Rauner names first set in a series of gubernatorial appointments

Bruce RaunerSPRINGFIELD — Governor-elect Bruce Rauner announced today the first in a series of cabinet secretary, agency director and boards and commissions appointments.

Today’s appointments cover the Department of Transportation, State Board of Education, Illinois Department of

Employment Security, Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority, University of Illinois Board of Trustees and the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice.

Name: Randy Blankenhorn

Position: Secretary – Illinois Department of Transportation

Governor-Elect Bruce Rauner has nominated 56-year-old Randy Blankenhorn, of Chicago, as the Director of the Illinois Department of Transportation. Blankenhorn is currently the Executive Director of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP). This is a return to IDOT to for Blankenhorn; he worked for the agency for 22 years, most recently as the Bureau Chief of Urban Program Planning.

Blankenhorn has been the head of CMAP since its inception by the General Assembly in 2006. CMAP oversees transportation, land use, housing economic development, environment and other quality of life issues in the seven counties that makeup Chicagoland. Blankenhorn has also overseen the implementation of GO TO 2040, which is the first regional plan for the Chicago metropolitan area in more than 100 years.

While at IDOT, Blankenhorn worked in a number of positions in both the policy and planning divisions, eventually rising to the Bureau Chief of Urban Program Planning. He was also the point person on a number of major infrastructure projects in Illinois, including the extension of I-355 and IL 53; the new Mississippi River crossing in St. Louis; and the South Suburban Airport.

Blankenhorn also worked for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, the Illinois Secretary of State and the Illinois Department of Personnel. He is a graduate of Illinois State University, with a bachelor’s degree in business administration.

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Name: James Meeks

Position: Chairman – State Board of Education

Governor-Elect Bruce Rauner has nominated 59-year-old former State Senator James Meeks, of Chicago, to Chairman of the Illinois State Board of Education. Meeks’ commitment to education is evidenced by his work in the General Assembly, and as the Pastor of Salem Baptist Church in Chicago.

While a member of the Senate, Meeks was a strong voice in education, serving as the Chairman of the Senate’s Education Committee. He worked hard to increase school funding and improve the quality of education for all students.

Meeks is currently the Pastor of Salem Baptist Church, which is one of the fastest growing African-American churches in the United States; it currently has more than 15,000 members. He received his bachelor’s degree in Religion & Philosophy from Bishop College in Dallas, Tex.

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Name: Jeff Mays

Position: Director – Illinois Department of Employment Security

Governor-Elect Bruce Rauner will appoint 62-year-old former State Representative Jeff Mays (R-96th District), of Quincy, as the Director of the Department of Employment Security. Mays is currently the President of the Illinois Business Roundtable, which is an association of corporate business leaders and makes recommendations on policy issues facing Illinois.

For more than 15 years, Mays has advocated for education and workforce development, while representing the interests of chief business executives in Illinois. He has created programs to help students of all ages learn skills they will need in the workforce. In addition, he has worked on programs that pipeline talented employees to Illinois.

Mays served five terms in the Illinois General Assembly from 1981 to 1990, representing large portions of Springfield, Decatur and surrounding communities. He was the Chief Sponsor on all Executive Agency Appropriations, and led House Republicans on all budget related committees. He was also the Co-Chair of the Legislative Audit Commission. Mays also served on the following House Committees: Labor and Commerce, Executive, Financial Institutions and Select Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

In between his time in the General Assembly and at the IBR, he worked for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development as a Special Assistant to the Regional Administrator. He also spent five years at the Illinois State Chamber of Commerce as the Vice President of Human Resources, and as the Executive Vice President.

Hays holds bachelor’s degrees from Northwestern University in history and economics. He currently serves as the Vice President on the Quincy Public School Board.

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Name: John Maki

Position: Executive Director – Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority

Governor-Elect Bruce Rauner has nominated 39-year-old John Maki, of chicago, as the Executive Director of the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority. Maki currently is the Executive Director of the John Howard Association of Illinois, which is the only non-partisan prison watchdog organization in Illinois.

Maki has spent the past four years working to reform the criminal justice system, making it more humane and cost effective. His significant legislative advocacy efforts include, 2012 bi-partisan legislation enabling low-level offenders to earn time off their sentences, and a 2013-2014 effort that created the Joint Committee on Criminal Justice Reform.

Prior to his work with the John Howard Association, Maki worked with a number of innocence projects in the Midwest, including the Center on Wrongful Convictions at the Northwestern University School of Law.

Maki is an attorney, earning his degree from Loyola University Chicago College of Law. He also holds a master’s degree in English from the University of Chicago, and bachelor’s degrees in English and philosophy from Whittier College in Whittier, Calif.

In addition, Maki volunteers on multiple governmental and non-profit boards, including the Governor-Elect’s transition team as the Co-Chair of Public Safety.

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Name: Edward McMillan

Position: Member – University of Illinois Board of Trustees

Governor-Elect Bruce Rauner will re-appoint 68-year-old Edward McMillian, of Greenville, to the University of Illinois Board of Trustees. McMillan is currently finishing his first term on board. He brings more than 45 years of agri-business experience to the position.

McMillian is currently an independent business consultant that focuses on alliance creation; mergers and acquisitions; and management changes in the food and agri-business industry. He is considered a leading figure in the animal nutrition industry, and is a member of the board of directors for several food and agri-business corporations.

McMillian previously served as the President and CEO of Purina Mills, Inc., which is the country’s largest manufacturer and distributor of animal nutrition projects. He joined Purina in 1969 as a field sales representative, and held several positions throughout company, before being named President and CEO in 1988. He was elected to Purina’s Board of Directors in 1993.

McMillian is a graduate of the University of Illinois, with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural science. He is a resident of Greenville.

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Name: Candice Jones

Position: Director – Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice

Governor-Elect Bruce Rauner has asked 35-year-old Candice Jones, of Chicago, to continue her work as the Director of the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice. She has served in the position for the past year under the former administration.

Under Jones’ leadership, the IDJJ has reformed much of the state’s juvenile justice system, to bring it in compliance with state and federal mandates. She has also overseen the statewide implementation of Aftercare, which transformed the former adult parole system into an age-appropriate rehabilitation program. This program helps the youth successfully re-enter society and ultimately, the workforce.

Prior to her work with the IDJJ, she served as an associate director of the Office of Management and Budget, managing the agency’s public safety budget, as well as assisting the executive team. She also worked at the MacArthur Foundation working on juvenile justice strategies in Illinois and across the U.S. Jones also served as a White House Fellow in 2012, which is one of the country’s most prestigious programs, giving young Americans the chance to work at the highest level of the federal government.

Jones earned her law degree from New York University, and holds two bachelor’s degrees in political science, and African and African-American Studies from Washington University in St. Louis.