues around the ward. Brad attended the University of Michigan and received his Bachelors in Environment with a specialization in Urban and Environmental Planning while playing club water polo and participating in the Alternative Spring Break program. After moving to the city and working at an environmental restoration company in the suburbs, Brad returned to graduate school at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and earned his Master of Urban Planning degree. As a graduate research assistant, he helped draft a comprehensive plan for a county in southern Illinois that focused on economic development. Prior to joining the alderman’s staff, Brad worked as a policy researcher at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Institute for Health Research and Policy. At UIC, he focused on reviewing zoning ordinances and comprehensive plans from across the country to determine how well they support active living opportunities in their communities. In addition, he performed some economic development consulting work for various public and private clients across the country. Brad and his wife have lived in the ward for a few years and enjoy hiking, biking, and kayaking.

 

Dara Salk

Community Outreach Director

Dara Salk has lived in the 47th Ward for 35 years. She is a member and volunteer of the Riverbank Neighbors and previous volunteer at The Chicago Waldorf School. Dara has also worked as an executive recruiter, life coach and personal mentoring consultant. In the past few years she helped start the Friendship Pet Food Pantry, Forward Chicago and the 47th Ward Repair Café. Dara is most proud of being a wife and the mother of two children who both live in Washington, DC, and have taken up the family interest in public service and government.