Humanity First for Illinois Names Executive Director

Updated: Feb 4


CONTACT: Adriana Sheehan -

Humanity First for Illinois Names Executive Director

Ralph Yaniz Leads Growing Nonprofit into 2021 and Beyond

CHICAGO – Humanity First for Illinois (HFIL) announced Ralph Yaniz has been named Executive Director of the nonprofit committed to working together to build a better future for Illinois by empowering residents to collectively advocate for better state policies.

Yaniz, formerly Regional Vice-President and Illinois State Director at AARP, will join HFIL on January 18, 2021, with over twenty years of nonprofit leadership and political advocacy experience. He succeeds Jay La Plante, the organization’s founder, who is transitioning to Chairperson of the Board of Directors on January 1, 2021. Katherine Brown, HFIL’s Policy & Constituent Advocacy Coordinator, will serve as the Interim Executive Director from January 1 to January 18.

“The Humanity First for Illinois Team is among the most passionate and driven advocacy teams in Illinois,” La Plante said, “We are excited for Ralph to join us to lead the organization forward as we continue to grow and impact all Illinoisans with our message that a better future is possible and doable—if we all work together.”

Yaniz’s hiring comes as the organization is beginning to implement strategic growth in programming and cooperative partnerships. Yaniz brings grant management and fundraising expertise to support HFIL’s core mission areas of research, education, and advocacy and provide mentorship to the Humanity First for Illinois Internship Program, which reaches 36 top students in Illinois each year.

“I feel a great deal of enthusiasm and passion as I think about the work ahead. I look forward to working with this dedicated team of individuals at HFIL,” said Yaniz.

Yaniz joins the organization from previously working as a nonprofit consultant in Chicago and Florida. Yaniz served as the initial Executive Director for the Florida Society of Clinical Oncology Foundation and is currently the Director of the LGMD2L Foundation, an organization dedicated to research on the rare form of limb girdle muscular dystrophy. Yaniz holds an MBA from Regis University and a Master’s of Counseling Psychology from Loyola University Chicago. A native Illinois Latino, Yaniz lives in Park Ridge with his wife and dog and is bilingual in Spanish and English.

About Humanity First for Illinois: Humanity First for Illinois is a grassroots, people-driven political organization fighting for Humanity First initiatives in Illinois and for candidates up and down the ballot who will fight with us at the local, state, and federal levels. We believe that when WE the People have the power, great change can be made. Humanity First for Illinois hosts the Humanity First for Illinois Internship Program, which brings together top university students and lifelong learners from across the state in a safe, pragmatic learning environment to support our mission areas of research, education, and advocacy. Humanity First for Illinois is not authorized by any candidate or candidate committee.


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