About Us

Citizen Action/Illinois is a statewide progressive policy and political coalition. Building on 25 years of experience, Citizen Action/Illinois has been a key player in the fight for social and economic justice at the state and national levels.

Citizen Action/Illinois has led campaigns for fair taxes, affordable and quality health care, retirement security, campaign finance reform, marriage equality, voter registration and mobilization and stronger environmental and food safety protections.

Citizen Action/Illinois works hard to hold our elected officials accountable on these issues every day in the State House and in the Congress.


Citizen Action/Illinois is the state’s largest public interest organization and a progressive political coalition committed to creating democratic social change both in Illinois and across the nation.

The organization is based on several core values: a belief that every human life has equal worth, that the purpose of our society is to allow all its members to live meaningful and fulfilling lives, and that there is a collective good beyond our individual interests. It seeks to promote and win public policies that reflect these values and embody social justice, but recognizes that winning justice requires political power. It exists to create that power by being a values-based, issue-oriented political center in Illinois.


Citizen Action/Illinois is both an organizational coalition and an individual membership organization. Members are asked both to financially support the organization and to take action on issues such as contacting key members of Congress or writing lawmakers. Individual members are also frequently contacted through public education efforts before elections.

These affiliate organizations are represented on the 50-member Policy Council which also includes leaders serving as individuals, among them Members of Congress, state legislators, and local government officials. The Policy Council meets regularly to determine the organization’s public policy positions, its legislative agenda, and any endorsements of candidates for public office.

The Policy Council is a standing committee of the organization’s ten-member Board of Directors. The Board of Directors is the formal corporate board of the organization, a 501(c)(4); it meets monthly and is responsible for its financial and administrative affairs as well as overseeing its day-to-day program work. Board members include a mix of affiliate representatives and individual leaders, and all serve on the Policy Council as well.

The Public Action Foundation is a 501(c)(3) affiliated with Citizen Action/Illinois. The Public Action Foundation conducts research and public education on pressing issues that have important implications for consumers, families, and Illinois residents.

William McNary


William McNary has been called one of the most electrifying and inspirational speakers of our time.  He is the Co-Director for Citizen Action/Illinois, the state’s largest public interest organization working on an ambitious agenda that includes the fight for workers’ rights, advancing public education funding, utility rate and insurance rate reform, environmental safety and protecting consumers from unfair predatory loan practices.  He previously served as the Legislative Director for Citizen Action/Illinois.

He is the Legislative Chair of the Responsible Budget Coalition, a coalition dedicated to making the Illinois tax structure fairer in order to provide the revenues needed to create jobs, educate our children, and provide for health care, human services and public safety.

One of the nation’s leading advocates for health care reform, McNary was one of the founding members of Health Care for America Now!, the largest national grassroots health care coalition which led to the successful passage of the national Affordable Care Act that was signed into law by President Obama.

McNary has been appointed by two Illinois governors, the Illinois Attorney General, the Cook County Board President and other state constitutional officers to serve on several state boards, task forces and transition teams.  Most recently, Treasurer Mike Frerichs appointed McNary to serve on his transition team where he advocates using state funds to incentivize banks and lending institutions that serve economically challenged urban and rural areas.

McNary served as the founding president of USAction, one of the nation’s largest coalitions of progressive grassroots organizations. He served as a surrogate speaker for President Barack Obama in his first run for President.  He was also elected as an Obama delegate and served as Illinois Convention Floor Whip at the Denver Democratic Convention in 2008.

McNary served as the Senior Policy Advisor for Public Campaign, an organization that promoted public financing of elections to fix a broken campaign finance system.  He was appointed by former Governor Pat Quinn to serve on the Illinois Task Force for Campaign Finance Reform.

He currently serves on the board of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability an organization that promotes tax fairness.  He also serves on the board of the Voter Participation Center, an organization that empowers unmarried women, people of color and other underrepresented groups to participate in the democratic process.  He also serves on the board of the Environmental Law and Policy Center which promotes environmental progress through economic development and jobs.

Since 1996, McNary has worked with the Rainbow/Push Coalition where he co-directs targeted voter registration and “Get Out the Vote” campaign efforts.

Email: mcnary@citizenaction-il.org

Julie Sampson


Julie is the Co-Director of Citizen Action/Illinois. Previously she was a Regional Field Director for USAction, a national organization of 22 state affiliates organizing for power, democracy and social change. Julie has also served as Legislative Director and Policy Director of Citizen Action/Illinois, and on the staff of U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone. She holds an A.M. in Social Administration from the University of Chicago, a B.A. in International Studies from American University and served in the Peace Corps in Thailand. Julie lives in Chicago with her husband and two daughters but welcomes any opportunity to use her several foreign languages, at home or abroad, with a preference for beachfront locales.

Email: julie@citizenaction-il.org

Anusha Thotakura

Program Director

Anusha (she/her/hers) first got her start in politics knocking on doors and registering voters for Congressman Brad Schneider’s 2014 campaign. Since then, she has worked on and managed various campaigns, from school board to state legislative races, guiding candidates to victory. She especially cares about getting young people involved in politics through voting, organizing, and running for office themselves. Anusha has a passion for education policy, having previously been a Bilingual English/Spanish Math Teacher through Teach for America. She holds a B.A. in Political Science and Economics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and an M.P.P. from the Harvard Kennedy School. In her free time, you’ll find her knocking on doors for her favorite candidates.

Email: anusha@citizenaction-il.org

Please contact Julie Sampson, julie@citizenaction-il.org with any press related inquiries.