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Staff Bios

Harry Wells

Interim President

Harry Wells became Voices Interim President in July 2015 and will provide leadership for the organization during its search for a permanent president. Harry has more than three decades of nonprofit executive experience. From 1978 to 2004, Harry was Executive Director of OMNI Youth Services, a community-based youth services nonprofit. Under his leadership, OMNI grew from an organization with 5 staff and a budget of $150,000 to 140 staff with a budget of $6 million. Harry was also President and CEO of Chicago Youth Centers, a large youth development organization in Chicago that provides safe havens, positive group and individual guidance, and community resources in low-income neighborhoods from 2004 to 2012. His most recent leadership role (from July 2012 to February 2015) was as Senior Vice President for Advancement at Aunt Martha’s Youth Service and Health Centers, which serves more than 80,000 patients and clients per year. At Aunt Martha’s, Harry was responsible for private fundraising.


Madelyn James  

Madelyn James, early childhood project manager, is a passionate advocate for ensuring all children from birth to age 8 and their families have the necessary supports to achieve a strong foundation for future success. Ms. James’ responsibility at Voices is to build an approach that advocates for supports that benefit the “whole child.” Her first career was in business, where she honed negotiation, team building, management, budgeting, and strategic planning skills. Prior to joining Voices, Ms. James served in various capacities as a direct service provider, a Head Start and state preschool teacher, an Illinois STARNET trainer and project director, a supervisor of home visiting and center-based programs, director of the National Lekotek affiliates and early childhood training, a National Association for the Education of Young Children fellow, an adjunct faculty member with Chicago City Colleges, and as consultant and member of local, state, and national early childhood collaboratives. She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Bradley University and a master’s degree in early childhood education from Dominican University in River Forest, Ill. She has two adult children and recently became a grandmother for the first time to a beautiful baby named Illyana.

David Lloyd  

As director of the Fiscal Policy Center at Voices for Illinois Children, David Lloyd oversees the Fiscal Policy Center’s efforts to influence state tax and budget policies to support critical investments in our children, families, and communities. Prior to joining the Fiscal Policy Center, he was a senior advisor to U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, advising the Senator on civil rights, immigration, manufacturing, and international trade policy. Through his work on international trade issues, Mr. Lloyd came to see that our state and national economic competitiveness depends on nurturing and developing our human capital — which starts with our children. Mr. Lloyd has a bachelor’s degree in history from Cornell University and a Masters in Business Administration from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

Mitch Lifson  

Mitch Lifson is a senior policy analyst with the Fiscal Policy Center at Voices for Illinois Children. Prior to joining the Policy Center, he worked at the Illinois Department of Revenue as a policy and legislative advisor and for the Illinois Senate. Mr. Lifson’s experience also includes working for an Illinois state representative and the Village of Algonquin. Prior to his government career, he worked as a radio news reporter. Mr. Lifson has a master’s degree in government administration from the University of Pennsylvania, a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University, and a bachelor’s degree from Brandeis University.

Emily Miller  

As director of policy and advocacy, Emily Miller brings years of experience in Illinois public policy and legislative advocacy. Ms. Miller directs Voices’ legislative advocacy and shapes public policy priorities to improve life for children and families. Prior to joining Voices, Ms. Miller ran policy and government affairs for the Better Government Association, a non-profit government watchdog organization. Previous roles as a member of the Service Employees International Union Health Care Illinois & Indiana Government Affairs team and as the Health Care Advocate with Illinois PIRG gave Ms. Miller years of experience in standing up for children and families, and securing funding for vital programs, like the Child Care Assistance Program.  A member of the Illinois Bar, Ms. Miller earned her bachelor’s degree in government from Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, PA and her Juris Doctorate from DePaul University in Chicago, IL.

Joan Vitale  

As director of external relations at Voices for Illinois Children, Joan Vitale oversees the creation and support of Voices Leadership Committees — groups of civic leaders, community and business leaders, and concerned citizens who are passionate about improving children’s lives. Ms. Vitale previously directed the parent-education component of Voices’ nationally known Start Early: Learning Begins at Birth campaign, which provided young, at-risk parents with information about nurturing and stimulating the crucial brain development that occurs in a baby’s first years. The Start Early campaign used an award-winning original video and parenting magazine. Her work included providing training to more than 400 service organizations around the state in using the Start Early materials. Prior to joining Voices in 1997, Ms. Vitale was director of the Child & Parent Center at the Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia, where she managed support programs for more than 300 families. She also participates on a variety of statewide and local boards. She and her husband, Phil, have three children — Andrew, Amy and Melissa — and three grandchildren.