Anita Alvarez [Bio] – Women Driving Excellence 2015 Honoree
The public service record of Anita Alvarez contains many “firsts.” The first female and first Latina elected to the post of Cook County State’s Attorney, she is also the first career prosecutor ever elected to this important public safety position. In her capacity as State’s Attorney, Ms. Alvarez leads the second largest prosecutor’s office in the nation, managing an office of more than 1,500 attorneys and administrative employees.
Since taking office, Ms. Alvarez has made sweeping changes throughout the office implementing a bold new public safety agenda and significantly increasing community-based programming and outreach.
Under her leadership, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office has led the charge across the State of Illinois in enacting many important public safety initiatives that have been signed into law. This includes a tough law that increases criminal penalties for street gang members arrested by police in possession of guns as well as a first-of-its-kind “Street Gang Rico” law that is enabling prosecutors across Illinois to apply new legal tools targeting the illegal activities and structures of gangs.
In addition, State’s Attorney Alvarez created a first-of-its-kind Human Trafficking Initiative within the office which works closely with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies to crack down on individuals and human trafficking groups that exploit children. She also authored the Illinois Safe Children Act, a sweeping new law that enhances protections for juveniles caught in the sex trade and provides new legal tools for police and prosecutors to target those who prostitute children.
She has also formed specialized units within the office to enhance the prosecution of cases involving crimes such as mortgage fraud, consumer fraud, public corruption and domestic violence.
A Chicago native, Ms. Alvarez was born and raised in the Pilsen community. She attended Maria High School, received her undergraduate degree from Loyola University and obtained her Law Degree from Chicago-Kent College of Law. She is an avid runner, a passionate Chicago Black Hawks and White Sox fan and a proud “Hockey and Soccer Mom.” Anita and her husband, Dr. James Gomez, are the proud parents of four children.