Meet the Marchers

Martese Chism

Martese Chism is a registered nurse and a long-time activist. She is marching to Springfield  to advocate for access to health care and protection of the most vulnerable. Through her community work, Chism carries on the legacy of her great-grandmother, Birdia Keglar. Read more

Dr. Alfred Klinger

Al Klinger has entered his tenth decade, but he’s marching 200 miles to Springfield to support the People and Planet First Budget. He’s ready, too. He often gets around Chicago on his bicycle. Why is he marching? “To use my body and strength to be sure there is a floor to support the vulnerable.” Read more

Samantha Nichols

Samantha Nichols is a student at the Lutheran School of Theology at the University of Chicago. She is serving as a pastoral intern at a congregation in Bridgeport, and she is very active in the interfaith movement for social justice. Samantha is marching because she is called by her faith to do so. She feels a need and a responsibility to meet and connect with our neighbors downstate, to hear their stories, and talk about how Illinois can adopt a People and Planet First budget. Read more

John Powe

John Powe is marching all the way from Chicago to Springfield to support the People and Planet First Budget. He graduated from the Illinois Institute of Technology in 2016 with a Bachelor’s degree in political science. Nearly a year later, he is still looking for work in public service. He wants to learn more about the law to decide whether to go to law school. But he’s also volunteering to help build a brighter, more just future for the people of Illinois. Read more

Joe Padilla

For people with serious allergies, severe reactions are expected once in a while. What’s not expected is trying to ignore reactions because you can’t afford to treat them. But March to Springfield participant Joe Padilla has seen firsthand that, thanks to sky-high prescription drug prices, sometimes people have to choose between spending the money and risking their health. Read more

Cindy Bush

Even in retirement, longtime political organizer and March to Springfield leader Cindy Bush isn’t done fighting. The veteran of more than 45 years of political organizing signed up for the two-week March to raise awareness of the People and Planet First Budget, in order to fix the state’s “infuriating” budget impasse.

The reason Cindy’s marching is simple: “We are called to create the remedies that we need in this state,” the Evanston resident says. Read more

Rev. Alka Lyall

Alka Lyall is a United Methodist minister and pastor of Broadway United Methodist Church on the North Side of Chicago. She is also a leader of Fair Economy Illinois. “Springfield isn’t listening to the people,” she says. “So, through this march, we’re trying to bring the voices of the people to Springfield. I hope they hear us.” Read more

Iren Raye

Iren Raye is taking a break from their graduate studies at the Lutheran School of Theology at the University of Chicago. Raye says, “I can’t believe that the state has been allowed to go this long without a budget.” Raye is marching to Springfield because they feel a need to take concrete action toward changing the government’s priorities. Read more

Egle Malinauskaite

Egle Malinauskaite is a student and an undocumented immigrant. She and her family have been in this country for many years. Egle is marching to Springfield  to tell our legislators and governor that they work for us, the people of Illinois, not just their corporate donors or the billionaire class. She reminds us that two-thirds of the corporations that do business here pay no taxes whatsoever to the state of Illinois. And the wealthiest residents of the state pay the same percentage of their income in taxes as any low-wage worker. Read more

Alex Muhammad

Alex Muhammad is marching to Springfield to bridge the divide between everyday folks across race, class and geography. Everyone is suffering from the lack of a budget. “I am doing this walk to show legislators that they have a choice to make: either put People and the Planet first or we will bring the crisis to their door steps,” she says. Read more

Adrienne Irmer

Adrienne Irmer is a native of Chicago’s South Side. She has been an activist since she was in high school at Kenwood Academy. She has served many nonprofit organizations as a leader and was recently was honored by the Chicago Scholars organization as one of 35 Under 35 Making an Impact. Read more