Jeffries Departing as State Veterans Affairs Director


Published on May 17 2018 3:54 pm
Last Updated on May 17 2018 3:55 pm

Gov. Bruce Rauner announced Thursday Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs (IDVA) Director Erica Jeffries will be leaving IDVA after leading the agency for more than three years. Jeffries is returning to the private sector where she will serve as an executive in a large multinational, Fortune 100 company. Elisabeth Pennix, the current General Counsel at IDVA and Navy veteran will serve as the interim director of the agency until a permanent director is announced.

“Director Jeffries has done remarkable work for the veterans of Illinois during her tenure as director of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs,” Rauner said. “She has been a steadfast leader in providing the crucial services our heroes need and deserve. We are deeply grateful for her service, and are confident Elisabeth Pennix will lead the department and serve Illinois’ veterans tremendously until a permanent director is selected.”

Jeffries, who is an Army veteran and former Blackhawk helicopter pilot, says leading the IDVA has been both a rewarding and challenging experience.

“It has been an honor to serve as the Director of the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs alongside the outstanding men and women who make up this Agency and in collaboration with our many partners throughout the veteran community,” Jeffries said.  “Our mission at the IDVA is one of the most critical in the state – serving the most deserving population across Illinois – and throughout our nation.  This experience has truly challenged and strengthened my leadership.”

Under Director Jeffries’ leadership, IDVA provided quality skilled nursing care to over 900 aging veterans annually; helped thousands of veterans file claims to obtain benefits and compensation totaling more than $208M; and hosted dozens of workshops and events for women veterans, veteran job-seekers, employers seeking to hire veterans, veteran entrepreneurs, and Gold Star families.

Before serving as General Counsel at IDVA, Pennix served as Senior Program Manager for the Women Veterans Program, Gold Star Family Program, and Illinois Joining Forces.

During her military service, Pennix served seven years on active duty as a Judge Advocate General (JAG) in the U.S. Navy, and also deployed to Iraq in 2006-2007 where she conducted Geneva Convention legal reviews for Iraqi detainees. Pennix continues to serve part-time as a commander in the U.S. Navy JAG Corps Reserves.

“I’m honored to continue the work of Director Jeffries and the entire IDVA as we continue to strive to provide the best possible care for Illinois’ veterans today and in the future,” Pennix said.

Pennix is a graduate of the University of Minnesota and the Chicago-Kent College of Law. She lives in Chicago with her husband, a retired U.S. Army officer and active duty Chicago Police Sergeant, and their children.