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Board of Trustees | Trustee

Lerry James Knox, Jr.


Lerry Knox is a globally-leading climate and energy finance expert that has led multiple large-scale public-private infrastructure operations for governments and has more than a decade of civic leadership supporting low-income and BIPOC communities in Chicago and internationally.

Sustainable Investment. Lerry is the founder and CEO of Unplugged Capital, which he founded in 2014 as a minority- and veteran-owned business to manage private investments and accelerate sustainable and resilient investments around the globe. Prior to Unplugged, Lerry served as CEO of Hilco Innovation Partners, an asset management and investment company for energy, water, and data assets, and also established and led Hilco Global’s Governmental Solutions practice that specialized in liquidation of distressed governmental assets. From 2004-2012, Lerry combined his quantum engineering and financing expertise first as a statistical arbitrage trader then public finance investment banker at Goldman, Sachs & Co. and Loop Capital Markets, where he financed more than $115 billion of infrastructure assets, and developed innovative financing solutions to assist municipalities to build new and replace/modernize power, water and sewer infrastructure.

Public-Private Partnerships. Lerry has experience leading large, complex public-private operations. A commissioned officer in the U.S. Navy, as a Naval Reactors Project Engineer, Lerry managed a $500 million public-private operation responsible for R&D for next generation naval nuclear reactors, nuclear storage, and the ultimate disposal of the Navy’s spent nuclear fuel and irradiated materials. For more than 10 years, Lerry served on the Board of the Illinois Finance Authority, the infrastructure and development bank for the state of Illinois, where he helped oversee and manage more than $27 billion in total assets and supported thousands of investments into clean water, schools, healthcare facilities, non-profits, and local governments.

Civic Leadership. For the past 15 years, Lerry has been an established face in Chicago’s philanthropic and civic leadership community. He has served as the Board Chair of the Woods Fund Chicago, a grantmaking foundation committed to the promotion of social, economic, and racial justice through the support of community organizing and public policy advocacy. He currently serves on the Board of Chicago Public Media, which owns and operates WBEZ and the Chicago Sun-Times, the Board of the Chicago Sun-Times, the Board of Overseers for the Illinois Institute of Technology (Stuart School of Business), and a Trustee of Adler University, a Chicago university focused on advancing social justice and community engagement.

Lerry began is career as a research engineer at Argonne National Laboratory where he earned a patent for his work to develop methods to sequester atmospheric greenhouse carbon in concrete materials and novel materials to ensure the safe disposal of low-level nuclear waste.

A former licensed Professional Engineer, Lerry received his B.S. in Metallurgical and Materials Engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology, with Honors; M.S. equivalency in Nuclear Engineering and Quantum Physics from the Navy’s Postgraduate Bettis Reactor Engineering School; M.B.A., with a focus on Financial Engineering, from the University of Illinois and J.D. from the University of Illinois.

Lerry is a Fellow of Leadership Greater Chicago and a Marshall Memorial Fellow with the German Marshall Fund.

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