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IDHR News Events Archives 

  • IDHR Hosts Stage Reading and Discussion"From Slavery to the White House" is a riveting stage play, written by Crystal "Phoenix" Tyler, which takes audience members on a trip down memory land through history.  Join IDHR for a brief stage reading of this play AND a discussion with writer Crystal "Phoenix" Tyler.

    2nd floor, Room 2-025 of the James R. Thompson Center, Wednesday, February 11, 2015 from 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM (CST).

    You may bring a brown bag lunch to this location.  This event is free.  See Photos of the event.
    (February 2015)

  • Illinois Department of Human Rights Director Claps to Receive 2014 Motorola Solutions Foundation Excellence in Public Service Award IDHR Director Rocco Claps to Receive 2014 Motorola Solutions Foundation Excellence in Public Service Award

    The Civic Federation and Motorola Solutions Foundation are pleased to announce the 2014 Excellence in Public Service honoree, Rocco Claps, Director of the Illinois Department of Human Rights.
    (December 11, 2014)

    Photos from the event

    Tribute Film

  • International Human Rights Day 2014 CELEBRATE International Human Rights Day:   Join the Illinois Department of Human Rights, Tuesday, December 9th from 9:00am to 11:30am, for a FREE screening and facilitated discussion of "Mirrors of Privilege:  Making Whiteness Visible," a film featuring stories of several people seeking to overcome issues of unconscious racism and entitlement in order to bridge the gap between good intentions and meaningful change.
    (December 9, 2014)

  • IDHR Director  Rocco Claps receives The Saint Joseph the  Worker AwardBishop Wilkowski selected the Saint Joseph the Worker Award because those chosen to be honored have witnessed the example of Joseph – working for the greater good and doing so with love and humility.  The award was presented to IDHR Director Rocco Claps.
    (November 2014)

  • ICED 2014 Job FairSusan Allen, of the IDHR Springfield office, represented the Department and the Interagency Committee on Employees with Disabilities (ICED) at a Job Fair and Health and Disabilities Fair sponsored by the Illinois Department of Human Services at the Illinois State Fairgrounds on October 29, 2014 in Springfield.  About 80 agencies and vendors were present, and over 150 people with disabilities attended the event. : Ms. Allen provided information about filing a charge of discrimination with the Department and explained procedures for obtaining a state job.
    (October 29, 2014)
  • IDHR Director Rocco Claps IDHR celebrates the 36th Anniversary of Peace Day at Daley Plaza in Chicago.

    Chicago pioneered the celebration of Peace Day and serves as a model for cities throughout the world.  Four years before the United Nations established the International Day of Peace, Chicago designated an official Peace Day on September 7, 1978.  Chicago is the only major city in the world with a 30+ year history of peacebuilding through annual Peace Day events, and is an official United Nations Peace Messenger city.  The Peace School, the founding organization of Peace Day in Chicago, is a U.N. Peace Messenger organization.  IDHR Director Rocco Claps [pictured above], read the Governor’s Proclamation.

    IDHR celebrates Peace Day

    If there is to be peace in the world,
    There must be peace in the nations.
    If there is to be peace in the nations,
    There must be peace in the cities.
    If there is to be peace in the cities,
    There must be peace between neighbors.
    If there is to be peace between neighbors,
    There must be peace in the home.
    If there is to be peace in the home,
    There must be peace in the heart.
    - Lao Tzu, Chinese philosopher

    (September 19, 2014)

  • Latino Heritage Month 2014

    MUCHAS GRACIAS to those who joined us at IDHR Latino Heritage Month Event today!  This event filled up to capacity very quickly with participants from IDHR and other agencies.  Director Claps introduced local teaching artist Thelma Uranga, who gave us a presentation about the history of Papel Picado and its modern use in Latino culture.  Attendees were able to create their own designs and take home various templates to help them create more.  Check out the amazing Papel Picado designs. Thanks for your support and hope to see you at our next event.
    (September 18, 2014)
  • IDHR Attorney Carol CeraIDHR Attorney Carol Cera gave a presentation on sexual harassment on August 28, 2014, at the Mexican Consulate in Chicago as part of Labor Rights Week.
    (August 28, 2014)

  • Women's Equality DayAugust 26th is Women's Equality Day, commemorating the day in 1920 when the 19th Amendment became law and women were finally allowed to vote in the United States.
    (August 26, 2014)

  • Access Living and the Center for Multicultural Communities On August 20th IDHR in partnership with Diversity Inc., Access Living and the Center for Multicultural Communities, conducted the second in a series of seven workshops targeted to the 47 entitlement communities in Illinois.  The workshop series, entitled “Furthering Opportunity: How Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Requirements Affect Your Community and Responsibility under the Fair Housing Act” was attended by local government officials, public housing authorities, housing providers and community groups from the Central Illinois region.  Participants learned about the historical context for Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) legislation, how to foster citizen participation in the planning process, best practices, and how to Affirmatively Further Fair Housing for persons with disabilities.  The workshop was held at Illinois State University’s Bone Student Center in Normal, Illinois.  [Pictured above]  Eugene Dumas, Executive Director of the Center for Multicultural Communities, providing a detailed history on racism throughout the ages.

    Access Living and the Center for Multicultural Communities[Pictured Left]  : Adam Ballard, Advocacy Manager at Access Living, giving recommendations for municipalities on how to Affirmatively Further Fair Housing for persons with disabilities.

    For more information about upcoming dates and locations for the workshop series, please visit our Fair Housing for Municipalities webpage.

    Access Living and the Center for Multicultural Communities [Pictured right]   James Wessendorf (Wess) from the Center for Multicultural Communities providing a historical context for the affirmative nature of AFFH requirements through an examination of U.S. government policies that perpetuated discrimination.
    (August 20, 2014)

  • IDHR Executive Staffers Attend IAOHRA Conference and EEOC Training ConferenceOn August 10th and 11th, 2014, Deputy Director Bobbie Wanzo (Midwest Regional Representative), attended the International Association of Official Human Rights Agencies (IAOHRA) conference.   [Pictured Left to Right]  :   Jean Kelleher, President of IAOHRA, Gustavo Velasquez, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity, Bobbie Wanzo, IDHR Deputy Director.  On August 12th – 14th, 2014, Director Rocco Claps, Deputy Director Bobbie Wanzo, Chief Legal Counsel Lon Meltesen and Charge Processing Manager Brent Harzman, attended the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) training conference.   Both conferences were held at the same venue.   The theme for this year’s IAOHRA conference was “50 Years of the Civil Rights Act of 1964: The Unfinished Agenda”.  

    IDHR executive staffers attend IAOHRA conference and EEOC training conference[Pictured Left to Right]  : Rocco Claps, IDHR Director, Bobbie Wanzo, IDHR Deputy Director, John Rowe, Director (EEOC Chicago District Office).

    The theme for this year’s IAOHRA conference was “50 Years of the Civil Rights Act of 1964:   The Unfinished Agenda”.   This year’s Fair Employment Practice Agencies (FEPA) National Training Conference focused on the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which created the EEOC.

    This year’s Fair Employment Practice Agencies (FEPA) National Training Conference focused on the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which created the EEOC.   Attendance at these conferences was particularly important because of information presented which impact the operations of the Department and the State of Illinois.
    (August 2014)

  • DOI calls for Health Insurers to Bar Discrimination Based on Transgender Status or Gender IdentityDOI calls for Health Insurers to Bar Discrimination Based on Transgender Status or Gender Identity.   Insurers are instructed to remove exclusions of coverage based on gender identity in plans offered under ACA.
    (July 29, 2014)

  • 1964 Civil Rights Act CelebrationToday, July 2, 2014, the 50th anniversary of the signing of The Civil Rights Act of 1964, Director Rocco Claps opened the Freedom Riders exhibit which will be available for viewing on the atrium level of the JRTC.

