he Honorable Iris Y. Martinez was sworn into her first term in the Illinois State Senate on January 8, 2003, to represent the people of Illinois’ 20th Legislative District. Located on Chicago’s north side, the 20th District includes some of Chicago’s most diverse neighborhoods including Albany Park, Avondale, Belmont, Cragin, Hermosa, Humboldt Park, Logan Square, and Portage Park.
Senator Martinez is a trailblazer in many respects. Upon her election in 2002, Senator Martinez became the first Hispanic woman in Illinois to be elected to the State Senate. In January 2007 she made history once again when Senate President Emil Jones, Jr. named her Assistant Majority Leader, a position never before held by a Latina. As one of the Illinois Senate’s top legislators, Senator Martinez currently serves as Chair of the Senate Licensed Activities Committee and Vice-Chair of the Senate Pensions and Investments Committee. Senator Martinez is also a member of the Illinois Senate’s Commerce, Education, Energy and Redistricting Committees.
Senator Martinez is also very significantly involved in the national political arena. In September of 2009 she was elected Chairman of the Democratic National Committee Hispanic Caucus and in November of 2009 she was elected President of the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators. She is also a member of President Obama’s Change Commission.
Throughout her years in the General Assembly, Senator Martinez has worked diligently to protect working families and their communities. Senator Martinez secured much needed funding for community agencies such as the Children’s Place, an agency that works with children and families affected by HIV and AIDS, and Concordia Avondale Community Center, which provides daycare, after-school programs and a center for seniors. Martinez also has fought for funding for the Gilead Outreach & Referral Center, which connects uninsured families of metropolitan Chicago with affordable healthcare programs for which they are eligible. She has consistently sponsored and passed legislation to improve the health and welfare of the neediest residents of her district and throughout the state, focusing mainly on women’s health issues.
Through her leadership, several important pieces of legislation signed into law recently have made a direct impact on the people of Illinois. Senate Bill 220 which focuses on affordable housing development, House Bill 1744 which seeks reform of Employment Eligibility Verification Systems, and Senate Bill 1162 which tackles consumer fraud include a few of the issues Senator Martinez has addressed. Senator Martinez remains committed to creating a better Illinois through fair and equitable legislation.
Among Senator Martinez’ leadership roles are the following positions:
- IL State Senator, 20th Legislative District, (elected in 2002)
- IL State Central Committeewomen, 4th Congressional District (elected in 1994)
- Chairman, Democratic National Committee Hispanic Caucus
- President of the National Hispanic Council of State Legislators (NHCSL)
- Chairman of IL State Senate Committee on License Activities
- Vice Chairman of IL Senate Pensions Committee (former Chairman 2004-2006)
- Member of the IL Senate Deficit Reduction Committee
- Member of President Obama’s Change Commission
- DNC Member (appt by the Democratic Party of Illinois) since 1995
- Vice Chairman of the Illinois State Democratic Party
- Member of the Illinois Legislative Latino Caucus
- Founding Member of the Illinois Women in Leadership
- Member of the Council of Women Legislators
- Executive Officer of the National Association of Latino Elected Officials (NALEO)
- Former Assistant Majority Leader, 2006-2008
- Former Member of the Cook County Women’s Commission
Martinez was born and raised in Chicago’s West Town / Humboldt Park community. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Public Policy and Administration from Northeastern Illinois University. She currently resides in the Albany Park Community and has a daughter, Jacklyn Nicole.