Mayor Lori Lightfoot appoints parents, former grads, educators for new Chicago school board

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced a new seven-person school board on Monday that, as she forecasted during the first week of office, includes people with deep experience in Chicago schools, from former graduates to a principal to parent and community advocates.

Lightfoot campaigned on a promise to support a switch from a school board appointed by the mayor to one selected by the public. She said Monday that her appointments would serve as an interim step to an elected board, which requires a change to state law. Until then, she retains complete power to appoint and remove school board members at will.

Related: Lightfoot vows new Chicago school board will stop making so many decisions behind closed doors

She also announced the appointment of a deputy mayor for education and human services, Sybil Madison. Madison was one of four co-chairs overseeing Lightfoot’s education transition team, which compiled a report with recommendations for improving the city’s schools.

The city’s new mayor said on her second day in office that she planned to retain the homegrown schools chief, CEO Janice Jackson.

Related: Meet Sybil Madison, Chicago’s new deputy mayor for education 

Here’s a full list of Lightfoot’s appointments:

Miguel del Valle, who will be the board’s president, is the first Latinx Illinois senator, a one-time mayoral candidate, and a respected leader in the city’s Latinx community. As a trailblazing Latinx elected official who helped found several Latinx advocacy groups, del Valle has the relationships and voice to advocate for Lightfoot’s education policies in Latinx communities — and to represent their concerns to her. Read more about del Valle in our recent primer.

Sendhil Revuluri, the board vice president, is a Chicago native, University of Chicago alum, and Chicago Public Schools parent. He started his career as a math educator in the Bronx, working in administration at CPS and suburban Cook County before entering the world of private finance. As managing director of strategic investment at PEAK6 Capital Management, a Chicago options trading firm with an investment arm, he’s tapped into both Chicago’s finance backbone and its growing community of tech entrepreneurs.

Dwayne Truss is a state tax auditor who has long been active in education and community groups on the city’s West Side, serving on several Local School Councils and a neighborhood parent advisory committee. During his recent unsuccessful bid for 29th Ward alderman, Truss criticized charter schools and said he supports having an elected school board. He’s also a former board member of Raise Your Hand, a parent group that has lobbied the city school board on issues such as special education and the lack of school nurses.

Elizabeth Todd-Breland is a history professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, a Chicago Public Schools parent and a member of the Local School Council of a neighborhood school in Kenwood. Her recent book looks at the racial politics of education policy change in Chicago, in particular the role of student boycotts and teachers strikes. She is often quoted as an expert on teacher diversity, community control of schools, and school segregation.

Lucino Sotelo is a Chicago Public Schools graduate whose first experience with public education was as a new immigrant from Mexico attending middle school. He’s now a parent of two CPS students and has served in several high-level marketing positions, including with BMO Harris Bank and most recently KemperSports, a golf course management company in Northbrook. Sotelo has sat on the Chicago Plan Commission and on the board of City Year Chicago, which brings young teachers into local schools.

Luisiana Melendez will bring early childhood education expertise to the school board amid a bumpy expansion of universal pre-K put into motion by Lightfoot’s predecessor, Rahm Emanuel. She’s a professor at the Erikson Institute, an influential early childhood teacher training center that recently released the state’s most comprehensive report to date identifying gaps in early education, and a director of the institute’s Bilingual/ESL certificate program. A native of the Dominican Republic, Melendez worked as an early ed teacher for two decades in her home country and in the United States before entering higher education.
Amy Rome, a former teacher and principal, is currently president of the Leading Educators’ teacher development program. She’s the former principal of the National Teachers Academy, a popular elementary school that narrowly avoided closure, and she’s the former director for principals at the Academy for Urban School Leadership (AUSL), a politically connected turnaround operator that oversees 31 schools.

Lightfoot said the new board would be put in place before the June 26 monthly meeting. 

Lightfoot said that the school board would conduct more of its business in public session compared to the last board, which she had criticized during her campaign for deliberating too much behind closed doors in executive session.