    The program also included Thomas Madison Armstrong who was a Freedom Rider in the ‘60s.

    Attending the ceremony:  Pictured  (from L to R)    Bill Foster - Congressman (IL-11) Thomas Armstrong - Freedom Rider, Lisa Madigan - Attorney General, Jesse White - Secretary of State, and Rocco Claps - IDHR Director.  View more photos from this event.
    (July 2, 2014)

  • Immigrant Heritage Month We're kicking things off this June with the first ever Immigrant Heritage Month, a nationwide effort to gather and share inspirational stories of immigration in America.

    Immigrants have played a starring role in the history and culture of the United States.  For the month of June, we will focus on telling some of the stories in our own agency.   We start off with our very own Director's story.

    Read other staff members' stories. (June 2014)

  • President of the Union of Comoros IDHR representatives were honored yesterday to meet with Colonel Assoumani Azali, who was the President of the Union of Comoros from 2001 to 2005. Mr. Azali requested the meeting to learn about IDHR and our role in protecting Illinois residents from discrimination by enforcing the Illinois Human Rights Act.

    (Pictured from L to R):  IDHR Chief Legal Counsel - Lon Meltesen, Charge Processing Division Manager - Brent Harzman, Fair Housing Division Manager - Marian Honel, former President of the Union of Comoros - Assoumani Azali, and his son Nour El Fath Azali.
    (May 21, 2014)

  • Asian American Heritage Month The Illinois Department of Human Rights Celebrates Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

    May is Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month - a celebration of Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States.  The month of May was chosen to commemorate the immigration of the first Japanese to the United States on May 7, 1843, and to mark the anniversary of the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10, 1869.
    (May 2014)
  • ICED_2014_Awards_2014The State of Illinois honored the achievements of those who have done an outstanding job of providing equal opportunity and access to people with disabilities, including the Illinois Tollway and a number of other state agencies that have participated in the Successful Disability Opportunities program.

    The awards were presented by Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR) Director Rocco J. Claps, [pictured right], and Illinois Department of Human Services Secretary (IDHS) Michelle R.B. Saddler, [pictured left], at a ceremony of the state’s Interagency Committee on Employees with Disabilities (ICED). Lisa Williams , Illinois Tollway's EEO/AA Officer, [pictured center], was an award recipient.
    (May 20, 2014)
  • New Obligations for Public Contractors A recent law (P.A. 98-107) went into effect which requires most parties to a contract with an Executive Branch State Agency to post employment job vacancies with the State's job board - Illinois Job Link. This job board allows job seekers to search thousands of job openings free of charge.
    (May 20, 2014)

  • You're invited to recognize the nominated winners at the...
          ICED Awards ICED AWARDS (Interagency Committee on Employees with Disabilities)
    (May 20, 2014)
  • 2014 IMHRA Conference Registration:  May 1st!!
    This year's conference theme is "Housing:  Right or Privilege?"
    (May 1, 2014)
  • A Taste of Soul: An interactive conversation exploring the history
    of African American culture and cuisine

    February 27th, 2014 11:15 a.m.  -  12:15 p.m.

    James R. Thompson Center, 9th Floor, Room 9-031, Chicago

    Celebrate Black/African American History Month with us!  The Illinois Department of Human Rights is proud to present this educational event and soul food tasting with Ms. Donna Battle Pierce, Contributing Editor for Upscale Magazine.  Ms Pierce will present on her love for soul food and her passion for researching family recipes that link us to both our heritage and future.  She will focus her talk on the African American perspective.  Ms Pierce is former Assistant Food Editor and Test Kitchen Director for The Chicago Tribune, and Founder and blogger of and where she shares a variety of recipes and writes about their background stories.  Soul food tastings provided by locally owned SNG Catering(website under construction) will accompany the presentation.  For event planning/catering by SNG, contact the owner Marcie A. Younger.

    In addition, IDHR will be compiling an electronic

    "IDHR Family Cookbook"
    to be shared with Ms. Pierce and all attendees. 

    If you are interested in sharing your family recipe, please submit your recipe by February 20th via email to the IDHR training unit.  All are invited to participate no matter your race, ethnicity or national origin.  Photos of your family or dish may be attached to your submission.  Attendance at the event is not required in order to participate in the cookbook.

    Register at:  IDHR-TasteOfSoul
    Questions?   Please call:  312-814-6278

    (February 27th, 2014)

  • IDHR Announces E-PayAs of July 1, 2013, IDHR is pleased to offer E-Pay.   E-Pay is a safe and secure electronic program provided by the State Treasurer's Office that will now allow you to use a credit card to renew an IDHR number.   You can use this service 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  
    (July 1, 2013)

  • The Illinois Department of Human Rights celebrated International Human Rights Day by highlighting the work of six local LGBT civil rights leaders who shared their experiences with a wonderful audience on Friday, December 13, 2013 at the agency sponsored event, "Human Rights:  More than a Movement."  The event culminated with a special American Sign Language interpretive dance performance by Phyl Shisha Thomas, a freelance sign language interpreter and community advocate.  The LGBT civil rights leaders were recognized for their dedication and commitment to advancing human rights and equal opportunity in Illinois.

    Human Rights Day

    Honorees included:

    Rick Garcia, Policy Director, The Civil Rights Agenda
    Owen Daniel-McCarter, Legal Director and Staff Attorney, TransLife Center-Chicago House
    Kim Hunt, Executive Director, Affinity Community Services
    Dalila Fridi, Board Chair, Equality Illinois Education Project
    Rocco J. Claps, Director, Illinois Department of Human Rights

    For more event photos, please Join Us On Facebook.
    (December 13, 2013)

  • Governor Pat Quinn on Wednesday put his signature on a historic measure making Illinois the 16th state to allow same-sex marriage, capping a 40-year push for gay rights that picked up major momentum during the past decade.

    Playing master of ceremonies during an hourlong event, the Governor slowly signed the bill with 100 pens that quickly became souvenirs.  He did so at a desk shipped from Springfield that the administration said President Abraham Lincoln used to write his first inaugural address in 1861 - a speech on the cusp of the Civil War that called on Americans to heed "the better angels of our natue."

    "In the very beginning of the Gettsburg Address, President Abraham Lincoln of Illinois said that our nation was conceived in liberty.  And he said it's dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal, and that's really what we're celebrating today," he said.  "It's a triumph of democracy."

    Gay Marriage Law Signing Ceremony Attending the ceremony:  Pictured (from L to R) IDHR Chief Legal Counsel - Lon Meltesen, Deputy Director - Bobbie Wanzo, Director - Rocco Claps, and Chief, Legislative & Intergovernmental Affairs - Hector Villagrana.
    (November 20, 2013)

  • Look for IDHR's fair housing poster on CTA buses and trains during the month of November.  See it in English, Spanish, Polish or Chinese.

    Fair Housing CTA poster
    (November 15, 2013)
  • Fourteen individuals and two organizations will be inducted into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame, the country's only known government-sponsored hall of fame that honors members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities.

    The chosen nominees will be inducted at the Hall of Fame's annual ceremony, which will take place from 5:30 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, November 12, at the Chicago History Museum, 1601 North Clark Street, Chicago.  A reception begins at 5:30pm, and the program is scheduled for 6 p.m.  The event is free and open to the public.

