Eva M. Pusateri, President

President and Founder of Expert Communications and Training, Inc., Eva M. Pusateri serves as a national campaign consultant, trainer and public affairs expert.  Eva has successfully helped elect candidates to office at all levels of government providing General Strategic Consulting and Communications Consulting to include Television, Radio, Direct Mail, Website and Online advertising as well as media relations.  A master at creating winning targeted campaign strategies, grassroots neighbor-to-neighbor campaigns and both paid and earned messaging for her clients, Eva started her career in politics as a campaign manager.  She is recognized for always being one step ahead of the opposition and for winning decisive victories for her clients. 

Eva now focuses a good majority of her strategic knowledge and her grassroots campaign expertise in lecture halls where she provides industry leading training on every aspect of political campaigns, including leadership training.  Eva has trained nationally and internationally, with a strong concentration on electing women to office.  Impressed with both her political campaign successes and the integral leadership roles she played in important victories across the country early in her career, Campaigns and Elections' Magazine named Eva one of "74 Women Who Are Changing American Politics" and "A Rising Star". Eva also served on the Board of the Christine Todd Whitman Excellence in Public Service Series and has trained at both the NJ and IL programs.  Born in Illinois, Eva also lived and worked in the Washington DC area and the east coast, before returning home to Illinois. 

Susan Wynn Bence, Vice President & Coalitions Chair

Susan Wynn Bence has worked in Social Services, Education and Government Affairs for most of her professional career in both the United States and Europe. Elected three times to Iroquois County Board, Susan served 10 ½ years before resigning to accept her current position as Downstate/Springfield Director for Illinois Lieutenant Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti. Susan is also a former Republican Precinct Committeeman, a delegate to the Illinois GOP Convention, and served as an alternate delegate to the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio. Susan also serves on the Executive Board of the Illinois Federation of Republican Women as the immediate past president and represented Illinois on the National Federation of Republican Women’s Board of Directors. Susan’s interest in politics began while a student at Eureka College in the late 70’s early 80’s when she met and became inspired by the college’s most famous alum, Ronald Reagan.

Susan has received numerous professional and community service awards however the honors that she is most proud were received while living and working in Europe; she was honored by the United Service Organization (USO) as an outstanding volunteer. She was also honored with the 6th ASG Commander’s coin for her dedication and work supporting the “Military Child.” This past summer during her hometown’s sesquicentennial celebration, Susan was named Home Town Hero. She is an overachiever who is always willing to go the extra mile and has an exceptional reputation as a successful fundraiser and grant writer.

Laura Kotelman, Secretary

Laura Kotelman has a B.A. in Political Science and Spanish from Lake Forest College where she was the College Republicans chapter president for two terms. After a year with the Illinois State Senate Republican staff, she attended the University of Illinois College of Law where she was elected to the University Senate.

After law school, Laura worked for Illinois Attorney General Jim Ryan in policy and program development and went on to represent more than 1,000 insurance companies as senior counsel and regional government affairs manager at a major insurance trade association. She then spent a decade with one of the world’s premier law firms working in business development. She directly supported the global insurance and financial services practice and led a team of four business development professionals in Chicago and Washington, D.C. Laura joined Governor Rauner’s Administration in January 2016 serving as Chief of Staff for two state agencies. In April 2019, she joined a major Chicago law firm as Chief of Staff to the Chair.  Laura she serves on the board of the Chicago Lawyers Chapter of the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy. She is a former leader of the Chicago Young Republicans which received multiple national awards during her tenure.

Pam Fenner, Treasurer

Pamela Fenner brings impressive combined elective and life experience to her position as Treasurer.  Pam served 25 years as President of Fenner & Associates Computer Technologies, a home based computer and technology service business. As an information and technology expert she was frequently called upon by civic and professional organizations to lecture on internet safety and identity fraud. In addition, she has pursued community and public service, which is reflected in her long time membership and leadership role with the Carol Stream Chamber of Commerce and her decade long involvement with the Carol Stream 4th of July Parade.  In 1993 Pam won a position as Trustee on the Carol Stream Village Board and continued to serve for 20 years.  During that time, she served on the DuPage Mayors and Managers Legislative Committee, and as a Commissioner and Ethics Committee Chair for the DuPage Housing Authority. 

