2018 IFRW Executive Board
Linda [Brown] Yoakum
Linda is married to James and together they have five children and three grandchildren. Linda earned a degree in Veterinary Technology at Parkland College and worked at the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign for 30 years. She also served as an Adjunct Professor at Lincoln Land Community College, Springfield, IL. as an instructor for the Veterinary Assistant Program. Linda has also been appointed to the Illinois State Veterinary Medical Association Legislative Committee.
Throughout her adult years, Linda has had a heart for public service. She served in many public service roles within her community including children’s church classes, Vice President Beta Sigma Phi, PTO Secretary, and PTO Vice President.
In 2003 Linda was elected to the Tuscola School Board and served as the Resolutions Chair for the Illini District for the Illinois Association of School Boards. After her first term was over, Linda decided that she wanted to become more involved with the Republican Party. She ran for Precinct Committeeman and served as Secretary for the Douglas County Republican Central Committee.
Through the efforts of County Chairman David Albin, Linda’s interests and desire to become more involved were fostered. Linda became involved with the Douglas County Republican Woman and was accepted into the Illinois Excellence in Public Service Series. After graduating from the Lincoln Series, Linda went on to become President of the Douglas County Republican Woman. In 2011, Linda received the Douglas County Republican of the Year award.
Linda then moved to Champaign County and quickly became immersed in the Champaign County Republican Organization. She was appointed Precinct Committeeman, and serves on the Executive Committee as Volunteer Chair. In 2016, Linda received the Champaign County Republican of the year award. Linda is also a member of the Vermilion County Republican Woman.
In 2012, Linda decided to take her interests to the next level by going back to school and earned a degree in Political Science in 2015. This effort was supported, in part, from an IFRW Scholarship. As a student, Linda served as a Legislative Fellow in Washington, D.C. in the office of Congressman Rodney Davis Fall 2013. That same year, Linda was elected as IFRW’s 4th Vice President and has served two terms in that role. Since retiring from the University of Illinois in May 2017, Linda has worked in the Champaign District office for Congressman Rodney Davis, IL.-13.
For many years Linda has worked towards promoting the ideals of the Republican Party and assist candidates with disseminating their message to constituents. To that end, Linda has volunteered for several campaigns at the local, state and federal levels. Linda is also a founding member of the IRWPAC and serves on the Executive Board.
Jayne Lehman Raef
Jayne Lehman Raef is the wife of Michael, the mother of Marie and Charles and the grandmother of Reilly, Aiden, and Laurel. Jayne’s education is nursing. However she has done many things beyond her brief interlude in nursing.
For a decade, she hired and developed management for a “Fortunes top 500 growing Companies,” company. Her team consistently reached top levels of achievement. For the last eleven years she has served as a member of the Board of Education in Bourbonnais District 53 where she has been an officer on the board for nine years.
Recently, she had a hand in the work of HB1498 which began as a resolution of the School Board and passed both chambers of the Assembly. On August 3, 2015 the resolution was signed into law by Governor Bruce Rauner, and became Public Act 99-0235, part of the Open Meetings Act exception.
As IFRW's Membership Chair, Jayne works with County Clubs "I am blessed to be traveling up and down and across the state to help women's groups get off the ground, to energize them and to challenge wonderful Republican women to function at the fullest using their particular gifts....and to let them know how much we love and need them!". She is also a founding member and serves as 2nd Vice Chair of the Illinois Republican Women PAC, where with the "PAC" she plans and hosts fundraising events focused on electing qualified Republicans to offices in Springfield.
She is an active member of the Kankakee County Republican Women, her home group, and currently serves as its Corresponding Secretary, as well as serving as a Precinct Committeeman in Kankakee County's Republican Central Committee. She has worked on various successful campaigns at the local, state and National levels.
Jayne is wholly committed to the growth women in politics and invested in the betterment of Illinois and the Unites States of America through the philosophy of the Republican Party. This is Jayne's second term on the Executive Board of the IFRW. She looks forward to the further growth and impact that IFRW will have on the enablement of women in Illinois politics and in the State as a whole.
If you are a visitor to this site and are looking for a place to exercise your interest in anything political, humanitarian, and social, Jayne encourages you to look seriously at IFRW and her County organizations. Illinois is at a critical Juncture at this time in her history and YOU CAN make a difference.
Vasavi is the founder and President of ARAALA Inc. professional consulting services. This small firm focuses on personalized and professional services such as leadership development; business and operations process improvements, small business strategy development, professional career counseling, service delivery and project management consultation. She is passionate and focused on youth leadership and leadership coaching for women to help them grow in their chosen fields.
Prior to starting this firm she worked in information technology as a senior project management consultant, specialized in business strategy, production of business transitions and transformations at large global corporations such as Siemens, Novartis, Bayer and IBM. During the last 15 years she managed several process improvement initiatives (using Six Sigma, Lean methodologies) which resulted in significant cost savings to the organizations through improved business processes and efficiency, and business renewals. Recently, she left the ATOS organization to promote youth leadership programs around the world.
She is passionate about value based education, civic and youth leadership, rural economic development, women's education and empowerment. She strongly believes in giving back to the community. This inspiration was inherited from her parents and grandparents as she strives to better the community to make a difference in the world. She also serves on several boards in the Naperville community.