    Hall of fame inductees fall into one of three categories:  "individual," "organization," or "friend of the community."  Nominees represent all of Chicago's sexual-minority communities, including LGBT Chicagoans, past, present, living, and dead, as well as those who have supported or assisted them.

    Among those honored in 2013 is Rocco J. Claps, Director, Illinois Department of Human Rights.

    Director Rocco Claps Rocco J. Claps (pictured left), for public service in political and government roles as an openly gay man and for advancing LGBT rights goals.  He began on Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan's staff in 1987, worked in federal and Democratic National Committee positions during the Clinton administration, and since 2003 has been Director of the Illinois Department of Human Rights.

    Beginning with the first ceremony in 1991, Mayor Richard M. Daley personally participated in the Hall of Fame's induction ceremonies.  Current Mayor Rahm Emanuel has continued to do so.

    The Hall of Fame's purpose is to recognize the achievements of LGBT Chicagoans, their contributions to the development of the city, and the help they have received from others.  In 2013, it holds its 23rd annual induction ceremony and continues to represent an official recognition by Chicago's government of the city's LGBT residents and their allies.
    (November 12, 2013)

  • Reserve your seat today for Arrest Records as Barriers to Employment, a Midwest summit for attorneys, policy makers, workforce development and employment agencies, human resource personnel, business groups, community organizations, community leaders and residents.
    (October 28, 2013)
  • Illinois Department of Human Rights Collaborates on Outreach with Illinois NAACP

    NAACP Illinois Conference of Branches President George P. Mitchell, Deputy Chief of Staff (Office of the Governor), Samatha Fields, and Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR) Director Rocco Claps Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR) Director Rocco Claps today announced collaborative outreach efforts on statewide human and civil rights issues with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Illiniois Conference of Branches.

    Claps and NAACP Illinois Conference of Branches President George P. Mitchell announced that IDHR staff will be contacting NAACP branch presidents to discuss partnering on a variety of issues, including protection from employment discrimination, and protection from discrimination in accessing public accommodations and real estate transactions.  Partnering will be tailored to local needs, concerns and issues beneficial to mutual constituents.

    Pictured in the photo from left to right: (NAACP Illinois Conference of Branches President George P. Mitchell, Deputy Chief of Staff/Office of the Governor, Samantha Fields, and Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR) Director Rocco Claps).  To view more photos of the event, visit Harvey Tillis Art & Stock Photography.
    (October 2, 2013)

  • 35th Anniversary of Peace Day
    Friday September 20, 2013    Noon to 1 pm
    Daley Plaza, 50 West Washington Street, Chicago

    Director Rocco Claps at Daley Plaza in Chicago Chicago pioneered the celebration of Peace Day and serves as a model for cities throughout the world.  Four years before the United nations established the International Day of Peace, Chicago designated an official Peacy Day on September 7, 1978.  Chicago is the only major city in the world with a 30+ year history of peacebuilding through annual Peace Day events, and is an official United Nations Peace Messenger city.  The Peace School, the founding organization of Peace Day in Chicago, is a U.N. Peace Messenger organization.

    Honorary Chair:   Mayor Rahm Emanuel
    Honorary Co-Chairs:   Rocco J. Claps, Director, Illinois Department of Human Rights, (pictured right); Jesus G. Garcia, Cook County Commissioner 7th District; Cheryl Human, Chancellor, City College of Chicago; Patricia Maza-Pittsford, consul General of El Salvador and Dean of the Chicago Consular Corps; Charles R. Middleton PhD, President, Roosevelt University; Mona Noriega, Commissioner, Chicago Commission on Human Relations.
    (September 20, 2013)

  • Governor Quinn calls on House to Pass Marriage Equality Bill.
  • IDHR collaborated with the Illinois Municipal Human Relations Association on its 2013 Annual Conference held May 2, 2013 at the President Abraham Lincoln Hotel and Conference Center in Springfield.   The conference, entitled Immigration and Discrimination:  Issues and Opportunities, invited municipalities, commissioners, social service organizations, and concerned citizens to learn more about the challenges immigrants to Illinois face in employment and in housing.   The expert panelists included Amalia Rioja, Deputy Chief of Staff to Governor Pat Quinn; Amalia Martinez, Supervising Attorney for the Illinois Department of Human Rights; Alie Kabba, Executive Director of the United Africa Organization; Karla M. Altmayer, Equal Justice Works Fellow of the Illinois Migrant Legal Assistance Program; Leone Jose Bicchieri, Executive Director of the Chicago Workers’ Collaborative; Juliana Gonzalez-Crussi, Policy Analyst & Housing Outreach Coordinator of the Latino Policy Forum; and Deanie Brown, Associate Chancellor for Access and Equal Opportunity at the University of Illinois, Springfield.   The Luncheon Keynote Speaker was Keith Chambers, Executive Director of the Illinois Human Rights Commission.   In addition, a Commissioners’ Training Workshop was conducted by Mark Barthelmy, Human Rights Officer for the City of Decatur.   Some of the topics discussed included the Governor’s strategies for welcoming new Americans, E-verify, Illinois migrant workers and sexual harassment, African Immigrants and underemployment, and gentrification and its disproportionate effect on immigrants.
    (May 2, 2013)
  • IDHR celebrates United Nations Day
    (October 24, 2012)
  • In celebration of Gay Pride Month (June 2012), IDHR and HUD FHEO issued a joint letter on fair housing and LGBT rights, highlighting IDHR’s commitment to eliminating discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and two recent developments at HUD related to LGBT and fair housing. HUD is now accepting fair housing complaints related to gender identity as sex discrimination, and in February, HUD published a regulation prohibiting HUD-funded and HUD-insured housing providers and FHA-approved lenders from basing eligibility determinations on gender identity, sexual orientation or marital status.  A variation of the joint letter was posted on The HUDdle, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's official blog.
    (June 2012)
  • ICED Presents:  "The Scoop on Promotions for State Employees with Disabilities"
    One of ICED's priorities is to inform employees with disabilities about promotional opportunities and procedures.  A seminar to provide that information is scheduled for June 27, 2012, from 1:30 to 4:00 p.m.  Employees can particiapte by videoconference (6 sites on attachment), via webinar (link on attachment), and by teleconference (information on attachment).  View attachment.
    (June 27, 2012)
  • ADA:  Keeping the Promise of Equality  ----- (SAVE THE DATE)
    Join Us in Commemorating the 21st anniversary of the Signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
    (July 14, 2011)
  • 3rd Annual Juneteenth Celebration:  Juneteenth is the official African American Independence Day.  This was the day the last enslaved Africans were emanicipated in Galveston, Texas 2.5 years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation.  Celebrate with songs, poetry and speeches during an event at the Thompson Center in Chicago.
    (June 17, 2011)
  • Governor Pat Quinn and Department of Human Rights Director, Rocco Claps to attend June 2, 2011 Millenium Park Civil Unions Ceremony.

    In celebration of the first day of civil union ceremonies in Illinois, the City of Chicago Commission on Human Relations’ Advisory Council on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Issues will host 30 civil union ceremonies at 10 a.m. on Thursday, June 2, in Wrigley Square at Millenium Park, Randolph Street and Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois.  The event is co-sponsored by The Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events in partnership with the Chicago Office of Tourism and Culture, Lambda Legal, Equality Illinois, and the Alliance of Illinois Judges.  Governor Pat Quinn will attend, and Cook County Clerk David Orr, the Hon. Timothy C. Evans, Chief Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County, and members of the Alliance of Illinois Judges will officiate the civil union ceremonies.

