City Club of Chicago: A Conversation on the State of Public Education in Illinois
October 15, 2019
The State We’re In 2019: A Conversation on the State of Public Education in Illinois – Moderated by Robin Steans – Miguel del Valle, Rep. Will Davis & Jesse Ruiz
Robin Steans currently serves as President of Advance Illinois, a bipartisan, non-profit education policy and advocacy organization working to ensure every child in Illinois has access to quality schools and leader in the effort to create a more equitable school funding formula. She is also Board Chair of the Steans Family Foundation, where she helps guide education and community development grant making in the North Lawndale community. A longtime public school parent, Robin Steans has spent over twenty years working on public school reform. She served as Issues Director of the Small Schools Coalition, as Associate Director of Leadership for Quality Education, and taught at public high schools in Boston, San Francisco and Chicago before going on to earn her law degree.
Steans serves as a Trustee of the University of Chicago Medical Center, and is co-founder and past Board Chair of the Celiac Disease Center at the University of Chicago. She helped found and currently serves as a Director of North Lawndale College Preparatory Charter High School, and has served on two Local School Councils.
Steans graduated Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude from Brown University, received her master’s degree in Education from Stanford University, and attended law school at the University of Chicago, where she graduated cum laude and Order of the Coif. She is married and has three children, all of whom attended and graduated from Chicago Public Schools.
Miguel del Valle
Miguel del Valle was appointed President of the Chicago Board of Education by Mayor Lori Lightfoot and began serving on June 26, 2019. Miguel del Valle is a retired elected official who has served on several committees, boards, and commissions.
In 1986, Mr. del Valle was elected the first Latino Senator in the Illinois General Assembly where he served for 20 years. In 2006, Mr. del Valle was appointed by Mayor Richard M. Daley as City Clerk of Chicago, and subsequently won a citywide election to the post in 2007, becoming the first Latino elected to the office of City Clerk.
He was the first chairman of the Illinois P-20 Council, which was established by the legislature in 2008 to foster collaboration among state agencies, education institutions, local schools, community groups, businesses, and others to identify needed reforms to develop a seamless and sustainable statewide system of quality education.
Del Valle was appointed by Governor Quinn to the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) in 2011, where he is currently serving as Vice Chairman. ISAC strives to make college accessible and affordable for Illinois students. He was also appointed by Governor Quinn to serve as co-chair of the Commission on High School Graduation Achievement and Success.
He was also a board and founding member of Advance Illinois, a statewide education policy advocacy group, a board member of the Illinois Federation for Community Schools, and a member of the Illinois Pathways Advisory Council. Del Valle is currently serving on the Illinois Complete Count Commission, a commission established by the General Assembly to ensure an accurate census count in Illinois for 2020.
Hon. Will Davis
Since taking office, Will Davis’ top legislative priorities include education funding, increased health care availability and economic development. He understands that small businesses are the backbone of our community and has been a vocal advocate for bringing new jobs to our area.
In 2005, Rep. Davis helped make Illinois the first state in the nation to guarantee access to quality and affordable health care for all children. Working continuously to improve health care, he has supported legislation to address cardiovascular disease, prostate cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer.
Davis has been recognized with “Legislator of the Year” awards from the Illinois Association of Code Enforcement, Illinois Primary Healthcare Association and Illinois Association of Park Districts.
Davis serves on several committees in the Illinois General Assembly. He is Chairman of both the Appropriations-Elementary & Secondary Education and the Special Committee on Health and Healthcare Disparities. He also serves as a member of the Appropriations-Higher Education and Appropriations-Public Safety committees as well as the International Trade & Commerce, and Labor & Commerce committees.
Davis’ 30th District includes all or portions of Blue Island, Dixmoor, Dolton, East Hazel Crest, Flossmoor, Harvey, Hazel Crest, Homewood, Markham, Midlothian, Oak Forest, Phoenix, Posen, Riverdale, and Robbins.
He is a member of New Mount Olive Baptist Church and Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Incorporated and is a former Joint Chairman of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus.
Davis holds a Master of Public Administration Degree from Governors State University and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science from Southern Illinois University (SIU) at Carbondale. Davis was born on July 2, 1968 in Harvey, Illinois Davis is happily married to his wife Jaclin and the proud father of a son, Chazz, and daughter, Jana.
Jesse Ruiz is the Deputy Governor for Education in Governor JB Pritzker’s administration, overseeing the state’s education system from early childhood through higher education, as well as the Illinois Student Assistance Commission and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.
Prior to joining the administration, Ruiz served as a partner in the Corporate & Securities Group of Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP, a Lecturer in Law at the University of Chicago Law School and counsel to Gov. Pritzker’s transition committee. Throughout his career, Ruiz has also dedicated time to public service. He currently serves as the President of the Chicago Bar Association and he previously served as President of the Chicago Park District Board of Commissioners, Commissioner on the Public Building Commission, Vice President of the Chicago Board of Education, Interim CEO of Chicago Public Schools, Chairman of the Illinois State Board of Education, Commissioner on the U.S. Department of Education Equity and Excellence Commission, Commissioner on the Illinois Supreme Court Character and Fitness Committee, and Commissioner on the Chicago Public Schools Desegregation Monitoring Commission.
Ruiz received his J.D. from The University of Chicago Law School, where he served as an editor of the University of Chicago Law School Roundtable, and studied under then-professors Barack Obama and Elena Kagan. He received his Bachelor of Arts in economics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
The proud son of Mexican immigrants, Jesse is a life-long Chicagoan and is married to fellow attorney Michele Ruiz. They have two sons, Jonathan and Benjamin.