Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn last week named Chicago-based public finance banker Maria Saldana to a four-year term on the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority board.

Saldana early last year established a Chicago office for Memphis-based Duncan-Williams Inc., bringing with her several colleagues from Popular Securities Inc. following that firm’s closure of its North American broker-dealer subsidiary in late 2007.

Saldana previously worked for Samuel A. Ramirez & Co. She made the jump to banking in 2001 from law, having worked at the former Chicago law firm Altheimer & Gray. She also worked in the Chicago corporation counsel’s office for eight years. Mayor Richard Daley tapped her to lead the Chicago Park District board in 2002 and she served in that role until 2007.

Quinn recently appointed another public finance banker, William Morris, to the tollway board.

The highway authority recently sold $280 million of bonds, marking the final borrowing needed for the agency’s five-year-old $6 billion rebuilding and expansion of the Chicago-area tollway system.

The capital program — which is on time and on budget — has generally won favorable reviews. However, the authority has come under scrutiny from lawmakers and federal authorities for some of the contracts awarded, including those given to contributors to indicted former Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s campaign coffers.

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