Greater Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce welcomes a panel of state level elected officials to discuss the current climate of small business in Illinois. Participating officials include: State Treasurer Michael Frerichs, State Senator Heather Steans, State Representative Ann Williams & State Representative Greg Harris. Attendees will enjoy lunch catered by Vidalia Restaurant at Ravenwood’s Artifact Events.

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Participant Info

Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs

Michael Frerichs was elected Illinois State Treasurer in November 2014. In Illinois, the Treasurer is the state’s Chief Investment Officer and Frerichs is a Certified Public Finance Officer. The office invests $25 billion on behalf of the state and local units of government. Frerichs also believes in providing individuals with the tools to invest in themselves. He does this by encouraging savings plans for college and trade school, increasing financial education among all ages, removing barriers to a secure retirement and protecting residents from predatory companies.

Frerichs was born in the Downstate farming community of Gifford, Illinois. He graduated from Yale University and spent two years in Taiwan where he taught English to young students and learned to speak Chinese. He has served as a Champaign County Board member, Champaign County Auditor and an Illinois Senator. He also served as a volunteer firefighter. Frerichs now lives in Champaign with his young daughter, Ella.

State Senator Heather Steans

Heather Steans has represented Illinois’ 7th District in the Senate since 2008. Currently, she chairs the Appropriations I Committee, vice chairs the Appropriations II Committee and serves on the Executive, Environment and Conservation, Government Reform and Human Services committees. Steans has passed legislation to bring marriage equality to Illinois, reform the state’s Medicaid program, enact significant nursing home reform and improve the environment by reducing mercury waste, creating commercial composting capabilities and banning microbeads.

Steans graduated from Princeton with a B.A. in Urban Studies and received her M.A. in Public Policy from Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. Her professional career has focused on government finance, economic development and education reform. She is the former budget director of the Wisconsin Department of Industry, Labor and Human Relations, served as a strategic planner with the Chicago Public Schools and was a consultant with Ernst & Young. Steans has received numerous awards, including the Legislator of the Year Award from AARP, the Richard Phelan Profile in Courage Award from Planned Parenthood, the Legislative Recovery Award from Trilogy and the Equality Illinois Freedom Award. Steans and her husband Leo have lived with their three children in Chicago’s Edgewater neighborhood for 22 years.

State Representative Ann Williams

Ann Williams is currently serving her fourth term as State Representative of the 11th District on Chicago’s North Side. The district includes the Chicago neighborhoods of West Lakeview, Roscoe Village and North Center, as well as parts of Lincoln Park, Lincoln Square and Ravenswood. Williams’ priorities include supporting our neighborhood schools, protecting critical human services and restoring fiscal stability to Illinois. She is a strong and unwavering advocate of reproductive rights and was a leader in bringing marriage equality to Illinois. She remains committed to ensuring equality for all Illinois families. Since taking office, Williams has worked to protect the environment, advocate for neighborhood schools and increase economic opportunities in the district. She serves as chair of the Tourism, Hospitality, and Craft Industries and is a member of the Green Caucus – a bipartisan group of legislators committed to growing the green economy, maximizing energy efficiency and increasing the opportunities to develop and use clean energy in Illinois. Additionally, Williams is Vice Chair of the Civil Judiciary committee.

Prior to her election, Williams was an Assistant Attorney General and Legislative Director for Attorney General Lisa Madigan. In this capacity, she was responsible for helping craft and implement key parts of the Attorney General’s public interest agenda, including protecting women and children from sex offenders, preventing consumer fraud and creating openness and accountability in state government. Prior to serving as an Assistant Attorney General, Williams was a staff attorney for the Illinois House of Representatives and worked to advance legislation to meet the needs of working families on issues such as increasing access to affordable health care, improving educational opportunities, enhancing public safety and caring for senior citizens. Currently, Williams is an adjunct professor at The John Marshall Law School, and teaches the class “Legislation and Political Thought” to law students during the fall semester. She resides in Chicago’s North Center neighborhood.

State Representative Greg Harris

Greg Harris was elected to the Illinois General Assembly in 2006. Harris serves as State Representative for the 13th District which includes parts of Uptown, Ravenswood, Lincoln Square, North Center, West Ridge and Bowmanville. Harris, who is openly living with HIV, is a Member of House Leadership and serves as Chairman of the House Majority Conference and is the first openly gay person in Illinois to become a member of Legislative Leadership. He is Chairman of the Appropriation–Human Services Committee and serves on the Executive, Insurance and Aging Committees. He is a member of the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR), the Illinois Juvenile Justice Leadership Council and the joint Legislative Health Insurance Exchange Committee. He also serves as chairman on the Violence Prevention Task Force and is a member of the Racial and Ethnic Impact Research Task Force and the Quality of Life Board. Currently, his interests include state finances, mental health and substance abuse issues, addressing the needs of Illinois’s homeless and at-risk youth, comprehensive breast cancer services, marriage equality, trans issues, protecting people with disabilities, nursing home quality and affordable, accessible healthcare. He has been a major sponsor of healthcare reform and insurance reform, breast cancer legislation and was the Chief Sponsor of the Illinois Marriage Equality law.

Harris received the Legislative Champion for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities award, the 2010 Illinois School Counselor Association Legislator of the Year Award, 3 Friend of Agriculture Awards from the Illinois Farm Bureau and is the first person to receive Gay Chicago Magazine’s Person of the Year honor. He has also received two awards from the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless for his leadership on issues surrounding youth homelessness. Harris was presented with the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Champion for the Cure Award, the Chicago House Public Service Award and was honored with the Friend for Life Award by the Howard Brown Health Center. He has been the recipient of Equality Illinois’ 2009 Freedom Award and was recognized by Test Positive Aware Network for his work in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Harris has been recognized for service to various Chicago communities by awards from Travelers and Immigrants Aid, Voice of the People, the Uptown Chamber of Commerce, the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, the Chinese Mutual Aid Society, Ethiopian Community Organization, Korean American Community Services, Asian Human Services, The NAMES Project and others.

About Greater Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce

The Greater Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce (GRCC) is a non-profit membership organization whose mission is to empower local businesses through a proactive and inclusive approach to community issues. While just established in 2015, the Greater Ravenswood Chamber is tied to a 58-year history of fostering a vibrant, locally-focused economy in Ravenswood. Through a variety of innovative programs, initiatives and special events, including the management of SSA#31, the GRCC aims to provide its members with access to information and resources vital to long-term success. The Greater Ravenswood Chamber is guided by the belief that creativity, sustainable living and diverse industry position Ravenswood as a destination neighborhood. The organization serves the area from Foster south to Irving Park and from Leavitt east to Clark.