(Chicago, IL) — August 24, 2010. In the wake of former Chief of Staff Jerry Stermer‘s abrupt resignation over a minor ethics flap, Governor Pat Quinn today named Michelle Saddler as his Chief of Staff .
Saddler has been serving as the Secretary of the Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS). Prior to DHS post, the widely-respected Saddler was the Director of Policy for the Quinn Administration.
“Michelle Saddler is one of the most knowledgeable and dedicated members of my cabinet, and I look forward to having her serve as my Chief of Staff,” said Quinn. “There is no one better-suited to continue my mission of creating jobs, supporting Illinois’ economic recovery and protecting our most vulnerable residents.”
Saddler was appointed by Quinn to be Secretary of DHS on Oct. 11, 2009. The agency, one of the state’s largest, provides integrated services to individuals, families and communities for developmental disabilities, mental health, rehabilitation services and alcoholism and substance abuse, among others.
While at DHS, Saddler was charged with implementing a number of Quinn’s top initiatives, including the Put Illinois to Work program. The program was one of the largest and most successful in the nation and has put more than 26,000 people to work in subsidized temporary jobs. Additionally, under Saddler’s leadership, the agency drew down an additional $250 million in federal funds for human services.
“Michelle Saddler has been an extraordinarily competent, respected no-nonsense leader at DHS,” said Deputy House Majority Lou Lang (D-Skokie). “Governor Quinn made a smart move installing Saddler as his Chief of Staff.”
Before being named policy chief for the Quinn Administration, Saddler served in a number of policy and management positions in both the public and private sectors. Her past positions include Vice President for International Adoptions for the Lifelink Corporation and Executive Director of the Illinois Metropolitan Investment Fund. She also served as Director of Investments with then-Illinois State Treasurer Quinn and is a Co-Chair of the Board of Directors of Protestants for the Common Good.
Saddler earned her bachelor’s degree from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and has a master’s in management from Northwestern University’s J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management, where she received the F.C. Austin Scholarship – the school’s highest merit award.
“I look forward to continuing to serve and care for the people of Illinois as Governor Quinn’s Chief of Staff,” said Saddler. “I will work to continue the important partnerships with our legislators, employees, providers and advocacy groups.”
Stermer resigned after a critical ethics report by Illinois Executive Inspector General James Wright was leaked to the Chicago Sun-Times, which found Stermer had misused his state computer by responding to Quinn campaign e-mail on three occasions. Stermer himself had voluntarily notified the state ethics officer of his action.
It is believed by multiple political observers that the leaked report came from Wright’s office upon learning that Quinn was finally going to replace the much criticized Wright, an appointee of ex-Governor Rod Blagojevich. Quinn fired Wright the day the Stermer report landed in the Governor’s office.
The well-liked Stermer resigned rather cause Quinn a “distraction”.
One top GOP lobbyist said, “I think Stermer is an honest guy as ever worked in government, and his ‘error’ was so trivial–and self-reported, no less.”
Current DHS Assistant Secretary Grace Hou will serve as the agency’s Acting Secretary. Prior to her work at DHS, Hou was Executive Director of the Chinese Mutual Aid Association, a non-profit social service agency that serves Chinese immigrants and refugees.