    For more information, here are links to two Chicago Tribune articles:
    Article 1 and Article 2.

    (June 2, 2011)

  • State Advocacy Committee Honors Non-Profits, Businesses and State Agencies for Assisting Employees with Disabilities:  The Interagency Committee on Employees with Disabilities (ICED) hosted its annual awards event to recognize state agencies, non-profit groups and businesses for their support of employees with disabilities, and for promoting a greater awareness of disability issues.  Rocco Claps, Director of IDHR and Co-Chair of ICED, welcomes guests at the May 11, 2011 event in Springfield.

    Awards Ceremony Program

    2011 Award Winners

    ICED Facts

    (May 11, 2011)
  • The Illinois Department of Human Rights and the Office of Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan invite you to celebrate National Fair Housing Month with a week-long film screening of:  AMERICAN CASINO.
    (April 18, 2011)
  • APRIL 12, 2011 PRESS RELEASE:  State Marks Equal Pay Day at Rally in ChicagoGovernor Quinn proclaims Equal Pay Day in Illinois.
    Equal Pay Day Rally in Chicago photos from the event.
    (April 12, 2011)
  • EQUAL PAY DAY RALLY:  The Illinois Department of Human Rights in conjunction with other agencies and organizations will sponsor the rally on Tuesday, April 12th at 12:00 Noon – Daley Center Plaza, Clark and Washington, Chicago.
    (April 12, 2011)
  • On Friday, February 25th, 2011, the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR) and the Du Sable Museum of African American History Month commemorated Black History Month with a free public performance of:

    “She’s Got a Ticket to Ride:  An Interview with Rosa Parks”
    featuring Doreen Griffin as Rosa Parks

    This presentation of the life and legacy of Rosa Parks combined visual and theatrical art to bring to life the powerful story of an unpretentious African-American who sat in the right place at the right time.  Rosa Parks became a world symbol and earned her the well-deserved title of “mother of the modern day civil rights movement”.

    IDHR conducts outreach and educational activities to underscore its efforts to combat discrimination in Illinois.  The Illinois Human Rights Act protects individuals from discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, ancestry, age (40 and over), marital status, physical, mental or perceived disability, military status, familial status, sexual orientation (including gender identity) or unfavorable military discharge.

    Student and Doreen Griffin

    (Griffin is pictured on the right with a student attendee from Chicago Technical Academy at IDHR’s 2011 Black History Month Celebration at the Michael B. Bilandic State of Illinois Building in Chicago)

    Blanca Vargas and Doreen Griffin

    (Griffin is pictured here on the right side of photograph with IDHR Community Liasion Blanca Vargas)
    (February 25, 2011)

  • The Illinois Department of Human Rights in partnership with the Du Sable museum of African American History invites you to Celebrate Black History Month.

    Friday, February 25, 2011

    Join us for a FREE performance of:

    She’s Got a Ticket to Ride:  An Interview with Rosa Parks
    featuring Doreen Griffin as Rosa Parks.
    Doors open at 12pm
    Performance time:  12:30pm – 1:30pm
    Location:  Michael Bilandic Building
    160 North LaSalle, 5th Floor
    Chicago, IL  60601

    **Security screening and government-issued picture ID is required to access the building.
    FREE EVENT.  For RSVP and/or special accommodations, email Abdi Maya or call her at (312) 814-6278.

    This powerful presentation of the life and legacy of Rosa Parks combines visual and theatrical art to bring to life the story of an unpretentious African American who sat in the right place at the right time.  Rosa Parks became a world symbol and earned her the well-deserved title of “mother of the modern day civil rights movement”.  Doreen Griffin aims to educate and inspire people with the knowledge of the profound and courageous history of Rosa Parks.  For more information on Ms. Griffin, please visit the Rosa Parks Performer Website.  You can also email Sheila Cotton or phone her at (773)-947-0600, ext. 242.

    (February 25, 2011)

  • Governor Quinn announces Director Claps in the First round of Top Cabinet Appointments.
    (January 31, 2011)
  • An Historic Day:  Civil Unions Bill Signing --- Director Rocco J. Claps and the Illinois Department of Human Rights co-hosted Governor Pat Quinn’s signing of the Civil Unions bill, known as the Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act (SB1716) on Monday, January 31, 2011 at the Chicago Cultural Center, located at 78 East Washington Street in Chicago.  This venue was chosen because of the hundreds of members of the public who wanted to be present to witness the signing of this bill.  On this historic occasion, same-sex partners became legally able to form civil unions, providing them certain protection under Illinois state law.  Link for More Information About Civil Unions in Illinois.  Notably, civil union partners are recognized as family members in hospitals and other medical facilities and can make decisions about medical care on behalf of their family members.  The law becomes effective on June 1, 2011.  For the Governor’s remarks and press release on the event, click Link to the Governor’s remarks and press release on the event.
    (January 31, 2011)
  • Director Claps:  An Evening with Soldedad O’Brien at Illinois State University, Illinois’ first public university, on Friday January 21, 2011.
    (January 21, 2011)
  • Celebrate Human Rights Day with the Illinois Department of Human Rights Fair Housing Division Open House.  Learn more about the Department s efforts to promote equal opportunity in housing and share in our accomplishments.  Join us for an afternoon of networking, light refreshments and getting to know the Fair Housing Division staff, Wednesday, December 15th, 2010 --- 1pm – 6pm.
    (December 15, 2010)
  • World Aids Day is celebrated on December 1st each year around the world.  It has become one of the most recognized international health days and a key opportunity to raise awareness, commemorate those who have passed on, and celebrate victories such as increased access to treatment and prevention services.
    (December 1, 2010)
  • Fair Housing Training for Service Providers:
    The Illinois Department of Human Rights, Fair Housing Division, will present in a two-part professional development series, November 15, 2010 --- 10:00am – 2:30pm.  Even if you aren’t a housing professional, you can better serve your clients by learning the basics of fair housing laws.  This event is free and lunch is provided, but space is limited.  Link to more information on Fair Housing Training for Service Providers Event.  Register at 312-376-1766 ext. 225.
    (November 15, 2010)
  • The Illinois Department of Human Rights in conjunction with other agencies hosted a morning event with Lilly Ledbetter on Thursday, October 14 at the Chicago Cultural Center, 10:00am – noon.  Don’t miss Lilly talking about equal pay for equal work.

    (Click the play button below to view a slideshow
    from photos of the event).

    (Link to view a video of the Lilly Ledbetter event)

    If you can see this, your browser doesn't understand IFRAME.  However, you can still access photos of this event by clicking on this link:  Photos of Lilly Ledbetter Event

    (October 14, 2010)

  • The Illinois Department of Human Rights participated in the Italian Festival event from Monday, October 4, 2010 through Friday, October 8, 2010 at Daley Plaza.  The Festival is open from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. daily on the aforementioned days.
    (October 4, 2010)
  • Director Rocco Claps at Daley Plaza in Chicago Director Rocco Claps, Illinois Department of Human Rights, read the Governor’s Proclamation declaring Friday, September 17, Peace Day 2010.
    (September 17, 2010)

  • August 26, 1920, marked a watershed moment in our nation’s history.  The United States Secretary of State signed into law the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution giving women the right to vote.  That significant moment in history securing that basic civil right came after a more than 70-year struggle that saw pioneering “radical” women jailed and physically abused as they fought for justice.

    Illinois played a pivotal role in the struggle, and Illinois and suburban women continue to mark our history, politics and policy.  And they should continue to by exercising their rights, speaking out and working to change policies that affect us all.

