Candace Moore, Chief Equity Officer
Candace Moore will serve as the Chief Equity Officer, a new position created by the Lightfoot administration. Ms. Moore previously served as Senior Staff Attorney for the Education Equity Project at Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, where she partnered with communities across the city to advocate for racial equity and advance meaningful solutions. She was instrumental in the fight to stop National Teachers Academy (NTA) from closing. She also served as a strategic advisor and partner to Chicago United for Equity, which works to advance racial equity across our city. Moore participated in the inaugural class of the Racial Justice Training Institute at the Sargent Shriver National Poverty Law Center and the inaugural class of the Surge Fellowship program focused on addressing the issues of race and class in urban education. Moore will bring her extensive training in issues of equity and justice to the newly-created Office of Equity and Racial Justice, which will be tasked with creating and advancing new policies and practices through the lens of equity. Additionally, Candace will work to form partnerships with community stakeholders and city departments to strengthen and promote equitable outcomes throughout city government.
Dr. Sybil Madison, Deputy Mayor for Education and Human Rights
Dr. Madison’s more than 20-year career in education has focused on achieving equitable outcomes for youth in Chicago. As Research Associate and Lecturer at Northwestern University's School of Education and Social Policy, she directed Chicago City of Learning, a citywide effort to address the opportunity gap between more- and less-resourced youth. Dr. Madison earned her bachelor’s degree in Psychology, with honors, from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and her master’s and doctorate degrees in Clinical Psychology, with a focus on Community Psychology, from the University of California at Berkeley.
Tamika Puckett, Chief Risk Officer
Ms. Puckett previously served as the City of Atlanta’s Director of Enterprise Risk Management where she managed the City’s workers’ compensation and property and casualty insurance programs. She also led the risk management program for Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, including the administration of the owner-controlled insurance program. She possesses specialized experience in the areas of risk assessments, workers’ compensation, contractual risk transfer, and training programs. Ms. Puckett, a much sought-after subject matter expert, was recognized as a 2018 Insurance Business America Leading Risk Manager. Ms. Puckett holds a Master of Science in Financial Management from the University of Maryland and a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice from Georgia State University.
Marielle Sainvilus, Communications Director
Sainvilus joins the Mayor’s office from the University of Chicago where she served as director of public affairs. At UChicago, Sainvilus managed emerging institutional news and issues, high-profile crisis situations, broad issues affecting higher education, media and public relations, and sensitive topics. She also served 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.
Samantha Fields, Director of Intergovernmental Affairs
Samantha oversees and advises on the Mayor’s legislative agenda at the local, state, and federal levels. Samantha has a history of building initiatives to enhance government departments to run more efficiently and transparently. Samantha previously served in a number of positions at the state and local level, including as First Deputy Director of LCGA. She received a law degree from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, and an undergraduate degree from Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia.
Taylor Lewis, Director of Scheduling & Advance
During Mayor Lightfoot’s transition, transition team, Ms. Lewis managed her schedule to ensure all priorities were met in a timely and efficient manner throughout the city. Lewis continues this charge in the Mayor’s office. She is an experienced project manager, communicator, and relationship manager most recently serving as a Senior Communications Consultant II at Allstate. Lewis developed and managed the Allstate Personal Lines President’s proactive speaking engagement plan to reach critical stakeholders and increase confidence in Allstate’s business strategy, results and growth opportunities. Lewis graduated from the University of Missouri with a Bachelor of Journalism degree in Strategic Communication.
Anel Ruiz, Press Secretary
Ruiz, who also served as Press Secretary for the Lightfoot transition team, has more than a decade of experience in in public affairs roles for the City and Cook County governments. She also served in communications roles at the National Museum of Mexican Art and Free Spirit Media.
