Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel announces new CPS leadership team... A complete housecleaning planned for nation's third largest school system

Chicago's mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel on April 18, 2011, announced the appointments he will make to head the nation's third largest school system on May 16, the day he is inaugurated as mayor. Emanuel's list of his choices for the positions of "Chief Executive Officer," and "Chief Education Officer", the top executive positions at CPS, and the seven members of the school board, indicates that he intends to purge the top ranks of the system. Only two of the system's top executives are currently slated to remain. The mayor-elect cannot make the appointments until he is sworn in on May 16. Until then, the listings are tentative.

Chicago Mayor-Elect Rahm Emanuel announced on April 18, 2011, that he will appoint Jean Claude Brizard (above) to be Chief Executive Officer of CPS on May 16, the day he is inaugurated.The mayor-elect's press release follows here:

Mayor-elect Emanuel announces new CPS leaders, April 18th 2011

This morning, Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel announced the new senior leadership for the Chicago Public School system. He introduced JC Brizard as CPS's new CEO.

The Mayor-elect described the new CEO as a results-oriented manager and experienced educator who is able to make tough choices in order to put students first.

"JC is a communicator and a collaborator. As Rochester's superintendent, he reached out to teachers and principals, interviewing them to find out their needs and seek their perspective. When change was needed, he met with teachers in small groups to explain his plans and solicit input. But JC has also made politically difficult decisions in order to put students first. He is not afraid of tough choices. That is what Chicago needs today," said the Mayor-elect.

Referring to the recent passage of an education reform bill in the Illinois Senate, Mayor-elect Emanuel said this moment is one ripe for change.

"Nothing is more important to the city’s future than the education of our children. This is the right team to lead the Chicago Public Schools as the state prepares to offer Chicago the tools we need to succeed," Emanuel said.

Mr. Brizard, a former regional superintendent for the New York City school system, took over the Rochester City School District at a time when the district was making headlines for its low graduation rates. During the three years that Mr. Brizard has been at the helm, graduation rates have climbed, accountability has increased, and Mr. Brizard has forged new partnerships with teachers and administrators.

The Mayor-elect also announced staff positions for the team that will be supporting the new CEO.


CPS Senior Leadership Jean-Claude Brizard, Chief Executive Officer. Jean-Claude Brizard is Superintendent of Schools for the Rochester City School District. Under his leadership, the district's graduation rate increased and student scores in English Language Arts and Math improved. Prior to his time in Rochester, Brizard worked for 21 years as an educator and administrator with the New York City school system. As a New York City Regional Superintendent, Brizard supervised more than 100 K-12 schools serving over 100,000 students. Prior to holding that position, Brizard served as Executive Director for Secondary Schools, Region 8 Instructional Superintendent, and as a high school principal. He began his career in education as a high school physics teacher and junior high school science teacher. Brizard is a commercial pilot and a native of Haiti. He holds a Master’s Degree in School Administration & Supervision from The City College of New York, a Master’s Degree in Science Education from Queens College, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Chemistry from Queens College.

Dr. Noemi Donoso, Chief Education Officer. Dr. Noemi Donoso is Director of Denver Public Schools’ Office of School Reform and Innovation. Previously, Dr. Donoso was Chief Academic Officer for the high-performing Camino Nuevo Charter Academy network. Dr. Donoso served as the founding principal of Camino Nuevo's first middle school. Previously, Dr. Donoso served as the turn-around principal of two K-8 charter schools in MacArthur Park, Los Angeles and East Harlem, New York. Prior to becoming a principal, Dr. Donoso taught high school English and Advanced Placement History for eight years at Foshay Learning South Los Angeles. Approximately 70% of her students went on to become the first in their family to attend four-year universities. Dr. Donoso holds a Ph.D. in Education Policy and Planning from the University of Southern California, a Master's from Rutgers University and a Bachelor's from Mount St. Mary's College.

Tim Cawley, Chief Operating Officer. Tim Cawley is is currently Managing Director for Finance and Administration at the Academy for Urban School Leadership (AUSL). Cawley joined AUSL after a 30-year business career, holding senior management positions at Fortune 500 companies. Cawley has served as Senior Vice President of Global Logistics and Fulfillment for Motorola’s Integrated Supply Chain, President of SBC/Ameritech Interational, and Chief Executive Officer for RevellMonogram. He began his career with Procter & Gamble, the world’s largest consumer packaged-goods company.

