CHICAGO — City Treasurer Stephanie Neely announced Monday she is stepping down next month to accept a job in the financial services industry.
"I am not quite ready to say where I will be going, but it is with a Chicago area company," Neely told DNAinfo Chicago. "I will leave my post the end of November and I start my new job on Dec. 1."
The treasurer said she was leaving seven months before her term expired "because I wanted to hit the ground running and to do so I needed an early start."
Prior to serving as city treasurer, she was a vice president at Northern Trust Global Investments. She also worked at Blaylock & Partners LP and LaSalle Capital Markets both in Chicago.
Neely added that while voters expected her to remain in her position until it expired, "I hope the voters don't think I let them down. But if they do I apologize."
Her early exit means Mayor Rahm Emanuel must appoint someone to complete her term and Neely said Kurt Summers, a vice president with a money management firm in Chicago, is a good choice.
"I trust Kurt will come in here and continue the work I started and add to it as well," she said.
Summers wasn't available for comment.
Neely said her resignation caught Emanuel by surprise.
"He was supportive of my decision when we spoke and understands how these things go," Neely said.
In a statement, the mayor praised Neely for her accomplishments and contributions to City Hall.
"Stephanie Neely brought a wealth of experience and a deep commitment to her position as City Treasurer," Emanuel said. "She sat on five pension boards, improved financial literacy for our taxpayers, and helped strengthen small, growing businesses by making sure they had easy access to affordable capital. We thank Treasurer Neely for her dedication not only her job, but to the people of Chicago, and wish her the best of luck."
She was first appointed treasurer in 2006 by former Mayor Richard M. Daley before winning election in 2007 and then re-elected in 2011. If Neely does not finish out her term, which expires in May, Emanuel would then appoint someone to fill out her remaining term.
A single mother of a 16-year-old son, Neely said she was proud of the accomplishments her office made, including teaching financial education to 250,000 Chicago Public Schools students and sponsoring an essay contest during Black History Month.
She added that the purpose of the essay contest, which carries a $1,000 first-place prize, is "to engage and educate our young people about black history."
A founding board member of Urban Prep Academy High School in Englewood, Neely earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Smith College in Northampton, Mass., and an MBA from the University of Chicago.
According to Neely, her office manages a $6.5 billion portfolio "and job number one is keeping the money safe and liquid while earning the best return for taxpayers," she said. "[And] my office has received six clean external audits in a row, something no other treasurer can claim."
The treasurer's office also organizes an annual Small Business Expo, now in its 13th year, and attracts more than 3,000 participants and vendors, she said.
"When I came into this office nearly eight years ago I vowed to become the best treasurer this city has ever had," Neely said. "It has been an honor and a privilege to serve my hometown as its treasurer."
For more neighborhood news, listen to DNAinfo Radio here: