Board of Trustees Biographies

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Tom Cross, Appointed Chairperson

John Engstrom, Elected Treasurer
Aaron Ammons, Elected Board Member
Mark Cozzi, Appointed Board Member
Dennis Cullen, Appointed Board Member
J. Fred Giertz, Elected Board Member
Paul R.T. Johnson Jr., Appointed Board Member
Craig McCrohon, Appointed Board Member
Steven Rock, Elected Board Member
Antonio Vasquez, Elected Board Member

Tom Cross

Tom Cross, Chairperson

Tom Cross, an attorney from Oswego, served in the Illinois General Assembly for 22 years. He was the House Republican Leader from 2002-2013. Currently, he is a distinguished fellow at Aurora University and a senior consultant at Culloton Strategies, a Chicago-based public relations firm. Mr. Cross also practices law with the firm of Mahoney, Silverman & Cross, LLC in northern Illinois.

Cross serves on the Illinois Business Immigration Coalition Steering Committee, the Illinois Chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and is a past member of the Republican State Leadership Committee Executive Board. He also serves as chairperson of the Illinois Board of Higher Education.

Cross is a graduate of Illinois Wesleyan University and Cumberland School of Law at Samford University.


John Engstrom

John Engstrom, Treasurer

John H. Engstrom, CPA, CGFM, is KPMG Professor Emeritus of Accountancy at Northern Illinois University. His teaching and research specialty is governmental and not-for-profit accounting. He was co-author of one of the leading textbooks in the field, "Essentials of Accounting for Governmental and Not-for-Profit Organizations," and author of numerous articles on governmental accounting and auditing in leading journals.

During his career, Engstrom was a member of the Governmental Accounting Standards Advisory Council, the U.S. Comptroller General's Advisory Council on Government Auditing Standards, the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) Governmental Accounting and Auditing Committee, the AICPA Not-for-Profit Organizations Committee, and related committees for the Illinois Society of CPA's.

Prior to his academic career, Engstrom was a financial manager in the University of Tennessee System administration and served as vice chancellor for business and finance at The University of Tennessee at Martin. Residing in Sycamore, Dr. Engstrom is married with five children and stepchildren, sixteen grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.


Aaron Ammons

Aaron Ammons, Elected Board Member

Aaron Ammons has been a building service worker at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for 14 years and is active in the Champaign-Urbana community.

He is chapter president for the Service Employees International Union Local 73, which represents more than 600 employees at UIUC and 5,000 in the SURS system.

Ammons also is a member of the Urbana City Council.


Mark Cozzi

Mark Cozzi, Appointed Board Member

Cozzi is the managing partner and founder of Lincoln Park Capital Group, which he founded in 2008. In 2011, he became senior managing director of the Electrum Group, an investment firm focused on the natural resources sector. He rejoined Lincoln Park Capital Group in 2014.

Cozzi served on both Gov. Rauner's and Chicago Mayor Emanuel's transition teams and is on the board of commissioners of the Chicago Housing Authority. Cozzi previously served as trustee of the Illinois Board of Investment until his term expired earlier this month.

He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin School of Business and the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.


Dennis Cullen

Dennis Cullen, Appointed Board Member

Dennis Cullen currently serves as board director and audit committee chairman for several life insurance companies including Delaware Life Insurance Company, Delaware Life Insurance Company of N.Y., EquiTrust Life Insurance Company and Heritage Life Insurance Company.

Previously, Cullen served as a managing partner with Chicago Asset Funding, LLC; as a managing director of Liberty Hampshire/Guggenheim Partners; and had an extensive career in the investment banking industry working with First National Bank of Chicago, Security Pacific Merchant Bank, Citibank and Harris Bank.

Cullen earned an AB and MBA from the University of Chicago.


J Fred Giertz

J. Fred Giertz, Elected Board Member

J. Fred Giertz is a Professor Emeritus of Economics at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He received his Ph.D. in economics from Northwestern University in 1970. Giertz previously served as an appointed member of the SURS Board from 1995-2005 and an elected-active member from 2009-2012. He served as chair of the board's Investment Committee for five years.

Giertz also is a member of the Parkland College Foundation Board of Directors and the State Universities Annuitant Association.

Giertz has written extensively about pensions including SURS and has testified before the Illinois General Assembly and a U. S. House Committee on pension funding problems. He has been on the faculty of the Institute of Government and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois since 1980.


Paul R.T. Johnson Jr.

Paul R.T. Johnson Jr., Appointed Board Member

Owner of LSU Trading in Chicago. In 1985 he began Financial Futures Trading Group, a futures sales and execution group which he sold to ING in 1997. At ING he served as co-manager of Institutional Sales until the company buyout by ABN-Amro. In 2001, he held securities licenses 24, 7, 55, 53, 63 & became CEO of Boston Cabot, a broker/dealer that trades futures, as well as arranges billion dollar loans for hedge funds.

Johnson served on the board of directors of Mid-Am Exchange & Chicago Board of Trade, where he also served as chairman of the Floors Committee, chairman of Market & Product Development Committee, vice chairman of the Regulatory Compliance Committee and others. He is/has been a member of CBOT, CME,& CBOE. Alumnus of Louisiana State University.


Craig McCrohon

Craig McCrohon, Appointed Board Member

Craig McCrohon is a partner with Burke, Warren, MacKay and Serritella in Chicago, where he specializes in corporate, securities, and mergers and acquisitions law. He advises companies and boards of directors regarding corporate transactions, director and officer liability, corporate finance and regulatory matters. His work has included organizing bank holding companies, depository institution compliance, mergers and acquisitions, and securities offerings.

McCrohon is a graduate of Harvard University and received his JD and MBA degrees from the University of Pennsylvania Law School and Wharton School of Business.

McCrohon previously worked with the legal staff of the United States Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs. He serves on the boards of the Infant Welfare Society of Chicago and the Better Government Association.


Steven Rock

Steven Rock, Elected Board Member

Steven Rock has been an economics professor at Western Illinois University since 1990 and served six years as chair of the university's Faculty Senate. Prior to joining WIU, he was an associate professor at Northern Illinois University from 1986-90 and the Illinois Institute of Technology from 1978-86. Rock began his career as a visiting assistant professor at the University of Illinois-Chicago from 1975-78. He received his Ph.D. in Economics from Northwestern University.

Rock has published numerous articles in peer-reviewed journals, including Economic Inquiry, National Tax Journal, Public Finance Quarterly, Public Budgeting and Finance, Transportation Research and Public Health Reports.

He is secretary of the Faculty Advisory Council of Illinois Board of Higher Education and National Vice President for Finance for the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi. Rock has also been active at the chapter and Local level of the University Professionals of Illinois. He has served on a number of education-related task forces, several involving the Illinois Monetary Assistance Program.



Antonio Vasquez, Elected Board Member

Antonio Vasquez is a lecturer of economics at Wilbur Wright College in Chicago. Prior to that, he lectured at Harold Washington College, Center for Distance Learning, the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) and Northeastern Illinois University.

Vasquez obtained his B.A. from DePaul University and his M.A. from UIC. He is currently enrolled in a Ph.D. program in Disability Studies. Vasquez is a member of the American Economics Association, Society for Community Research & Action, and the Association on Higher Education and Disability.

Vasquez works in the Hispanic community with El Valor in developing entrepreneurial opportunities for artists with disabilities. He is a member of the Center for Capacity Building on Minorities with Disabilities Research (CBMDR) team at UIC.