Gov. Rauner names UI Alumni Association members to Board of Trustees

When former Board of Trustees chairman Chris Kennedy chose not to seek re-election, he said he thought it was best for Gov. Bruce Rauner to “choose his own people.”

Rauner announced who his people are Tuesday; a press release from the governor’s office confirmed Rauner has named University alumni Jill Smart and Ramon Cepeda. If the appointments are approved by the Illinois Senate, Smart and Cepeda will join the Board of Trustees in March.

Both Smart and Cepeda live in the Chicagoland area and serve as members of the University’s Alumni Association board of directors.

Smart, ‘81 Urbana graduate from the College of Business, was listed as one of the “100 Most Influential Women in Chicago” by Crain’s Chicago Business in 2004. Before retiring in August, Smart worked as the global head of human resources at Accenture.

Smart is currently the secretary for the Alumni Association, and a member of the Dean’s Business Council and the Illinois Business Consulting’s Advisory Board. She also serves as the president of the National Academy of Human Resources, a nonprofit based in Downers Grove, Illinois.

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Cepeda, ‘90 Chicago graduate in criminal justice, was named one of the “Top 100 Most Influential Hispanics in the U.S.” by Hispanic Business Magazine in 2010 as well as a Leadership Greater Chicago fellow in 2014. Cepeda is currently a senior vice president at Northern Trust Co., where he is the managing director of wealth management and oversees commercial real estate.

Additionally, Cepeda is a Trustee of the Illinois Facilities Fund and the National Museum of Mexican Art.

Cepeda was registered on a “democrats and independents for Rauner” list and donated $250 to his campaign.

Smart and her husband, Stephen Smart, have been longtime University donors, giving annual gifts to the College of Business, as well as University athletics.

In a statement released Tuesday, State Rep. Chapin Rose, R-110, said he “applauds Gov. Rauner” for naming University alumni to the board. Rose also noted that it is “refreshing” to see Rauner honor his promise to consider members of the Alumni Association and choose people who maintained strong ties to the University.

“These are high caliber people of accomplishment,” Rose said.

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