Barbara Flynn Currie, Chairman

Barbara Flynn Currie picture

Barbara Flynn Currie served many terms in the Illinois House of Representatives. In 1997, she became House Majority Leader—the first woman to hold the title—and held the post until she retired from the General Assembly at the beginning of 2019. She sponsored the State’s first Freedom of Information Act and the Illinois Earned Income Tax Credit. She was a champion for clean air and water; she spearheaded reforms in State funding for public education and in the juvenile justice system. She has been honored by many organizations, including the Illinois ACLU, Planned Parenthood, Illinois AFL-CIO, Illinois Environmental Council, Friends of the Parks, the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence, and the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform. Barbara earned her A.B and M.A. degrees from the University of Chicago.

For her “forceful, creative, consequential, and civil leadership in the Illinois General Assembly,” Barbara was awarded the 2022 Simon-Edgar Statesmanship Award, which goes to an elected government official “who has demonstrated a pattern of public service characterized by vision, courage, compassion, effectiveness, civility, and bipartisanship.” Upon presenting Barbara with the award, former Illinois Governor Jim Edgar remarked, “I have always been impressed with her passion, decency, and toughness.” He added, “Barbara and I did not always agree on policy issues, but I’ve always respected her dedication to public service and her idealism.” The annual Simon-Edgar Statesmanship Award, which Barbara received in its second year, was jointly established by the Edgar Fellows Program at the University of Illinois Institute of Government and Public Affairs and the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale.