Gov. JB Pritzker announced a new appointment to lead the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs, nominating Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia to head the agency.
“The Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs has faced numerous challenges, and it’s a priority for my administration to ensure that our veterans are treated with dignity and get the care and opportunities they deserve,” Pritzker said in a news release. “Rep. Chapa LaVia is a steadfast advocate and effective change-maker, and I appreciate her willingness to continue to serve.”
“As a veteran, I’m honored to step up and serve all the men and women who have served our nation,” Chapa LaVia said. “Illinois has much work to do to live up to our responsibilities to our veterans, and I am deeply committed to making Illinois the best state in the nation to be a veteran.”
Lt. Col. Jaime E. Martinez, the executive director of Illinois Joining Forces, asked the administration to remove his name from consideration to serve as the Director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs.
“I appreciate Jaime Martinez’s dedicated and honorable service to our nation and to Illinois over many years and know that he will remain a champion for veterans and their families,” Pritzker said.
“I have asked Gov. Pritzker to remove me from consideration for director at this time and want to personally thank him for his confidence in my leadership abilities and experience,” Martinez said. “This decision has not been made in haste, for those who know me I have always strived to serve my country and my state without recourse and will continue to follow that mission.”
Chapa LaVia was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives in 2002, becoming the first Latina to be elected to the General Assembly from outside of Cook County.
When she was elected, she resigned her commission in the Illinois Army National Guard.
Chapa LaVia was born and raised in Aurora. She graduated from East Aurora High School and then went onto to become the first in her family to graduate from college.
She joined the House Veteran Affairs Committee during her first term, starting in 2003. Two years later, she was promoted to vice chair of the committee, and since 2009 has served as the committee’s chair.
Chapa LaVia is a member of the Roosevelt-Aurora American Legion Post 84 and the Military Officers Association of America. She lives in Aurora with her husband, Vernon, a veteran of the United States Navy, and their two teenage daughters.
Click here to view the previous appointments to the Pritzker administration.
State Agency Directors
- John Sullivan, director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA)
- Janel L. Forde, director of the Illinois Department of Central Management Services (CMS)
- Erin Guthrie, director of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO)
- Alicia Tate-Nadeau, director of the homeland security and the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA)
- John Kim, director of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA)
- Deborah Hagan, secretary of Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR)
- Francisco Menchaca, director of financial institutions at IDFPR
- Jessica Baer, director of professional regulation at IDFPR
- Mario Treto, Jr., director of real estate at IDFPR
- Theresa Eagleson, director of the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS)
- Jim Bennett, director of the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR)
- Grace Hou, secretary of the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS)
- Heidi Mueller, director of the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice (IDJJ)
- Michael Kleinik, director of the Illinois Department of Labor (IDOL)
- Colleen Callahan, director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (DNR)
- Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH)
- David Harris, director of the Illinois Department of Revenue (IDOR)
- Brendan Kelly, director of the Illinois State Police (ISP)
- Matt Perez, Illinois Fire Marshal
- Linda Chapa La Via, director of the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs (IDVA)
- Alexis Sturm, director of the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget (GOMB)
Office of the Governor
- Anne Caprara, chief of staff
- Sol Flores, deputy governor
- Dan Hynes, deputy governor
- Christian Mitchell, deputy governor
- Jesse Ruiz, deputy governor
- Nikki Budzinski, senior adviser
- Ann Spillane, general counsel
- Emily Bittner, deputy chief of staff for communications
- Jordan Abudayyeh, press secretary
- Sean Rapelyea, deputy chief of staff for external affairs
- Pat Collier, deputy chief of staff for federal affairs
- Tiffany Newbern-Johnson, deputy chief of staff for legislative affairs
- Ramon Gardenhire, deputy chief of staff for policy
SOURCE: state of Illinois news release