Rahm Emanuel's April 18 press conference announcing his education appointments.Diana Ferguson, Chief Financial Officer. Diana Ferguson is currently the Chief Financial Officer of Chicago Public Schools. Before becoming CFO, she served as Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of The Folgers Coffee Company, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Merisant Worldwide, Inc. and Chief Financial Officer of Sara Lee Foodservice, a division of Sara Lee. Ferguson holds a B.A. from Yale University and a Master's degree from Northwestern University.

Andrea Sáenz, Chief of Staff. Andrea Sáenz currently serves as Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of Vocational and Adult Education in the United States Department of Education (USED). Previously, Sáenz was executive director for the Hispanic Alliance for Career Enhancement, where she collaborated with Fortune 500 employers, universities and Chicago Public Schools to increase Latinos’ access to professional and management careers. Prior to holding that position, she was a fellow at the University of Pennsylvania Fels Government Research Service, where she worked on data-driven performance management for Philadelphia public schools and the Philadelphia Workforce Development Corporation. Sáenz began her career in non-profit leadership at Congreso de Latinos Unidos, where she led an initiative to open the first bilingual one-stop career center in Pennsylvania. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Latin American studies from Scripps College and a Master’s degree in government administration from the University of Pennsylvania.

Becky Carroll, Chief Communications Officer. Becky Carroll has directed communications policy for the City’s Housing and Planning and Development Departments and the Mayor’s Press Office. She managed the communications and community outreach strategy for the launch of Mayor’s Daley’s Five-Year Affordable Housing plan and served on the Cabrini Green/Near North Side Redevelopment Plan Task Force. In 2007, Carroll joined President Obama’s campaign as National Director of Women for Obama, where she implemented a national outreach strategy to engage women voters. She spent the last two years in the private sector as Vice President of Communications and Community Affairs for the Chicago Fire Soccer Club. She is a graduate of the Chicago Public School system. Carroll holds a Bachelor's in Communications and Political Science from Loyola University.

Patrick Rocks, General Counsel. Patrick Rocks is the current general counsel to the Chicago Public Schools. Previously, Rocks was First Assistant Corporation Counsel for the City of Chicago's Department of Law. Rocks earned a Bachelor's at Loyola University and graduated from John Marshall Law School.

Alicia Winckler, Chief Human Capital Officer. Alicia Winckler is the current Chief Human Capital Officer of the Chicago Public Schools. Previously, she served as a senior human resource manager for several major corporations, including Sears Holdings, Inc. and Sears, Roebuck and Co. She holds a Bachelor's degree from the University of South Dakota and a Master's from the University of Colorado at Denver.

Elizabeth Swanson, Deputy Chief of Staff for Education. Elizabeth Swanson is the Executive Director of The Pritzker Traubert Family Foundation, which invests in people and programs that enrich the life experiences of Chicago’s children. Prior to joining the Foundation, Swanson led the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) Office of Management and Budget under CEO Arne Duncan. Swanson has also served as director of the CPS Office of Extended Learning Opportunities. Swanson has devoted her career to youth development and education reform, working for both local and federal government, as well as a number of non-profit organizations. She holds a Bachelor's from Amherst College and Master's in Public Policy from the University of Chicago. Swanson's two school-aged children attend CPS schools.

David Vitale – Board of Education President. David Vitale served as Chief Administrative Officer of Chicago Public Schools under CEO Arne Duncan. Before joining CPS, Vitale was Chief Executive Officer of the Chicago Board of Trade and Vice Chairman and Director of Bank One Corporation. Vitale currently serves as Chairman of the Academy for Urban School Leadership, a nonprofit teacher residency program, and as Executive Chair of Urban Partnership Bank. Vitale's daughter is a CPS student. He holds a Bachelor's from Harvard University and an MBA from the University of Chicago.

Jesse Ruiz – Board of Education Vice-President. Jesse Ruiz is Chairman of the Illinois State Board of Education and a partner at the law firm of Drinker Biddle & Reath. Ruiz served as a Commissioner on the Chicago Public Schools Desegregation Monitoring Commission. He is chief legal counsel to the Illinois Legislative Latino Caucus and the Illinois Legislative Latino Caucus Foundation. In early 2011, Ruiz was appointed to the U.S. Department of Education’s Equity and Excellence Commission, which will examine the impact of school finance on educational opportunity.

