Mayor-elect Lori E. Lightfoot on Wednesday, May 15, made the first announcement of key members of her administration’s leadership team, which will continue to be built out over the next 100 days. The senior staff will be part of the team responsible for carrying out the vision and values that will guide the Lightfoot administration.
“I’m confident that the talented team we are announcing today will help drive our key policies and initiatives over our first 100 days and beyond,” said Lightfoot in a statement. “Our city is filled with great talent, and that was made abundantly clear by the caliber of the people who applied to be part of transforming the way that Chicago’s government serves its communities.”
Today, the Mayor-elect announced the following positions:
Jennie Huang Bennett, Chief Financial Officer – Jennie brings a wealth of public sector and extensive experience in municipal finance to the role. She currently serves as Chief Financial Officer of Chicago Public Schools and has extensive experience in managing financial turnarounds, driving cost efficiencies, and generating revenues through creative solutions. Jennie is skilled at managing large complex capital structures, developing governmental budgets, and finding paths toward financial sustainability. She helped lead CPS through significant financial difficulties, which have now been relieved through new, fairer educational funding.
Maurice Classen, Chief of Staff – Maurice has an extensive leadership background in criminal justice reform and violence reduction, with positions at the McArthur Foundation and the Chicago Police Department. As the first civilian Director of Strategy at the Police Department, Maurice led a staff of data analysts, auditors, and project managers in building a comprehensive plan to transform the 13,000 member department, leading to reform efforts in a variety of areas including community policing and accountability systems. At MacArthur, Maurice spearheaded a multi-foundation effort to address violence and police reform raising over $50 million to improve circumstances for all Chica- goans. Maurice has served as Chief of Staff for the Mayor-elect’s transition.
Mark Flessner, Corporation Counsel – A former federal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s office in the Northern District of Illinois, Mark is a partner and trial attorney at Holland & Knight, where he handles sophisticated matters in healthcare, retail, manufacturing, insurance, finance, and other sectors. He also has substantial experience investigating wrongdoing within the corporate world. Mark is also the pro-bono partner in the firm’s Chicago office.
Taylor Lewis, Director of Scheduling and Advance – An experienced project manager and communicator, Taylor has managed the Mayor-elect’s schedule through the transition. Lewis most recently worked in Corporate Relations for Allstate Insurance Company where she developed an innovative communications approach for the President of Allstate Personal Lines aimed at increasing confidence in Allstate’s business strategy, results, and growth opportunities.
Dan Lurie, Policy Director – A senior fellow and director of New America Chicago, Dan has extensive community development experience in local, state, and federal government. He has worked as an advisor for the Obama Administration, including as deputy director for policy for former Vice President Joe Biden. Prior to that, Lurie served as an advisor to the National Endowment for the Arts and to Deputy Secretary Ron Sims at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Lurie began his career as an Antitrust Attorney and Deputy Chief of Staff at the Chicago Transit Board of the Chicago Transit Authority. Lurie has a B.A. in American History from the University of Michigan, and a J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School.
Celia Meza, Mayor’s Counsel and Senior Ethics Advisor – Celia will serve in a new position designed to provide clarity and ethical guidance to the Mayor’s Office, while the Corporation Counsel represents the city as a whole. Throughout her career, Celia has specialized in legal counsel on issues ranging from labor, employment, and ethics and compliance. She will assist in developing and implementing legal and ethics policies, and act as a liaison for the Mayor’s Office to the Corporation Counsel’s Office, city departments, government agencies, and legal organizations.
Candace Moore, Chief Equity Officer – Currently Senior Staff Attorney for the Education Equity Project at Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, Candace has partnered with communities across the city to advocate for racial equity and advance meaningful solutions. She was instrumental in the fight to stop National Teachers Academy (NTA) from closing. Candace will bring her extensive training in issues of equity and justice to the newly-created Office of Equity and Racial Justice, which will be tasked with creating and advancing new policies and practices through the lens of equity. Additionally, she will work to form partnerships with community stakeholders and city departments to strengthen and promote equitable outcomes throughout city government.
Susie Park, Budget Director – Susie has an extensive background in city government, serving in a number of previous finance roles, including most recently as Deputy Chief of the Bureau of Organizational Development for the Chicago Police Department. She has also directed and led teams and managed budgets over $2 billion for the City’s Office and Budget Management. Prior to her work with the City of Chicago, Park served as the Director of Financial Control for Cook County.
Anel Ruiz, Press Secretary – Anel is currently the Press Secretary for the transition team. She brings over 10 years experience in public affairs roles for the City and Cook County governments, as well as in previous communications roles at the National Museum of Mexican Art and Free Spirit Media.
Marielle Sainvilus, Communications Director – Marielle currently oversees communications for the transition team. She is a veteran communications strategist, and previously held roles as Press Secretary for Chicago Public Schools, the Office of the Governor of Illinois, and for the Illinois Department of Human Services.