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Quinn, Preckwinkle clean house at Illinois Medical District Commission

Tuesday, March 06, 2012
Crain's Chicago Business
by Andrew Wang & Kristen Schorsch

(Crain’s) — Gov. Pat Quinn and Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle on Tuesday announced five new appointees to the Illinois Medical District Commission, the seven-member board that oversees development on the Near West Side.

Mr. Quinn named Jennifer Woodard, associate vice chancellor for external affairs at the University of Illinois at Chicago; James Clewlow, chief investment officer for industrial real estate developer CenterPoint Properties; Meredith O’Connor, managing director of commercial real estate firm Jones Lang LaSalle Inc.; and attorney Blake Sercye, who is with law firm Jenner & Block LLP.

At the same time, Ms. Preckwinkle announced the appointment of Carmita Vaughan, CEO of Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy, to the county’s lone seat on the commission.

The appointments come about a month after Crain’s reported that the medical district was on the verge of defaulting on $40 million in bonds and was turning to commercial projects to generate revenue, straying from its primary purpose of promoting medical and health-related development in a 560-acre area anchored by Stroger Hospital, Rush University Medical Center, UIC Medical Center and the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center.

On Monday, Crain’s reported that the Governor intended to appoint Ms. Woodard, part of a plan to revise the commission with new members. Mr. Quinn has the power to appoint four members to the board; Mayor Rahm Emanuel appoints two, while Ms. Preckwinkle controls a single seat.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Emanuel did not return a call requesting comment.

Attorney Daniel Trevino, who was appointed to the commission just last year by Mr. Emanuel, said in a phone interview that he had not heard of a change in his position.

“I serve at the pleasure of the mayor,” said Mr. Tevino, a partner with Chicago law firm Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP.

He praised colleagues who have been replaced on the commission, saying, “I know they gave everything to their service. I would welcome the opportunity to continue to serve” with the new commissioners.

Samuel Pruett, executive director of the medical district commission, did not immediately return calls for comment.

Prior to her current post, Ms. Woodard practiced law, specializing in corporate and international corporate matters, according to the governor’s office. Ms. Woodard holds degrees in English literature and history from the University of North Dakota. She obtained a law degree from Northwestern University, where she met Mr. Quinn, according to Crain’s columnist Greg Hinz.

Ms. Woodard could not immediately be reached for comment.

Mr. Clewlow is a former industrial broker in the Chicago office of real estate firm CBRE Inc. He joined CenterPoint in 1997. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and has a master’s degree in business administration from the Northwestern University Kellogg Graduate School of Management. Reached by phone, he said he could not immediately comment on his appointment.

Ms. O’Connor is a former deputy director of business development of World Business Chicago, a nonprofit economic development corporation, and spent more than 10 years as a deputy commissioner for the City of Chicago. She has a master’s degree in business administration from Loyola University’s Graduate School of Business.

Ms. O’Connor is married to Chicago personal injury attorney Daniel O’Connor, whose brother is Ald. Patrick O’Connor (40th). She could not immediately be reached for comment, a spokesman for Jones Lang LaSalle said.

Mr. Sercye was a political director of Mr. Emanuel’s 2011 mayor campaign and was a field coordinator for Mr. Quinn’s 2010 gubernatorial campaign, according to Mr. Sercye’s law firm biography. He is also a member of the Christ the King Jesuit College Preparatory School’s Young Leader’s Council. He has a bachelor’s degree in politics from Princeton University and a law degree from the University of Chicago. He could not immediately be reached for comment.

Ms. Vaughan has served as chief of staff of the Chicago Public Schools Office of High Schools and High School Programs and is a board member of the Academy of Urban School Leadership. Ms. Vaughan has a degree in chemical engineering from the University of Michigan and a master’s degree in business administration from Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management. She could not immediately be reached for comment.



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