Henry Bienen – Board Member. Henry Bienen served as President of Northwestern University from 1995 to 2009. Under his leadership, Northwestern grew its research output, academic standing, and facilities. Previously, Bienen served as Dean of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. Beinen has been a consultant to the U.S. Department of State. He received his Master's and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago and his Bachelor's from Cornell University.

Dr. Mahalia Hines – Board Member. Dr. Mahalia Hines served as a principal in Chicago Public Schools for 17 years. Prior to that, she was a teacher in Chicago Public Schools for over 14 years. Dr. Hines works closely with the Common Ground Foundation, which empowers youth in urban neighborhoods, and continues to share her knowledge and experience as a mentor to new principals. She earned her doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Illinois, where she focused on how to prepare teachers for urban education. She also holds a Master's degree from Northeastern University and a Bachelor's degree from Central State University.

Penny Pritzker – Board Member. Penny Pritzker is a businesswoman and education advocate. She chairs the Chicago Public Education Fund which raises venture capital for high-impact investments in Chicago Public Schools. She also co-directs the Pritzker Traubert Family Foundation which supports programs for Chicago children in the areas of education, health and fitness, and arts and culture. Pritzker is Chairman of the Board of TransUnion, Chairman/CEO of Pritzker Realty Group as well as chair and co-founder of Vi (formerly Classic Residence by Hyatt), The Parking Spot and Artemis Real Estate Partners. She holds JD and MBA degrees from Stanford University and a Bachelor's degree in Economics from Harvard University.

Rodrigo Sierra – Board Member. Rodrigo Sierra is Chief Marketing Officer of Johnson Publishing Company, publisher of Ebony and Jet magazines. He has long been committed to children in the CPS. As a former journalist, he launched the Chicago high school writing contest that awarded students for their work. He has been a member of New Leaders for New Schools, is co-chair of the Goodman Theatre Education Committee, and has long served as Principal for a Day. Sierra has worked as deputy press secretary to Mayor Daley and was an award winning reporter at WGN Radio and ABC News, New York. He is a graduate of Northwestern University and holds an MBA from Kellogg School of Management. Sierra and his wife, Elizabeth, are the parents of four current or former CPS students.

Andrea Zopp – Board Member. Andrea Zopp is president and CEO of the Chicago Urban League. She has been general counsel for several major corporations, including Sears Holdings Corporation and Exelon. Zopp also served as First Assistant State's Attorney for Cook County. Zopp has been a CPS parent since 1997. Four of her children have graduated from CPS schools. From 2002 to 2004, Zopp served on the Local School Council of Henry R. Clissold Elementary. She holds both a Bachelor's and a JD from Harvard University.


April 19, 2011 at 11:20 AM

By: Danny

Random thoughts

Well, people were asking for a CEO with education credentials and experience...

BTW, isn't the Rochester Teachers Association under Adam Urbanski one of the most progressive, reform-minded locals in the nation? IIRC they embraced merit pay in the past. And yet, JBC couldn't get along with them...

I suppose props go to Rahm for selecting such a diverse group of people in terms of race, ethnicity, and gender.

But shouldn't diversity be more than that? How about diversity of viewpoint and opinion? It looks like we'll have another Board that always votes unanimously without discussion because they're all on the same page. Sigh.

And how directly involved will this group be in the 2012 Presidential election?

April 19, 2011 at 11:32 PM

By: Sarah Loftus


Doesn't It appear that more than a few of these appointees have a conflict of interest

April 20, 2011 at 9:48 AM

By: what will Rahm offer him? OMG

How can CPS afford him?!

Superintendent Jean-Claude Brizard has signed a new, three-year contract with the Rochester school board- 11/2/2010

The contract, which expires in June 2014, pays him $235,000 the first year. He will get 2.5 percent raises each of the following years. He also receives a $600/month car allowance and a $5,000 longevity payment if he fills out the entire contract. He can leave the district if he can come to a mutual separation agreement with the board.

His current salary is $223,600.

Brizard said he expects to increase student achievement, and he will not accept poverty as an excuse for poor achievement.

“Poverty correlates to low achievement. It does not cause low achievement. We have too many schools in our city and across the country who are 100 percent minority, 100 percent poverty, who are achieving at high levels. It can be done. We’ve got to push that,” he said.

School Board members Allen Williams and Cynthia Elliot voted against the contract, saying they thought raises should be based on performance.

April 20, 2011 at 9:51 AM

By: New CEO chages his data?

When will CEOs be honest about data?

