Illinois governor appoints Fil-Am as top aide

Philippine News
August 27, 2010

CHICAGO – Illinois Governor Pat Quinn appointed on Tuesday Filipino American Michelle R.B. Saddler as his new chief of staff.

Saddler, a Princeton University graduate, served as the Secretary of the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS), before assuming her new post. She will be the highest-ranking Filipino officeholder in the state of Illinois.

“He (Quinn) called me, and asked if I would accept this challenge, and I said ‘yes,'” Saddler said, during the August 24 press conference attended by the governor.

In an earlier press release, Quinn praised Saddler as “one of the most knowledgeable and dedicated members of my cabinet.”

“There is no one better-suited to continue my mission of creating jobs, supporting Illinois’ economic recovery and protecting our most vulnerable residents,” Quinn added.

Saddler is also of African-American descent. Her Filipino background was confirmed by Catherine Salgado of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR).

In a press release, ICIRR said  it was “ecstatic” about the news.

“Ms. Saddler is not only the first woman of Asian descent to serve this important position but she is also a person with a deep sense of commitment. She is very supportive of our efforts to better integrate the immigrant community into the American society,” the advocacy group said.

“This appointment shows that the Governor is committed to strengthen the immigrant community by acknowledging the immense contributions of immigrants,” it added.

Saddler’s appointment comes at a critical time for Quinn, who is facing a tough re-election fight against Republican State Rep. Bill Brady.

Only last weekend, Quinn’s previous chief of staff, Jerry Stermer resigned over allegations that he used a state government e-mail account to send election-related messages.

Quinn was also criticized for the August 13 firing of State Inspector General James Wright, who released on the same day, the result of an investigation critical of Stermer.  Quinn insisted it was only a coincidence, but opponents said it was politically-motivated.

Saddler vowed to be proactive in the job, saying, “I’m not serving my boss well if I don’t truly speak up as assertively as possible when I think perhaps something could be going a different way.”

As IDHS secretary since October 2009, Saddler was charged with implementing Quinn’s employment program, as well as mental health services and rehabilitation among others.

Saddler has a long history of serving under Quinn. She once served as Director of Investments with then-Illinois State Treasurer Quinn.

Saddler earned her bachelor’s degree from Princeton. She holds a master’s in management from Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management, where received the F.C. Austin Scholarship – the school’s highest merit award. By Ted Regencia (Photo courtesy of the Office of the Governor)

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