Virtual 28th Annual Awards Luncheon
Wednesday, October 20, 2021 | 12 PM Noon CST
Keynote Speaker U.S. Senator Raphael Warnock
Welcome by Governor JB Pritzker
Honoring Norman Lear, Hon. Heather Steans, Hon. Barbara Flynn Currie, and Kelley Foxx
U.S. Senator Raphael Warnock (D-GA) served as Senior Pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta before being elected to the United States Senate in the January 5, 2021 special election runoff. Since his time as a teen peer counselor in high school and his work with the Georgia Department of Health during college, Senator Warnock has fought to increase safe and affordable access to contraceptives and achieve reproductive justice for women and families. He advocates for the expansion of health care coverage and living wages for the people of Georgia. Senator Warnock has supported women’s health and reproductive justice his entire life and is proud to have been endorsed by NARAL and Planned Parenthood Action Fund. He says it best: “I am a pro-choice pastor.” Warnock faces a tough re-election battle in 2022 for a full six-year term against an expected anti-choice extremist.
Norman Lear is best known as a groundbreaking American television writer and producer, decades ahead of his time, bravely addressing the topics of abortion, racism, LGBTQ and women’s rights. In November 1972, just weeks before the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision decriminalizing abortion, Lear aired a two-part episode of his hit series Maude wherein Maude considers having an abortion. It was the first time abortion was addressed on prime time American television. In addition to tackling progressive issues on screen, Lear’s other passion is his work as a human rights activist. In 1981, he founded the advocacy organization, People For The American Way. Lear is a fierce supporter of the First Amendment and progressive social justice causes. Norman Lear has blazed countless trails in his 99 years and is fearless in using his voice to speak up for what’s right. Indeed, a lifetime of achievement!
Heather Steans represented Illinois’ 7th Senate district from 2008-2021. Steans is a monumental champion of reproductive rights in Illinois – she sponsored the historic HB 40 in 2017 which removed Illinois’ “trigger law” and restored Medicaid funding of abortion for low-income women. Steans helped lead the fight to pass the Reproductive Health Act (RHA) in 2019. Steans is the definition of a legislative “work horse,” quietly putting in countless hours to ensure that policies are in place to protect the most vulnerable. During her legislative career, she also passed Marriage Equality, Medicaid expansion, nursing home reform legislation, bills to improve the environment, and sponsored repeal of the death penalty. Heather Steans fully embodies the legacy of Irving B. Harris as both of them leave indelible marks on reproductive rights and justice in Illinois.
Barbara Flynn Currie spent 40 years in the Illinois House of Representatives, during which she served with six governors and led as House Majority Leader for more than half of her career. Flynn Currie championed bills that improved the lives of women and families, as well as social justice issues, including outlawing the death penalty and helping to pass Marriage Equality. In 1995, she argued eloquently on the House floor against the dangerous and cruel PNA law, which still needs to be repealed ASAP. In 2017, Flynn Currie brilliantly called out Governor Rauner’s refusal to sign HB 40 into law by reading his answer to Personal PAC’s Candidate Questionnaire to the entire House, in which he originally supported HB 40. Flynn Currie remains hard at work on these very issues, including her role with Illinois Women’s Institute for Leadership Training (IWIL).
Kelley Foxx is currently a government affairs professional working to eliminate food insecurity and food deserts in underserved communities across the state. Prior to his present role, Kelley was an advocate for transportation access and equity throughout Chicago with a focus on the Black and Brown communities that are often left out or intentionally eliminated. Kelley believes deeply in the championing the rights of those who are voiceless and oppressed. The historic injustices visited upon Black communities in particular has shown up in his work with Planned Parenthood. Kelley has dedicated his time on the board to advocating for outreach to organizations focused on improving health outcomes for Black women. He was recently elected as the Planned Parenthood Illinois Action Board Chair. Kelley recognizes that no society can experience true liberation unless women, particularly marginalized women, are free of the constraints and assaults on their agency and autonomy.