Celia Meza, Mayor’s Counsel & Senior Ethics Advisor
Throughout her career, Celia has specialized in legal counsel on issues ranging from labor, employment, and ethics & compliance. She will assist in developing and implementing legal and ethics policies, and act as a liaison for the Mayor’s Office to the Corporation Counsel’s Office, city departments, government agencies, and legal organizations. Her prior experience includes service as deputy corporation counsel for the City of Chicago, assistant general counsel for Exelon Corporation, and assistant United States attorney. Meza serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the Family Institute at Northwestern, and the Jane Adams Juvenile Court Foundation. She is also a member of the Chicago Bar Association, Hispanic Lawyers Association of Illinois, and the Hispanic National Bar Association. Meza is a graduate of the University of Illinois, and earner her J.D. from University of Iowa’s College of Law.
Susie Park, Budget Director
Park’s previous experience handling fiscal matters will allow her to hit the ground running. Prior to rejoining the Budget Office, she served as Deputy Chief of the Bureau of Organizational Development for the Chicago Police Department, responsible for managing the finance, procurement, and grants division. From 2015 to 2018, Park served as the Deputy Budget Director for the Office of Budget and Management where she oversaw the City’s $2 billion public safety departments. Prior to her work with the City of Chicago, Park served as the Director of Financial Control for Cook County.
Jennie Bennett, Chief Financial Officer
Jennie Bennett serves as the City’s Chief Financial Officer. As Chief Financial Officer for Chicago Public Schools (CPS), Bennett has extensive experience in managing financial turnarounds, driving cost efficiencies, managing large complex capital structures, developing governmental budgets, generating revenues through creative solutions, and finding paths toward financial stability. Bennett has a wide range of both public sector and private sector experience. She helped lead CPS through significant financial difficulties, which have now been relieved through new, fairer educational funding. She has also served as CPS’s acting Chief Internal Auditor since 2018 and Treasurer from 2012-16. Prior to CPS, Bennett spent over a decade as a senior investment banker in municipal securities, managing post-recovery financing needs for New York after 9/11 and Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina.
Manuel Perez, Managing Deputy Director of Legislative Counsel & Government Affairs (LCGA)
Manuel (Manny) will lead the day-to-day work of implementing the administration’s legislative agenda across all areas, with a particular focus on Springfield as the current session comes to a close. Manny was the campaign manager for the Mayor Lightfoot’s runoff election and served as the Intergovernmental Affairs Director during the transition. He has led a variety of campaigns at the local, state, and federal level, including Congressman Jesús “Chuy” García’s successful run for Congress in 2018. In Cook County government, Manuel has served as Special Assistant to the President of the County Board, Chief of Staff to the County Clerk, and Chief of Staff to then-Commissioner Garcia. He graduated from Princeton University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history and resides in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago.
Samir Mayekar, Deputy Mayor, Economic Development
Mayekar brings the team significant experience from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. Samir previously served in the Obama administration in the White House and at a federal infrastructure finance agency. As co-founder and CEO of NanoGraf Corporation, Samir built a green energy company that continues to grow in Bronzeville. Fluent in Spanish, Samir has deep neighborhood roots in Chicago, having served as board chair for a community-engaged youth theater in Albany Park and a GRAMMY-winning music ensemble serving the Back of the Yards. He holds a B.A. and M.B.A. from Northwestern University where he serves as a trustee.
Juan Carlos Linares, Chief Engagement Officer
Juan Carlos holds an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, a JD from DePaul University and an LL.M. in International Business Law from The John Marshall Law School. He also holds a BA in Sociology and Spanish from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. For his work, Juan Carlos has been awarded the Friends of the Parks “Lakefront Protection Award” and the “Top Lawyer under 40 National Award” from the Hispanic National Bar Association among other recognitions, and has participated in Fellowships with the Aspen Institute, The Chicago Community Trust, the Latino Policy Forum and Leadership Greater Chicago, among others
Reshma Soni, Comptroller
Ms. Soni has extensive experience in driving financial improvements for governmental organizations, managing internal cost controls, and optimizing efficiency through creative solutions. As Chief Financial Officer to the Chicago Department of Aviation, she managed financial operations for one of the world’s busiest airport systems, comprised of O’Hare and Midway International Airports, with an annual operating budget exceeding $1 billion. In this role, Ms. Soni helped lead the City’s negotiations and implementation of a new 15-year airline use and lease agreement for O’Hare, which directs an $8.5 billion capital program and a new rates and charges system for all airport tenants.
