it’s time to meet MK Pritzker.

Allow me

In her first four years as first lady of Illinois, Mary Katherine (née Muenster) Pritzker, 55, from Sioux Falls, SD, was a rare news bite.

Now, on the eve of her husband’s second inauguration, the wife of Gov. JB Pritzker — the billionaire scion of the Hyatt hotel dynasty — agreed to sit down for an exclusive peek inside “the world of MK.”

It’s a world of a schedule on steroids, the timetable of a social worker and socialite, a doyenne managing two homes, three farms, a governor’s mansion belonging to the state of Illinois, and a foundation for criminal justice focused on women incarcerated in Illinois. Have passion. prisons.

“I feel like my husband and I have become partners in getting to know everyone, especially fighting for the voiceless and the powerless,” says the first lady, who describes “their different backgrounds growing up Is.”

She says, “No one could have imagined this union. “JB and I came from two different worlds, working on the same floor of the Senate Office Building in Washington, DC, and met on a blind lunch date. The lunch cost JB a total of $4.80.”

She has spent the last four years with two teenagers amid the COVID pandemic, curating a collection of Illinois art and historic furniture for the newly renovated governor’s mansion, revitalizing the state’s poet laureate and arts program and, without fanfare , visited jails. to interview women incarcerated throughout Illinois.

“Decades ago, I met a whole family of women serving time in the Cook County Jail,” she says. “Grandma was serving time for murder. His daughter and granddaughter were in serious criminal quagmire. Jail was his home. it was a nightmare.”

MK, whose surname was born during her college years, grew up in the Nebraska and South Dakota prairies. Her future husband grew up in a big city environment in California.

“Maybe that’s why I’ve learned to love Springfield — its warmth, its size, like my Sioux Falls hometown. It’s a very familiar area to me. Rural. Out West feel. Very low key.

After being educated in historic decorative arts and architecture and now writing a book on the Governor’s Mansion makeover, which is set for publication later this year, “and I got to do the fun work of redecorating a newly renovated home “

“It was a cold, gray day when I went to the governor’s mansion before the inauguration. I was very nervous. I had a huge learning curve ahead of me.

Photos of all 40 former ladies of Illinois—found in the attic and reproduced by MK—now occupied prominent mansion wall space. The historical recipes are now taken from the old cookbooks of the first ladies. and Mary Todd Lincoln Almond cake is now served for dessert at mansion dinners.

The current first lady says she learned her “true skills” on her “Grandma Mars” farm.

“She taught me to sew, crochet, make chocolate cakes, care for animals like ‘retired’ horses and, as the church’s secretary who handled donations, she taught me bookkeeping. It has served me well.

“I may have had trouble ringing the church bells, but mornings of feeding pigs, farm work and making forts out of twigs kept my brother and I busy.”

A farm has never been far from MK’s front door.

“My dad, Ted, grew up on a small farm in Nebraska, a land grant to my family during the Civil War,” she says. “I own it now.

“My father was the first in the family to attend college, where he met my mother, who eventually became a state senator. Dad served as chief of staff to the government of South Dakota. Richard Kneip, Next-to-last Democrat to serve as the state’s governor since 1978.

Last year, MK, an avatar for women’s health issues, was credited by the Secretary of State Jessie White Along with helping create a new, streamlined state ID program for released inmates, which is now managed by that office.

“They are in dire need of housing and finding jobs when they get out of prison,” she says. “Imagine not being able to access your birth certificate or proof you ever lost a bill or made a wrong payment while you were in the prison system.

“If you imprison a mother, you are also imprisoning her children. And 86% of women in state prisons are serving sentences for non-violent crimes.”

An equestrian and horse devotee, MK was given six miniature cows by her husband. “They’re wonderful,” she said of her flock of six: Huey, Eleanor Roosevelt, Crouton, Peaches, Blondie and Alice, all at her ranch in Wisconsin.

A glimpse of wonder, of course, on a farm owned by a lovely grandmother named Marceline.

Boo Woo Woo?

One last question before JB and MK finish the alphabet: is there really a ghost in the Springfield mansion?

Legend has it that this is the wife of former Govt. richard yates Walks the halls at night, scratches at doors, whispers.

During a major snowstorm last year, the governor’s senior staff crashed at the mansion overnight, doing puzzles, raiding refrigerators, and ghost-hunting with the Pritzkers in tow.

“In the middle of the ghost tour, one of us drew a picture mocking the ‘ghostly pressure’ in a room,” says Jordan Abudayeh, the Pritzker’s press secretary. “The photo came back with at least six or seven glowing orbs – little round balls of flash.

“Make of that what you want.”

Sneedlings…

Saturday Birthday: Quarterback lamar jackson, 26; actor Jeremy Renner, 52, more actors Nicolas Cage, 59. Sunday’s birthday… President of North Korea Kim Jong Un, 41, and former education secretary Betsy DeVos, 65.



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