Spinning RCSD Graduation Data

Posted by: Rachel Barnhart


The Rochester City School District’s press release announcing Superintendent Jean-Claude Brizard’s contract renewal cited possibly misleading numbers about graduation data.

“Under Mr. Brizard’s leadership, the Rochester City school District is seeing improvements in student performance and more students graduating high school in four years. A total of 1,334 students who entered high school in 2005 graduated in four years, an increase of 16 percent over the 1,153 students who graduated in four years after entering in 2004.”

But according to the state, Rochester’s four-year graduation rate actually fell during Brizard’s tenure to 42 percent in 2008-09, down from 48 percent in 2007-08. (Click here to see state graduation rate data.)

So who’s right?

Brizard is using sheer numbers of students graduating, not the percentage. The 2005 cohort, or the group of students who entered 9th grade that year was very large. Brizard said the large cohort is evidence students are staying in school and not dropping out. (I can think of a lot of other reasons why a cohort would be large – birth rates, better record keeping, closing of two charter schools.)

“A percentage does not explain what is happening. But the number of kids graduating has increased,” said Brizard. He added that he community is too hung up on graduation rates. He says the focus should be on how students are doing two years after graduation. Are they ready for college and work? Brizard said many are not.

(Watch the attached video to hear his answer to my questions about why the district is touting these numbers. A couple times, he incorrectly said the district’s graduation rates have increased.)

While the district has not improved its four-year graduation rate, it has improved its five and six-year graduation rate under Brizard. After six years in high school, 55 percent of students who were 9th graders in 2003 had their diplomas, an improvement of 7 percentage points over the previous cohort.

The good news is, more students are getting through school – eventually. But the fact remains that the district’s four-year graduation rate – society’s acceptable standard - is abysmal. I’m not sure why anyone would want to take credit for that.

April 20, 2011 at 11:05 AM

By: Read and weep

Shame on Rahm

Fact check: Emanuel, Brizard, Pritzker by Curtis Black

UPDATED – “We will have to come together as one” to solve Chicago’s school problems, said mayor-to-be Rahm Emanuel.

Then he announced the selection of a new schools chief who got a 95 percent disapproval vote from teachers at his current post. Catalyst cites sources in Rochester who say schools chief Jean Claude Brizard talks about collaboration but operates as an autocrat.

The rhetoric continues to outpace the reality: Emanuel praised Brizard for raising the graduation rate in Rochester schools. In fact, though, the 12 percent increase claimed by Brizard occurred before he took his post, according to his predecessor.

Chicago News Cooperative reports that Rochester’s graduation rate has actually declined over four years. A Rochester reporter notes that Brizard seems to confuse graduation rates with absolute numbers – not a good sign in a top executive, whether he’s spinning or not. (PURE points out the Tribune seems to have the same problem.)

On Emanuel’s part, his false claim continues a reign of error, with repeated misstatements regarding performance and graduation rates at charter schools.

Brizard is a product of the Broad Foundation’s superintendent training program, which has recently placed trainees at the top of schools systems in Los Angeles, New Orleans, and Denver. (Eli Broad donated $25,000 to Emanuel’s campaign, Ramsin Canon points out.) Broad trainees have also been run out of several towns, according to a new guide from Parents Across America:

“A hallmark of the Broad-style leadership is closing existing schools rather than attempting to improve them, increasing class size, opening charter schools, imposing high-stakes test-based accountability systems on teachers and students, and implementing of pay-for-performance schemes. The brusque and often punitive management style of Broad-trained leaders has frequently alienated parents and teachers and sparked protests.”

[Eric Zorn offers corroboration from several Rochester parents, who say Brizard "lacks people skills," "didn't listen to parents and doesn't like being challenged," is "arrogant and autocratic."]

“Parents Across America considers Broad’s influence to be inherently undemocratic, as it disenfranchises parents and other stakeholders in an effort to privatize our public schools and imposes corporate-style policies without our consent.”

Broad has published a guide to closing schools; Brizard closed half the city’s high schools without consulting communities. Broad came up with the idea of the “parent trigger,” which Emanuel has praised. Its philosophy of management is to “invest in disruption,” to promote instability in a system in order to generate “innovation.”

Exciting times ahead.

Brizard clashed not only with teachers and parents but with Rochester’s board of education, which unfortunately for him was elected by Rochester voters. He won’t have that problem in Chicago.

