Chicago Event: Honoree Rep. Greg Harris


Greg Harris was elected to the Illinois General Assembly in 2006. Harris serves as State Representative for the 13th District which includes parts of Uptown, Ravenswood, Lincoln Square, North Center and Bowmanville. Harris, who is openly living with HIV, is the highest ranking openly gay elected official in the State of Illinois. He is Chairman of the Human Services Committee, and serves on the Insurance, Health Care Licenses, Health Care Availability and Access, Public Safety Appropriations and Aging Committees.

Currently, his interests include property tax reform, transit reform, addressing the needs of Illinois’s homeless and at-risk youth, comprehensive breast cancer services, marriage equality, 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 successful Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Unions Act.


Most recently, Harris received the 2010 Illinois School Counselor Association Legislator of the Year Award, and is the first person to receive Gay Chicago Magazine’s Person of the Year honor. He has also received an award 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. He is a two time recipient of the Champaign County Friend of Agriculture award. In addition, 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. Harris is a two time winner of the Chicago Free Press Best LGBT Politician Award and has been a member of the Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame since 1997.


Representative Harris serves on the Honorary Boards of Interfaith Ministry for Immigrant and Refugee Rights and Apna Ghar Domestic Violence Shelter. Harris and 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.