Pritzker names five to state agency leadership positions

Pritzker names five to state agency leadership positions


SPRINGFIELD – Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced a handful of appointments to leadership positions at state departments Tuesday, including the Illinois Departments of Human Services, Natural Resources, and Financial and Professional regulation. All of the appointments are pending confirmation from the Illinois Senate.  

Department of Human Services

Grace Hou, who served as assistant secretary at IDHS from 2003 to 2012, was named secretary of IDHS.

In her previous stint with the agency, Hou was responsible for the oversight of the agency’s six program areas and was a leader in the creation and implementation of the state’s Immigrant Integration New American’s Executive Order.

Hou is president of Woods Fund Chicago, a grant-making foundation that funds community organizations which fight poverty and structural racism. She previously served as executive director of Chinese Mutual Aid Association and has been a vocal advocate for immigrant rights.

 Department of Natural Resources

Pritzker named Colleen Callahan as Director of the IDNR. Callahan spent seven years as state director for USDA Rural Development in Illinois and currently manages her own communications consulting firm.

At the USDA, she oversaw a 20 percent reduction in staffing while generating a $1 billion increase in the Illinois loan portfolio, according to a news release from Pritzker’s office.

Callahan also served for 30 years as the agribusiness director for WMBD in Peoria. She was the first female president of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting. 

Department of Financial and Professional Regulation

Deborah Hagan will serve as secretary of IDFPR after spending more than 30 years as a consumer protection advocate in the Illinois Attorney General’s Office.

She worked in the Consumer Protection Division for the AG’s office addressing mortgage origination and servicing, student loan servicing, debt collection, identity theft and other areas of financial risk.

She has held this role since 2004, and has served as bureau chief, deputy bureau chief and assistant attorney general.

Mario Treto, Jr. will serve as director of real estate at IDFPR.

Treto is the deputy dity attorney for Evanston, providing legal counsel to elected officials, departments and staff.

He previously worked for a Chicago-based law firm focusing on commercial and residential real estate, corporate law and commercial transactions.

He also serves as board chair of Howard Brown Health, a federally qualified health center in the Chicagoland area with 10 clinics and a youth center serving 35,000 patients.

Francisco Menchaca, who has served as director of financial institutions at IDFPR since appointed by Gov. Pat Quinn in 2013, will maintain his position.  

Menchaca previously served the department as credit union supervisor. Previously, he managed financial institutions and governmental agencies at the Federal Deposit Insurance Company.

He has more than 20 years of experience in the financial industry, serving as the first vice president at Bank One.

Jessica Baer will continue to serve as director of professional regulation at IDFPR after her 2016 appointment from Gov. Rauner.

She previously served the department as general counsel, overseeing the entire legal department for the agency.

Prior to joining IDFPR, Baer spent six years as an associate at K&L Gates, focusing on litigation and antitrust law. Baer is licensed to practice law in Illinois.

Jeff Rogers

Jeff RogersJeff Rogers

Jeff has more than 30 years’ experience working for newspapers as a reporter and editor. He was the editor of daily newspapers in northern Illinois and Wisconsin before joining as Capitol News Illinois’ editor, where he oversees the news service’s development, growth and fundraising. He grew up in Lanark in northwest Illinois and has a journalism degree from Bradley University in Peoria.

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Illinois Lawmakers

 With the new fiscal year closing in, Gov. JB Pritzker takes a look at the spring 2024 legislative session, new Early Childhood Department, future of Logan Correctional Center and more. Recorded at the studios of Northwestern University’s Medill School. Hosted by Jak Tichenor and CNI Broadcast Director Jennifer Fuller.

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