Elisabeth H. Pennix

Interim Director Harry F. Sawyer Acting Director – Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs

Elisabeth (Gronvall) Pennix is the Acting Director of the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs (IDVA) as of May 21, 2018.  Ms. Pennix is responsible for nearly 1300 employees of the IDVA, managing a budget of approximately $150 million. She leads a team of professionals that serves the more than 720,000 veterans through 70 veteran service offices, 4 skilled care nursing homes for over 900 aging veterans, and numerous programs for women veterans, veteran entrepreneurs, Gold Star families and Hiring Heroes.

Ms. Pennix will also be the General Counsel for the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs (IDVA).  In her role, she provides in-house legal counsel to agency senior executives concerning the operations, management, and policies of skilled nursing care facilities for veterans and veteran service offices.  She also manages a large litigation portfolio, provides ethics advice, and coordinates legal counsel for all matters concerning over 1,200 agency employees.

Before she was General Counsel, Ms. Pennix joined the IDVA team in 2013, serving as a Senior Program Manager for the Women Veteran’s Program, Gold Star Family Program, and Illinois Joining Forces.  She became the Deputy General Counsel in 2015 but was soon recalled to active duty, serving with the Military Commissions in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba from 2015-2016.  Upon her return to IDVA in 2016, Elisabeth was promoted to General Counsel.

Prior to joining IDVA, Ms. Pennix served seven years on active duty as a Judge Advocate General (JAG) in the U.S. Navy.  During this time, she was stationed in Washington D.C. and Annapolis, Maryland as appointed defense counsel and legal assistance attorney and then served at Great Lakes Naval Base as the Chief Prosecutor for a 16-state region.  She also deployed to Iraq in 2006-2007 where she conducted Geneva Convention legal reviews for Iraqi detainees.  Ms. Pennix continues to serve part-time as a Commander in the U.S. Navy JAG Corps Reserves.  She lives in Chicago with her husband, a retired U.S. Army officer and active duty Chicago Police Sergeant, and their children.