Credit: Andrea Bauer

The first question Alexander generally gets when meeting a legislator is: “How young are you? You look so young to be a lobbyist.” So how young is she? “I turned 27 in December,” she says. A lot of lobbyists are former public officials taking advantage of the contacts they made while in office. But Alexander’s never run for office. Raised in Georgia, she got her start working as a fellow for the AFL-CIO in Washington, D.C. In 2010, she moved to Chicago to work for AFSCME, lobbying in the City Council, the Cook County Board of Commissioners, and the General Assembly. “The hard thing is the mentality that you can’t win. People always tell us, ‘You can’t organize against the mayor,’ or ‘Don’t bet against Speaker Madigan.’ You have to convince legislators that it’s in their best interest to take a stand because we have so many members in their district—and come Election Day, our members vote.” Alexander has quickly come to understand that politics is not always about who’s right; it’s about power and relationships. “I love Chicago and Illinois politics,” she says. “It’s a special form of exhilaration and frustration.”