Nikki Budzinski is a Peoria native and a graduate of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She interned with former Congressman Dick Gephardt and former Senator Paul Simon, as well as with Planned Parenthood. In 2018, she was a senior adviser for Illinois Gov. J. B. Pritzker, where she led the campaign to establish a $15/hour minimum wage (which will officially be enacted in 2025). In 2021, Budzinski served in President Joe Biden’s Office of Management and Budget.