    On August 26, 2010, Women’s Equality Day, The Illinois Department of Human Rights in conjunction with the Women’s Bureau, U.S. Department of Labor, City of Chicago, Commission on Human Relations, Advisory Council on Women, The Illinois Department of Labor, and the Cook County Commission on Human Rights, Women’s Issues and Ethics sponsored a noontime event commemorating the 90th anniversaries of the 19th amendment as well as the establishment by Congress of the Women’s Bureau of the U.S. Department of Labor.  The event was emceed by Merri Dee.  Speakers included Governor Pat Quinn and his mother, Eileen Quinn, who at 93, was born before women had the right to vote.  Other speakers were Rocco Claps (Director of IDHR), Nancy Chen, Women’s Bureau, Catherine Shannon, Illinois Department of Labor, MaryNic Foster, Cook County Commission on Human Rights, Ken Gunn, and Chicago Commission on Human Relations.
    (August 26, 2010)

    Link to photo images of the Woman’s Equality Day Event

  • Hanging Sign of a HouseIDHR to participate in “Your Rights & You” to bring information to residents about the laws that protect people against discrimination in housing.  Saturday, July 31st, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m., Casa Michoacán, 1638 S. Blue Island Avenue, Chicago.
    (July 31, 2010)

  • 20th Anniversary of ADA
    (July 22 - 24, 2010)
  • ICED Parking Webinar
    (July 8, 2010)
  • Governor Pat Quinn Signs Bill on Bullying in Schools Governor Pat Quinn signed a bill into law that is aimed at reducing bullying in schools.  (Senate Bill 3266)

    Rocco Claps (pictured far left), Director of the Illinois Department of Human Rights, introduced the Governor and thanked the bill’s sponsors and supporters.  Click Link to full article on the signing of the bill on reducing bullying in schools by Governor Pat Quinn.
    (June 27, 2010)

    (June 24, 2010)
  • League of Latin American Citizens DHR Director, Rocco Claps, had the honor of speaking in May at the 54th annual state convention of LULAC (League of Latin American Citizens).  At the convention, Eneida Santana (an IDHR employee, pictured with plaque) was named the convention’s Woman of the Year.  Eneida was cited for her tireless work for the Latino Community, specifically through her teaching of citizenship classes, “in rain or shine, through snow and sleet” every week.

    Please join Chief Legal Counsel Ray Luna and Direcor Rocco Claps by congratulating Eneida.

  • Asian American Heritage Month IDHR celebrates Asian American Heritage Month:  IDHR’s Chicago staff celebrated Asian American Heritage month on May 12, 2010 with “Taste of Japan”.  Pictured are IDHR Director Rocco Claps, second from left; IDHR community relations liaison Blanca Vargas, left, who helped organize the event and representatives of the Japanese TENSKE Market and the Women’s Federation for World Peace, who provided the appetizers.

  • ICED Legislative Reception at the State House Inn, Springfield.
    (April 27, 2010)

    The State Interagency Committee on Employees with Disabilities (ICED) held a successful legislative reception in Springfield on April 27, 2010 attended by legislators, state employees with disabilities, advocates, and friends.  The Committee’s legislative awards for 2010 were presented at the conclusion of the event.

    ICED Co-Chair Rocco J. Claps (Department of Human Rights’ Director) welcomed the group and set forth the Committee’s priority in the coming year as employing greater numbers of people with disabilities through the state Successful Disability Opportunities Program.  In her remarks, ICED Co-Chair Michelle R.B. Saddler (Department of Human Services’ Secretary) discussed Governor Quinn’s “Put Illinois to Work” employment program which is estimated to create 15,000 jobs around the state.  Division of Rehabilitation Services Director Robert Kilbury spoke about the Committee’s history and the importance of jobs for people with disabilities in Illinois.

    Representative Esther Golar was presented with the Committee’s 2010 Carl Suter Award for the legislator of the year.  Representative Sara Feigenholtz received a certificate of appreciation for her work on behalf of people with disabilities throughout Illinois.  The Committee also honored former Representative Kathleen Ryg, who was unable to attend the event.  Each of ICED’s honorees sponsored legislation in the 2009 session that benefited ICED’s mission of increasing employment of persons with disabilities.

    Among the dignitaries present at the event were, Jonathan Monken, Acting Illinois State Police Director, Terry Scrogum, Executive Director of the Arts Council, and Daniel Stralka, Executive Director of the Civil Service Commission.

    The reception was planned by a subcommittee headed by Carlos Charneco, of the Department of Employment Security, who served as the event’s Master of Ceremonies.  John Allen was the ICED photographer for the event.

    ICED, a committee composed of 5 agencies, Departments of Human Rights, Human Services, Central Management Services, Veterans’ Affairs, and the Civil Service Commission, and four employees, was created to increase independence and access for state employees with disabilities.  Other agencies, including the Department of Employment Security, the Council of Developmental Disabilities, and the Secretary of State’s office, assist the Committee with its work.

  • Deputy Director, Bobbie Wanzo Deputy Director Bobbie Wanzo was honored on April 16, 2010, with the Chicago Defender’s Woman of Excellence Award.  The award is given to fifty women who:  “care more than others think is safe, dream more than others think is practical, and expect more than others think is possible.”  The objective of the program is to acknowledge and celebrate African American women who personify the exemplary qualities of respect, responsibility, passion, sisterhood and leadership.  The Chicago Defender-based program is the fourth annual celebration of Chicago’s African American Women of Excellence.  The Chicago Defender celebrated the awardees with a special pull-out section featuring each woman and held a reception at the South Shore Cultural Center.  Congratulations Bobbie
  • Celebrate National Fair Housing Month with the Illinois Department of Human Rights.
    (April 16, 2010)
  • ICED 2010 Awards Ceremony a Success.
    (March 2010)
  • Race & Public Policy:  A Dialogue to Remember

    Each year, the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR) celebrates International Human Rights Day by organizing forums or other activities that speak to issues of importance within a larger human rights framework.

    This year’s IDHR International Human Rights Day event, “Race & Public Policy:  A Dialogue to Remember”, was coordinated according to the 2009 United Nations theme:  “embrace diversity, end discrimination.”

    The forum featured Applied Research Center’s “Race & Public Policy” video on the topic of “leading with race” and how public policy decisions impact “minority” communities.  Terry Keleher, (pictured below) of the Applied Research Center, introduced the video by stating that in the United States, “we have a structure of racial inequality that we cannot just ignore, we cannot wish it away.”  He emphasized the importance of addressing race explicitly but not exclusively due to the many dynamics of human rights.

    Terry Keleher

    Invited panelists then addressed 4 main questions:

    1. For the communities that you work with, what kind of racial disparities do you see?  Are racial inequities being addressed?
    2. If racial disparities were more widely understood and acknowledged, do you think it would make a difference?
    3. What are some strategies you are using to advance equity and inclusion?
    4. For the particular issues or communities you are familiar with, what options or opportunities do you see for addressing racial inequality more effectively?

    Guest speakers included Terry Keleher—Applied Research Center, Doug Schenkelberg—Heartland Alliance, Delmarie Cobb—The Publicity Works, Rene D. Luna—Access Living and Jim Bennett—Lambda Legal.

