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Sheldon out at DCFS, general counsel appointed interim director

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

* Sun-Times

As his agency faces another crisis, George Sheldon on Wednesday resigned as head of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.

The exit comes as DCFS remains under fire over the Semaj Crosby tragedy. Sheldon has accepted a job at a nonprofit in his home state of Florida. Sheldon tendered his resignation on Wednesday morning, according to Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration. Rauner will appoint DCFS general counsel Lise Spacapan as interim director and begin a national search for a full-time replacement.

Earlier this month, Sheldon had revealed that he was considering the offer he eventually accepted – to be CEO of Our Kids of Miami-Dade/Monroe, Inc., in Florida.

No one answered the phone early Wednesday afternoon at OurKids. A message left for Sheldon seeking comment was not immediately returned.

* Tribune

Rauner plans to appoint DCFS General Counsel Lise Spacapan as interim director while a national search takes place for a full-time replacement.

The Trib also has the resignation letter. Click here.

* From the interim director’s official bio

Lise T. Spacapan is the general counsel for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. She oversees a law department with nearly 100 members throughout the state. Over the past 30 years, she has been a litigation partner in the Chicago offices of three major law firms: Husch Blackwell, Jenner & Block and Kirkland & Ellis. She handled cases throughout the country focused on Complex Commercial Litigation and Products Liability. Ms. Spacapan received her L.L.M. in Health Law in 2014 and serves on the DePaul College of Law Health law Institute. She served as a national director on the Board of DRI, chair of the DRI Publications Board and chair of DRI’s Toxic Tort and Environmental Law Committee. She has authored numerous articles and book chapters on litigation issues. Ms. Spacapan is AV Peer Review Rated, Martindale-Hubbell’s highest peer recognition for ethical standards and legal ability.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

17 Comments
  1. - pawn - Wednesday, May 31, 17 @ 3:52 pm:

    Nothing in the interim director’s bio about protecting children from harm. Interesting choice for an agency that is under fire for failing to protect children.


  2. - Sir Reel - Wednesday, May 31, 17 @ 3:52 pm:

    A national search? Really?

    Who would want to work for this dysfunctional State?


  3. - Anonymous - Wednesday, May 31, 17 @ 3:52 pm:

    Sheldon’s departure from the Department of Children and Family Services was confirmed by the administration of Gov. Bruce Rauner, whose office declined to comment.

    Seriously, no comment?


  4. - Chicago 20 - Wednesday, May 31, 17 @ 4:05 pm:

    Interesting resume. But can she get the job done without funding?


  5. - Kyle Hillman - Wednesday, May 31, 17 @ 4:11 pm:

    I admit I don’t know Spacapan, but it concerns me that the person the department needs most right now (according to the Governor) is a highly qualified lawyer.


  6. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, May 31, 17 @ 4:13 pm:

    Did he get a gift card before he left?


  7. - Anonymous - Wednesday, May 31, 17 @ 4:24 pm:

    “Welcome Ms. Spacapan….glad to have you aboard the Titanic.”


  8. - scott aster - Wednesday, May 31, 17 @ 4:47 pm:

    She sounds very smart and qualified as a manager…hire her and move on. “Sir Reel” has it right….nationwide searches are a joke.


  9. - RNUG - Wednesday, May 31, 17 @ 5:11 pm:

    I’ve been waiting for this to happen … and not over the cited incident. There’s some other, more personal, dirt under the rug that probably won’t see the light of day now.


  10. - RNUG - Wednesday, May 31, 17 @ 5:15 pm:

    == Did he get a gift card before he left? ==

    It’s more about what he didn’t get …


  11. - Juvenal - Wednesday, May 31, 17 @ 10:30 pm:

    === she sounds very smart and qualified as a manager ===

    She has never managed anything more than 100 lawyers.

    DCFS is a 3,000 employee, $1 billion agency.

    She has no knowledge of child welfare.

    She has no experience as a social worker.

    As a lawyer, she isn’t even an expert in the laws governing DCFS.

    The big question the Sun-Times, Tribune, and AP ought to be asking is whether she was involved in the very contract decisions by Sheldon that are now under investigation by the Inspector General, and the other policy decisions?

    The general counsel usually signs off on contracts.


  12. - GG - Wednesday, May 31, 17 @ 10:33 pm:

    What are you not saying RNUG?


  13. - RNUG - Wednesday, May 31, 17 @ 11:01 pm:

    == What are you not saying RNUG? ==

    … that the Chicago incident may have just been the public excuse to encourage him to move on.


  14. - RNUG - Wednesday, May 31, 17 @ 11:12 pm:

    == … that the person the department needs most right now (according to the Governor) is a highly qualified lawyer. ==

    More than anything else, what the agency needs right now is a skilled administrator who will stay around enough years to provide stability to the agency. It will be a thankless job, but someone needs to rebuild the agency. Dollars are needed, but stability is needed more. A good administrator can always lobby for more funds and more qualified front line staff.


  15. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Wednesday, May 31, 17 @ 11:26 pm:

    RNUG is on the right hunt.

    The DCFS Inspector General and Executive Inspector General both investigating Sheldon?

    The walls are closing in on that guy.

    As for the national search:

    1. Unless Rauner has a plan to pass a budget and pump $100 million in new funding into DCFS to restore programs, who would take the job?

    2. Unless the Interim Director can fire everyone that needs to be fired, cancel every contract that needs to be cancelled, and generally clean house in partnership with the Inspector generals and the legislature, who would take the job?

    3. Unless the appointment has broad bipartisan support of Democrats in the General Assembly, Democrats running for the nomination, who would take the job? No one is moving to Illinois to take a job unless they can be assured they will still have a job regardless of the election. And no one can be effective at leading the organization if the staff knows they are not gonna be around next week.

    To review:

    1. Pass a full budget
    2. Clean house
    3. Bipartisan replacement

    It’s a good plan, the only plan, and a tall order.


  16. - GG - Wednesday, May 31, 17 @ 11:38 pm:

    RNUG… What’s the real reason he is leaving? What is he hiding?? What does he have to do with the gift card???


  17. - RNUG - Thursday, Jun 1, 17 @ 8:29 am:

    -yellow dog- & -gg-

    First, the issues I’m aware of have nothing to do with any of the kids.

    But they do have to do with various state rules and procedures. I got the information from a source I trust completely … but I don’t have anything in writing, so I won’t repeat the details.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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