CHICAGO (CBS) — Facing unusually high turnover in her administration in recent months, Mayor Lori Lightfoot has named a new chief of staff, a new chief operating officer, and two new department commissioners in the past two days.
According to published reports, Lightfoot has had at least a dozen top aides, department heads, and other top staff leave since late last year.READ MORE: Chicago Weather: Storms Headed Our Way After Midnight; Damaging Winds And Heavy Rain Possible
Lightfoot’s first chief of staff, Maurice Classen, is stepping down and will be replaced by Sybil Madison, who most recently served as deputy mayor for education and human services.
“Over the years, it has been an absolute pleasure to watch Sybil’s passion for equity, inclusion and public service deepen—values that are essential to have as the Chief of Staff of such a diverse team,” Lightfoot said in a statement. “Beyond these passions, Sybil also brings an impressive set of leadership and educational skills and experiences into this role which will help to ensure that our team builds on the work of these past 2 years and strengthens our ability to deliver values-driven outcomes for Chicagoans.”
As deputy mayor for education and human services since July 2019, Madison was a key advisor and lead negotiator for Lightfoot during the 2019 teachers’ strike and in reopening talks with the Chicago Teachers Union earlier this year.
She also helped oversee the Chicago Department of Public Health, City Colleges of Chicago, the Chicago Department of Family Support Services, the Mayor’s Office of People with Disabilities, the Chicago Park District, Chicago Public Library, and the Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership.
Madison also helped manage the city’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, often appearing with Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady at weekly Q&A sessions on Facebook.
“I am honored and humbled to serve as Mayor Lightfoot’s Chief of Staff,” Madison said in a statement. “I thank Mayor Lightfoot for this opportunity and for her trust in me. I am grateful to Maurice Classen, an accomplished colleague, for the foundation that he has established, and excited to work with our talented group of senior leaders, and their teams, as we focus our COVID recovery efforts on building a more equitable Chicago.”
Lightfoot also has tapped consultant Paul Goodrich as her chief operating officer, effective June 1, replacing the departing Anne Sheahan. Goodrich will be tasked with overseeing, developing, and implementing the mayor’s strategies for infrastructure, transportation, regulatory services, and administrative services. He’ll also be responsible for overseeing the distribution of COVID relief funds the city receives from the state and federal governments.
Meantime, Lightfoot has named Andrea Holthouse Cheng as the next Commissioner of the Department of Water Management, replacing Randy Conner, who retired at the end of last year.READ MORE: Some Residents Say A Bears Move To Arlington Heights Would Benefit Community, Others Say It Would Bring Unwelcome Traffic And Crowds
Cheng has been with the Water Department since 2004, as a filtration engineer, water research specialist, water quality manager, deputy commissioner, and most recently as acting commissioner since January.
In her more than 16 years with the Water Department, she has managed construction of new water purification labs and developed the city’s lead kit sampling and water filter distribution programs. She’s also overseeing the city’s program to replace 380,000 lead service lines
During her time at DWM, Cheng has overseen multiple, large-scale research projects related to corrosion control of lead and managed capital plan projects like the $15 M construction of the new Water Purification Labs. She developed the nation’s largest 311 lead kit sampling program and the city’s water filter distribution program.
Cheng is also managing the development and implementation of the city’s long-term multi-billion dollar to replace the almost 380,000 residential lead service lines in Chicago. Officials have estimated the city will replace approximately 750 of those lead service lines this year, mostly in low-income neighborhoods in homes with high lead levels.
The city also is pushing for legislation in Springfield to add a fee to most water bill statewide in order to raise $200 million a year to speed up lead pipe replacements.
Finally, Lightfoot has named Brandie Knazze as the next commissioner of the Department of Family and Support Services, replacing Lisa Morrison Butler, who resigned in February.
Knazze has been the department’s first deputy commissioner since 2017, and has served as interim commissioner since Butler’s resignation.
The department oversees programs for the homeless, victims of domestic violence, seniors, veterans, and people who recently have been released from jail or prison.
“As our city begins to reopen and double down on its socioeconomic supports for our most vulnerable residents, Brandie’s appointment as DFSS’s next commissioner couldn’t have come at a better time,” Lightfoot said in a statement. “Brandie is an exceptional leader who has led Chicago and helped to protect our residents through several difficult moments—including the infamous 2019 Polar Vortex. I am thrilled to formally welcome her into this new role and am beyond confident that she will make Chicago a better, more equitable place for those who have been struggling long before a pandemic ever hit our city.”MORE NEWS: Man Shot, Critically Wounded In Attempted Carjacking Just West Of Magnificent Mile
Knazze’s and Cheng’s appointments must be confirmed by the City Council.