    Terry Keleher led participants through the afternoon portion of the program by engaging them in a discussion on the key values and ideas of racial justice such as equity, inclusion, equal opportunity, dignity, fairness, and shared power and resources.  He emphasized the distinction between “diversity” as a buzz word and real equity.  “If we see something wrong, it’s not just about pointing it out but being proactive about what we would prefer to see in its place.”  He explained that “colorblindness” believes that we can overcome racism by ignoring race and denies the existence of systemic racism before noting that the “race debate” has two sides — those who would conceal racism and those who attempt to reveal racism.  “We need to illuminate racism in order to eliminate racism,” said Keleher.

    Approximately 50 people attended the event at the Thompson Center – Chicago, IL.  A blog summarizing the event was provided by our partner, Justin Massa – Executive Director of
    Link to blog summarizing the event.

    For any questions or to ensure you are included in future event announcements, please e-mail Abdi Maya.

  • Chicagoland World AIDS Day Events 2009
  • December 2, 2009 Press Release:

    Illinois Department of Human Rights Director Visits Northern Illinois University to Highlight State Law that Protects Students from Sexual Harassment.

  • Race & Public Policy:  A Dialogue to Remember

    The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.”  While the Declaration was established more than 60 years ago, equal opportunity and freedom from discrimination remains a continuous struggle.

    In honor of International Human Rights Day 2009, “embrace diversity, end discrimination,” the Illinois Department of Human Rights presents:

    “Race & Public Policy:  A Dialogue to Remember”
    Wednesday, December 2nd
    James R. Thompson Center -- Room 2-025*

    *bypass screening & directly access 2nd flr. via escalator or elevator

    100 W. Randolph Street, Chicago, IL  60601
    10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

    Join us for a short feature video and discussion on the topic of “leading with race” and how public policy decisions impact “minority” communities.  Guest speakers include Terry Keleher—Applied Research Center, Doug Schenkelberg—Heartland Alliance, Delmarie Cobb—The Publicity Works and other invited panelists.  Participants will share experiences and work together on ideas for addressing racial disparities in housing, employment, healthcare, and education.

    RSVP by nov. 30th by e-mailing Abdi Maya or phone at (312)-814-6278
    [special accommodations due to disability available upon request.]

    **note**:  this is a brown-bag event.  Optional full box lunch available for
    $10 (cash only) – must place order upon RSVP.  Pre-orders only.  Lunch box includes:  beverage, chips, fruit, cookie and sandwich (Turkey Frisco · Bavarian Ham · Tuna Salad
    · Chicken Pesto · Poblano Fresco (vegetarian)

  • November 16, 2009 Press Release:

    Illinois Department of Human Rights Director Visits Illinois State University to Highlight State Law that Protects Students from Sexual Harassment

  • Illinois Department of Human Rights Hosts Display of 2009 Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame

    The Illinois Department of Human Rights will host a display based on the 2009 inductees into Chicago’s Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday, November 23, through Wednesday, November 25, 2009, in the lobby of the James R. Thompson Center, 100 W. Randolph St., Chicago.  Photos and biographies of inductees will be on display, highlighting their achievements and contributions to the City of Chicago.

    This display is sponsored by the City of Chicago Commission on Human Relations’ Advisory Council on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Issues.

    Viewers of the display about this year’s inductees will learn, for example, that:

    • U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Chicago) is a long-time supporter of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities who backs the movement to repeal the Pentagon’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy;
    • Lou Conte is the founder of the Lou Conte Dance Studio and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, both of which contribute to the arts and culture community in Chicago and beyond;
    • Sargent Lori A. Cooper is an an openly lesbian police officer who has helped create significant policy changes within the Chicago Police Department;
    • Zaida Sanabia is a young filmmaker who documented the struggles of starting a gay-straight alliance in her Chicago high school in her film “A Fish Almost Eaten by a Shark”, which has been screened nationwide to educate and train school administrators on creating safe schools for LGBT youth;
    • AIDS Foundation of Chicago is an organization that has helped lead the fight against HIV/AIDS for 24 years by promoting cooperation among service providers at work across Chicago’s various communities, making more than $18 million in grants to agencies coping with AIDS in those communities, aiding the housing needs of persons with HIV/AIDS, and advocating for sound government HIV/AIDS policy.

    The Chicago Commission on Human Relations (CCHR), through its organized response to discrimination, bigotry, and prejudice, works to make Chicago a bias-free city.  The Commission is charged with enforcing the Chicago Human Rights Ordinance and the Chicago Fair Housing Ordinance.  The Commission investigates complaints to determine whether discrimination may have occurred and awards injunctive relief for acts of discrimination.  Under the city’s Hate Crime Law, the agency aids hate crime victims.  The CCHR also employs pro-active programs of education, intervention, and constituency building to discourage bigotry and bring people from different groups together.

  • On November 5, 2009, at the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington D.C., Attorney General Lisa Madigan testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Hearing on “EMPLOYMENT NON-DISCRIMINATION ACT:  ENSURING OPPORTUNITY FOR ALL AMERICANS.”  Director Rocco Claps represented the Illinois Department of Human Rights.
  • Illinois Human Rights chief:  Sexual harassment wrong even on college campuses

    News-Democrat 11/02/09

    The message for colleges is the same it is for the workplace:  sexual harassment is not OK.

    That’s the theme for the informational sessions Rocco Claps is holding at universities around the state this year.  Claps, director of the Illinois Department of Human Rights, is enforcing a new law requiring all colleges to inform students of their rights to seek help from the state if they suffer sexual harassment at school.  On Monday, he spoke to a small group of students and staff at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

    Claps said there’s a serious problem with underreporting harassment in colleges.  In a 2006 survey by the American Association of University Women, he said two-thirds of college students reported experiencing sexual harassment at some point in their college career -- one-third in the freshman year alone.

    But it isn’t necessarily a gender issue:  men and women equally experienced harassment, though men were more often the offenders, Claps said.  Gays and lesbians were frequent targets as well, with “gay-bashing” as recognized as a form of sexual harassment.

    “If it feels like harassment, it probably is, and it’s never OK,” Claps said.  “We want students to know we’re there for them.”

    It’s a power situation, Claps said:  “A person in power over another uses sexual innuendo or other inappropriate comments to make the other person uncomfortable, thus achieving power over them.  Women usually received overtly sexual comments or unwanted physical touches; men often received anti-gay slurs or comments.”

    “We have seen situations where the individual isn’t even gay or openly gay, but the harasser likes to use derogatory terms as a way of asserting power of them,” Claps said.

    “It’s another form of bullying, carried from the schoolyard to the university, he said.  This is the “hostile environment” form of sexual harassment, by far more common than the more blatant “quid pro quo” of sex-for-grades that tends to make the news faster,” Claps said.

    “Quid pro quo” has become less common in schools as in the workplace, as “people understand that they can’t do that,” he said.  “People know how to discriminate differently than they did 30 years ago.”

    But Claps said in the last four years, the Department of Human Rights has received only seven charges filed for such behavior on college campuses.  That’s compared with about 4,000 such charges per year in other areas, such as employment and housing.

    The new law requires that colleges inform all students that they have the right not only to mediation through the university offices, but through the Department of Human Rights as well, especially if they feel the university is not responsive to their concerns.

    “The law applying the same sexual-harassment standards to schools as to the workplace isn’t new,” Claps said, “but requiring that students are informed of those rights is.”  All students were notified of Claps’ visit by e-mail in advance, according to assistant chancellor Paul Pitts.

    And next year, it will apply to K-12 schools as well, if parents feel that their school is not properly addressing harassment of their child.

    Students are not required to go through the university procedure before contacting the state, although Pitts said he hoped students would feel comfortable doing so.  SIUE also has Safe Zone:  staff and faculty trained to help gay and lesbian students deal with issues relating to their sexuality.

