April 19, 2013

Preckwinkle to deliver Jeanne Simon lecture

by Pete Rosenbery

Toni Preckwinkle

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, the first woman elected to that position, will visit Southern Illinois University Carbondale next week for the Jeanne Hurley Simon Lecture Series.

Preckwinkle will present her lecture at 7 p.m., Wednesday, April 24, in the Student Center Auditorium.  Admission is free and the public is welcome.  The Paul Simon Public Policy Institute is sponsoring the event.  The presentation will be available on livestream at www.paulsimoninstitute.org.

“We are excited about hosting President Preckwinkle,” said David Yepsen, Institute director.  “She is a leading political figure in Illinois and we appreciate her willingness to take time to be here.  One of the things we try to do at the Institute is help people -- particularly from underrepresented groups like women and African Americans -- take an interest in politics and public service.  President Preckwinkle will help us do that.  She can inspire people and she can give them some suggestions for starting their own political careers.”

Prior to her election as Cook County Board president in 2010, Preckwinkle was a 4th Ward alderman in Chicago for 19 years.  She oversees the second largest county in the United States, with more than 5 million residents and a $2.9 million budget.

A high school history teacher for 10 years, Preckwinkle also ran a non-profit organization aimed at neighborhood improvement.  She began her political career with the grassroots political campaign against the city’s political machine to win election in 1991.

Noting there is “sometimes a divide in Illinois between Cook County and the rest of the state,” Yepsen said it’s important that people in both regions understand each other’s concerns and issues.

“We’re all one state and that’s never going to change,” Yepsen said.  “Political leaders across the state need to understand one another’s problems if we are going to solve any of them.”

Preckwinkle earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree from the University of Chicago.

The Jeanne Hurley Simon Lecture Series honors Public Policy Institute founder Paul Simon's first wife, Jeanne, who died in February 2000. The series brings in prestigious speakers in the field of politics, government and other vital issues to campus.

For more information on this or any other institute program, contact the institute at 618/453-4009 or visit www.paulsimoninstitute.org.