December 30, 2008

Roland Burris biography

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Roland W. Burris is a politician and statewide officer in the U.S. state of Illinois. Burris served as Comptroller of Illinois from 1979 to 1991 and as Attorney General of Illinois from 1991 to 1995. He now maintains a political consulting firm called Burris & Lebed Consulting, LLC.

As of December 30, 2008, Governor Rod Blagojevich is expected to name Burris as interim Senator for President-elect Barack Obama's former seat.[1]

Early life

Burris was born and raised in a small community of Centralia in southern Illinois. He attended Southern Illinois University Carbondale receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science. He was an exchange student on scholarship to study International Law at the University of Hamburg in Germany. He earned his Juris Doctor degree from Howard University School of Law in 1963. Burris is married to Berlean M. Burris, Ph.D., and is the father of two adult children, Dr. Rolanda S. Burris, and Roland W. Burris II, Esq. He also has a grandson, Roland T. Burris.

Early career

After graduating from law school, Burris became the first African-American National Bank Examiner for the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency for the U.S. Treasury Department. In that capacity, he traveled throughout the midwest examining banks in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin. From 1964 to 1973, he worked at Continental Illinois National Bank and Trust Company (now Bank of America), serving as tax accountant, tax consultant, commercial banking officer, and vice-president. He headed a commercial group that covered government guaranteed loans and minority business banking.

From 1973 to 1977, he was appointed by Illinois Governor Dan Walker as Director of the Department of Central Management Services.

He was National Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer for Operation PUSH from January to October 1977. He was in private law practice from October 1977 to January 1979, and again from June 1995 to present.

Political career

From 1979 to 1991, Burris was elected to the office of Comptroller of Illinois. He was the first African American to be elected to a statewide office in the state of Illinois. Burris was an unsuccessful candidate for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate in 1984, losing to Paul Simon who went on to defeat incumbent Senator Charles Percy.

From 1991 to 1995, he was Attorney General for the State of Illinois, where he headed over 500 lawyers. There, he was the second African American elected to the office of Attorney General in the United States.

In 1994, he was an unsuccessful candidate for the Democratic nomination for Governor of Illinois. While Burris had been favored for much of the primary campaign, he and Cook County Board President Richard Phelan were both defeated by State Comptroller Dawn Clark Netsch, who had a strong late showing in the final weeks of the campaign despite being seen as the underdog. Netsch would go on to defeat the following November against incumbent Republican Governor Jim Edgar in an election where Democrats lost every single race for statewide office.

In 1995, he ran for mayor of Chicago, losing to incumbent Richard M. Daley. In 1998 and 2002, he again unsuccessfully sought the Democratic Party nomination for Governor of Illinois.

Current career

Burris is serving as Manager/CEO of Burris & Lebed Consulting, LLC. It is a strategic consulting service concentrating in the areas of public relations, governmental representation, political strategies, and corporate strategies. He also serves as of counsel to the law firm of Gonzalez, Saggio and Harlan, L.L.C. His areas of legal concentration are business transactions, estate planning, wills, trusts, probate, and consumer affairs.

On December 30, 2008, it was announced that he is Governor Rod Blagojevich's choice for replacing President-elect Barack Obama in the United States Senate.

Civic activities

Burris is currently serving on the Board of Directors of the Inland Real Estate Corporation as an Independent Director and is Chairman of Governance and Nominating Committee. Inland is a $2 billion Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT), listed on the NYSE, which owns medium-sized shopping centers. As an Independent Director, he serves on the Audit Committee.

He serves as an Adjunct Professor in the Master of Public Administration Program at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

  • Member, Board of the Better Business Bureau (2008)
  • Member, Board of the Auditorium Theater of Chicago (2001-2006)
  • Member, Board of The National Center for Responsible Gaming (1996-2005)
  • Trustee, Financial Accounting Foundation (1991-1994)
  • Chairman, National Association of Attorneys General, Civil Rights Commission (1993-1995)
  • Trustee, Government Finance Officers Association of U.S. and Canada (1987-1991)
  • Member, Howard University Law School Alumni Association
  • Member, Southern Illinois University Foundation
  • Member, Mental Health Association of Greater Chicago
  • Member, U.S. Jaycees
  • Vice-Chairman, Committee on Illinois Government
  • Trustee, Goodwill Industries
  • Member, Chicago Area Council, Boy Souts of America
  • Member, Board of Directors, Auditorium Theater of Roosevelt University (1996)
  • Chairman, Illinois State Justice Commission (1994-1996)
  • Chairman and Founder, Illinois Commission of the African-American Males (1992-1994)
  • Vice-Chairman, Democratic National Committee (1985-1989)
  • Life member, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
  • Life member, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity
  • Life member, Southern Illinois Alumni Association
  • Order of the United Supreme Council of Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite Free Masons, Prince Hall Chapter (32nd Degree)
  • Chairman, Civil Rights Committee, National Association of Attorneys General (1993-1994)
  • President, National Association of State Auditors, Comptrollers and Treasurers (1981-1982)
  • Member, Sigma Pi Phi Fraternity, Beta Boule
  • Honorary Doctors of Laws Degree, National Louis University, Evanston, Illinois
  • Honorary Doctors of Laws Degree, Tougaloo College, Tougaloo, Mississippi
  • White House summer intern for Office of Emergency Planning (1962)

Recognitions and Awards

  • 100 Most Influential Black Americans, Ebony Magazine (1979-1995)
  • Ten Most Distinguished Alumni in the History of the University - Wall of Fame, Southern Illinois University Carbondale (1997)
  • Distinguished Accomplishments in the Field of Law, National Bar Association (1993)
  • One of the Top Three Government Financial Officers in the Nation, City and State Magazine (1989)
  • Mackey Award, National Football League Players Association (1989)
  • Hall of Fame, Centralia, Illinois
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Source: Wikipedia

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