CHICAGO (CBS) — After more than 30 years in various roles at City Hall, Chicago Business Affairs and Consumer Protection Commissioner Rosa Escareño is retiring at the end of the month. Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events Commissioner Mark Kelly also will be retiring in the fall.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office announced the retirements Tuesday afternoon, marking the latest in a wave of departures from her administration since late last year.READ MORE: Chicago Weather: Slight Chance Of Storms Overnight; A Quiet Pattern To Come
Escareño is one of the longest-serving officials at City Hall, beginning her career more than 30 years ago, shortly after she graduated high school, when she was hired as an administrative assistant in the Office of Budget and Management.
“It has been the honor of a lifetime to serve the residents of this great city for over 30 years,” said Commissioner Escareño. “As a lifelong public servant, I have had the great fortune to dedicate my life to making this city a better place. While I am looking forward to retirement and spending more time with my family, it will be a bittersweet day as the sun sets on a career spanning four mayors, seven departments and countless long days and nights giving back to a city that gave me and my family so much. I want to thank Mayor Lightfoot for her mentorship, friendship and incredible leadership, especially during the immense challenges of this last year. I also want to thank Mayor Emanuel and Mayor Daley for pushing me to be the public servant that I became, as well as all my other colleagues including Chicago’s legislative, business and community leaders. I especially want to thank my team at BACP – it has been an honor to work with so many talented public servants and I am confident that the department and the city are in great hands moving forward.”
During her tenure Escareño has served as deputy chief operating officer under former Mayor Rahm Emanuel, deputy press secretary for both Emanuel and former Mayor Richard M. Daley, director of media relations at the Chicago Fire Department, deputy commissioner at the Department of Business Affairs and Licensing, and as a budget analyst in the Office of Budget and Management.
Escareño helped create the Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection (BACP) in 2009, when the Daley administration merged two other offices, and has led the department since 2017.READ MORE: At Least 2 People Killed, 32 Wounded In Gun Violence In Chicago So Far This Weekend
When Lightfoot was elected in 2019, Escareño originally planned to stay at City Hall for only one more year, but agreed to stay on board when the pandemic hit to help the Lightfoot administration’s efforts to help Chicago businesses survive the resulting recession.
BACP First Deputy Commissioner Kenneth Meyer will take over as acting commissioner in August. Meyer has been the number two at BACP for more than 5 years, and has worked for the city in other roles for more than 25 years.
Meantime, Kelly will be stepping down as Commissioner of the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) in the fall. He will stay on board until a successor is named.
Kelly was appointed to run DCASE in 2016 under Emanuel, after more than 40 years of experience working as an academic administrator for various college systems, including Columbia College Chicago, Wayne State University, and the City Colleges of Chicago.
“I want to thank Mayor Lori Lightfoot and First Lady Amy Eshleman for their support, passion, and commitment to Chicago’s arts community. Make no mistake – the new arts recovery resources we are bringing forward are due to their efforts, along with those of Deputy Mayor Samir Mayekar,” Kelly said in a statement. “I also want to thank former Mayor Rahm Emanuel for making his “out-of-the-box” decision to hire me for this position. Let me also recognize my professional colleagues, for your support, partnership, inspiration, and feedback. I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to work with each and every one of you. Chicago is one of the great cultural capitals and we have collectively strengthened our cultural sector.”MORE NEWS: 1 Killed, 2 Wounded In West Pullman Shooting
In the past several months, Lightfoot has seen several members of her cabinet and other top aides retire or move on to other jobs, including the head of the Chicago Fire Department, the Water Management commissioner, Family and Support Services commissioner, the city’s top lawyer, the head of the Chicago Public Schools, the head of the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, the Streets and Sanitation Commissioner, her chief of staff, her chief procurement officer, her chief operating officer, and several members of her communications and press staff, among others.