SPRINGFIELD — Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner on Sunday announced his first cabinet secretary, agency director and boards and commissions appointments.
Sunday’s appointments include Transportation, State Board of Education, Illinois Department of Employment Security, Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority, University of Illinois Board and Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice. Rauner will be sworn in on Monday.
The appointments are:
Randy Blankenhorn, secretary, Illinois Department of Transportation
Blankenhorn, 56, of Chicago, is currently the executive director of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning. This is a return to IDOT 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 make up Chicagoland.
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 Illinois 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.
James Meeks, chairman, State Board of Education
Former state Sen. James Meeks, 59, of Chicago, will become chairman of the Illinois State Board of Education. Meeks is 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.
Jeff Mays, director, Illinois Department of Employment Security
Mays is a former state representative and currently the president of the Illinois Business Roundtable, an association of corporate business leaders that makes recommendations on policy issues facing Illinois. Mays, 62, of Quincy, served five terms in the Illinois General Assembly from 1981 to 1990, representing large portions of Springfield, Decatur and surrounding communities.
Between his time in the General Assembly and at the Illinois Business Roundtable, 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.
John Maki, executive director, Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority
Maki, 39, of Chicago, is the executive director of the John Howard Association of Illinois, 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 bipartisan 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. Maki is an attorney, earning his degree from Loyola University Chicago College of Law.
Edward McMillan, member, University of Illinois Board of Trustees
McMillan, 68, of Greenville, is finishing his first term on board. He brings more than 45 years of agri-business experience to the position.
McMillian is 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., the country’s largest manufacturer and distributor of animal nutrition projects.
McMillian is a graduate of the University of Illinois with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural science.
Candice Jones, director, Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice
Jones, 35, of Chicago, will continue to lead the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice. She has served in the position for the past year under the former administration. Under Jones’ leadership, the department 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 youths successfully re-enter society and the workforce.
Prior to her work with the department, 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.
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.
Mark Fitton is a reporter for the Illinois News Network.