Gov. Bruce Rauner recently added several key communication personnel to his team, further shaking up his staff following a major political defeat when the Illinois General Assembly overrode his vetoes on a budget and spending plan.
Laurel Patrick, Rauner's new director of communications, reached out to the press to announce the additions to the department.
“I grew up in Illinois and I love this state – so I am very personally excited to be in this role and to work together,” Patrick said in a memo.
Patrick will be a key to Rauner’s effort to rebrand himself. She graduated from the University of Illinois with a master’s degree in public affairs reporting and served as press secretary and deputy director of communications for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.
Diana Rickert will head the department as deputy chief of staff of communications. Rickert comes from the Illinois Policy Institute, where she served as the vice president of communications, was a point of contact for journalists nationwide and a liaison helping the organization circulate more than 5,000 news placements annually. Before joining the institute, Rickert was a journalist for several news outlets, including the Associated Press, Daily Herald, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel and the Northwest Herald. Her reporting at the Northwest Herald on the Illinois pension crisis garnered her numerous prestigious journalism awards. Rickert holds a journalism degree from Marquette University.
Meghan Keenan, who will serve as a communication specialist, is also from the institute, joining in December as a communications analyst working with reporters to schedule interviews and assist in stories for the organization. She has an extensive journalistic background and was a reporter for Red Alert Politics.
“Our team is excited to work with you,” Patrick said in her message. “In the coming weeks, we will be reaching out directly to learn how we can best serve you and help in your coverage of Illinois.”
Rauner’s moves are part of trend in recent weeks as he seeks to refocus the direction of his office for the rest of his term and into the 2018 gubernatorial elections.