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Cook County Honors Unusung Heroines for Women’s History Month


In honor of Women’s History Month, County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, the Cook County Commission on Women’s Issues, and the Cook County Board of Commissioners joined together to host the 15th Annual Cook County Unsung Heroine Awards at a breakfast ceremony at the Chicago Cultural Center today.  The event was emceed by Ms. Merri Dee, a Chicago broadcasting legend.

Each year the Commission on Women’s Issues honors one woman from each of the seventeen County districts, and this year, for the first time, there was an eighteenth honoree, selected by the four at large members of the Cook County Women’s Commission.  All eighteen women are recognized for their vital contributions to their respective communities.  The award, which in 2010 was renamed “The Peggy A. Montes Unsung Heroine Award” after the chair of the Commission on Women’s Issues and the award’s founder, places these women’s achievements within the larger fabric of history and commemorates the powerful impact women have had on the development of our social, cultural, economic and political institutions.


“The County honors these remarkable women as a way to bring their stories to light, to thank them publicly, and to celebrate the tradition of achievement and commitment to the greater good that is embodied by women leaders throughout the history of Cook County,” said President Preckwinkle in announcing this year’s award ceremony.  “Although their stories do not usually make the news, their contributions are truly newsworthy.  These women are being recognized for using their time, talent, spirit and enthusiasm to enrich and improve the lives of others.”

Among the unsung heroines in attendance were a polio survivor who gained international attention for her efforts to better the Little Village community; a 25-year-old who overcame disabilities to empower others through advocacy; and an activist against domestic violence who has dedicated her life to helping others.

The Cook County Commission on Women’s Issues was created in 1995. The Commission advises the President and County Board members on ways to elevate the status of local women, improve the delivery of services to women and their families, and eliminate inequities in laws, practices and conditions which impact Cook County women and girls.  The Commission is composed of twenty-one women of various racial, economic, ethnic, and occupational backgrounds from across the County, including its 17 districts. Women’s Commissioners are charged with ensuring women’s issues and perspectives are considered in the formation of public policy in Cook County.

The 2012 Unsung Heroines from Cook County honored the following extraordinary women:

At Large           Heroine, Susan K. Power ; Peggy A. Montes, Dr. Harvette Grey, Ann Kalayil, Dr. Aparna Sen-Yeldandi, At Large Women’s Commissioners; Toni Preckwinkle, Cook County Board President

DISTRICT 1       Heroine, Rochelle Smith; Cheryl A. Ealey, Women’s Commissioner; Earlean Collins, Cook County Board Commissioner

DISTRICT 2       Heroine, Dorian Carter; Theresa Olson, Women’s Commissioner; Robert B. Steele, Cook County Board Commissioner

DISTRICT 3       Heroine, Camille Scott Tanner; Dr. Frances Carroll, Women’s Commissioner; Jerry Butler, Cook County Board Commissioner

DISTRICT 4       Heroine, Wanda Parker; Carnice Carey, Women’s Commissioner; William Beavers, Cook County Board Commissioner

DISTRICT 5      Heroine, Twin D. Green; Jennifer Artis, Women’s Commissioner; Deborah Sims, Cook County Board Commissioner

DISTRICT 6       Heroine, Sandra Miller; Jacquelyn Small, Women’s Commissioner; Joan Murphy, Cook County Board Commissioner

DISTRICT 7       Heroine, Linda Sarate; Juana Ballesteros, Women’s Commissioner; Jesus G. Garcia, Cook County Board Commissioner

DISTRICT 8       Heroine, Hope O’Rell; Carmen Flores-Rance, Women’s Commissioner; Edwin Reyes, Cook County Board Commissioner

DISTRICT 9       Heroine, Audrey Nankervis; Marjorie A. Manchen, Women’s Commissioner; Peter N. Silvestri, Cook County Board Commissioner

DISTRICT 10     Heroine, Brenda K. Arreola; Alyx Pattison, Women’s Commissioner; Bridget Gainer, Cook County Board Commissioner

DISTRICT 11     Heroine, Nance Dulaj; Alderman Ginger Rugai, Women’s Commissioner; John P. Daley, Cook County Board Commissioner

DISTRICT 12     Heroine, Zortyza Rodriquez; Andrea Raila, Women’s Commissioner; John A. Fritchey, Cook County Board Commissioner

DISTRICT 13     Heroine, Corrie Wallace; Trina Janes, Women’s Commissioner; Larry Suffredin, Cook County Board Commissioner

DISTRICT 14     Heroine, Debi Stanton; Linda Fleming, Women’s Commissioner; Gregg Goslin, Cook County Board Commissioner

DISTRICT 15     Heroine, Maureen Seleski; Laura Bartell, Women’s Commissioner; Timothy O. Schneider, Cook County Board Commissioner

DISTRICT 16     Heroine, Florence Forshey; Charlene Vickery, Women’s Commissioner; Jeffrey R. Tobolski, Cook County Board Commissioner

DISTRICT 17     Heroine, Mona Purdy; Kathryn A. Below, Women’s Commissioner;   Elizabeth “Liz” Doody-Gorman, Cook County Board Commissioner

For more information about the extraordinary achievements of these women, contact MaryNic Foster, Executive Director of the Cook County Department of Human Rights, Ethics and Women’s Issues at 312-603-1106 or April Williams-Luster, Community Relations Coordinator at 312-603-4288.

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3 Responses

  1. Pingback : Alyx Pattison

  2. Pingback : Karen Kring and...

  3. sheilaturney@gmail.com

    TONI PRECKWINKLE IS A BREATH OF FRESH AIR (LITERALLY) FOR
    COOK COUNTY !! CONGRATULATIONS AND THANK YOU FOR YOUR COMPLEX LEADERSHIP ACROSS ALL AREAS OF OUR COUNTY LIFE !
    KEEP ON !!!!!!
    gratefully,
    sheila turney

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