When the Democratic National Convention opens in Philadelphia in July 2016, you’ll see the candidates, the delegates and the convention’s press secretary, Lee Whack, a 2002 graduate of Homewood-Flossmoor High School.
The press secretary job will have many facets over the next 10 months as Whack works to connect with reporters who will be covering the convention, as well as coordinating with the host committee, the Democratic National Committee and the candidates’ campaigns.
“All questions and requests will go through me and my team,” he explained. Now that he and his wife, Errin, have relocated to Philadelphia: “It is great to be getting things going. I’m learning more and more every day,” he added. He will report to the convention’s deputy CEO of communications.
Before the Sept. 21 appointment, Whack worked as the communications director for Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) in the congresswoman’s office in Washington.
Whack promises the Democratic convention “is going to be the most interactive, the most diverse convention. We are focused on reaching out to young people, minorities, the LGBT community and LGBT-owned businesses so they can play a part representing our country.”
Whack, the son of Hal and Rita Coburn Whack of Flossmoor, fondly remembers his years at H-F.
“I really enjoyed my experience at H-F. I got a great education there. I took honors and AP classes. I valued my teachers, and I remember Mr. (Myras) Osman who taught history. He really was a fantastic teacher,” Whack said.
His extracurricular activities focused on cross country running indoor and outdoor meets in the three- and five-mile distances and track meets in the 400- and 800-meter categories.
When he graduated from H-F, Whack thought he wanted to study international politics so he could go into the foreign service. His father has been active in politics for years and Lee was inspired to do some type of government work.
Whack went to Morehouse College where he earned an undergraduate degree in international studies and returned to the Chicago area. He went on to earn a master’s degree in journalism at Northwestern University and switched his career focus to politics.
As the convention’s press secretary will bring to his position a plethora of knowledge from various experiences. He had a stint as a Chicago Tribune reporter that included covering the 2006 Cook County board president race between Todd Stroger and Tony Peraica; he was press secretary for Robin Kelly’s statewide campaign for Illinois treasurer; he was a spokesman for an Illinois congressional candidate in 2010; and he managed press for the National Public Housing Museum before joining Rep. Schakowsky’s team.
“It has all been great, great, great experience,” Whack said. He is certain being at the center of the news blitz when the Democrats nominate their presidential and vice presidential candidates will be an awesome.
“We will work hand-in-hand to give the nominees what they need to push through to November and win the White House once again,” he added.