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Preckwinkle Taps William Barnes Jr. for Cook County's Top Homeland Security Post

News Date: 
Monday, September 18, 2017 - 11:45

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle today announced the appointment of William M. Barnes Jr. as Executive Director of the County’s Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (DHSEM).

Barnes has a lengthy background as a manager, administrator and attorney in private practice. Most recently he was General Counsel at the Illinois Department of Transportation. He served in a similar capacity with the Illinois Department of Corrections and the Office of the State Fire Marshal.

In those various positions, his work included litigation, regulatory and compliance issues, policy, labor and employment.

Prior to entering government service, Barnes was an associate and then a partner at Wildman Harrold Allen and Dixon, a Chicago-based law firm that is now part of Locke Lord LLP, then for a short time, a sole practitioner. He also spent two years in the Peace Corps in the early 1990s.

He earned both his BA and law degrees from Northwestern University.

“We are excited to name William to this senior leadership position,” Preckwinkle said. “I am confident that his background in law, as an administrator, and his experience and knowledge of government will provide DHSEM the kind of leadership we need at this time.”

“I am thrilled to lead this very important agency of Cook County government,” Barnes said. “The challenges posed by this position speak well to my policy and administrative strengths and I appreciate the opportunity to serve the residents of Cook County.”

The Cook County Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management integrates first responders, their departments and resources from 134 Cook County municipalities, and serves as the central agency in Cook County for coordinating efforts to prevent, protect against, mitigate the effects of, respond to, and recover from all incidents, whether man-made or natural.