    “The university’s harassment policy makes quid pro quo a firing offense, and strongly discourages even consensual professor-student relationships,” Pitts said.  His department investigates about 10-12 “hostile environment” charges per year, some of which result in internal investigations and/or corrective action.

    Claps said SIUE is “ahead of the curve” in dealing with sexual harassment on campus.

    Contact reporter Elizabeth Donald at or (618) 659-0985.

  • The National Federation of the Blind of Illinois held its annual state convention on October 9 to 11, 2009 at the Holiday Inn O’Hare in Chicago.

    IDHR participation:  Marian Honel, Manager, Fair Housing Division, gave a presentation before a group of approximately 60 persons at the conference on Saturday afternoon along with Gertrude McCarthy, Administrative Law Judge, of the Human Rights Commission.  After the event, Honel commented, “I’ve never spoken to a group of blind people before.  It was interesting in that I had to change my expectations for audience feedback.  Even the set up was unusual – the audience members were sitting around tables, and not necessarily facing the speaker’s podium or looking at the speaker.  Luckily, there were a few sighted persons in the audience who provided feedback and let me know I was being understood.  It was gratifying when a few people chuckled at something I said.  In the research I conducted prior to the event, I was reminded to announce contact information and not depend on a flyer or a PowerPoint presentation to provide that information.”

    Honel distributed a fair housing flyer and employment rights flyer in both large print and Braille.  See her if you’d like copies.  Honel is working on making her presentation and PowerPoint available on the IDHR website.

    National Federation of the Blind of Illinois convention brochure/agenda.
    National Federation of the Blind Website.

  • CHICAGO, (September 2009) — In honor of Chicago’s rich Italian American heritage, the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans (JCCIA) is hosting Fiera Italiana from 10 a.m. — 6 p.m., October 5 — 9 at Daley Plaza (50 W. Washington Ave.).  This outdoor festival-style event brings food, drink, performing arts, entertainment, fashion and more in celebration of the culture of Italy.  The festivities will be the kick off to the tradition that is the annual Columbus Day Parade on October 12th.

    “This year, we have a new addition born from the passion and excitement that drives us,” says Jo Ann Serpico, President of the JCCIA.  “Fiera Italiana contributes to the character and vitality of our Columbus Day extravaganza.”

    Fiera Italiana, an open-to-the-public event, is an opportunity for the JCCIA along with assistance from area businesses, to share its mission and celebrate Italian American heritage.  Live entertainment is planned for each day of the festival during the busy lunch hour between noon and 1 p.m.  The midday entertainment kicks off Monday, October 5 with a live fashion show from ZZAZZ Productions under the direction of Italian American, Tracey Tarantino.  The high energy fashion show features Italian runway music and professional models showcasing the designs of Italian designers like Paul Sisti and Melissa Serpico.  Musical entertainment throughout the week includes performances by Paul Ciminello and young, up-and-comer singer/songwriter Franco Campanella, plus Paul Miuccio, Tony Spavone, Enzo Incandella and Paul Motondo.

    In addition to top performers from the Chicago area, visitors enjoy shopping, wine tasting, culinary demonstrations, dining, artistic showcases and strolling performers on the plaza.  Fiera Italiana participating merchants include jewelry designs from Amber Treasures, Carol Akiyama and Maria Marchese.  Also prominent during the festival are several local Italian food and beverage vendors including Palermo Bakery, Rex Italian Foods, Massa Italian Café & Gelateria and Suparossa.

    Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans

    The parish of Our Lady of Mount Carmel is also onsite, and the JCCIA has a booth selling Italian flags, t-shirts and other Italian themed paraphernalia.  Members of Italidea are also on-hand further promoting the Italian culture by distributing information about its Italian language instruction courses and school programs.  Attendees may also receive information from the Italian Cultural Institute and Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR), who will both have representatives available.  IDHR has a booth directly south of the Picasso.

    IDHR’s Director, Rocco Claps (pictured at far right in photo) was introduced in the program beginning at noon.

    Sponsoring the event this year is Italian Steakhouse Gene & Georgetti, Rago Brothers Funeral Homes, Tony’s Finer Foods and Turano Baking Company.  In addition to being a sponsor partner, Supreme Lobster and Seafood Company is also a featured food vendor at Fiera Italiana.  The CEO of Supreme Lobster, Dominic Stramaglia, is the Chairman of this year’s Columbus Day Parade.

    The Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans is an independent non-profit association dedicated to preserving Italian American heritage and providing a unified voice for metropolitan Chicago’s Italian American community.  Founded in 1952, the JCCIA serves as a congress for more than 65 Italian American organizations, as well as a clearinghouse for information about the Chicago area Italian American community.  Working alongside the JCCIA are its three divisions:  the Women’s Division, West Suburban Women’s Division and Young Professionals Division.

    “The goal of Fiera Italiana is for the JCCIA to showcase the culture of Italy and the Italian American heritage to Chicagoans and visitors of Daley Plaza,” says event producer Michelle Durpetti, managing partner of McGowan Durpetti & Associates.  “As an Italian American myself, it is an honor to be a part of such a great event that everyone can enjoy.”

    For more information about Fiera Italiana, contact McGowan Durpetti & Associates at (312) 994-2620.  For more information about the JCCIA, visit the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans Website.

  • International Day of Peace:  The International Day of Peace was established by the UN General Assembly in 1981 for “commemorating and strengthening the ideals of peace within and among all nations and people.”  Twenty years later, the General Assembly decided that 21 September would be observed annually as a “day of global ceasefire and non-violence” and invited all Member States, organizations and individuals to commemorate the day, including through education and public awareness, and to cooperate with the United Nations in the establishment of a global UNITED NATIONS INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PEACE 2009.

    A Chicago Institution:  Chicago pioneered the observance of Peace Day and serves as a model for cities around the world.  Four years before the United Nations established the International day of Peace on September 21, Chicago designated an official Peace Day on September 7, 1978.  Chicago is the only major city in the world with a 30+ year history of peace building through annual Peace day events, and is an official United Nations Peace Messenger city.

    Mayor Richard M. Daley and all of his predecessors have supported Peace day since its inception.  By the late 1980’s, Peace Day proclamations had been issued by governors in all 50 states and mayors in over 540 US cities.  Today, Chicago celebrates Peace Days from September 7–21 in honor of both the original Peace day and the UN International Day of Peace.

    Rocco J. Claps at Daley Plaza Reading Governor’s Peace Proclamation

    Rocco J. Claps, Director of the Illinois Department of Human Rights, serves as one of the co-chairs of the Chicago Build the Peace Committee and read Governor Pat Quinn’s Peace Day Proclamation at the Friday, September 18th rally located at the Daley Plaza.

    (Pictured here is Director Rocco J. Claps reading Governor Quinn’s Peace Day Proclamation at the Daley Plaza Peace Day Rally, September 18, 2009).

    For more information, visit the Chicago Build The Peace Committee Website.

    On September 20–21, 2009, the United Nations’ International Day of Peace will be celebrated with a global telecast via the internet, radio and television.  The UN’s annual commemoration of its central purpose — to end the scourge of war for future generations — highlights and honors the accomplishments of peace organizations and individuals around the world.  This Event will be the largest and most inclusive International Day of Peace Celebration ever produced, as initiated by the Unity Foundation in association with our leading Peacebuilding Partners:  Pathways To Peace & Jane Goodall Institute’s “Roots and Shoots”.

