As an organizer, a legislative director and a mom, Kelly Cassidy has spent the past 20 years living her values. Whether fighting for the rights of women and the LGBT community as an activist, working for a smarter criminal justice system within the state’s attorney’s office, or ensuring that her three boys have safe spaces to play in our community, she has devoted the last two decades to making government more accessible, efficient and effective.
Those experiences, both inside and outside the system, have afforded her great insight into how to be a better, more responsive and effective State Representative for the 14th district.
Cassidy’s first job in Chicago was as legislative director for the Chicago office of the National Organization for Women, which was an outstanding introduction to the inner-workings of government. Individuals often found the legislative process too confusing and legislators inaccessible. It was Cassidy’s job to empower women to advocate on their own behalf with legislators.
Highlights of her tenure included aiding in efforts to pass the Human Rights and Family and Medical Leave Acts, as well as defeating bill after bill attacking a woman’s right to choose. Locally, she worked to help pass the city and county human rights ordinances and fought to resume abortion services at County (now Stroger) Hospital.
She has often said that one of her most satisfying jobs was running Illinois Senator John Cullerton’s district office. As theconstituent service lead, Cassidy knew at the end of the day someone had their problem solved because of her efforts. It also became clear how often constituent contacts drove a legislative agenda. Their input often led to the introduction of legislation, intervention with a state agency at the policy level and real change that affected far more people than those few that brought the problem to the office’s attention. Cassidy’s top goal as State Representative is to use the district office in the same manner — helping constituents address their needs, while also looking for ways to prevent problems from recurring.
Through the years, Cassidy has worked both as an advocate and as a professional on issues such as choice, equality, social justice, access to quality health care and child care.
During her tenure at the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, the AIDS Foundation of Chicago and the Chicago Recovery Alliance approached Cassidy about their previously unsuccessful efforts to engage the law enforcement community in efforts to pass politically vexing AIDS prevention legislation which included access to sterile needles. Cassidy’s criminal justice relationships empowered her to bring disparate groups together to build a coalition to secure passage of this vital legislation that helped control the spread of HIV.
Prior to her appointment as State Representative, Cassidy was responsible for development and management of the $20 million grant funding programs within the State’s Attorney’s office. She was a key player in creating programs for domestic violence victims, hate crimes victims and victims of human trafficking, as well as programs to address mortgage fraud, support community justice centers and enhance the use of DNA evidence.
Additionally, she helped lead the budget process for the State’s Attorney, which has given her great insight into the impact of budgets on government policy. While budget numbers shrunk, Cassidy found creative approaches to fund critical programs.
Cassidy’s combination of non-profit sector, state and local government experience provides her with unique perspective, expertise and understanding that empowers her to serve as an outstanding representative for the 14th district.
Cassidy is a member of Temple Sholom.
Cassidy, 44, lives in Rogers Park with her partner, Kelley Quinn, three sons, a dog and a bird named Smitty.