Why I’m running

I’m running to represent the 16th District because I know that we can’t let the most vital issues facing our communities — creating more jobs that pay well and are rewarding, and making health care more affordable — be taken for granted by establishment politicians.

I will stand up to TV celebrities who hijack our causes, promise us things will be different, and then sell us out just so they can move a few more country club memberships when we’re not looking. I believe in universal access to quality healthcare, expanding Social Security, and community reinvestment in education and infrastructure.

I’ve taught at one of our country’s top public universities, and have worked with some of its leading hospitals as they grapple with the challenges produced by the exploding cost of healthcare. I am an experienced management consultant with a proven track record of helping hospitals stay in business so they can improve the health of our most vulnerable friends and neighbors. I believe in a simple, common-sense approach to government spending that puts our money to work for us in the most cost-effective ways possible. I think that running government “like a business” means making investments in our country’s future, not stripping it for parts.

Americans deserve change, but not the kind we’ve gotten.

Representing you isn’t a part-time job. And we can’t make the kinds of change we need by stocking the president’s cabinet with the same Goldman Sachs executives who brought our economy to its knees during the Bush administration.

I will bring real expertise, ethics, and energy back to Washington.

Early Life

I was born in New Ulm, Minnesota, and my family moved to DeKalb when I was 4 years old. My mother, Ann, grew up in South Dakota and worked as a secretary at Northern Illinois University for most of her career. My father, Mati, immigrated to the United States after a civil war in his home country of Pakistan, and became an American citizen while putting himself through college. He spent his entire career in retail, starting as floor staff and retiring as a manager.

Like a lot of Illinois families, my folks found themselves worried about making ends meet. And like millions of Americans, their financial insecurity was driven by the unfathomable cost of healthcare. Mom has suffered most of her life with Crohn’s Disease, a rare and life-threatening autoimmune disorder that, over time, destroys a sufferer’s gastrointestinal system. There is no cure, only a series of expensive and debilitating treatments that can slow its progress.

Despite these challenges, the family still managed to live the American Dream. My parents raised two sons who both enjoyed professional and personal success. But the fear and anxiety of having working parents with such serious health problems stayed with us, leading us both to careers in health-related fields.

My younger brother, Vic, is a certified nurse anesthetist. I found my calling in helping hospital CEOs navigate the labrynthine world of health economics as a management consultant, traveling across the country to work with our nation’s rural safety-net hospitals.

Childhood through Adulthood

I attended public schools my entire life. I started in DeKalb Public School District #428, played competitive soccer in DeKalb and Rockford for most of my childhood, and graduated from DeKalb High School as a valedictorian. I started college at Northern Illinois University and finished my bachelor’s at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign in political science with minor concentration in computer science.

I earned a Ph.D. in political science at the University of Michigan. While I was at Michigan, I taught classes in statistics, research, international politics, and American foreign policy. I wanted to know how the American public could stay informed during times of war, and how voters can keep their government accountable for its behavior. I have presented research papers to the annual conferences of the American Political Science Association and International Studies Association, and won a fellowship from the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy while completing my degree.

Now I work as a health care management consultant, where I partner with hospitals all across the country to improve the quality and cost of patient care. I have worked with academic centers of excellence that conduct the kind of ground-breaking research that pushes the entire medical field forward; I’ve also worked with rural safety-net hospitals, which are usually the providers of last resort to the poorest members of their communities.

I’ve seen first-hand how our broken healthcare system shortchanges everyone: overworking physicians, mistreating nurses, undermining the financial viability of rural hospitals and clinics, and threatening our sickest friends and loved ones with bankruptcy during some of the hardest, most emotional periods of their lives.

For nearly seven years now, I’ve helped lead clients through the kinds of difficult, transformational change that will be necessary to cope with price-gouging by pharmaceutical manufacturers and insurance middle-men. At the same time, I’ve also seen physicians and hospitals continue to provide world-class care despite the spiraling costs of health insurance and prescription drugs.

I’m passionate about working to reform our county’s broken health care system from the ground up.

And I actually work as a business expert in real life. I don’t just play one on TV.