CTBA Staff

Ralph Martire

Executive Director

In addition to Ralph Martire's role as executive director of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability (“CTBA”), he is also the Arthur Rubloff Endowed Professor of Public Policy at Roosevelt University. CTBA is a bipartisan 501(c)(3) think tank committed to ensuring that state, federal and local workforce, education, fiscal, economic and budget policies are fair and just, and promote opportunity for all, regardless of race, ethnicity or income class. During his time at CTBA, Ralph has helped obtain numerous legislative successes (including passage of the Evidence Based Model of Education Funding in FY2018, a state Earned Income Tax Credit, creation of a bipartisan legislative task force to integrate workforce and economic development policies, passage of the 2011 Temporary Tax Increases, corporate accountability legislation that, among other things, requires public reporting of economic development benefits created through receipt of tax breaks and other subsidies, decoupling Illinois tax policy from the federal bonus depreciation rules and federal repeal of the estate tax).

In 2011, Ralph was appointed as a full voting commissioner to the Congressionally-established “Equity and Excellence in Education Commission,” under the Federal Department of Education’s Civil Rights Division. The Commission was charged by Congress to review public education systems and systems of education finance at the national and state level in the U.S., to identify whether those systems contributed to either inequities in access to educational opportunities or creation of achievement gaps.

The Commission completed its work with the issuance of the “For Each and Every Child” report in February of 2013. Ralph co-authored the first section of the report, which made recommendations regarding the fiscal and education funding policies required at the state and federal levels to provide an excellent education to every child.

Ralph has received numerous awards for his work on education and public policy reform, including the Champion of Freedom Award, presented by the Rainbow PUSH Coalition to individuals whose professional work embodies Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, commitment to equal educational opportunities, and the Ben C. Hubbard Leadership Award given by Illinois State University to individuals who have greatly benefited education in Illinois. He also received the Adlai Stevenson Award for Public Service presented by the American Society for Public Administration to honor one individual with a connection to the Chicago area that has made outstanding contributions to government and public administration over an extended period of time.

Ralph was elected to serve on the School Board of River Forest District 90, where he still serves as board president. He also serves on the West Cook Division Governing Board of the Illinois Association of School Boards.

A frequent lecturer on fiscal policy, Ralph teaches a Master's level class on fiscal policy at Roosevelt University, and has taught tax policy seminars for the International Fulbright Scholar Program, the National Labor College and the national Women in Government lecture series. Ralph has also designed and taught Master’s programs on education finance for the University of Illinois, and a Doctoral program on the politics of public education for Illinois State University.  Ralph has been featured as a tax policy expert for numerous television and radio news programs such as WTTW, the Chicago PBS affiliate, and WPWR, the Chicago NPR affiliate.  He serves as a regular columnist for the State Journal-Register and the Daily Herald on issues involving government accountability, tax, fiscal and budget policies. 

Ralph served as the deputy issues director for Dawn Clark Netsch in her gubernatorial campaign, and issues director for David Wilhelm in his run for the United States Senate.  He is also a former candidate for the Cook County Board.  His prior appointments include serving as a member of both the Cook County State's Attorney's Council on Hate Crimes Prosecution and Cook County Special Task Force on Domestic Violence, and chair of the state revenue committee on the budget advisory board of Governor Blagojevich’s transition team.

Mr. Martire graduated from Indiana University Phi Beta Kappa, with a B.A. in history and received his JD from the University of Michigan.

He is married to Mary Kay Martire, and has two children, a son Nicholas, and a daughter Valerie.

Tracy A. Schonberger

Administrative Director

Tracy Schonberger is the Administrative Director at the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, with over fifteen years of administration and management experience.  Tracy has been on staff at CTBA since its inception in 1999 and manages the overall daily office operations, including office management, technology, human resources, and contract management. Prior to joining CTBA, she was a legal secretary during which time she worked with Ralph Martire. Tracy’s time in the legal sector provided her with tremendous organizational and computer skills that has equipped her with the expertise necessary to meet the time sensitive nature of CTBA's work.

Daniel Kay Hertz

Research Director

Daniel Kay Hertz joined CTBA in July 2015 as a Senior Policy Analyst and was promoted to Research Director in September 2017. Daniel's work includes, but is not be limited to, housing, budget, tax and fiscal policy issues at both the state and national levels. He also contributes to CTBA’s social media platform.  Prior to joining CTBA, Daniel worked as a Senior Fellow with City Observatory, a virtual urban policy think tank. In that capacity and as a freelancer, he has written about urban issues at outlets like The Atlantic, the Washington Post, Planning, Chicago Magazine, and the Chicago Reader.

Daniel graduated with a Masters in Public Policy from the University of Chicago Harris School in 2015, and a BA in Government from Harvard University in 2010.

Sydney Smith

Development Director

Sydney Smith is the Development Director at the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, joining the team in September 2017. Sydney’s work includes managing foundation and corporation relationships, individual giving, and special events for CTBA. She also oversees all donor communication and supports CTBA's marketing strategies. 

Prior to joining CTBA, Sydney worked in development at the Chicago Urban League, as well as Casa Central. She also managed development and communications at the Frances Willard House Museums & Archives.

She is a member of the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network (YNPN), the Association of Fundraising Professions (AFP), and the Chicago Women in Philanthropy (CWIP). Sydney holds a Bachelors of English from the University of Iowa, and is currently a member of the Advisory Board of the Chicago Film Archives.

Gaby Roman

Research Associate

Gaby Roman joined CTBA in November 2017 as a Research Associate. In her role, she will take over the organization’s structural racism research and the Financial Literacy project. Prior to CTBA, Gaby worked at Year Up, a workforce development organization, where she managed events, conducted market research, and used data to evaluate various programmatic elements. Gaby grew up on the West Side of Chicago and attended Northside College Prep. She earned her B.A. in K-12 Education Policy with a minor in Applied Statistics from the Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan.