STAFF

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 Brian C. Johnson

Chief Executive Officer

Pronouns: He/Him/His
bjohnson@eqil.org

Brian C. Johnson has served as the CEO of Equality Illinois, the statewide LGBTQ civil rights organization, since 2016. In this role, he leads efforts to build a better Illinois by advancing equal treatment & full acceptance of the LGBTQ community. As CEO, Brian oversees the three non-profit entities that make up the organization, each with its own board of directors: Equality Illinois Institute, the 501 (c)(3) arm that focuses on education of the public, media and policy makers on LGBT issues; Equality Illinois, the 501 (c)(4) entity that advocates for the adoption of particular policies aimed at making Illinois a more equal and accepting place for the LGBTQ community; and the Equality Illinois Political Action Committee (PAC), which endorses and supports political candidates on the state and local levels who will champion a more equitable future for Illinois. Prior to his time at Equality Illinois, Brian spent nearly two decades as a leader in social justice. His passion for fighting for equity was catalyzed by having served as a first-grade teacher, and Teach For America corps member, in Baton Rouge, LA. Seeing first-hand how systemic injustice impacted the lives of passionate and capable children, Brian committed his career to fighting to make sure America lived up to its promise as a fair and equitable country. Brian came to Equality Illinois from Leadership For Educational Equity (LEE), where he served as the Vice President of Regional Impact. In this role, he helped lead the nationwide efforts to recruit nearly 300 teachers and former teachers to become candidates for public office while simultaneously launching community led organizing efforts in a dozen cities across the country including Chicago, New York, Houston, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. Brian has served in a variety of leadership roles in non-profits throughout the country. He served as the Executive Director of Teach For America in Los Angeles where he led the efforts to place and support nearly 800 effective teachers in public schools throughout Los Angeles. He also headed up the Larchmont Schools, two racially and socio-economically diverse public schools in central Los Angeles. Under his leadership, both schools were recognized as among the academically highest performing schools in the state of California. Brian earned his AB, magna cum laude, from Princeton University, his JD from Stanford Law School, and his MBA, as an Arjay Miller Scholar, from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. He is also Leadership Greater Chicago Fellow since 2020. He lives with his husband Toby and their daughter Josephine in the Lincoln Square neighborhood of Chicago.
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Mony Ruiz-Velasco

Deputy Director 

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers
mruizvelasco@eqil.org

Mony Ruiz-Velasco is a human rights advocate and the Deputy Director at Equality Illinois where she works to advance a more equitable Illinois for all LGBTQ+ communities. For more than two decades, Mony worked to combine organizing, advocacy, and legal efforts on behalf of immigrant rights and social justice. Before joining Equality Illinois, Mony was the Associate Director for Network Power at Alianza Americas, a transnational human rights organization that advocates for immigrant justice. She was also Executive Director of PASO – West Suburban Action Project where they advocated for local and statewide policy change, provided legal services, and organized local communities for systemic change. Mony also worked at the National Immigrant Justice Center for nearly thirteen years, where she became the legal director. Mony has been advocating for LGBTQ+ families for decades. She has also provided legal counsel and representation to thousands of immigrants and their families focusing on women, LGBTQ immigrants, survivors of crimes and other vulnerable populations. Mony has worked regionally and nationally on anti-deportation and anti-criminalization campaigns. She advises and assists legislators and their staff regarding policy and legislation at the federal, state, and local levels. Her work includes the Violence Against Women Act, the Illinois Trust Act, RISE Act, VOICES Act, and previous efforts on immigration reform. She is currently on the board at NIJC and the advisory board for Define American. She previously served as the Board President at the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant & Refugee Rights and was on the board of Equality Illinois. In 1999, she graduated from St. Mary’s University School of Law in San Antonio, Texas and attended Texas A&M University in Corpus Christi where she obtained a BA in English degree. Mony grew up in Mexico and in South Texas. Mony is queer, lives with her partner, Denise, and is the proud mother of three beautiful children, Christopher, Emma and Liam.
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Ardena Hoffman

Director of Operations

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers
ahoffman@eqil.org

BIO COMING SOON
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Michael Ziri

Director of Public Policy

Pronouns: He/Him/His
mziri@eqil.org

Michael Ziri, a veteran in legislative affairs and a former Springfield elected official, is the Director of Public Policy at Equality Illinois. Mike spearheads an aggressive legislative agenda in Springfield, builds and strengthens relationships with officials and political leaders throughout the state and in Washington, D.C., and develops policy initiatives. He also staffs the election-related activities of the Equality Illinois Political Action Committee. Joining Equality Illinois in January 2015, Mike brought to the organization seven years of experience working for Illinois state government, capped by a position as the Director of Legislative Affairs for the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency. His previous positions included legislative liaison for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, legislative analyst in Gov. Pat Quinn’s office, and legal assistant for the EPA. He also served two terms as Trustee of the Springfield Metropolitan Exposition and Auditorium Authority, making Mike the first openly gay elected official in Sangamon County. A native of Springfield, Mike earned his bachelor’s degree at Illinois College in Jacksonville and his master’s degree at the University of Illinois Springfield. He lives in the Ravenswood neighborhood of Chicago.
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Myles Brady Davis

Director of Communications 

Pronouns: They/Them/Theirs
mylesbradydavis@eqil.org

BIO COMING SOON
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Wesley "Wes" Davis

Director of Development

Pronouns: He/Him/His
wdavis@eqil.org 

Wes Davis is Equality Illinois’ Director of Development, responsible for leading Equality Illinois’ major fundraising programs including membership, annual gala, corporate gifts, and other strategic events. Wes is proud to be part of Equality Illinois, raising support and awareness for the organization's important work throughout Illinois. Wes brings a diverse perspective to the Equality Illinois team. Prior to joining Equality Illinois he was the Statewide Field Director of Equality Florida. He brings extensive experience as a Political Director and Finance Aide to the Equality Illinois team. As a former legislative aide in the Florida House of Representatives he oversaw priority policy topics and putting constituents' needs first. Wes has devoted his career to developing winning strategies, boosting community awareness, and positively impacting communities. He is a graduate of Florida Southern College and is based in Chicago.
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