CHICAGO – Businesswoman Penny Pritzker resigned from the Chicago Board of Education Thursday amid speculation that the longtime ally to President Barack Obama could be named the next U.S. Commerce secretary.
Pritzker was a top fundraiser for Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns, serving as his finance chairwoman in 2008, and is considered a leading candidate to run the Commerce Department.
The White House wouldn’t comment Thursday on her prospects of being tapped for the job.
Obama isn’t expected to announce his nominee before leaving for the Mideast next week or while he is overseas. He’s due back in Washington on March 23.
Pritzker is an heir of the family that founded the Hyatt chain of hotels and. Obama selected her for his 16-member Presidential Economic Recovery Advisory Board in 2009. When that board expired, Obama included her in his 26-member Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.
Pritzker did not mention the potential Cabinet post or give a reason for her resignation in a letter to Mayor Rahm Emanuel. She thanked Emanuel for the opportunity to serve and said she “wholeheartedly” supports his efforts to improve Chicago’s schools.
In a statement, Emanuel said the lifelong Chicagoan has shown “an incredible commitment” to making the city a place where every child can thrive.
“Throughout her career she has been a champion for Chicago and our students, a true leader in her every business, civic and philanthropic endeavor,” Emanuel said. “I thank her for her tireless service to our students and our schools and I know she will continue to be an advocate for our city’s bright future.”