Vsavi is married for 32 years to Dr. Sudhakar Chakka, PhD. They have two children, daughter Siri is a business strategist, and son Prahith is in college studying economics. Both children are leaders in their fields and greatly aspired to serve the community and the country to make a difference.
Picture coming soon!
Judy is married 46 years with one daughter and three grandchildren. Judy is a member of the Salem Presbyterian church currently serving as elder on Christian education and worship. Judy is also a committed member of the Centralia American Legion Auxiliary.
Judy is a member of the IFRW, Illinois Republican Women's PAC, Marion County Republican Women having served as Chair and Vice Chair. Judy reorganized the Republican Women's organization, served at the Chair of the 2017 Lincoln Day Dinner. She also is a member of the Marion County Republican Central Committee, was elected to the Marion County Board in November 2016, serves as a Precinct Committee woman and retired from the Illinois Department of Employment Security after 30 years.
4th Vice President
Gloria Cardenas Cudia
Gloria Cardenas Cudia has touched the lives of countless people from all walks of life. A woman drive by her culture, faith, patriotism and dedication to helping others, Gloria has used her wide range of skills and breadth of experience including her bilingual/bicultural back ground to reach out to areas of the community inaccessible to others due to linguistic and cultural barriers.
Gloria has been married to Frank, her high school sweetheart for 47 years. They have two adult married children and several grandchildren.
Gloria graduated from Rockford West High School in 1969 and studied at both Rock Valley College and Rockford College for courses associated with her positions as the Employee Relations Director at WIFR-TV and Rockford Clinic where she worked as a medical secretary and translator for over a decade.
Gloria retired from the Rockford Park District after almost 20 years of service both as a staff manager in the Marketing Dept. and as a Park District Commissioner.
Gloria is a television producer and currently volunteers at the Comcast Cable Company to produce and host a local public service program.
Barbara J. Viviano
As one of the hardest-working grassroots Republican organizer and Party officer in her District, she is known to “get things done.”Barb sets things in motion and encourages others as she herself also walks in parades, makes phone calls, gets petitions signed, and works on fundraisers for Candidates and Party events. She worked tirelessly to help elect Congressman Mike Bost, the first Republican elected in the 12th Congressional District in decades.
Barb was born and raised in Missouri, where she attended the University of Missouri and graduated from a St. Louis School for Medical Technology. She moved to Illinois after graduation where she accepted a position at Memorial Hospital in Belleville and has lived in St. Clair county ever since. As Barb says, “life happened” and during the thirty five years she worked at the same hospital there was marriage and two children.
She now greatly enjoys a relationship of much love and respect with her two grown children with their busy and professional lives. Her two grandchildren complete this cycle. She says that having a husband who understands her love of politics is a great help as she continues her part in helping to build the Republican Party. Barb is a founding member of the Republican Women of St. Clair County Club, secretary for the IFRW, O'Fallon 16 precinct committeeman, St. Clair County Chairman, 12th Congressional District State Central Committeeman, and Co Chairman of the Illinois State GOP.
Bio Coming Soon!
Immediate Past President
Susan Wynn Bence
Susan Wynn Bence has worked in Social Services and Education for most of her professional career in both the United States and Europe. Most recently Susan served as the Chief of Staff and Campaign Manager for former State Representative Josh Harms and Chief of Staff to State Representative Thomas Bennett. Susan began a new chapter in her professional career this past year when she was named the Springfield Director for Lieutenant Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti.
Elected three times to Iroquois County Board, Susan served 10 ½ years before resigning to accept her position with the Illinois Lieutenant Governor. While serving as an elected official she was a member of the Tax, Health, and Finance Committees. She has also served as the chairman of the Judicial and Public Safety Committee. Susan is also a former Republican Precinct Committeeman.
Susan’s leadership characteristics are evident throughout her community. She is actively involved and has served on many different boards including: East Central Illinois Community Action Agency; University of Illinois Cooperative Extension Unit Council (Past President); Iroquois County Historical Society; Watseka First Christian Church (Past Chairman of the Board); Kiwanis International; and Pledge for Life Partnership. Susan was recently chosen to serve on the Illinois Rural Health Board and the Illinois Rural Partners Board of Directors.
Susan has received numerous professional and community service awards however the honors that she is most proud were received while living and working in Europe; she was honored by the United Service Organization (USO) as an outstanding volunteer. She was also honored with the 6th ASG Commander’s coin for her dedication and work supporting the “Military Child.” Susan is an overachiever who is always willing to go the extra mile and has an exceptional reputation as a successful fundraiser and grant writer.
She received her bachelor’s degree in Speech and Theatre (concentration in Public Speaking) and Physical Education from Eureka College and a master’s degree in Education from Olivet Nazarene University. Susan also had the privilege of attending and graduating from the Illinois Leadership Academy and the Academy of Municipal Excellence at the Institute of Government and Public Affairs, University of Illinois.
Susan’s interest in politics began while a student at Eureka College in the late 70’s when she met and became inspired by the college’s most famous alum, Ronald Reagan. Susan joined the Illinois Federation of Republican Women in late 1990’s and has been significantly involved ever since. She is the past president of the Iroquois County Republican Women’s Club. She is also the past membership chairman for the IFRW.