Appointed by the Governor on June 3, 2011, Jay Rowell was confirmed by the Senate later that month. The Governor's vision for the Department is to provide assistance to Illinois families in difficult times, to advocate for taxpayers by guarding against fraud and to get people back to work by being the state's employment office.
To that end, Rowell was a lead state negotiator on the 2011 Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund reform legislation. The legislation reduced taxes on Illinois businesses over the next eight years by $400 million, laid out a path to solvency for the fund, and created the necessary tools to prevent fraud and crack down on criminal abuse.
Rowell partnered with the Internal Revenue Service on a new anti-fraud system that recovered more than $37 million in just five months. He required IDES to participate in the National Directory of New Hires which will save the state $40 million annually in overpayments. Rowell also created a partnership with the Illinois Attorney General's office to hire attorneys to criminally prosecute those who willfully defraud the agency.
Under Rowell's direction, IDES has pursued a number of programs to transform it into an employment agency. In late 2011, IDES launched IlliniosJobLink.com (IJL) to help link those ready to work with those ready to hire. IJL has all the functionality and none of the cost of using a commercial job board. IDES was reorganized to create a Business Services Division designed to streamline and incentivize the hiring process for Illinois employers.
Rowell was selected by his peers as the Chair of the Labor Market Information Committee of the National Association of State Workforce Administrators and serves as the alternate board member for Midwest region.
Before joining IDES Rowell was the Political Director for the Illinois Senate Democrats. Prior to that, Rowell also was a Deputy Director of Chicago City Clerk's Office where he modernized operations and dramatically enhanced transparency by putting 27 years/600,000 pages of city legislation online in a searchable format. Rowell began his career in government as the District Director for Senator Cullerton and Representative Feigenholtz. Prior to that, he managed nearly 165 employees as the Staffing Director for a Chicago area catering firm.
Rowell has extensive experience in shaping government policy through his efforts with the Illinois League of Conservation Voters, Independent Voters of Illinois, Midwest Democracy Center and the Illinois Birth Center Task Force. He earned his Juris Doctorate from Loyola University Chicago School of Law and his Bachelor of Arts in Public Communication from American University in Washington D.C. Rowell is an avid bike rider and he and his wife have a baby girl.