Fenner’s political involvement includes hundreds of volunteer hours as a Wayne Township precinct committeeman and as Secretary of the Wayne Winfield Republican Women’s Club.  She was selected a Fellow in the 1999 class of the Lincoln Series and served on the Board as Treasurer, webmaster, and President for more than 10 years.  In 2002 she managed John Millner’s successful primary and general campaigns for the State House in District #55.

Katie Justak, Communications Chair

Katie has always had a passion for politics.  Since age seven, she volunteered regularly for local Republican campaigns, beginning in Will County where she was raised and most recently in Cook County where she lives presently. Katie’s professional background is in public relations. She started her career in consumer marketing at GolinHarris, then in healthcare at Edelman, both in Chicago. She went on to utilize her public relations talents as program manager of education at the American Academy of Periodontology, successfully working as a liaison between dental educators, students, dental associations and the Academy.

Now, Katie is a fulltime mother of four and is an independent consultant for Arbonne International. She actively volunteers at her children’s schools and her church. Katie also enjoys serving her community of La Grange. In 2013 she was appointed to the La Grange 2020 Task Force by the village president, where she served as vice chair. This task force researched, drafted and provided recommendations on the direction the Village Board of Trustees should consider in an effort to meet several goals for the Village by 2020.  Additionally, she has served as chair and vice chair of the Citizens’ Council of La Grange. Katie graduated from the Illinois Lincoln Excellence in Public Service Series in 2009 and serves as a governor on its board the communications chair.

Sarah Riddell, Fundraising Chair

Sarah Riddell (Alumna ’07) is an attorney who advises domestic and foreign exchanges, derivatives clearing organizations, and other financial institutions on a broad range of regulatory matters, including U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) registration and compliance. Ms. Riddell advises clients on evolving areas of the law, including the legal frameworks applicable to cryptocurrencies, Blockchain and cybersecurity. Ms. Riddell also worked at the CFTC as a policy attorney, working on Dodd-Frank-related rulemakings and examinations of derivatives clearing organizations, including those designated as systemically important.

Prior to attending law school, Ms. Riddell worked on Capitol Hill for Representative Mario Diaz Balart (FL) and Senator Wayne Allard (CO). Ms. Riddell credits who work on Capitol Hill to her experience as a Lincoln Series Fellow.

Kristy Stephenson, Programming Chair

Kristy Stephenson serves as Governmental Affairs Manager and Policy Advisor for Governor Bruce Rauner.  She represents the Office of the Governor in the southern region of the State and represents the Governor of the Delta Regional Authority Board.  She graduated from the Delta Leadership Institute in 2017.  Kristy was named a Leader Among Us by the Southern Illinoisan in 2016.  Previously, she served as Downstate Director for the Office of the Comptroller, counsel for the Illinois Development Finance Authority and an assistant attorney general.  She began her legal career in private practice, served as the Treasurer of the City of Metropolis since 2004 and was a founding appointee to the Massac Metropolis Port District.

She participated in the Excellence in Public Service, Lincoln Series in 2011 and served on the governing board.  Kristy has volunteered on several local and statewide political campaigns, including as a regional coordinator for Munger for Comptroller and also for the late Judy Baar Topinka.  She has served a precinct committeewoman in Massac County also.  Kristy, her husband Barry, and their two sons make their home in Metropolis.  They are active members of the First United Methodist Church and enjoy traveling, playing golf and attending their kids’ soccer and basketball games.  

Abby Walsh, Membership Chair

Abby Walsh is an Associate with Michael Best Strategies, one of the nation’s fast-growing B2B consulting firms specializing in lobbying, government relations, public affairs, crisis management, shared value strategies, political partnership development and community/stakeholder engagement strategies.  Previously, she served Governor Bruce Rauner from his inauguration through 2017. She held the positions of Deputy Director of Legislation for the Illinois Department of Human Services, followed by Director of Legislation for the Illinois Lottery.  Prior to these positions, Abby spent nearly a decade working in the Illinois State Legislature. She rose to the position of Chief of Staff to now Senate Republican Leader Bill Brady from 2009-2015. She served as Senator Brady’s lead policy advisor and strategist.

Additionally, Abby has been involved in campaigns at every level of Illinois politics including statewide, legislative, and local campaigns.   Abby is an alumni of Illinois State University. She has participated in Illinois Lincoln Series, Leadership Illinois, and is currently an Ambassador of Hope Institute for Children and Families.