Lightfoot names third Black to transition team

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Marielle Sainvilus

University of Chicago administrator to join businessman Willie Wilson and Angelique Power

Crusader Staff Report

Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot on Monday, April 15, appointed Marielle Sainvilus as communications director of her transition team.

Sainvilus is the third Black professional to serve on Lightfoot’s transition team that will help the city’s first Black woman mayor prepare to succeed incumbent Rahm Emanuel. Lightfoot’s swearing-in ceremony is May 20.

Sainvilus joins Angelique Power and businessman Willie Wilson, who endorsed Lightfoot after he won 13 predominately Black wards in the city’s general election in February.

Willie Wilson

Lightfoot swept all 50 wards in her runoff against Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, winning 74% of the nearly 527,000 votes.

Sainvilus is on leave as director of public affairs at the University of Chicago. According to the school’s website, Sainvilus manages emerging institutional news and issues, high-profile crisis situations, broad issues affecting higher education, media and public relations, and sensitive topics. She also serves as spokesperson for the school and works closely with the university’s senior leadership.

Prior to joining UChicago, Sainvilus served as the press secretary for the Chicago Public Schools, communications director at the Illinois Department of Human Services, and assistant press secretary in the Office of the Governor of Illinois. She also led public engagement strategies and provided strategic communications counsel to local and national clients as a communications consultant at Grisko, LLC.

“Marielle’s strategic skills and extensive communications and public engagement in both the public and private sectors will be invaluable as we prepare to lead the city of Chicago,” Lightfoot said in a statement.

Nadia Perl, who served as Lightfoot’s communications director during the mayoral campaign, “is stepping down to pursue other career opportunities,” according to Lightfoot’s press team.

“I truly cannot thank Nadia enough for her hard work and dedication to the campaign,” Lightfoot said in a statement. “Her work from the very beginning has helped lead us to a historic victory. While I’m sad to see her go-and tried to get her to stay-we are also thankful for her time in the post-election period to ensure a seamless hand-off. I wish her all the best and look forward to watching her success in her next endeavor.”

Angelique Power is president of the Field Foundation, a 75-year-old non-profit organization that aims to empower the South and West Sides in economic and social justice. According to the foundation’s website, Power oversees the charitable distribution of $2.5 million annually from assets nearing $60 million.

Angelique Power, new president of The Field Foundation (PRNewsFoto/The Field Foundation)

In addition to Sainvilus’ appointment, Lightfoot named Angel Ruiz as press secretary and Han Nguyen as digital director. Ruiz served as the public affairs director at the Chicago Department of Public Health. Nguyen served as lead digital strategist at When We All Vote, a non-profit started by former first lady Michelle Obama.

Other members of Lightfoot’s transition team are Chicago United President and CEO Gloria Castillo; Nano-Graf Corporation CEO Samir Mayekar; former Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker; Chicago Federation of Labor President Robert Reiter; former White House Chief of Staff Samuel K. Skinner; Leadership Greater Chicago CEO Maria Wynne; and Jeffrey Bethke, DePaul University executive vice president and chief financial officer.

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