2014 Visionary of the Year
Greg Harris (he/him/his) was elected to the Illinois General Assembly in 2006 and is Majority Leader of the House of Representatives. Harris serves as State Representative for the 13 th District which includes parts of Uptown, Ravenswood, Lincoln Square, North Center, West Ridge and Bowmanville. Harris is a gay elected official in the State of Illinois, who is also openly living with HIV, and is the first openly gay person in Illinois to become a member of Legislative Leadership. He is Chairman of the Rules Committee, and serves on the Appropriation–Human Services Committee and Wages and Rates Subcommittee. He is a member of the Illinois Juvenile Justice Leadership Council and the joint Legislative Health Insurance Exchange Committee. He also serves as chairman on the Violence Prevention Task Force and is a member of the Racial and Ethnic Impact Research Task Force, the Quality of Life Board and the House Task Force on Sexual Discrimination and Harassment.
Currently, his interests include state finances, mental health and substance abuse issues, addressing the needs of Illinois’s homeless and at-risk youth, comprehensive breast cancer services, marriage equality, trans issues, protecting people with disabilities, nursing home quality, and affordable, accessible healthcare. He has been a major sponsor of healthcare reform and insurance reform, breast cancer legislation, and was the Chief Sponsor of the Illinois Marriage Equality law.
Harris received the Hope And Courage Award from Lurie Children’s Hospital, American Cancer Society Advocate Award, Legislative Champion for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities award, the 2010 Illinois School Counselor Association Legislator of the Year Award, 3 Friend of Agriculture Awards from the Illinois Farm Bureau, and is the first person to receive Gay Chicago Magazine’s Person of the Year honor. He has also received 2 awards from the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless for his leadership on issues surrounding youth homelessness. Rep. Harris was presented with the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Champion for the Cure Award, the Chicago House Public Service Award, and was also honored with the Friend for Life Award by the Howard Brown Health Center. He has been the recipient of Equality Illinois’ 2009 Freedom Award and was recognized by Test Positive Aware Network for his work in the fight against HIV/AIDS
In addition, He has also received the Visionary Award from Chinese Mutal Aid Association, Share the Care Champion from Almost Home Kids and the Thresholds Hero Award, Legislative Award 2015 from Neumann Family Services, Light the Darkness 2016 The Community Service Award from nami Chicago, 2016 Distinguished Advocacy Award Illinois from The American Cancer Society . Rep. Harris has been recognized for service to various Chicago communities by awards from Travelers and Immigrants Aid, Voice of the People, the Uptown Chamber of Commerce, the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, the Chinese Mutual Aid Society, Ethiopian Community Organization, Korean American Community Services, Asian Human Services, The NAMES Project and others.
Representative Harris serves on the Honorary Boards of Interfaith Ministry for Immigrant and Refugee Rights and Apna Ghar Domestic Violence Shelter. Harris and former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley shared the Human Rights Campaign “Equality” Award.
Prior to entering public service, Harris served in a number of Senior Management positions with the National Home Furnishings Association.
Greg Harris served for 14 years as Chief of Staff for Alderman Mary Ann Smith of Chicago’s 48th Ward. He co-chaired the City of Chicago’s Task Force on LGBT Substance Use/Abuse and as a member of the Crystal Meth Task Force. He is a founder and first Board President of both Open Hand Chicago and of AIDSWalk Chicago. He has served as chair of Lesbians and Gays in Government, and as a member of the Public Policy and Advocacy Committee of the AIDS Foundation of Chicago. He has served as a Board member of Open Hand Chicago and as a member of the Chicago Area HIV Service Planning Council, a Board Member of the Non-Profit Financial Center, the AIDS Legal Council, and as a Director of the Heartland Alliance for Human Needs and Human Rights.