Politics is a male-dominated industry, yet, in Chicago, there are many women who are making their presence known, and making a difference in our communities.
Josina Morita, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, Evelyn Sanguinetti, the Executive Director of HOPE for Fair Housing & the Former Lieutenant Governor of the State of Illinois, and Karen Yarbrough, the County Clerk of Cook County, shared why they got involved in politics and the challenges they’ve endured.
How They Got Involved
Karen Yarborough has always been interested in getting involved in politics. “I’ve been excited to fix things from the inside,” she said. After an unsuccessful run for the 7th district seat in the Illinois House of Representatives, she finally succeeded in 2000. Now, she’s breaking ground as the first Black woman to hold the position of Cook County Clerk.
Evelyn Sanguinetti suffered an accident that severely impaired her ability to walk in 2007. She saw a need for safer sidewalks and roads, so she got involved in government. As Lieutenant Governor, she focused on increasing health care access, quality state-wide education and economic opportunity to small businesses.
Josina Morita started a non-profit as a community advocate and went to Springfield to advocate in person. During this trip, she realized how hard it was to get involved from the outside, so she decided to start a career from the inside. Now, she protects homes from flooding, promotes equity and increases transparency.
Challenges They’ve Faced
It’s certainly not always easy being a woman in Springfield. Evelyn and Karen both shared stories of mistreatment by men during their careers. “We need to push back and demand respect,” Evelyn said.
“The culture of politics is changing, but not fast enough,” Josina added.