José Padilla is Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary of DePaul University, which he joined in May 2005. He works closely with DePaul’s Board of Trustees, its President, Provost, Executive Vice President and other officers.
As General Counsel, Padilla directs an office of six distinguished attorneys, drawn from some of the best law schools in the nation and from some of the best law firms in Chicago. Together they provide advice and counsel on a myriad of legal issues, including corporate governance, compliance, canon law, tax law, real estate, bond financing, employment, employee benefits, athletics, litigation, contracts, intellectual property, sponsored research, constitutional law and higher education regulations. His office also leads the policy review process at the university.
As Secretary, he leads a team of two Board professionals who help manage and facilitate the business of the University’s Board of Trustees.
Before joining DePaul, Padilla was an attorney and federal lobbyist for the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT). Padilla also spent 16 years working on federal issues in Washington, D.C. From 1990 to 1993, he was a lawyer/legislative assistant to the late Senator Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) and advised Bentsen on legislation from the Judiciary, Labor, Human Resources, Appropriations and Budget committees. From 1993 to 1998, Padilla was a senior appointee in the Clinton Administration, serving as the assistant commissioner for Congressional and Public Affairs at the U.S. Customs Service, which was then a bureau of the U.S. Treasury Department. At Customs, he reported to the commissioner and belonged to the 12-person executive team that managed Customs’ 18,000 employees. He developed and executed strategies to meet Customs and Administration objectives such as NAFTA, China MFN and GATT.
Upon returning to Chicago from Washington, Padilla engaged in public policy issues on his own time. He helped represent the University of Michigan as a lobbyist before Congress and Hispanic groups, with respect to its affirmative action cases before the United States Supreme Court: Gratz and Grutter vs. Bollinger.
Padilla was the Chair of the Board of Directors of the National Association of College and University Attorneys (NACUA), the first Latino to hold that position. Other nonprofit service includes membership on the Board of Directors of the University of Michigan Alumni Association, and the Board of Directors for the Better Government Association, a watch dog group that works for the integrity, transparency, and accountability in government. He is currently on the Board of Trustees of St. Thomas Aquinas College in Sparkhill, New York and served on then Mayor-elect Lori Lightfoot’s transition team, leading a committee of lawyers reviewing the Federal Civil Rights Litigation Division of the City of Chicago Law Department.
In 2010, he was named one of 100 influential Hispanics in the October 2010 edition of Hispanic Business magazine and was also selected to be in the June 2019 Special Edition of the magazine, Negocios Now of “Who’s Who in Hispanic Chicago,” in the Education category.
Padilla is a 1983 graduate of the University of Michigan Law School and is licensed to practice law in Illinois and the District of Columbia.
AREAS OF EXPERTISE
Board of Trustees
- Crisis Management
- University Governance (Corporate Matters)