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Governor Rauner Announces Second Round of Appointments

Press Release - Friday, January 16, 2015

SPRINGFIELD - Governor Rauner announced today he has made a number of cabinet secretary, agency director and commission appointments. Today’s appointments include the Department of Revenue, Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Veterans’ Affairs, Department of Agriculture, Department of Healthcare and Family Services, Department of Natural Resources, Department of Public Health and Illinois Commerce Commission.

Name: Connie Beard
Position: Secretary - Illinois Department of Revenue

Governor Bruce Rauner has nominated a new Secretary for the Illinois Department of Revenue, and has appointed Connie Beard, 59, to head the department. Currently, she is the Executive Director for the Illinois Chamber of Commerce Tax Institute.

Beard brings more than 30 years of experience in state and local taxes to the position. For the past 17 years, her focus has been promoting the interests of the Illinois business community as the Founding Executive Director of the Illinois Chamber’s Tax Institute. In this position, she actively monitors new business tax legislation, advising the legislature on how potential tax legislation will impact businesses.

This appointment is a return to the Department of Revenue for Beard. She spent sixteen years at the Department of Revenue under Governors Thompson, Edgar and Ryan. She held a number of positions, rising to the position of Deputy General Counsel. In that capacity, she directed the day-to-day activities of legal staff in the audit bureau; and directed and coordinated 15 attorneys who settled tax appeals. She also took a five-month appointment as one of two attorneys who provided Governor Edgar with legal opinions on legislative issues.

Beard is a licensed attorney, earning her law degree from the University of Illinois College of Law. She earned her bachelor’s degree in sociology from Eastern Illinois University. Beard currently resides in Jacksonville, Illinois.


  • Illinois Chamber of Commerce Tax Institute, Executive Director (1997-Present)
  • Grant Thornton, LLP, Tax Manger (1995-1997)
  • Illinois Department of Revenue, Deputy General Counsel (1979 - 1995)


  • Eastern Illinois University, B.A. in Sociology 1976
  • University of Illinois College of Law, J.D. 1979

Personal Information: 

  • Age: 59
  • Hometown: Jacksonville


Name: Lisa Bonnett
Position: Director - Environmental Protection Agency

Governor Bruce Rauner announced he has asked Lisa Bonnett, 53, to continue her work as the Director of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA). Bonnett has worked for the IEPA for nearly 20 years, serving in a number of management positions, eventually rising to director in 2013.

As director, Bonnett develops environmental protection and economic development policies that promote and grow Illinois’ economy. She has developed and streamlined the permit process to make sure the environment of Illinois and the health of its people are protected. Bonnett also created a program for local governments to upgrade and expand aging water and sewer systems.

Bonnett joined the IEPA in 1995, starting as the Chief Financial Officer. She held that position for 12 years before she was promoted to Deputy Director. She also worked for the State of Illinois in various accounting positions for 15 years.

Bonnett holds a bachelor’s degree and an MBA from the University of Illinois at Springfield.


  • Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (1995-Present)
    • Director (2013-Present)
    • Deputy Director (2008-2013)
    • Chief Financial Officer (1995-2007)
  • State of Illinois, Various Accounting Positions (1980-1995)


  • University of Illinois at Springfield, B.A. (1988)
  • University of Illinois at Springfield, MBA (1994)

Personal Information: 

  • Age: 53
  • Hometown: Springfield


Name: Erica Jeffries
Position: Director - Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs

Governor Bruce Rauner announced he has nominated Erica Jeffries, 38, as the Director of the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs. Jeffries is a former Captain and Black Hawk pilot the United States Army, with more than ten years of additional experience in government and private sector.

Jeffries served in the military for five years as a Captain in the United States Army. She was a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter, and provided operational support to senior military leaders. She also received her bachelor’s degree in International Relations from the United States Military Academy at West Point.

Currently, Jefferies is the Chief Inclusion and Diversity Officer of Exelis, which is a global aerospace, defense and information solutions company. She coordinates the company’s corporate social responsibility programs, and assist management efforts in areas of diversity, inclusion and understanding. She also worked for ITT Exelis as its Corporate Finance Executive.

Prior to her work in the private sector, Jeffries worked at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as a Senior Adviser to the Chief Financial Officer. During her tenure, she served as the primary liaison and coordinator for the EPA’s first public-private partnership. She was also selected for the prestigious White House Fellows Program, where she worked with the EPA.

In addition to her undergraduate degree, Jeffries has a master’s degree in Security Studies from Georgetown University, as well as an MBA from Virginia Tech University.


  • Exelis, Chief Inclusion & Diversity Officer (2013- Present)
  • ITT Exelis, Corporate Finance Executive (2012-2013)
  • U.S Environmental Protection Agency, Senior Adviser to the Chief Financial Officer (2011-2012)
  • White House Fellows Program, EPA (2010-2011)
  • Booz Allen Hamilton, Inc., Lead Associate in Security Strategy, Defense Policy and Analysis (2003-2010)
  • United States Army, Captain (1999-2003)


  • 2014 Corporate Trailblazer Award, National Black MBA Association
  • Top 10 Under 40, Virginia Leadership Institute


  • United States Military Academy, B.S. International Relations (1998)
  • Georgetown University, M.A. Security Studies (2008)
  • Virginia Tech University, M.B.A (2014)

Personal Information: 

  • Age: 38
  • Hometown: Chicago


Name: Philip Nelson
Position: Secretary - Illinois Department of Agriculture

Governor Bruce Rauner has selected Philip Nelson, 57, as Secretary of the Illinois Department of Agriculture. Nelson is a fourth-generation farmer, and was most recently the President of the Illinois Farm Bureau, a position he held from 2003 to 2013.

As the President of the IFB, Nelson led the state’s largest agricultural advocacy organization in Illinois, which worked to grow agricultural interests in the state. In addition to his responsibilities with the IFB, he was also the President of COUNTRY Financial, which is the state’s third largest auto and home insurer. He also was elected as the Director of the American Farm Bureau Federation that enabled him to advocate for Illinois on a national and international level.

In addition to his work with the IFB, Nelson served on advisory committees with the United States Department of Agriculture in the areas of biotechnology, federal grain inspection and trade in animal and animal products. He also was elected ad the Vice President of the American Soybean Association, and the President of the Illinois Soybean Association.

Nelson has won a number of awards for his work in agriculture, including being named Illinois Farmer of the year in 2014 by Senator Mark Kirk. Nelson runs a diversified grain and livestock farm in Seneca.


  • Nelson Farms, Owner/Operator
  • Illinois Farm Bureau, President (2003-2013)
  • COUNTRY Financial, President (2003-2013)
  • American Farm Bureau Federation, Director (2003-2013)
  • LaSalle County Farm Bureau (1993-1999)
  • American Soybean Association, Vice President (1993-1994)
  • Illinois Soybean Association, President (1989-1991)


Leadership positions: 

  • USDA Advisory Committees
    • First-Ever Biotechnology Committee
    • Federal Grain Inspection Service Committee
    • Agricultural Technical Advisory Committee for Trade in Animals and Animal Products


  • 2014 Illinois Famer of the Year
  • 2014 4-H Alumni Hall of Fame
  • 2012 Joliet Junior College Distinguished Service Award
  • 2010 Southern Illinois University Outstanding Service to Agriculture


  • Joliet Junior College, Associate Degree in Animal Production (1978)
  • American FFA Degree (1978)
  • Agricultural Leaders of Tomorrow (1982)
  • Illinois Ag Leadership Program (1984)

Personal Information: 

  • Age: 57
  • Hometown: Seneca


Name: Felicia Norwood
Position: Secretary - Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services

Governor Bruce Rauner has appointed Felicia Norwood, 55, as Secretary to the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services. Norwood brings more than twenty years of experience in health care policy, health business operations and health care delivery to the position.

Norwood has spent large portions of her career working for the insurance company, Aetna. Most recently, was the President of the Mid-America region, overseeing a budget of more than $6 billion. She began her career at Aetna as a Government Realtions Counsel, where she analyzed and drafted legislation related to health care. From 2006 to 2010, Norwood stepped away from Aetna to become the CEO, President and COO of ActiveHealth Management. 

This is not the first time, however, that Norwood has worked in state government. She was a Senior Policy Advisory on Health and Human Services to Governor Edgar, where she led health care reform intiatives, and chaired the Govenrorn’s Human Services Cabinet. She also served as a Policy Adviser on Human Services to Governor Thompson, where she developed and implemented policies on children and family services, public health and mental health.

