- Associated Press - Saturday, March 20, 2021

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - The Illinois Commerce Commission has named its first male Black executive director.

Michael Merchant started his position with the state regulatory agency on Tuesday. He replaces Christy George, the commission‘s first Black director, who joined Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s administration as first assistant deputy governor for budget and economy.

Merchant is responsible for supervising approximately 200 commission employees and managing the agency’s budget.

The agency provides support for a quasi-judicial body of five commissioners who set rules governing public utilities, transportation of freight and railroad safety, and provide consumer education.

Merchant most recently was an administrator with the Illinois Department of Central Management Services, leading the business enterprise program and managing the agency’s COVID-19 response.



Prior to that, he was director of government affairs for the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, which owns and manages the McCormick Place convention complex.

He has a bachelor’s degree from Morehouse College and a law degree from DePaul College of Law.

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This story has been corrected to reflect that Merchant is the commission‘s first male Black executive director. Christy George, his successor, was the first Black director.

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