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Pritzker to receive AACC Truman Award

​​U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker
Photo: U.S. Department of Commerce

​U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker will receive the American Association of Community Colleges’ (AACC) 2014 Harry S. Truman Award in recognition of her work to make skills and workforce development a priority in order to keep the U.S. economy strong.

Under Prtizker’s leadership, the U.S. Department of Commerce has committed to making investments in initiatives that help create a pipeline of skilled workers.

“Pritzker understands the important role colleges play in preparing a skilled workforce,” according to AACC, which will present the award to the secretary at the Annual AACC Convention April 5-8 in Washington, D.C.

Prior to taking the helm as secretary last summer, Pritzker served as advisory board chair of Skills for America's Future, a national initiative led by the Aspen Institute that brings together businesses, community colleges and others to prepare workers for 21st-century jobs. In 2012, she helped launch Skills for Chicagoland's Future, the first city model of the initiative.

A corporate leader

Pritzker has more than 25 years of experience in the real estate, hospitality, senior living and financial services industries. She served as CEO of PSP Capital Partners and has developed diverse companies, such as the Parking Spot, a large U.S. network of off-site airport parking facilities, and Vi (formerly Classic Residence by Hyatt), a leader in luxury living for older adults. She has also served on the boards of several corporations, including Hyatt Hotels Corp. and LaSalle Bank Corp.

See the finalists for the 2014 AACC Awards of Excellence. Winners will be announced April 7 at the Annual AACC Convention in Washington, D.C.

Her vast business experience led her to an appointment on the President's Economic Recovery Advisory Board and the President's Council for Jobs and Competitiveness, which formerly advised the Obama administration on economic growth and job creation.

As a civic leader, Pritzker has worked to improve public education. She is past chair of the Chicago Public Education Fund, which works to raise private equity to invest in public schools, and a former member of the Chicago Board of Education.

In 2012, she received the Woodrow Wilson Award for Public Service, which honors individuals who have served with distinction in public life and have shown a special commitment to seeking out informed opinions and thoughtful views.

The 2014 AACC Outstanding Alumni Award recipients will be honored April 8 at the Annual AACC Convention.

The Truman Award is given to an organization or individual who has had a major positive impact on community colleges at a national level. Previous recipients of the award included U.S. Education Under Secretary Martha Kanter, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, the Coca-Cola Company and U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy.