2023 Visionary of the Year
State Representative Gong-Gershowitz was the chief sponsor and champion for the Teaching Equitable Asian American Community History (TEAACH) Act ensuring that every public elementary and high school student in Illinois learns about the contributions of Asian Americans to the economic, cultural, social, and political development of the United States. The passage of TEAACH in April 2021 was nationally historic, as Illinois became the first state in the country to pass such legislation. Rep. Gong-Gershowitz chairs the Illinois House Judiciary Civil Committee, and she is Vice-Chair of the Immigration & Human Rights Committee.
Gong-Gershowitz’s history motivated her leadership in the AAPI and immigrant community. Her grandparents emigrated from China in the 1920s, started a business and a family. Based solely on their nationality, the federal government unsuccessfully sought to deport them under the Chinese Exclusion Acts.
As an attorney at Winston and Strawn, Gong-Gershowitz partnered with the National Immigrant Justice Center to represent victims of child trafficking and forced marriage and advocated for systemic changes to courtroom procedures involving vulnerable children. These experiences led Gong-Gershowitz to the North Suburban Legal Aid Clinic where, as the first Director of the immigration law practice, she developed the capacity, policies and procedures to meet the needs of Dreamers and other low-income residents of the community.