Ms. Soni is a veteran financial manager of the City of Chicago as well as Cook County. As First Deputy Budget Director for the City, she managed operating, capital and grant budgets totaling $8 billion dollars. She has also held roles as Comptroller for Cook County, and as a compliance manager for the City of Chicago, where she streamlined processes to apply for and become certified the City’s Airport Concessionaire Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (ACDBE) and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) programs. Ms. Soni holds a Master of Accounting and a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from the University of Michigan. She is a registered Certified Public Accountant (CPA) with the State of Illinois. Ms. Soni’s appointment will be considered by the City Council, and she will assume acting duties of comptroller immediately.
Vance Henry, Chief Faith Engagement Officer
Under former Mayor Richard M. Daley, he was appointed to be the Director of the City of Chicago’s CAPS Implementation Office. In that capacity, he coordinated the delivery of city services to alleviate conditions that foster crime, while supervising a staff of community organizers to mobilize city neighborhoods., Mr. Henry has also served as Public Outreach Coordinator for the CAPS Implementation Office. He has acted as the 24th Ward Alderman Michael D. Chandler’s Chief of Staff. In addition, Mr. Henry has an extensive background in grassroots community organizing and has served as Assistant Pastor/Program Director for the Lawndale Community Church. He is also a former Executive Director of the Inter-Faith Organizing Project of Greater Chicago and serves on the Board of Directors for several community-based organizations. Born and raised on the West Side of Chicago, in the North Lawndale community, Mr. Henry is a product of the Chicago Public School system. He graduated from Wheaton College with a special dual degree in Philosophy and Sociology and has done graduate work at Garrett Theological Seminary at Northwestern University campus. He is an ordained Baptist minister who has been preaching since 1986.
Nubia Willman, Director of New Americans
Willman will lead the effort in supporting and strengthening Chicago's immigrant and refugee families and households. She will convene The New Americans Council and “Chicago Is With You” Task Force to address issues important to Chicago's immigrant and refugee communities. Current areas of focus under her leadership will include ensuring a complete count for the 2020 Census on behalf of the Mayor’s Office and expanding language access through vital city services. The Office of New Americans is focused on engaging Chicago’s diverse immigrant and refugee populations through enhanced collaboration with community organizations, academic institutions and the private sector. Willman holds a Juris Doctorate from Loyola University Chicago School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Valparaiso University.
Susan Lee, Deputy Mayor, Public Safety
Susan Lee brings more than 20 years of experience in leading public safety and community engagement initiatives across the country. As the Senior Director of Safe Chicago Network at Chicago CRED, Lee oversaw direct interventions for communities and individuals at the highest risk of violence in multiple Chicago communities and supports citywide coordination towards reducing shootings and homicides.
In addition, Lee is the co-author of the 2007 “A Call to Action: A Case for a Comprehensive Solution to LA’s Gang Violence Epidemic,” a comprehensive report that became the blueprint for the City of Los Angeles taking a new approach to violence. In the implementation of the strategy, she helped to establish a safety infrastructure in the communities most impacted by violence and worked closely with the Los Angeles Police Department to bring new and innovative ways to transform community-police relations.
In the new Mayor’s Office of Public Safety, Lee will oversee a team focused on developing a robust policy agenda that advocates for reducing crime in every neighborhood, starting with Chicago’s most vulnerable communities and citizens. The Mayor’s Office of Public Safety will focus on reducing violent crimes, including gang and gun-related violence — while also ensuring that these efforts are paired with investments in social service supports, including access to mental health resources and other services.
Susan Lee holds a BS in Economics from the University of California Berkeley as well as a JD from Boalt Hall, School of Law, UC Berkeley.