In The News

Illinois Humanities Council taps city cultural official as leader

This article originally appeared in Crains

The Illinois Humanities Council named Angel Ysaguirre, deputy commissioner of the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, as its new executive director.

He replaces Kristina Valaitis, who announced her retirement last year. She had been with the nonprofit for 20 years.

Mr. Ysaguirre is a familiar face to the Humanities Council, having worked there from 1999 to 2005 as director of programs. He’s credited with starting the Odyssey Project, a college-level course on art history, literature and philosophy for low-income students, and a program called “Brown v. Board 50 Years Later: Conversations on Race, Integration and the Courts.”

He went on to work for the McCormick Tribune Foundation, overseeing grantmaking in areas such as homelessness, youth development and employment, from 1996 to 1999. He then managed the grantmaking program at Chicago-based Boeing Co. before joining the city last year.

Mr. Ysaguirre worked with the mayor’s office and CommissionerMichelle Boone to create an arts programming division and to enact parts of the city’s Cultural Plan.

“We are impressed with Angel’s work at the city, under Commissioner Boone’s leadership, to re-imagine and energize Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events,”Deborah Epstein, board chair of the Humanities Council, said in a statement announcing the appointment. “We look forward to Angel bringing that same energy and passion for translating ideas into action, especially as we celebrate our 40th anniversary and look ahead to the next 40 years.”

Mr. Ysaguirre says he’s excited to return to the Humanities Council.

“I will work to ensure our programs continue the IHC’s mission of helping people experience life more deeply through critical reflection about issues that matter, and to contribute to civic life by engaging with others on those reflections,” he said in the statement.

He starts the new job in February.