Illinois Comptroller Mendoza takes oath and announces transition team members

SPRINGFIELD – Susana A. Mendoza was sworn in this morning as Illinois Comptroller. Supreme Court Justice Anne M. Burke administered the Oath of Office to Comptroller Mendoza in the Rotunda of the Illinois State Capitol. Mendoza was elected to fill out the remaining two years of the four-year term won by the late Judy Baar Topinka in 2014.  In a tribute to former Comptroller Topinka, Mendoza wore a red suit belonging to the late Comptroller and swore upon the family bible that Judy used when she was sworn in for the very same office.

“I want to again thank the voters of Illinois for putting their trust in me and I will work hard every day to keep that trust. Knowing that I was elected to finish out the remaining two years of the four-year term won by my friend Judy Baar Topinka, tasks me with an additional responsibility to honor both the people of Illinois and Judy’s legacy,” Mendoza said.

After taking her oath of office, Comptroller Mendoza announced the members of her Transition Team. The team is headed by certified public accountant and government affairs consultant Gila Bronner, and Rick Cornell, a finance expert with decades of experience of work in the public sector.

Mendoza said Bronner and Cornell are leading a seasoned team of individuals whose expertise will lend itself to building a plan and strategy to help wrestle Illinois through this fiscal crisis.

“Gila and Rick are all-stars who are universally respected in their fields. Their critical analysis will be invaluable when it comes to providing an honest and objective report on the state of the Comptroller’s Office. This is a team that shares my vision for ensuring that the needs of the State’s most vulnerable populations are met while identifying creative solutions to improve payments to vendors and run a more effective, transparent and efficient office,” Mendoza said.

The transition team members are as follows:

Gila J. Bronner, Transition Chair
Bronner is the President & CEO of Bronner Group, LLC, a multi-disciplined professional services company that delivers comprehensive strategy, transformation and accountability consulting and assurance services to state and local governments, federal agencies and government-related organizations. Throughout her career, Bronner has assisted several hundred government entities throughout the United States and Puerto Rico in streamlining business practices, implementing improved internal controls, and developing strong stewardship and accountability frameworks.

Bronner is an expert on auditor independence and related accountability and internal control issues and is a nationally recognized authority on government compliance and oversight. She is a member of the Federal Accounting Standards Advisory Board (FASAB). Other affiliations, past and present, include serving as a member of the governing board of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and its Audit, Finance, and Investment Committees, National Aeronautics and Space Administration Advisory/Audit Committee, the City of Chicago Mayor’s Council of Technology Advisors, the American Institute of CPAs Board of Directors, the Illinois CPA Society Board of Directors, and the Illinois Finance Authority where she was recently appointed Vice-Chair.

Bronner is also active in the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) where she served as the former Director of the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting Program and the National Association of State Auditors, Comptrollers, and Treasurers (NASACT).

Rick Cornell, Transition Co-Chair
Cornell has over thirty years of experience in Illinois State Government including service in both the Executive branch and the Illinois General Assembly. His background includes extensive compliance and financial auditing experience with government agencies and in the private sector. He has held executive management positions in both the Illinois Attorney General's Office and the Illinois State Comptroller's Office where he served from 2003 until 2011 as the Assistant Comptroller for Fiscal Policy and Cash Management under Comptroller Daniel W. Hynes. In this position, he was responsible for the development and implementation of management policies overseeing the State's $82 billion annual appropriation and disbursements structure and acted as a senior advisor to the State Comptroller. He also maintained oversight over various office publications including the Illinois Executive Budget Summary and assisted in the preparation of the state's Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.

Upon leaving state government in 2011, he served as a transition advisor to Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka and founded Rick Cornell and Associates, a consulting firm that provides issues management, advocacy, and research services to various clients, including the healthcare industry, energy companies, and other governmental consultant entries. His firm specializes in governmental fiscal and revenue issues.

Claire Ball
Ball is an accountant with the corporate offices of U.S. Cellular, one of the nation’s largest cell phone companies. She holds a Master’s degree in Accounting and Finance. She has championed the FIT Agenda: Fiscal responsibility, Integrity, and Transparency, as the foundation of state financial security. Ball was the Libertarian candidate for Illinois Comptroller in the November 2016 General Election.

Sarah Boeckman
Boeckman is an associate with the law firm of Burke, Burns & Pinelli. Her legal work involves the areas of governmental affairs, municipal law and corporate law. She has served both public- and private-sector clients on a wide variety of matters, including regulatory and compliance issues, real estate purchases and sales, procurements and licensing.  She currently serves as a member of the Board of Directors of S.A.M.E., a non-profit organization providing medical support to northeastern regions of South Africa.

Becky Carroll
Considered one of the state’s top public affairs strategists, Carroll is a two-decade veteran of high-profile political and public policy campaigns. She led public engagement and communications strategies to develop and promote bold, new initiatives on education, economic development, housing, pensions, and budget and finance issues. She served as a top adviser to public-sector executives at both Chicago's City Hall and Illinois Governor’s Office of Management and Budget lending her expertise to build stakeholder support for large scale public/private developments and partnerships in communities throughout Chicago. She is currently the founder and president of C-Strategies LLC, an Illinois-based strategic communications and public affairs firm.

Ronald P. Cooley
Cooley currently serves as the Executive Director of the Illinois State Police Merit Board and has previously worked for the administrations of Secretary of State Jesse White, as the Chief Deputy Director of Intergovernmental Affairs, and Comptroller Dawn Clark Netsch, as the Special Assistant to the Comptroller. He also served with their respective Transition Teams. His 28 years of service within state government will bring a valued perspective to the committee.

