Anita Alvarez made history when she was chosen by voters in 2008 to serve as the Cook County State’s Attorney. Not only did Ms. Alvarez become the first female and the first Hispanic State’s Attorney, she also became the first career prosecutor ever elected to this important public safety position.
Ms. Alvarez began her career in the State’s Attorney’s Office in 1986, and worked her way up through the ranks, handling hundreds of felony cases along the way. In her capacity as State’s Attorney, she leads the second largest prosecutor’s office in the nation, supervising more than 1,600 employees whose primary responsibilities involve prosecuting violent crime and seeking justice on behalf of crime victims and their families.
Since taking office, State’s Attorney Alvarez has continued to make great strides for the residents of Cook County. Working to stem the tide of gang and gun violence, she has drafted bills that have been signed into law, including increasing the penalties for offenders who disarm a peace officer and for gang members found in possession of loaded firearms.
Recognizing the growing issue of the sexual trafficking of young children, she formed a dedicated unit within the State’s Attorney’s Office to target the issue of human trafficking, an increasing problem in the United States and Cook County. She drafted the Illinois Safe Children’s Act, a sweeping new law that enhances protections for juveniles caught up in the sex trade and provides new legal tools for police and prosecutors to target those who prostitute children.
In an effort to increase the investigation and prosecution of public corruption, Ms. Alvarez hired a veteran federal prosecutor to help lead efforts to investigate and prosecute cases involving financial, government and public corruption. Under her leadership more than 50 defendants have been charged with public corruption offenses. She also launched “Operation Cookie Jar,” a new initiative targeting public and government corruption at the local level, including thefts from park districts, local village boards and township governments.
Without any additional county funding, State’s Attorney Alvarez delivered on her promise to restore the concept of community-based prosecution offices, opening four new “Community Justice Centers” in Chicago and suburban Oak Park to enable prosecutors to work more closely with community residents on issues that directly affect the community’s quality of life.
Tackling the many issues surrounding domestic violence and sexual assault has been a priority for the State’s Attorney and she has worked to develop an approach that not only involves effective prosecution of these cases, but also increases the services and the quality of assistance that is provided to victims of these crimes. The Alvarez Administration also secured a multi-million-dollar federal grant to expand a highly effective program that enables prosecutors to take a more intensive approach to the most serious domestic violence cases.
In response to the growing problem of mortgage fraud affecting so many communities throughout Cook County, Ms. Alvarez created a special prosecutions unit specifically dedicated to combating this crime. The Alvarez Administration sought and received a multi-million-dollar federal grant to create a dedicated mortgage fraud unit, which is currently conducting long-term, proactive mortgage fraud investigations and prosecutions.
Outside of the State’s Attorney’s Office, Ms. Alvarez is active in various bar associations and organizations. In 2009, she became the only sitting State’s Attorney to also serve as President of the Chicago Bar Association, one of the largest metropolitan bar organizations in the nation. She was also a founding member of the National Hispanic Prosecutors Association and served as its National President. Additionally, she serves on the Board of Trustees for Fenwick High School and has been active in alumnae activities for her alma mater, Maria High School.
Ms. Alvarez has been honored by various groups and organizations throughout her career. In 2001 she was named Person of the Year by Chicago Lawyer Magazine. That same year, she was honored for her work in the Girl X case by the Council for Disability Rights for precedent setting advocacy. Among her awards has been the Professional Achievement Award from Chicago-Kent College of Law, the Person of the Year Award from the Latin American Police Association and the States Attorney of the Year award presented by the Illinois State Crime Commission. She is also a frequent speaker and lecturer to many organizations and student groups.
A Chicago native, Ms. Alvarez was born and raised by working class parents in the Pilsen neighborhood. She attended Maria High School, received her undergraduate degree from Loyola University of Chicago and her Law Degree from Chicago-Kent College of Law. She and her husband are the proud parents of four children.
Frank Avila MWRD Commissioner Fundraiser
May 23, 2013 - 5:30pm
at Primera Engineers, 100 South Wacker, Suite 700