Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Penny Pritzker Resigns from School Board

Businesswoman suspected to be considered for position in Obama's cabinet

Email
|
Print

    NEWSLETTERS

    Chicago businesswoman Penny Pritzker notified Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Thursday that she was stepping down from the Chicago Board of Education effective immediately.

    A reason for the resignation was not given, but both the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribune reported she may be nominated to President Barack Obama's cabinet as Secretary of Commerce. John Bryson stepped down from the role last June.

    Pritzker served as finance chairman during then-candidate Obama's 2008 campaign and her brief letter made no mention of the possible new role.

    "I am writing to submit my resignation as a Member of the Chicago Board of Education," she wrote "I want to thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve the City of Chicago, its children and families, during these last two years. Education is critical to ensuring every child has an opportunity to succeed, and I wholeheartedly support the work that you are doing to improve Chicago schools."

    In response, Emanuel called Pritzker a "native Chicagoan" who has "demonstrated an incredible commitment" to the city and to its children.

    "I thank her for her tireless service to our students and our schools and I know she will continue to be an advocate for our city's bright future," he said.

    But Pritzker has her critics, and they would likely be very vocal in Senate confirmation hearings if Pritzker is nominated for the Cabinet-level position.

    "Penny Pritzker has a long and storied history as being an anti-labor, anti-worker kind of boss. She has supported policies that have had an adverse impact on working-class families and their children," Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis said in a statement. "We cannot imagine that someone who has a long history of bludgeoning Chicago’s working families and destroying public schools would be given a platform to continue these sorts of business practices on a national level."

    Pritzker, whose family launched the Hyatt hotel chain in the 70s, had been considered for the Commerce post four years ago but ultimately withdrew her name, the Tribune reminded.

    Forbes this month put Pritzker's net worth at $1.85 billion.

    Former White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley, the former mayor's brother, served as Secretary of Commerce during President Bill Clinton's second term.