Perhaps Emanuel’s most noteworthy appointment to the board of education is Penny Pritzker, scion of the Hyatt hotel family that’s currently under pressure from religious and community leaders for mistreating its workers.

It’s worth recalling Pritzker’s recent notoriety as a subprime lender, which was probably a factor in her withdrawal from consideration as President Obama’s commerce secretary, after chairing his campaign’s finance committee. After the Pritzkers took over Superior Bank, she headed the board as they plunged into the subprime mortgage market, which eventually swamped the bank. And under her lead, the bank played signal role in developing the mortage-backed securitization instruments which eventually swamped the nation’s economy.

These securities were call “innovations” at the time.

David Moberg’s 2002 piece has the best overview of Superior’s collapse, which he says was “tainted with all the hallmarks of a mini-Enron scandal.” Accounting tricks were used to turn growing losses into steady profits, allowing dividends to continue to flow to the banks owners. Maybe Pritzker can help “fix” the CPS budget.

When she was getting bad press a couple years ago, her lawyer said the bank did subprime lending but not the “predatory” kind. According to Moberg, the National Community Reinvestment Coalition accused the bank of “engaging in a variety of predatory practices.”

It’s particularly worth recalling because, as the Tribune recently reported (thanks to PURE for the link), Penny Pritzker is now founding a private equity firm that will focus on buying distressed property.

It’s nice to have money.

In other management feats, Pritzker chaired the Olympic Village subcommittee in the city’s ill-fated bid for the 2016 games. She bears some responsibility for the $100 million debt incurred in that disaster, which Emanuel is going to have to start paying off in a couple of years.

Pritzker is a major backer of Stand For Children, which pushed union-busting legislation in Springfield. While serving on Obama’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board, she split from the president by opposing card-check labor reform he backed. Add Hyatt to the mix and her anti-union record is complete.

It’s highly unlikely that these people will “bring us together as one.”

April 20, 2011 at 12:47 PM

By: wrong for anyone to say he reformed Rochester

he fell on his face...

According to a robust archive of stories assembled by Rachel Barnhart , a reporter for Rochester's ABC network affiliate, Brizard expanded his Cabinet without the requisite school board approval after taking over the troubled system in 2008, boosting administrative expenses by 43 percent. He changed administrative job titles to justify raises.

As his district battled a $60 million deficit, Brizard spent $18,000 on a two-night "team-building" retreat at a conference center in Buffalo where administrators and teachers enjoyed "Jack Daniels marinated steak with tobacco onions, shrimp fritters, cheddar corn muffins and 'enticing desserts.' "

And best — or worst, according to his critics — he played fast and loose with the high-school graduation data that some are touting as his major credential.

Brizard's predecessor got into the spat, accusing Brizard of taking credit for increases that "came before he stepped in the door," and of "actually losing ground" on graduation rates during his tenure.

Let's ask a few of the customers — parental stakeholders — who in 2008 were as hopeful as Chicagoans are today that Brizard would work magic for their troubled system.

"He fell on his face," said Jacobs when I asked him for a summation. "He lacks people skills."

Brizard "didn't listen to parents and didn't like being challenged," said Hilary Appelman, who has two students in the Rochester schools and runs the Flower City Parents Network, an online forum for discussion of local education issues. "It was hard to get information out of him, and it's wrong for anyone to say he reformed Rochester. Our system is in chaos right now."

Mary Adams, another parent of two students in the Rochester system whom I reached by phone Tuesday, criticized Brizard for being "autocratic and arrogant." She added, "Improve education? Absolutely not! He undermined it." "I'm glad he's leaving," said Adams, "but I'm sorry for the city of Chicago, and I mean that."

April 21, 2011 at 11:44 AM

By: Rahm+Team-where was the due dilegence?

Prediction of Rahm's tenure?

Thirty of the city's (Rochester) schools, about half, failed federal academic standards, based on last year's testing, according to the New York education agency. Twelve high schools and junior-senior highs are so troubled that they made the government's list of worst-of-the-worst schools, state records show.Rochester lagged state averages and posted the lowest passing rates in English language arts of the five major urban districts, including New York City, Buffalo, Syracuse and Yonkers. In math, Rochester ranked fourth of the five major urban districts.

Event the Trib is outing this guy!

(Rahm-is this how you will do as mayor?)

April 21, 2011 at 1:14 PM

By: Shame on you Rahm-can't blame Daley for this one

Brizard-more chaos for CPS

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