SPRINGFIELD — 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.
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.
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. More…