HR0690LRB103 40225 MST 72145 r


2    WHEREAS, The members of the Illinois House of
3Representatives are saddened to learn of the death of Cook
4County Clerk Karen Yarbrough, a trailblazing Maywood Democrat
5who served in public office for more than two decades; and
6    WHEREAS, Karen Yarbrough was born on August 22, 1950; she
7was a native of Washington D.C. but established herself as a
8third generation entrepreneur in Cook County; she earned a
9degree in business administration from Chicago State
10University and a master's degree in Inner City Studies at
11Northeastern Illinois University and completed a senior
12executive government program at Harvard's Kennedy School of
13Government; and
14    WHEREAS, Karen Yarbrough made significant contributions
15after entering her family's tradition of work in the real
16estate, appraisal, and insurance industry, especially as a
17woman in a then male-dominated profession; she was the founder
18and longtime chief executive officer of Hathaway Insurance and
19was driven to succeed despite those who looked over her
20shoulder to see if the man who ran the business was around; she
21often shared this anecdote to inspire young women to persevere
22through adversity; and



HR0690- 2 -LRB103 40225 MST 72145 r

1    WHEREAS, Karen Yarbrough was sworn in as a state
2representative in 2001 and served for a time as assistant
3majority leader; she earned a reputation as a hardworking
4leader unafraid to fight for what she believed was right; and
5    WHEREAS, Karen Yarbrough was elected Cook County Recorder
6of Deeds in 2012 and Clerk in 2018; she was the first Black
7person and first woman to serve as Cook County Clerk; when the
8recorder's office was eliminated, she assumed all duties of
9that office as county clerk in 2020; and
10    WHEREAS, Karen Yarbrough believed that Illinois would be a
11better place if it ended the death penalty, taking up an effort
12that had made little progress in 30 years; she worked
13tirelessly to help others find the courage to stand for true
14justice and made Illinois the 16th state to repeal capital
15punishment, earning her a Nobel Peace Prize nomination and an
16audience with Pope Benedict XVI in Vatican City; and
17    WHEREAS, Karen Yarbrough believed than many of society's
18problems stem from poverty, and she focused much of her effort
19on eliminating it; she passed legislation creating the
20Commission on the Elimination of Poverty in 2008, and as a
21long-time member of the commission, she led its efforts to
22expand access to affordable housing, adequate food and
23nutrition, quality health care, equal access to education,



HR0690- 3 -LRB103 40225 MST 72145 r

1dependable transportation, enriching child care for all,
2opportunities to earn a living wage, and availability of
3adequate income supports; and
4    WHEREAS, Karen Yarbrough recognized that predatory
5mortgage lending practices had a deleterious effect on
6communities, especially communities of color, and fought to
7crack down on state-chartered banks and establish a program to
8track lending and offer mortgage counseling to potential
9buyers at risk; and
10    WHEREAS, Karen Yarbrough helped usher in the first major
11statewide capital construction program in Illinois in a decade
12to repair the state's crumbling roads, bridges, and schools
13and create jobs; and
14    WHEREAS, Karen Yarbrough led the passage of the Smoke Free
15Illinois Act, one of her proudest achievements, which
16eliminated indoor smoking in bars, restaurants, and other
17public places, protecting countless workers, customers, and
18medically vulnerable individuals from the effects of
19secondhand smoke; while at the time some believed the effort
20could not be done, she fought for what was right and made
21Illinois a leader in the effort to eliminate indoor smoking;
22her policy is now law in the majority of the country; and



HR0690- 4 -LRB103 40225 MST 72145 r

1    WHEREAS, Karen Yarbrough was active in Democratic Party
2politics, working for both the Cook County Democratic Party
3and the Democratic Party of Illinois; she was a Democratic
4committeeperson representing west suburban Proviso Township
5for the Cook County party, where she was also the treasurer;
6she was a member of the state central committee for the
7Illinois party; and
8    WHEREAS, Karen Yarbrough received numerous awards
9recognizing her efforts to promote social justice, public
10health, fair housing, anti-violence, volunteerism and women's
11rights, and she proudly mentored young people who sought to
12become more involved in their communities; and
13    WHEREAS, Karen Yarbrough enjoyed spending time with her
14family and was especially proud of her children and
15grandchildren; and
16    WHEREAS, Karen Yarbrough was a dedicated public servant
17who was always encouraging and paved the way for many; she was
18a wonderful human being and was loved by many; therefore, be it
21we mourn the death of Cook County Clerk Karen Yarbrough, a
22trailblazing Maywood Democrat who served in public office for



HR0690- 5 -LRB103 40225 MST 72145 r

1more than two decades; and be it further
2    RESOLVED, That a suitable copy of this resolution be
3presented to the family of Karen Yarbrough as an expression of
4our deepest sympathy.