CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago City Council on Wednesday confirmed the appointment of the city’s first Black female fire commissioner. Annette Nance-Holt was serving as acting fire commissioner following the retirement earlier this year of Richard Ford.
When she appointed Nance-Holt acting fire commissioner, Mayor Lori Lightfoot noted she had more than three decades of proven leadership and a passion for public service.
Nance-Holt will take over a fire department with a history of racism and sexism. She joined the department four years after the first women joined the ranks.
Earlier this year, Chicago’s inspector general issued a report recommending the department put in place stronger policies to deal with the sexual harassment and racial discrimination. Last month, she welcomed 42 new members to the department, including 13 women and 15 minorities. It was during that ceremony that Lightfoot nominated her for the top post.
“Graduates, look to Commissioner Nance-Holt’s exemplary example of sacrifice and service, even in the face of her own personal pain and tragedy,” Lightfoot said. “She is the real deal.”
Nance-Holt first gained public notice when her 16-year-old son, Blair Holt, was shot to death in 2007 on a city bus shielding a classmate from gunfire. She went on to establish the nonprofit Purpose Over Pain, which helps parents who have lost children to gun violence.