Champaign local named to UI Board of Trustees

Chicago
By Chicago 2 Min Read

URBANA — Two new faces are being added to the University of Illinois Board of Trustees, including one local to Champaign County.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Friday that, if the Illinois Senate approves, Champaign Asphalt Co. senior accountant Carolyn Blackwell and Chicago attorney Jesse Ruiz will be appointed to the board.

The last local trustees, Dr. Stuart King and former state Rep. Naomi Jakobsson, left their seats early this year.

Before them, the most recent trustee from the C-U area was Marjorie Sodemann, who was on the board from 2001 to 2006.

Blackwell has more than 20 years of experience in financial management and accounting.

Prior to working at Champaign Asphalt, she served as corporate accounting manager for Core Spaces LLC, as an accounting consultant for YG Financial Group, and as the accounting manager for Campus Acquisitions LLC.

Her volunteer experience includes time on the board of Champaign Central High School’s Volleyball Booster Club and work with the Champaign-Urbana Downtown Independent Volunteer Association.

Both newbies are UI alumni — Blackwell in 2000 and Ruiz in 1988.

Ruiz earned his law degree from the University of Chicago in 1995.

Since then, he’s been a partner in the corporate and securities group of Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP and has served as president of the Chicago Park District Board of Commissioners, vice president of the Chicago Board of Education, interim CEO of Chicago Public Schools, chairman of the Illinois State Board of Education and commissioner for the U.S. Department of Education Equity and Excellence Commission.

He also served as president of the Chicago Bar Association.

Ruiz worked in Pritzker’s office as deputy governor for education from 2019 to 2021, where he oversaw the state’s education system, the Illinois Student Assistance Commission and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.

Currently, he’s partner, general counsel and chief compliance officer of The Vistria Group LPB.

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