Norwood earned her law degree from Yale Law School, a master’s degree in Political Science from the University of Wisconsin, and her bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Valdosta State University in Georgia.


  • Aetna, Inc.
    • President, Mid-America Region (2010-2013)
  • ActiveHealth Management; CEO, President and COO (2006-2010)
  • Aetna, Inc., Chicago, IL
    • Head of Medicaid (2005-2006)
    • National Head of Small Group & Individual Market Segments (2003-2005)
  • Aetna, Inc., Hartford, CT (2001-2002)
  • Aetna, Inc., King of Prussia, PA (2000-2001)
  • Aetna U.S. Healthcare
    • Market President (1999-2000)
    • Regional General Counsel (1997-1999)
    • Government Relations Counsel (1994-1997)
  • Office of the Governor, Policy Adviser for Health and Human Services (1991-1994)
  • Hopkins & Sutter, Attorney (1989-1991)
  • Office of the Governor, Policy Adviser for Human Services (1983-1986)

Leadership positions: 

  • Executive Leadership Council Co-Chair
  • Planned Parenthood of Illinois, Vice-Chair, Board of Directors
  • Jim Edgar Leadership Initiative, Advisory Board
  • Yale School Fund, Board Member


  •  Yale Law School, J.D.
  • University of Wisconsin, M.A. Political Science
  • Valdosta State University, B.A. Political Science

Personal Information: 

  • Age: 55
  • Hometown: Chicago



Name: Wayne Rosenthal
Position: Secretary - Department of Natural Resources

Governor Bruce Rauner announces he has nominated State Representative Wayne Rosenthal (R- 95th District) as the Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources. Rep. Rosenthal is a retired Brigadier General from the Illinois Air National Guard and the owner of his family’s farm in Morrisonville.

Rep. Rosenthal’s experience spans more than 30 years in both the military and as a civilian. He was recently re-elected to his third term as a member of the House of Representatives. As a member of the House, he serves on eight committees, including Agriculture & Conservation, Energy and Veterans’ Affairs. Rep. Rosenthal is also the Chairman of the Downstate GOP Caucus.

In addition to his work in the General Assembly, Rep. Rosenthal is currently a Trustee on the Lincoln Land Community College Board of Trustees. Previously, he served on the Morrisionville Community School Unit District #1 for six years, and five of those years he served as the board’s Vice President.

Prior to working in the House, Rep. Rosenthal served in the Illinois Air National Guard, retiring at the rank of Brigadier General. He oversaw more than 500 enlisted personnel and officers, while managing a multi-million dollar budget and more than $500 million in assets.

Rep. Rosenthal is a life-long resident of Illinois and has owned his family’s farm for more than 20 years. His 800-acre grain farm has an emphasis on conservation. He also established a hunting and fishing preserve in Montgomery County. Rep. Rosenthal has a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from Sangamon State University.


  • Illinois House of Representatives - 95th District (2010-Present)
  • Lincoln Land Community College Trustee (2009-Present)
  • Macoupin County Soil & Water Conservation District Director (2002-2010)
  • Sangamon County Pheasants Forever District Director (2002-2009)
  • Illinois Air National Guard (1971-2001)
    • Retired Brigadier General
  • Upper Macoupin Creek Planning Committee (2001-2003)
  • Morrisonville Community Unit School District #1 Board of Education (1992-1998)
    • Vice President (1993-1998)
  • DeKalb/Pfizer Genetics, Regional Sales Manager (1976-1978)

Membership Organizations:

  • Christian County Farm Bureau
  • American Legion Post #721
  • Knights of Columbus Council #1152
    • Grand Knight (1976-1978)
  • Palmer-Morrisonville Recreation Association
    • Director (1987-Present)


  • Sangamon State University, B.A. Mathematics (1974)

Personal Information: 

  • Age: 64
  • Hometown: Morrisonville


Name: Nirav Dinesh Shah
Position: Director - Illinois Department of Public Health

Governor Bruce Rauner has appointed a new Director to the Illinois Department of Public Health. Nirav Shah, 37, will lead the department, which helps protect the health and wellness of the people of Illinois. Shah holds both a medical degree and law degree, making him uniquely qualified to understand both the health and administrative sides of this position.

Shah is currently an attorney at Sidley Austin in Chicago, focusing on the administrative and legal aspects of public health. He works with clients around the world to administer health programs, improving access to quality health care.

In addition, Shah is currently a lecturer in global public health at the University of Chicago’s medical school, where he teaches students how to solve public health problems through empirical analysis. He also sits on the board of the Northwestern Global Health Foundation and the Women’s Global Education project.

Prior to earning his medical and law degrees, Shah worked for the Ministry of Health in Cambodia as a public health economist. He worked with the Cambodian health care system to address inefficiencies, making the public health system more cost-effective for the government and for the people.

Shah graduated from the University of Chicago with a law degree in 2007 and his M.D. in 2008. He also attended Oxford University as a Rotary Scholar in economics. Shah earned his bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Louisville.


  • Sidley Austin, LLP, Senior Associate (2008-Present)
  • Ministry of Health - Kingdom of Cambodia, Chief Economist (2002-2003)

Honors and Awards:

  • Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Emerging Leader
  • Soros Foundation New American Fellow
  • University of Chicago John M. Olin Scholar in Law & Economics
  • Henry Luce Scholar
  • Rotary International Scholar


  • University of Louisville, B.S. Biology & Philosophy (1999)
  • University of Oxford, Rotary Scholar (1999-2000)
  • University of Chicago, J.D. (2007)
  • University of Chicago, M.D. (2008)

Personal Information: 

  • Age: 37
  • Hometown: Chicago


Name: Brien Sheahan
Position:  Chairman - Illinois Commerce Commission

Governor Bruce Rauner has nominated Brien Sheahan, 45, as Chairman of the Illinois Commerce Commission. Sheahan has more than twenty years of experience in managing government relations and policy making. This is a return to the ICC; Sheahan worked as Legal Counsel to the commission 15 years ago.

Sheahan most recently assisted the Governor’s Transition Committee as Counsel. Prior to that, he served as the Deputy Suburban Director & Statewide Local Government Coalitions for Citizen’s for Rauner, Inc., where he oversaw the campaign field office for northeastern Illinois.

Before joining the campaign, Sheahan worked as the Director of Government Relations at Navistar. He developed and managed relationships with key policy makers at local, state and federal government levels; drafted legislation and support materials; and developed state and local economic initiatives.

As an attorney, Sheahan has worked as General Counsel for the Illinois Republican Party, run his own private practice and provided legal counsel to the ICC. Sheahan also was an elected Board Member of DuPage County for ten years.

Sheahan has several years of experience in Illinois state government. Most recently, he worked for the Illinois Housing Development Authority as the Deputy Executive Director. Prior to that, he spent two years at the ICC as Legal Counsel. He also was a Policy Adviser to Governor Edgar, acting as a liaison to mayors and local officials across the state of Illinois. Prior to that, he was an Assistant to the Lt. Governor and a Dunn Fellow in the Governor’s office.

Sheahan has been a licensed attorney for 15 years, earning his law degree from DePaul University. He earned his bachelor’s degree in urban and regional planning from the University of Illinois.


  • Governor-Elect Transition Committee, Counsel (November 2014-January 2015)
  • Citizens for Rauner, Inc., Deputy Suburban Director & Statewide Local Government Coalitions (June 2014-November 2014)
  • Navistar, Inc., Director of Government Relations (2012-2014
  • Illinois Republican Party, General Counsel (2007-2012)
  • Law Office of Brien J. Seahan & Ancel Glink, Attorney at Law (2002-2012)
  • Illinois Housing Development Authority, Deputy Executive Director (2000-2002)
  • Illinois Commerce Commission, Legal Counsel (1998-2000)
  • Assistant to the Governor, Policy Adviser (1996-1998)
  • Assistant to the Lt. Governor (1994-1996)
  • Office of the Governor, Dunn Fellow

Leadership positions: 

  • DuPage County Board Member (2002-2012)
    • One of 18 elected members representing nearly a million people in Illinois’ second-largest county.


  • DePaul University College of Law, J.D. 1998
  • University of Illinois, B.A. Urban & Regional Planning 1992

Personal Information: 

  • Age: 45
  • Hometown: Elmhurst

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