CHICAGO — Retiring Chicago Mayor Richard Daley has tapped Martin Cabrera Jr., head of Cabrera Capital Markets LLC, to lead the City Colleges of Chicago board following the resignation last week of Gery Chico, who plans to focus on his 2011 bid for mayor.

Daley appointed Cabrera to the board and recommended that the board accept him as its chairman, according to a statement released by Daley on Wednesday. Cabrera, 39, is the founder and chief executive officer of Cabrera Capital Markets and Cabrera Capital Partners.

“The mission of Chicago’s City Colleges must be updated to meet the economic challenges of today and tomorrow and Martin has the financial background and expertise to do that,” Daley said.

“My parents instilled in me a passion for education and I look forward to being able to contribute to the reinvention and the future of the City Colleges of Chicago,” Cabrera, a lifelong city resident who attended public schools, said in a statement.

Cabrera received a bachelor of science degree in finance from Northern Illinois University and has studied at the London School of Economics.

The appointment must be approved by the City Council.

Daley appointed Chico and chancellor Cheryl Hyman to the posts earlier this year with a mandate to reform the system of junior colleges and better prepare students for jobs. The system has proposed a $457.5 million operating budget for fiscal 2011 and a $139 million capital budget to finance infrastructure and technology improvements.

Cabrera founded the firm in 2001. It is a frequent underwriter of debt from Chicago-area issuers and has steadily increased its senior manager business. It is the top-ranked co-manager in Illinois so far this year and ranks 12th among senior managers on debt issued in Illinois. It was 11th last year, according to Thomson Reuters. It ranks 41st nationally as a senior manager and was 52nd last year.

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