Sean Smoot

Sean Michael Smoot received his Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice Sciences from Illinois State University and his Juris Doctor degree from the Southern Illinois University School of Law, where Mr. Smoot served as the Business Editor of the Southern Illinois University Law Journal. Currently Mr. Smoot serves as Director and Chief Counsel for the Police Benevolent & Protective Association of Illinois (“PB&PA”) and the Police Benevolent Labor Committee (“PBLC”). In those capacities he is responsible for the provision of legal services for over 7,500 legal defense plan participants. Mr. Smoot regularly represents police officers in Police & Fire Board and Merit Commission discipline and discharge cases, as well as, Section 1983 Civil Rights Litigation, Unfair Labor Practices, Grievance Arbitration, and Interest Arbitration cases. As the organizations’ primary legislative advocate, Mr. Smoot writes legislation, testifies before legislative bodies, and speaks often, regarding police related topics such as, Public Employment Labor Law, Pension & Benefits Law, Section 1983 Civil Rights Litigation, and Police Use of Force. Mr. Smoot has also written several articles for The Policemen’s Magazine as well as numerous police labor publications and newsletters. He co-authored “Police Leadership Challenges in a Changing World” published in July, 2012 by the US Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice.
Mr. Smoot also serves as the elected Treasurer of the National Association of Police Organizations (“NAPO”), a national law enforcement advocacy group representing over 250,000 police officers. He has served on the Advisory Committee for the National Law Enforcement Officers’ Rights Center in Washington, D.C. since 1996. He is a member of the Advisory Committee and a speaker at the Chicago-Kent College of Law’s Annual Illinois Public Sector Labor Relations Law Program. He also serves on the Use of Force Advisory Committee, the Police Pursuit Advisory Committee, the Racial Profiling Advisory Committee, and the Task Force on Police Integrity for the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board. Smoot speaks regularly at state, national, and international forums regarding community policing, public safety, and public employee labor issues. He has also been a featured speaker at the National Academy of Arbitrators and several CLE programs regarding the Rights of Employees.

Illinois Police Benevolent and Protective Association

840 S. Spring St., Suite A
Springfield, IL 62704
(217) 523-5141


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Gene Washington


Service Employees International Union Local 73

300 South Ashland Ave., Suite 400
Chicago, IL 60607

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Brian LaBardi

Brian LaBardi is a partner with the law firm of Reimer & Dobrovolny PC. He concentrates his practice in public sector pension law and civil litigation with a focus on the employment and labor issues faced by police officers and firefighters.

Prior to joining Reimer & Dobrovolny, Mr. LaBardi was an Assistant State’s Attorney with the Kendall County State’s Attorney’s Office heading its civil division. While at the State’s Attorney’s Office, Mr. LaBardi was responsible for advising governmental entities on open government regulations such as the Open Meetings Act and the Freedom of Information Act. Handling a variety of civil litigation defense claims on behalf of County entities and employees, Brian litigated civil and quasi-criminal claims in both the Circuit Court and before administrative bodies.

Mr. LaBardi also has an extensive background in private practice civil litigation. Brian has defended professional malpractice claims, commercial litigation claims, business litigations claims and serious injury claims. In addition, he has argued cases in multiple State Appellate Districts as well as the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals and United States Supreme Court.

Mr. LaBardi received his undergraduate degree from Valparaiso University and his law degree from The John Marshall Law School in 2006 where he was on the Dean’s List. He is licensed to practice law in Illinois, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, and the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. He is a member of the Illinois State Bar Association.

Reimer & Dobrovolny

15 Spinning Wheel, Suite 310
Hinsdale, IL 60521
Tel: (630) 654-9547
Fax: (630) 654-9676

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Mandy Paciorkowski

Mandy Paciorkowski has been a member of the IPPFA team since
2018. She has experience working in team-oriented environments
and in customer service. She is currently the Administrative
Assistant/Receptionist for IPPFA.



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Joseph M. Burns

Joe grew up on picket lines, worked in the law firm’s offices on weekends and after school helping with projects for his father Marty, volunteered for the United Farm Workers while in high school and met with Cesar Chavez on several occasions, including while coordinating a strike rally as a labor lawyer, and has a profound commitment to the labor movement. Joe’s grandfather, Charles Burns, was an Executive Board Member of ATU Local 308 and a trustee on the CTA–ATU pension plan in 1947. Joe is a proud third-generation member of ATU Local 308, having worked for the CTA putting himself through college. Joe’s father, Marty, began as an attorney for Jacobs & Gore in April 1960. Joe is fond of saying that he is a trade unionist who happens to have a law license. Loyola University School of Law gave him (and nearly every other lawyer in the Burns family) a law degree, and the Illinois Supreme Court gave him his law license in 1979.

