December 1, 2009

Mayor Daley Names New Commissioners for Health, Human Resources

Mayor's Press Office    312.744.3334

Mayor Richard M. Daley today appointed three new members of his cabinet: the Commissioners of Public Health and Human Resources and the Executive Director of the Commission on Animal Care and Control.

"These appointments affect both the day-to-day and longer range quality of life across Chicago," Daley said in a City Hall news conference.

The appointees are:

  • Dr. Bechara Choucair, Commissioner of the Department of Public Health, succeeding Dr. Terry Mason, who served since 2006.

"The department's mission is a critical one – to make Chicago a safer and healthier city by working with community partners to promote health, prevent disease, reduce environmental hazards and ensure access to health care," Daley said.

The Mayor said Dr. Choucair brings a broad range of experience that makes him an excellent fit for this position.

Since 2005, he has served as Executive Director and Medical Director of Heartland International Health Center, a health center in Chicago. Before that, he served as the Medical Director at Crusader Community Health in Rockford.

Dr. Choucair has also provided clinical leadership to the Health Care for Homeless program, as well as the HIV program at Heartland Alliance.

And he is a member of the faculty at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, where he serves as Vice Chair for Community Medicine and oversees the Poverty Medicine Collaborative between Heartland Alliance and the Northwestern Medical School.

"I have told Dr. Choucair that especially in these difficult economic times, it's more important than ever that the city continue to develop and maintain partnerships with the public, private and not-for-profit sectors that will help us continue to develop initiatives to make Chicago a model for public health agencies nationwide," Daley said.

  • George Arteaga, Commissioner of the Department of Human Resources.

"The Human Resources Department plays a critical role in making sure that the city identifies and hires the highest quality employees possible. When we do that, we guarantee that city services will be delivered to our residents in the most efficient and cost-effective way," Daley said.

Among other things, the department is in charge of employment and recruiting initiatives, labor relations and enhancing the productivity of employees.

It works with the federal monitor and the Office of Compliance on the hiring process and is involved in helping the City continue to move forward with the reforms of the hiring process that began four years ago.

Arteaga joins the City after a successful career of more than 25-years in the Human Resources field in the private sector, starting as an entry-level generalist and progressing to the Vice President level.

Most recently, he has served as Vice President of Human Resources for CompuSystems and United Conveyor. He has also directed Human Resources departments at Premier Farnell Corporation of Chicago and Burns International Security of Chicago, among others.

During his career in the Human Resources field, he has specialized in such areas as developing and implementing an organization's strategic mission, organizational effectiveness and change management.

"Our goal is to make the delivery of city services more effective by maintaining professional human resources practices and programs, and I expect George to continue the progress we have made in recent years in this area," the Mayor said.

  • Cherie Travis, Executive Director of the Chicago Commission on Animal Care and Control

"Animal Care and Control is truly on the front line every day in our city, protecting animals from inhumane treatment and the public from stray and possibly dangerous animals," Daley said.

Travis is an Adjunct Professor of Animal Law at DePaul University and Northwestern University and has served as Associate Director at the Center for Animal Law at DePaul.

She is the former Chair of the Chicago Bar Association's Animal Law Committee and a founding member of the Chicago Animal Shelter Alliance.

She serves on the Cook County Sheriff's Partners Against Animal Cruelty Task Force and on several legislative task forces.

I have asked her – and all three of these new commissioners -- to constantly develop new ways to cut costs, increase efficiencies and serve the needs of the taxpayers of Chicago during these difficult economic times. I am confident they will do a first-class job in their new roles," Daley said.