Dick Hass
Haas is an independent, self-employed, semi-retired, institutional accountability advocate and consultant.  During his decades long career as a certified public accountant he served as, among other things, Pension Disclosure Project Manager on the founding staff of the Governmental Accounting Standards Board, Director of Technical Services of the Government Finance Officers Association, Controller of the Chicago area’s six-county Regional Transportation Authority, Audit Quality Assurance Officer of the U.S. Railroad Retirement Board, Dean of Finance and Administrative Services for State Community College in East St. Louis, Controller of the Illinois State Chamber of Commerce, and a staff member of public accounting firms in Champaign and Pontiac, IL.

Bill Houlihan
Houlihan has worked for U.S. Senator Richard J. Durbin for 22 years serving as the Downstate Director and now State Director for the Senator’s Illinois offices. Bill was elected Sangamon County Democratic Chairman for three terms and served as Springfield Public Building Commissioner, Springfield Sanitary District Trustee and Springfield Housing Authority Commissioner. In 2014, Bill was elected the State's Central Committeeman of the 18th District for the Democratic Party of Illinois.

Jimmy Lee
Lee serves as the President and CEO of Goodcity - Goodcity builds the capacity of organizations so they are impactful, sustainable, and creating good models locally, nationally, and globally. Jimmy has a vast experience in the government and nonprofit industries both locally and globally. In 2009, he was named one of Crain’s 40 Under 40 following his bid for the United States Congress in the 11th Congressional District of Illinois. He is the former Executive Director for the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders under President George W. Bush, the former Special Assistant to the Governor, and the former Executive Director for the Chicago Chinatown Chamber of Commerce. 

Allen Mayer
Meyer is Deputy General Counsel in the Illinois State Treasurer's Office. He has over 18 years of experience as a government attorney providing in-house legal advice, drafting and negotiating legislation and administrative rules, and negotiating contracts in both the Executive and Legislative branches in Illinois. He is the leader of the unclaimed property legal community of practice for the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA) as well as a member of the Peoria County Board where he serves as Chairman of the Rules and Ways & Means Committees. Mayer previously served as Special Counsel and ultimately General Counsel for Illinois Comptroller Daniel W. Hynes.

Polly Poskin
Poskin has been the Executive Director of the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault (ICASA) for 34 years. As Director, she works with the 29 rape crisis centers that comprise the membership of ICASA. Under her leadership, state and federal funding has increased significantly for the rape crisis centers. Polly works with state and federal legislators to improve policy, laws and services for sexual assault survivors. Polly received an award at the White House from President William J. Clinton and Attorney General Janet Reno for exemplary service to victims of crime. Polly serves on the Illinois Department of Human Services Social Service Advisory Council. Polly is a founding board member and current Treasurer of the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence.

James Walter Reed, Jr.
Reed is the Director of Government Relations for the Illinois Education Association. The IEA represents 131,000 teachers and education support professionals in the state of Illinois. Over the past several years, the GR department has passed significant legislation to provide increased funding for public schools, limitations on subcontracting of school services and school reform. Prior, Reed was the Deputy Legislative Director for Attorney General Lisa Madigan and served as the Legislative Director for Citizen Action/Illinois. He has been involved in campaigns at the congressional, state and municipal level.  Reed attended the United States Military Academy at West Point, and received a Juris Doctor from the Hamline University School of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota.  

Chasse Rehwinkel
Rehwinkel is the Director of Policy for the Illinois State Treasurer, a position that he has held since 2015. In this role, Chasse serves as the chief policy advisor for the Illinois State Treasurer’s Office, an office that manages the State’s portfolio, the 529 college savings plans Bright Start and Bright Directions, Illinois’ agricultural linked deposit program Ag Invest, as well as many other state savings and lending programs.

José R. Sánchez
Sánchez is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Norwegian American Hospital. He is a senior healthcare executive with 30 years’ experience in the operational, strategic and fiscal management of healthcare and multi-hospital systems.  Since his arrival in Chicago, Norwegian American Hospital has had one of the most successful safety net hospital turnarounds in the country and has received national recognition in the areas of finance, information technology, innovation, and quality improvement. Sánchez is Chairman of the Board of Family Health Network and the architect of numerous innovative programs around the State including leading the creation of MyCare, which in partnership with ten other entities provides healthcare services to 60,000 Medicaid enrollees. Sánchez was recently reappointed to his second term on the State Health Improvement Plan (SHIP) Implementation Coordination Council by Governor Rauner. He serves as a member of the Budgeting for Results Commission and the Illinois Department of Public Health Perinatal Advisory Committee.

Dennis Sienko
Sienko is the President of Sienko & Associates, a consulting practice that specializes in building technology, workforce and economic development initiatives, with particular expertise in the development of public and private partnerships. Dennis has supported the growth of the Illinois technology sector through a variety of professional experiences, including being the Senior Advisor to the Director of the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity, the President & CEO of the Illinois Science & Technology Coalition, President & CEO of the Illinois Science & Technology Coalition, and Chief Executive Officer of the Prairie State 2000 Authority.

John Gay
Gay recently served as the Chief Counsel and Director of Policy in the Office of the Chicago City Clerk. He has 14 years of experience at various levels of government, including the State of Illinois, serving in both legislative and legal roles. Gay is joining the Mendoza administration.

Patrick Corcoran
Corcoran has served as Deputy Director for Communications & Policy in the Office of the Chicago City Clerk since November 2012. Previously, he served as an assistant to Alderman Debra Silverstein, 50th Ward, City of Chicago, and Communication Director for Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. Corcoran is joining the Mendoza administration.

Lauren Peters
Peters is the Managing Director for the transition team. She has over a decade of political experience running both state and local campaigns. She most recently served as campaign manager for Susana Mendoza for Illinois Comptroller. Peters is joining the Mendoza administration.

You can view the PDF version of this release here

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