At least two people with ties to Oak Park and River Forest have been appointed to Illinois Governor-elect J.B. Pritzker’s educational transition committee.

State Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch (7th) was named a co-chair of Pritzker’s Educational Success Transition Committee. Pritzker and Lt. Gov.-elect Juliana Stratton announced the appointment at a news conference held last month.

Welch is one of four co-chairs of the committee. The other co-chairs include state Sen. Andy Manar, Illinois Education Association President Kathi Griffin and Chicago Public Schools CEO Janice Jackson.

Welch, whose district includes parts of River Forest, is currently the chairman of the House Higher Education Committee and sits on the House committee that is tasked with improving the state’s K-12 education funding.

“I am immensely proud of the vision J.B. and Juliana have laid out for Illinois, and humbled and honored they chose me to serve in this important role to help ensure we have a stronger, more successful system for educating our students from preschool through college,” Welch said in a statement.

“We have a big task ahead of us,” he said, “but bringing together this talented and experienced group of educators and policymakers will ensure the Pritzker administration is prepared to start on the right path to give Illinois children what they need to succeed.”

Pritzker also announced that Kevin O’Mara, an associate professor of educational leadership at Concordia University Chicago in River Forest, was also named to the educational transition committee.

According to a statement the university released on Nov. 30, O’Mara joined Concordia in 2017 after retiring as superintendent of Argo Community High School. He also has 30 years of experience as a teacher and principal.

O’Mara has served as the president and executive director of the Illinois High School Organization and has sat on the board of directors of the Illinois Association of School Administrators.

“I am thrilled and honored to have been chosen to help Governor-elect Pritzker define his education plan for the students and families of Illinois,” O’Mara stated. “I believe, as he does, that every child deserves the same opportunity for a great education, no matter their skin color, how much money their family has or where they live. This is an important first step toward making Illinois the best place for students to learn and grow.”


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