Pritzker tabs Champaign’s Blackwell, alum Ruiz for seats on UI board of trustees

By Chicago 3 Min Read

URBANA — Champaign County will continue have a voice on the University of Illinois board of trustees — Carolyn Blackwell’s.

Carolyn Blackwell


Months after bidding farewell to the board’s lone local trustees — Dr. Stuart King and former state Rep. Naomi Jakobsson — Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Friday announced their two successors, including Blackwell, a UI alumna and senior accountant with Champaign Asphalt Company.

Also appointed: Chicago attorney Jesse Ruiz, Pritzker’s former deputy governor for education.

Both new trustees attended the UI’s flagship campus, Ruiz earning his bachelor’s degree in economics in 1988 and Blackwell her bachelor’s in accounting in 2000.

Here’s a look at both new trustees’ mini-bios, which accompanied Pritzker’s afternoon announcement:

— Blackwell has over twenty years of financial management and accounting experience, and currently serves as a Senior Accountant with Champaign Asphalt Company. Previously, she served as the Corporate Accounting Manager for Core Spaces, LLC, as an Accounting Consultant for YG Financial Group, and as the Accounting Manager for Campus Acquisitions, LLC.

Blackwell has experience volunteering with Champaign-Urbana Downtown Independent Volunteer Association and as a Champaign Central High School Volleyball Booster Club Board Member.

Jesse Ruiz


— Ruiz currently serves as Partner, General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer of The Vistria Group, LP. In his role as deputy governor, he oversaw the state’s education system from early childhood through higher education, including 852 school districts, 48 community colleges and 12 public universities, as well as the Illinois Student Assistance Commission and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.

Prior to serving as Deputy Governor, Ruiz was a Partner in the Corporate & Securities Group of Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP, where for 22 years he focused his law practice on business transactions including mergers and acquisitions, venture capital and private equity investments, equity and debt offerings, financings, and a variety of commercial transactions.

Throughout his career, Ruiz has served in a variety of public roles including President of the Chicago Park District Board of Commissioners, Commission on the Public Building Commission, Vice President of the Chicago Board of Education, Interim CEO of Chicago Public Schools, and Chairman of the Illinois State Board of Education.

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