    This historic Event will utilize and for 23 hours of pre-produced and live streaming video from locations throughout the world.  These sites will be interactive vehicles which will empower organizations and individuals to participate in the celebration, and take action to create a more peaceful and sustainable planet through a year-round calendar of global events, tools for networking and collaboration, and links to educational resources.

  • IDHR will co-sponsor a meeting with and reception for John Trasviña, the new Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) along with HUD, the John Marshall Law School, and Chicago Area Fair Housing Alliance.  The event will be held Monday evening, July 27, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at John Marshall Law School.

    John D. Trasviña was appointed in May to this position, replacing Kim Kendrick, who served in this position under the Bush administration.  Highlights from Secretary Trasviña’s bio on the HUD website include that he previously served as President and General Counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) and that under President Clinton, Mr. Trasviña served from 1997 to 2001 as Special Counsel for Immigration Related Unfair Employment Practices.  He also served as a professor teaching immigration law at Stanford Law School and was Director of the Discrimination Research Center in Berkeley.

  • 2009 ADA Celebration “Era for Change” Conference Wednesday, July 15, 2009 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.  Join Us in Commemorating the 19th anniversary of the Signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  • Dawn of a New Era:  Forging Partnerships to Strengthen Our Communities is the theme of the June 11, 2009 IMHRA (Illinois Municipal Human Relations Association) conference to be held in Champaign, Illinois.  IMHRA is a non-profit organization that was established in 1973 to inititate, promote, and conduct educational programs and workshops regarding equal opportunity for all persons and groups in the state of Illinois.  The conference is of interested to human rights professionals, commissioners, legislators, community-based organizations, business leaders, local officials, and concerned citizens.  Registration information available in the attached Illinois Municipal Human Relations Association brochure.
  • ICED (Interagency Committee on Employees with Disabilities) held its legislative reception, Tuesday, May 19, 2009, at the Hoogland center for the Arts in Springfield.  Legislators and their staffs were greeted by ICED co-chair, Rocco Claps, IDHR Director.  Co-chair Carol Adams, Secretary of the Illinois Department of Human Services, was represented by Rob Kilbury.  The Carl Suter award, named in honor of Mr. Suter, who served in state government for many years, including five years as the Director of Rehabilitation Services, was awarded to Senator Susan GarrettSenator Garrett has been a strong advocate for disability hiring in state government.  Senator Garret introduced Senate Bill 40 which passed this year.  It will put the disability hiring initiative in place.

    Senate Bill 40:  Requires the Department of Central Management Services, in cooperation with the Department of Human Services, the Department of Employment Security, and other agencies of State government to develop and implement programs to increase the number of individuals with a disability employed by State government and to submit an annual report (now, the Department of Central Management Services and the Department of Human Services).  Sets forth requirements for the programs.  Deletes provisions requiring the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to develop and implement an education and outreach campaign designed to increase statewide awareness of issues that affect individuals with a disability.  Deletes provisions authorizing chief procurement officers to encourage prospective vendors to consider hiring qualified individuals with a disability.  Effective immediately.

  • IDHR’s Institute for Training and Development is offering its “Open to the Public” trainings in Springfield, Illinois during the week of May 18th.  Due to high demand, our classes are now full and registration is closed.  If you missed your chance to register for these informative and beneficial trainings, you can check our IDHR Training webpage for the full schedule and description of all trainings offered.  State employees can also view course descriptions at the Training Clearinghouse Website.  We will be back in Springfield on July 21 and 22, 2009, offering:

    Intercultural Communication:  Interacting Effectively Across Cultures

    Conflict Resolution

    Diversity Awareness and Sexual Harassment Prevention training


  • Chicago – April 22, 2009 — In celebration of the 41st Anniversary of the Federal Fair Housing Act, the Illinois Department of Human Rights hosted a housing discussion in which representatives from Chicago’s Latino, Polish and African immigrant communities presented information on the challenges they face as a result of the current housing crisis.  IDHR Director Rocco J. Claps welcomed the members of the panel “CommUNITY:  Immigrant Communities Respond to the Housing Crisis” and reiterated the importance of reaching out to communities that are disproportionately affected by unlawful discrimination on the basis of their color, race, national origin, ancestry or any other protected class under the Illinois Human Rights Act.  Approximately 60 people attended the event held at the James R. Thompson Center.  Maury McGough of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development spoke about the importance of moving forward on the promise of the fair housing act to affirmatively further fair housing in a way that is inclusive of all communities.

    Alie Kabba of the United African Organization and Arthur Monroe, radio host and Columnist for Polish Newspaper Wlasny Kat (“Your Own Place,”) gave accounts of fraud and discrimination encountered by immigrants looking to save their homes in foreclosure.

    Alie Kabba Alie Kabba Arthur Monroe Arthur Monroe

    Kelly Virella Francisco Ramos of the Coalition of African, Arab, Asian, European and Latino Immigrants of Illinois and Kelly Virella (pictured at right) of the Chicago Reporter discussed how tenants have been affected by the housing crisis.

    Terry Keleher (pictured here) of the Applied Research Center presented on theTerry Keleher concept of racial equity as it pertains to public policy.  Director Claps stated how pleased he was to hear from representatives of the various immigrant communities, and discussed the importance of the Department’s partnerships with other organizations in its efforts to deter discrimination.  He also referred to the Department’s efforts to include sexual orientation as a protected class, making Illinois the 15th State to prohibit such discrimination.  Also mentioned, was the fact that this past March, IDHR became the first State agency to sign a resolution recommending sexual orientation discrimination be prohibited at the Federal level.  The event was covered by CAN-TV’s Community Partners Program and a blog of the conference is available on the website

    Right Side of Audience Left Side of Audience(audience photos below right)

  • Press Release:

    Governor Quinn Proclaims April as Fair Housing Month in Illinois.  Director Claps signs resolution recommending sexual orientation discrimination be prohibited in federally assisted housing, and IDHR conducts annual fair housing month event.
    (April 22, 2009)

  • The Illinois Department of Human Rights’ Institute for Training and Development is pleased to announce our upcoming Human Rights Training.  Please note that all trainings are conducted by our certified training staff and are both informative and interactive.  IDHR Training.

    There is still time to register for our Conflict Resolution training on May 19 & 20, 2009 in Springfield.

  • attendee (left) and Marion Honel (right)The Illinois Department of Human Rights’ Fair Housing Manager, Marian Honel, participated in the DuPage Home Buyers Fair on Saturday, February 28, 2009, sponsored by the DuPage Homeownership Center and the DuPage County Department of Community Services.  The fair was held to help first-time buyers avoid the pitfalls that have plunged so many current homeowners into crisis.  The Department’s participation, as part of our outreach initiative, helped educate attendees and other vendors on fair housing issues.  Ms. Honel is shown here engaging with an attendee by giving her a fair housing quiz question to check her knowledge of fair housing rights.  Marian Honel (in red)

  • ICED (Interagency Committee on Employees with Disabilities) in partnership with the IDVA (Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs) will be discussing the new GI Bill and other educational benefits for Veterans and their dependents.

    More Information on Event About GI Bill and Other Educational Benefits to be held on March 25, 2009, noon until 3 PM.
    (March 25th, 2009)

  • Martin Luther King Press Release:  Rocco Claps, Director, Illinois Department of Human Rights invites the public to view the IDHR exhibit honoring Dr. King’s birthday.  The exhibit may be viewed on the ground floor of the James R. Thompson Center, 100 W. Randolph, Chicago, until Friday, January 16th, 2009.
    (January 12th–16th, 2009)
    Martin Luther King Photos by Bernie Kleina are featured.

      Archived News Releases (2008 and earlier)


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