News from President Toni Preckwinkle

President Preckwinkle adds top state employment agency official to head County personnel department

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle today announced the appointment of Maureen O’Donnell as the County’s new Director of Human Resources. O’Donnell most recently served as the Director of the Illinois Department of Employment Security, a post she held since 2008.

“Maureen O’Donnell has managed one of the state’s most critical agencies. She knows how to take a large government institution and make it deliver on behalf of the taxpayers. In her new role, she will help oversee 23,000 County employees and implement the reforms needed to change the culture of Cook County,” said Preckwinkle.

As Director of Human Resources, O’Donnell will work to advance the President’s commitment of securing substantial compliance with the Shakman Decree.

“We are encouraged with the appointment of Maureen O’Donnell as the Chief of the Bureau of Human Resources. The appointment of Ms. O’Donnell is being made at a critical time for Cook County government as it moves toward achieving compliance with the terms of the Shakman decrees in both the elimination of unlawful political discrimination in government and establishing an unwavering process to ensure that Cook County government remains free from such practices. We look forward to working closely with Ms. O’Donnell as she confronts the many complex issues that will be faced by her in this new role,” said Inspector General Patrick Blanchard.

As the Director of the Illinois Department of Employment Security, O’Donnell was responsible for the administration of the State’s unemployment insurance, employment services and labor market informational programs. This included the management of a 1,900 person team in 60 offices with over 500,000 claimants. The Department’s operation budget was more than $300 million and it administered more than $8 billion in unemployment benefits.

Governor Pat Quinn commended Maureen O’Donnell for her work with the State. “I want to thank Maureen O’Donnell for her years of service to the people of Illinois, including as Director of the Illinois Department of Employment Security. She has done an excellent job leading the state’s efforts to support people who are seeking employment, a critical component of our continued economic recovery.”

A public sector leader with extensive private sector experience, O’Donnell said she is ready to hit the ground running.

“For too long, we’ve seen the County’s resources squandered through waste and corruption. Changing the culture of Cook County from a personnel standpoint is no small task, but one that is sorely needed. I am committed to further realizing the President’s goal – that the County achieve new levels of efficiency and accountability by recovering these resources and investing them in services that directly help our neighbors and our communities,” she said.

Preckwinkle said O’Donnell’s background is a perfect fit for her new role.

“Maureen has developed and implemented information technology strategies to improve the way a large government agency is managed and run. She has experience with frontline labor negotiating and has a proven record of successfully implementing performance management and operational management strategies. She will be part of an exciting team of administrators who are working to reverse many years of inefficient and ineffective County government and set a new course that is centered around fiscal responsibility, transparency and accountability and improved services,” she said.

Commissioner and Finance Chairman John Daley applauded the President’s new appointment. “This is a positive step forward. The Administration has instituted new measures that provides for increased accountability and transparency in the personnel process. I am proud to support Maureen as she comes aboard to spearhead these initiatives and I commend the President and her team on their leadership on this issue.”

Commissioner Garcia also commended the President’s new appointment. “Maureen is a fantastic addition to the President’s team. I am confident that with her experience and commitment, we will move forward with bringing the County into compliance with the Shakman Decree and new levels of efficiency and accountability to County operations.”

O’Donnell will take over a position that was held on an interim basis by Jonathan Rothstein. Rothstein will now focus full-time on his position as Director of Labor Relations.


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