Former state Rep. Christian Mitchell named U. of C.’s VP for civic engagement

Christian Mitchell, Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s deputy governor for legislative affairs for the past four years and a six-year local state representative before that, is returning to his alma mater, the University of Chicago, to be its vice president for civic engagement.

“I am thrilled to return to the University of Chicago,” Mitchell said in a statement. “My time at the College was formative for me, and I look forward to working with faculty, students and staff to ensure that the university is a welcoming and inclusive partner on the South Side and is deeply engaged with the opportunities and challenges facing our neighbors and our city.” 

Mitchell will lead the Office of Civic Engagement and has been tasked with developing and implementing a new strategic plan that supports university President Paul Alivisatos’ goals in utilizing the U. of C. to improve the regional economy and educational and health care systems.

The office runs a number of programs, including help with college admissions, extracurricular programs and tutoring for Chicago students, the Community Programs Accelerator, and economic development and health care programs.

“Under his leadership, the Office of Civic Engagement will deepen the engagement of faculty, students and staff to bring the intellectual, personnel and material resources of the University to bear on some of the most pressing issues facing our communities,” Alivisatos said in a statement.  

“I am confident that Christian will make important contributions to our collective efforts to strengthen our connections with our neighbors in the surrounding communities and across the broader Chicago region.”

Former Vice President for Civic Engagement Derek R.B. Douglas resigned last summer when he was named president of the Civic Committee and Commercial Club of Chicago

Originally from the western suburbs, Mitchell graduated from the U. of C. in 2008, having been a member of its Organization of Black Students, and has talked publicly about his experiences at the university, good and bad, that propelled him into public service.

“I sort of made a decision that I’ve got this set of skills, I’ve got this access to this network, having gone to the University of Chicago, where I could potentially do more on the government side of things,” he told the university Democrats in October 2018, adding that “well-organized people who know exactly what they want” in the district helped him be a legislator.

In his January 2019 thank-you letter to constituents after Pritzker hired him, Mitchell wrote that he first ran for office because of his belief “that government can be a force of food for its people,” naming the state’s expansion of Medicaid and affordable health care and the beginnings of criminal justice reform as accomplishments. 

Over Pritzker’s first term, Mitchell managed several state agencies, including the departments of Transportation, Military Affairs, and Innovation and Technology. He played a key role in the passage and subsequent revision of legislation to legalize cannabis, the $45 billion “Rebuild Illinois” capital plan and the landmark Climate and Equitable Jobs Act over the summer of 2021.

Mitchell was also the governor’s lead strategist for the recently passed assault weapons ban, criminal justice reform and the expansion of mail-in voting. He led the state’s procurement of personal protective equipment during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I am proud to have had a driven, passionate public servant like Christian Mitchell on our team as we worked to improve the lives of Illinoisans across the state,” Pritzker said in a statement. “Although we will be sad to see him go, there is no doubt in my mind that his work ethic and commitment to equity, progress, and public service will be an asset to any organization that has the honor of working with him.”

Mitchell was first elected to the Illinois House of Representatives in 2012, narrowly winning his party’s nomination before two more contested primaries and reelection three more times, unopposed in the 2016 and 2018 general elections. He was interim director of the Illinois Democratic Party in 2018. Incumbent state Rep. Kam Buckner (D-26th) succeeded him through appointment after his 2019 resignation.

Mitchell’s predecessor in the Illinois House, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District Commissioner Kimberly Neely Du Buclet, who has a master’s degree from the U. of C. Booth School of Business, said he was a great legislator, noting that his district included the university campus, and a huge asset to the governor.

“As I know him, he represented the hospital at the University of Chicago, so I’m assuming that he would know, on the basis of his experience, how to maneuver the different factions within Hyde Park and the University of Chicago community because he had to do that as a rep.,” she said. “When he moved over to the governor’s office having to work both sides of the aisle, all the members of the General Assembly and the governor’s staff to get things done, that takes a lot of negotiation, a lot of working with people, just a lot of understanding human behavior.”

Mitchell earned a degree from the Loyola University Chicago School of Law in 2019. He lives in Bronzeville.

Ino Saves New

via rk2’s favorite articles on Inoreader

February 3, 2023 at 08:10PM

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s