CHICAGO – The Rauner-Sanguinetti administration today announced its policy experts for criminal justice and health and social services.

The policy teams will integrate their work to serve the offices of Gov. Bruce Rauner and Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti as part of a continuing effort to consolidate work on policy formation and analysis. Comprised of experts from government, the private sector and nonprofits, their work will be conducted under the direction of the Governor’s Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy Michael Lucci.

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The economics policy team was announced Sept. 14. The team for infrastructure and regulation will be announced next week.

“This Administration is focused on creating a compassionate state with a competitive, growth-oriented economy that produces opportunity and second chances in life,” Lucci said.

“Criminal justice and public safety are central to that agenda,” he continued, “and the state’s health care and social services programs provide a critical safety net for those in need and help Illinoisans get back on their feet.”

“Our focus is on creating bipartisan reforms in each of these areas,” Lucci said. “The policy teams for criminal justice and health and social services play a lead role in making Illinois a just and equitable state.”

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The criminal justice policy group members are:

David E. Risley, special counsel and director of criminal justice policy: Before joining the Governor’s Office, Risley served as a federal prosecutor for 32 years. After starting his career as an assistant state’s attorney in Champaign County, he joined the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of Illinois as an Assistant U.S. Attorney. In that capacity, David was the district’s lead Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force lead attorney, responsible for investigating and prosecuting large-scale, multi-jurisdictional drug trafficking organizations. Risley also served a detail to Iraq from November 2005 to August 2006, where he was an attorney-adviser to the Iraqi High Tribunal, assisting in the investigation and prosecution of crimes against humanity and acts of genocide committed by Saddam Hussein and high-ranking members of his former regime. Most recently, after retiring from federal service, he served as ethics officer and senior assistant chief counsel for the Illinois Department of Transportation.

Derek Cantù, policy adviser: Cantù previously served in a year-long James H. Dunn Fellowship with the Governor’s Office, working on education policy. Before joining the Lieutenant Governor’s Office, he received a Fulbright Fellowship and served as an English teaching assistant in the Slovak Republic. Cantù serves as a policy analyst for Lt. Gov. Sanguinetti, advising her on all education policy matters and working on legislative affairs. Cantù also will work as an analyst on issues related to Illinois’ criminal justice system.

The health and social service policy group members are:

Christopher Kantas, special counsel and director of health care policy: Kantas worked as a civil litigator for seven years before joining the Office of the General Counsel in January 2017. As an associate general counsel, he managed litigation progress and strategy for the executive branch, and he served as principal legal relations liaison for the governor to all Illinois health and human service agencies. Kantas’ areas of focus include Medicaid, health care and social services.

Susan Wynn Bence, policy adviser: Bence serves as the downstate and Springfield director for Lt. Gov. Sanguinetti. She is the principal staffer for the governor’s Rural Affairs Council, where she leads working groups on policy in the areas of workforce development, economic development, rural health and education. Bence also serves on the Illinois Rural Health Association Board of Directors, Illinois Rural Partners Board of Directors and the Opioid Crisis Response Advisory Council. Bence will add her experience on health care and social services issues to the administration’s integrated policy team.

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