Leadership Team

Jeff Halm - President


Jeff is an IT solutions architect working for a financial institution based in Chicago. A graduate of St. John of the Cross in Western Springs, Fenwick High School in Oak Park, and DePaul University in Chicago, Jeff is proud to call Chicago home.

Jeff discovered a passion for debate during his time at Fenwick, and since then has worked on deepening his knowledge on a range of issues. In the wake of the 2010 wave election, Jeff decided to stop being armchair activist and to get more involved in hands-on politics. Jeff quickly found a home in the Chicago Young Republicans, where before serving as President, he also served as Chief of Staff and Secretary.

Jeff has been a frequent participant in CYR’s “road team,” traveling to knock on doors, make phone calls and get out the vote in both the presidential battlegrounds of Wisconsin and Ohio in support of Team Romney, as well as here in Illinois for Team Rauner.

Besides politics and policy, Jeff is an avid Blackhawks fan, a suffering Bears fan, and will occasionally go to games for either of the minor league baseball teams based here in Chicago.


Jillian Bernas - Vice President


Jillian grew up in the Chicago area and moved back here about 2 years ago. She currently is the International Relations Manager for a medical association. Previous to this, she worked as the Trade and Investment Advisor for the Chilean government in Chicago after moving back from Santiago, Chile. During her 6 years in Chile, she taught 6th grade English, advised Fulbright scholars as an Academic Advisor, and interned in the Economic and Political Office at the U.S. Embassy. She has also lived in Spain, Ecuador, and Costa Rica for shorter periods of time.

Although always having had an interest in politics, upon moving back to the Chicago area, she began getting more involved, working on campaigns at both the state and district levels. She is also a precinct captain in Schaumburg and is currently running for Schaumburg Township Public Library Board.

When she is not at work or working on campaigns, she loves keeping busy attending Chicago Council on Global Affairs events and volunteering with the Catholic Charities Junior Board.

Jillian holds a BA in Spanish and Secondary Education from Saint Mary's College, a MEd from the University of Notre Dame, and a MPP from the University of Chicago and the University of Chile.  



John Giokaris - Executive Secretary


John Giokaris is a journalist and full-time law student. A lifelong Chicago resident, John joined the Chicago Young Republicans in July of 2009 and advanced to their board of Directors by January of 2011, where he currently serves as Executive Secretary. John is also President of the Chicago chapter of America’s Future Foundation as well as Vice-President of the Federalist Society chapter at his law school.

John currently works as a law clerk downtown and as senior staff writer at Illinois Mirror – a liberty-minded media watchdog group. Before starting law school, John spent years working for various non-profit organizations to improve the Illinois jobs climate, education system, tax code, state debt, and government transparency. John's goals are to empower all citizens by creating opportunities to use the tools at their disposal to succeed in America, which does more to grow the middle class and alleviate those in poverty than keeping a permanent underclass dependent on government sustenance indefinitely.

John has served as a moderator and panelist for America’s Future Foundation, Illinois Policy Institute, WBBM-TV CBS 2 Chicago, PBS's "In The Loop," CLTV's "Politics Tonight," and Al Jazeera America. John’s written works have also been published in the U.S. News & World Report, Chicago Tribune, Crain's Chicago Business, Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, Reboot Illinois, and the RedEye.

John graduated from Loyola University Chicago with a double major in Journalism and Political Science in 2006 and is currently earning his J.D. at The John Marshall Law School.