Joe proudly represents a variety of labor organizations, including unions in the transit industry, construction and mechanical unions and unions in the entertainment industry. Joe enjoys the role of counselor as much as he loves handling IRS and DOL matters, arbitrations, and litigating. We think of these wonderful clients as being part of our JBOH Family, some of them going back as far as 1958.

Joe especially loves working for the employee benefit plans which provide such outstanding and well-earned retirement security and decent health insurance to working men and women. Joe has helped multiple unions start journeymen & apprentice training programs that will help sustain the skilled work force that our Chicago labor community needs to thrive. Joe is proud to represent several Chicago public pension funds, as well as numerous private pension and health and welfare funds, both here in Chicago and throughout the Midwest. As counsel to employee benefit funds, Joe attends trustees’ meetings and provides a full range of legal services to employee benefit funds. Joe handles the funds’ investment relationships and is responsible for evaluating and negotiating investment management agreements, including complex alternative investment fund agreements. Joe is especially proud that the firm is the sole counsel to every jointly trusteed fund client because the employer trustees respect his and the firm’s independent judgment.

Joe has a Martindale Hubbell peer rating of AV and was the first member of the firm elected a Fellow of the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers. In 2009, he was designated by Illinois Super Lawyers as one of the top attorneys in labor and employment law, and he was recently named the 2019 Lawyer of the Year in Chicago, in the area of Labor Law – Union. In 2010, Stagehands Local 2 awarded Joe an honorary “Gold Card” membership. He is waiting for the “call” to work U-2 or the Rolling Stones.

Joe is a member of the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Funds and the National Association of Public Pension Attorneys.

Joe has traveled frequently to East Africa to assist with Global Alliance for Africa projects dealing with micro-enterprise programs and to support families affected by HIV/AIDS. Joe organized and led two groups of judges, lawyers, and medical professionals on trips to East Africa, including with an Illinois Supreme Court Justice, to explore micro-finance, legal rights, and therapeutic arts programs. Joe is also a Board Member of the Spectrios Institute for Low Vision.

Joe has been married to Penny, his best friend and high school sweetheart, since 1976 and has three exceptional children and four awesome grandchildren. He absolutely loves and enjoys being a father and grandfather. Like the entire Burns family wherever they live in the U.S., Joe loves the White Sox and the Blackhawks.

Attorney/Counselor At Law

150 N Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60601


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Jessica Escontrias

Jessica Escontrias has been a member of the IPPFA team since
2016. She has a considerable amount of experience working in teamoriented
environments and in providing customer service. She is
currently the Corporate Member Liaison for IPPFA where she helps
maintain an efficient office environment.



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Dan Ryan

 Daniel W. Ryan is a project coordinator for the Illinois Public Pension Fund Association (IPPFA).  He is a former municipal treasurer and a retired Taft-Hartley health and pension plan administrator.  Dan is an instructor in the criminal justice program at Lewis University and a trustee of the Skokie Police Pension Fund.  His book, Retirement Income for Illinois Fire and Police: Pensions, Social Security and Deferred Compensation addresses the specific benefits for Illinois’ public safety professionals as well as issues facing public pension plans.



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Brandon Blough

Brandon joined the Springfield Fire Department in 1999, after graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  He followed in the footsteps of his father, Bill, and uncle, Tom, both veteran firefighters in Springfield.  He was a proud member of Local 37, participating in annual fundraising events and various committees.  He has served on the department as a Firefighter, Driver Engineer, Captain and was recently appointed as the Deputy Division Chief of Operations.

Brandon was first elected to Springfield Firefighters’ Pension Board in 2009, serving first as a Trustee and later as Board President. During his terms on the board he helped usher in the hiring of investment consultants, fund actuaries, and administrators, particularly focusing on the fund’s responsibility of due diligence and trustee education.

He started as a Retirement Specialist for IPPFA Benefits in 2012, assisting municipal employees plan for retirement, covering central and southern Illinois.  He passed the Series 6 and Series 63 exams, and specialized in helping clients with 457(b), 403(b), and VEBA plans.  Organizing retirement seminars and speaking to groups on retirement strategies and pension issues are two things he is particularly passionate about.  He has also served on the IPPFA Legislative Committee since 2017.

Brandon resides in Springfield with his wife, Tammy, and their son, Jackson, who attends Vanderbilt University in Nashville.

Springfield Fire Pension Fund

825 E. Capitol
Springfield, IL 62701

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Tom O’Halloran

Tom O’Halloran is a 30 year veteran of the Berwyn Police Department currently serving as the Deputy Chief of Police. Tom’ s career in Berwyn started as a Patrol Officer in 1989 and has worked as a Detective, Patrol Sergeant, Commander, and was appointed to his current position as Deputy Chief in October 2018. He was elected to the Berwyn Police Department Pension Board in 1997 and became President in 2005.

Tom has a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Social Justice 1998, and a Masters degree in Public Safety Administration 2002 both from Lewis University.

Berwyn Police Pension Fund

6401 W. 31st St.
Berwyn, IL 60402

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