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James Rachlin

James ("Jamie") Rachlin is the founder and President of Meristem Advisors and was a public finance banker for 25 years. During this time he covered municipal issuers ranging from state issuers to local municipalities of all sizes. He now works with numerous library, school, and municipal issuers throughout Illinois for both bonding and general financial consulting. Representative assignments include municipal advisor to Chicago Park District, restructuring defaulted debt for the City of Harvey, assisting Aurora Public Library in becoming a Library District, and providing covenant default analysis for Pinecrest Academy of Northern Nevada. He has helped library and school districts throughout Illinois plan for and realized their financial objectives including capital project financing.

Prior to forming Meristem Advisors, Jamie was a Managing Director at RBC Capital Markets and BMO Capital Markets, establishing his career at Griffin, Kubik, Stephens & Thompson. He also served as a financial advisor to developers in the alternative energy field structuring and financing projects with publicly and privately placed tax-exempt debt while working for The DJS Group. Jamie is a Qualified Municipal Advisor Representative and the Firm's Principal (Series 50 and 54).


Stratford Shields


Stratford Shields, Mr. Shields is a 29-year veteran of public finance having worked in a lead role for significant transactions in the general government, transportation, water, sewer, state revolving fund, higher education, student loan and utility sectors with a total par amount of more than $40 billion.  He has served in senior roles in several major firms including as head of public finance at two Wall Street firms.

He has also served as advisor to some of the more innovative public private partnership (“P3”) transactions, including serving as advisor to the Ohio State University for its $483 million 50 year parking concession to QIC-LAZ, advisor to Ohio State Energy Partners (Engie/Axium) on its $1.15 billion 50 year concession of the Ohio State University’s energy system, and to the Illinois Student Assistance Commission on its restructuring and sale of $4 billion of its student loan portfolio. 

Mr. Shields is a former Chair of the SIFMA Municipal Division.  Prior to his public finance career, he worked for the Ohio Office of Budget and Management as a Deputy Director and President of the State Controlling Board.  Stratford is a Qualified Municipal Advisor Representative (Series 50).


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Andrew Mace, CPA, CFE

Senior Vice President

Mr. Mace assists Meristem's clients with financial management, business office organization and fraud prevention and detection. Mr. Mace has more than forty years of experience in the school district industry and has performed hundreds of school district audits. He has performed numerous studies of organizations’ systems of internal controls and fraud examinations. Mr. Mace is active in the Illinois Association of School Business Officials and has made scores of presentations on a variety of topics affecting school districts. He has been a report reviewer for GFOA’s Certificate of Achievement in Financial Reporting program and has served on ASBO International’s Certificate of Excellence in Financial Reporting committee.  He has been a regular presenter at ISBE’s auditors workshops each spring to inform practitioners of new topics affecting school district audits.  He has been published in a number of industry publications, including Journal of School Business Management and School Business Affairs. He is a past chairman of the Government Executive Committee of the Illinois CPA Society.  Mr. Mace, is a licensed certified public accountant, certified fraud examiner and a Qualified Municipal Advisor Representative (Series 50).


Andrew Arndt

Vice President

Andrew joined Meristem Advisors in March 2023 after working as a public finance banker at R.W. Baird for 22 years, providing debt structuring and underwriting services to local Illinois municipalities including school, park, and library districts. He is currently also the Business Manager at Lindop SD 92 in Cook County.

Andy is a Qualified Municipal Advisor Representative (Series 50).



The Team

Who We Are

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