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Mayor, Park Forest, Illinois; Retired Chief of Staff, Chicago Teachers Union



John A. Ostenburg was elected as Mayor of the Village of Park Forest, Illinois, in 1999 and was re-elected without opposition in 2003. He was elected to an unprecedented third four-year term in 2007. He previously served as a Village Trustee from 1985 to 1990 and from 1997 to 1999.

He was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives from the 80th House District in 1992 and served until 1995. While a Representative in the Illinois General Assembly, he served on the Cities & Villages Committee, the Education Appropriations Committee, the Elementary-Secondary Education Committee, the Higher Education Committee, and the Housing/Economic & Urban Development Committee, and was chairperson for the Speaker’s Task Force on Children.

Mr. Ostenburg retired as the Chief of Staff for the Chicago Teachers Union on June 30, 2010, after serving in the position since 2007, while simultensouysly serving as Editor Emeritus and Chairperson of the Editorial Board for the award-winning Chicago Union Teacher, official publication of the Chicago Teachers Union. He also held the post of Chairperson for the CTU Communications Department. He served as the Union’s interim Legislative Director during the 2003-04 legislative session and continued as one of the Union’s registered lobbyists in Springfield until his retirement. He continues his work on writing of the history of the Chicago Teachers Union.

Mr. Ostenburg was Director of University Relations at Governors State University from 1984 to 1993, Director of Communications and Executive Director of the College Foundation at Prairie State College from 1978 to 1984, and Director of Alumni Affairs and Sports Information Director at Lewis University from 1973 to 1978. He also taught journalism and communications at all three institutions. He earlier taught English and Latin at Providence High School in New Lenox, and previously had taught at two elementary parochial schools in Springfield.

As a journalist, Mr. Ostenburg was a reporter and copy editor for the Illinois State Journal in Springfield from 1967 to 1969, an editor for the Herald-News Community Newspapers in downstate Rochester from 1969 to 1971, sports editor for Crescent Newspapers in Tinley Park from 1971 to 1973, a reporter and copy editor for the Joliet Herald-News from 1973 to 1974, part-owner and managing editor for the Lockport Free Press from 1975 to 1978, and a reporter for the Hammond Times from 1978 to 1982.

He has served on the Board of Directors of the Birch Street Townhomes Cooperative in Park Forest since 1983 and has been a presenter on housing-related issues at several national meetings of the National Association of Housing Cooperatives, and has contributed articles to the Cooperative Housing Bulletin.

He serves as a member of the Housing Committee and of the Legislative Committee of the South Suburban Mayors & Managers Association, and also as Cook County at large member on the SSMMA Executive Board.

He has served on the Community & Economic Development Committee of the National League of Cities since 2003.

He was selected as vice chairperson of the Abraham Lincoln National Airport Commission in 2003 and continues in that role, also serving as chairperson for the authority’s Infrastructure Committee.

Mr. Ostenburg was Chapter President and served on the Board of Directors of the Northeastern Illinois Chapter of the Americans for Democratic Action from 2007 to 2009. He is a member of several other organizations, including the Park Forest Rotary Club, Park Forest FOCUS, the Chicago Teachers Union, the Illinois Federation of Teachers, and the AFL-CIO. He is a Life Member of the NAACP. He has served as the labor representative on the Board of Directors of the South/Southwest Regional Research Institute and on the Advisory Board of South Star Services, and currently serves on the advisory board for the South Suburban Chapter of the Chicago Manufacturing Renaissance Council.

As an avocation, Mr. Ostenburg has been a longtime student of the writings of Thomas Merton, the Trappist monk who was perhaps the most proficient spiritual writer of the 20th Century; he also has spent more than 20 years studying the relationship between Christianity and Eastern Religions. He presented a paper on applications of some of Merton’s philosophy to public life at an international conference in 1993 that marked the 25th Anniversary of Merton’s death. More recently, Mr. Ostenburg has contributed a paper titled “Spiritual Connectedness: Thomas Merton’s Path to World Peace” that appeared in the Winter 2005 issue of The Merton Seasonal, the official publication of the International Thomas Merton Society. He also is the author of “Encountering God Where We Find Him,” a treatise on how certain Eastern spiritual principles may be applied to Christian belief, that was published in the Spring 2003 edition of the quarterly journal Spirituality Today.

He and wife Jacqueline are parents of four children (one of whom is deceased) and grandparents of eight. They attend St. Irenaeus Church in Park Forest. Mr. and Mrs. Ostenburg owned and operated Changes Coffeehouse, Bookstore & Tea Room in Park Forest, from 1992 until Mrs. Ostenburg’s retirement in May of 2006.

Revised 09-10-10


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