Meet Our Panelists

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Meet Our Panelists:

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Sean Basinski

Sean Basinski is Founder and Director of the Street Vendor Project, part of the Urban Justice Center, in New York City. The Street Vendor Project is an organization of street vendors and their supporters ensuring that entrepreneurs working in public spaces can make an honest living and contribute to the culture and economy of New York City. As a Fulbright Scholar in 2009, Mr. Basinski traveled to Lagos, Nigeria, to research street traders and the informal economy. He has also built a pushcart of his own and sold burritos from the corner of 52nd
Street and Park Avenue in New York City. Mr. Basinski has presented on law and organizing at numerous universities, including Columbia, Cornell, NYU, UCLA, and Yale.

Mr. Basinski received his J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center, and is also a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania.


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Alderman Willie Cochran

Willie Cochran currently serves as the Alderman and Committeeman of the 20th Ward of Chicago. He has actively advocated for mobile food reform that would allow street vendors to operate legally in Chicago.

Alderman Cochran previously served for 26 years in the Chicago Police Department. He has also served as a community organizer for Woodlawn’s New Communities Program and is currently directing and organizing the Quality of Life Initiative in Washington Park. In addition to being an active resident of the community, he has operated a family-owned business for 14 years.

Alderman Cochran holds a M.A. in Public Administration from the Illinois Institute of Technology and completed graduate studies at Northwestern University’s School of Public Staff and Command.

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John Gaber

John Gaber is a professor in the Department of Political Science and Public Policy at the University of Arkansas who has received national and international recognition for his street vendor research. Dr. Gaber’s article, “Manhattan’s 14th Street Vendors’ Market: Informal street peddlers complementary relationship with New York City’s economy,” was recognized by the International Bibliography of the Social Sciences as being one of the most important works in anthropology published in 1994 and has been re-published in five different languages. His New York City street vendor research has been twice cited in the New York Times.

Dr. Gaber received a B.A. in Political Science at UCLA, a M.A. in Urban and Regional Planning at University of Southern California, and a Ph.D. in Urban Planning at Columbia University.

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Bert Gall

Bert Gall serves as a senior attorney at the Institute for Justice, and directs IJ’s National Street Vending Initiative, a nationwide effort to vindicate the right of street vendors to earn an honest living by fighting unconstitutional vending restrictions in courts of law and the court of public opinion. He served as co-counsel in IJ’s successful challenge to El Paso’s protectionist restrictions on mobile vendors, which resulted in El Paso repealing those restrictions. He is also a coauthor of Streets of Dreams, IJ’s report on how regulations in America’s fifty largest cities stifle street vending for no other purpose than to protect brick-and-mortar businesses from competition.

Mr. Gall received a J.D. from Duke University and a B.A. in both History and  Political Science from Rice University. In 2009, Bert was recognized by The National Law Journal as one of its “Rising Stars: Washington’s 40 under 40,” which honored the top 40 lawyers under the age of 40 in the Washington, D.C. area.


Greg Kettles

Gregg Kettles

Gregg Kettles serves as Deputy Counsel for Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, a position he has held since 2009. In addition, Mr. Kettles is a member of the Los Angeles Food Policy Council and a co-chair of the Council’s working group on street food. The City of Los Angeles has welcomed food trucks to the culinary scene, and Mr. Kettles was instrumental in drafting clear, simple, and modern regulations that now serve as an example of how cities can create economic opportunity for entrepreneurs.

Mr. Kettles is also founder of the Open Air Market Network, an online forum that fosters discussion on street vending. Mr. Kettles has written extensively on the legal aspects of street vending, street food, and other kinds of commerce in public spaces.

Mr. Kettles received his J.D. from Yale Law School and a B.A. in Economics from Washington and Lee University.


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Beth Kregor

Elizabeth Kregor is the Director of the Institute for Justice Clinic on Entrepreneurship at the University of Chicago Law School. Under her guidance, Chicago law students take their first steps into the practice of law by providing legal advice to lower-income entrepreneurs. In 2009, she co-authored a study of legal obstacles to entrepreneurship in Chicago, Regulatory Field. The study has inspired politicians and the public alike to advocate for legislative reform. Mrs. Kregor has spearheaded the IJ Clinic’s campaign My Streets My Eats to advocate specifically for the courageous entrepreneurs who sell street food in Chicago and hungry Chicagoans who love them.

Mrs. Kregor received her J.D. from University of Michigan Law School and her B.A. in Comparative Literature from Yale University.

justin large

Justin Large

Justin Large is Chef de Cuisine of Big Star, a popular Wicker Park taqueria and bar named one of the Best New Restaurants of 2010 by the Chicago Reader. Mr. Large has been an outspoken proponent of lifting burdensome vending regulations in the Windy City. In October 2011, Big Star’s food truck offshoot organized an event to bring attention to Chicago’s ban on onsite preparation for mobile vendors. Mr. Large’s efforts have been widely covered by media outlets including NBC Chicago, Time Out Chicago, and The Chicago Tribune.


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Baylen J. Linnekin

Baylen Linnekin is Founder and Executive Director of Keep Food Legal, the first nationwide membership organization devoted to food freedom—the right of every American to grow, raise, produce, buy, sell, cook, eat (and drink) the foods of their own choosing.

Mr. Linnekin’s writings have appeared in numerous academic and journalistic publications, including the Chapman University Law Review and The Baltimore Sun. The forthcoming second edition of the Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America will also feature a submission by Mr. Linnekin on food bans.

Mr. Linnekin received his LL.M. in agricultural and food law from University of Arkansas School of Law. He also holds a J.D. from Washington College of Law, a M.A. from Northwestern University,
and a B.A. from American University.


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Vicki Lugo

Vicki Lugo serves as the Vice President of Asociación de Vendedores Ambulantes (AVA) in Chicago. For more than 15 years, AVA has been uniting street vendors and their allies in the city to fight for regulations that would allow vendors to sell their products in a public space. With the support of city aldermen, AVA has drafted a proposal that would allow Chicago entrepreneurs to contribute to the city’s economy in a meaningful way.


samm petrichos

Samm Petrichos

Samm Petrichos is a freelance chef and caterer who operates Spice! Smart Mobile Food, a pop-up restaurant that fuses Mediterranean and Latin American flavors while employing mobile digital technology. Mr. Petrichos founded Spice with the goal of designing a menu that is local, limited, and determined by what is available at the market. He has been an advocate on behalf of accelerating the disruptive path of entrepreneurial companies by promoting food independence and creating partnerships with local farmers and businesses.

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Erika Pfleger

Erika Pfleger is the Assistant Director of the Institute for Justice Clinic on Entrepreneurship at the University of Chicago Law School. Ms. Pfleger supervises second- and third-year law students as they help Chicago-area lower-income entrepreneurs navigate the legal challenges involved in starting and operating a small business, such as setting up a business organization, obtaining licenses, securing real estate, hiring workers, protecting intellectual property, and negotiating contracts with service providers and suppliers. She also co-teaches a seminar on entrepreneurship at the University of Chicago Law School. Ms. Pfleger helped launch the IJ Clinic’s My Streets My Eats campaign to advocate for Chicago’s mobile chefs and enthusiastically supports building a vibrant street food culture in Chicago.

Ms. Pfleger received her J.D. from Yale Law School and her B.A. from Ohio University.


heather shouse

Heather Shouse

Heather Shouse is the author of Food Trucks: Dispatches and Recipes from the Best Kitchens on Wheels, a travel companion book that gives readers tips on where to find the best street food across the nation. She is currently the Senior Food and Drink Correspondent for Time Out Chicago, and the Chicago reporter for Food and Wine Magazine. Ms. Shouse has written for The Chicago Tribune, metromix.com, Chicago Reader, and UR Chicago and Local Palate.

Ms. Shouse received her B.A. in Journalism from Columbia University.

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Christina Walsh

Christina Walsh serves as the Institute for Justice’s Director of Activism and Coalitions. Through her outreach efforts and grassroots organizing nationwide, she fights for entrepreneurs’ right to make an honest living. Through community meetings, rallies, protests, workshops and strategic grassroots and legislative campaigns, Walsh has successfully organized entrepreneurs and activists from coast to coast.

Ms. Walsh most recently worked alongside food truck owners in Buffalo, N.Y., to successfully reform the city council’s burdensome laws that crippled these entrepreneurs. She is currently working with street food vendors in Rochester, N.Y., Charlotte, N.C., St. Petersburg, Fla., and elsewhere.

Ms. Walsh’s views and writings have been published and appeared in print, on-line and television outlets across the country, including Fox News, ABC News, The Huffington Post, The Daily Caller, The Washington Times and The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Christina received her B.A. in Political Theory from the University of Virginia.


gabriel wiesen

Gabriel Wiesen

Gabriel Wiesen grew up in Chicago and had the honor of founding Chicago’s first and only mobile gourmet food truck serving fresh mini-donuts and imported coffee. Mr. Wiesen’s journey in mobile food vending began two years ago, when he and his partner set out to open a small brick-and-mortar restaurant in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago. When financing fell through at the last minute, the two discovered food trucks through family members and realized it was an opportunity for them to enter the restaurant business at last. Today they are the owners of two local mobile food businesses: Beaver’s Coffee & Donuts, and Midwest Food Trucks, a comprehensive resource for mobile food vendors.


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