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New director named for Cook County Higher Ed

During a meeting of the Cook County Commissioners on May 16, the County Board accepted the resignation of Karen Blackburn, an employee in the Auditor’s Department.

Blackburn is leaving her county job to take over in June as the director for Cook County Higher Education.

Current Higher Ed Executive Director Paula Sundet Wolf, who has worked with CCHE for the past 20 years, announced her intention to retire earlier this year. Sundet Wolf will work for at least several weeks to help transition Blackburn into her new role as the director of CCHE.

Following the county board meeting on May 16, WTIP spoke with Blackburn about her new role with CCHE. She said: “I am excited for this new opportunity and for taking on new challenges that positively affect Cook County residents.”

In a released statement, Cook County Higher Education said it was: "pleased to announce the appointment of Karen Blackburn as their next Executive Director effective June 12. Karen will be replacing Paula Sundet Wolf, who previously announced that she will be retiring this summer after 20 years of outstanding service for the organization."

Karen has a B.A. Degree in Economics from Yale University and has lived and worked in Cook County for the past 22 years. Her previous work experience includes 10 years as controller with Lutsen Mountains, many years operating her own bookkeeping business in support of various non-profit organizations in the area, a brief stint with the Cook County Economics Authority and most recently as Financial Coordinator for Cook County for the past three years.

“We are extremely pleased to have hired Karen following an in depth and extensive review of a very strong pool of highly qualified candidates, which speaks to the reputation that Cook County Education has garnered in the region and the state,” said Karen I. Halbersleben, president of the board for Cook County Higher Education.

The statement continues: “The entire board looks forward with great enthusiasm to welcoming and working with Karen and would like to thank Paula for her outstanding service in developing CCHE into an organization that has contributed greatly to the entire Cook County community. We wish Karen well in her new role and Paula a happy and prosperous retirement.”