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Latinos in the Governor’s Cabinet 

Trailblazer of the Day | Thursday, October 3, 2013

Rose Mary Bombela-Tobias

The first Latino to join an Illinois Governor’s Cabinet was Rose Mary Bombela-Tobias, who earned this distinction in 1991 when Governor Jim Edgar named her Director of the Illinois Department of Human Rights. Bombela-Tobias led such landmark initiatives as the Illinois Business Enterprise Program for Minorities, Females and Persons with Disabilities, and Illinois Hispanic Employment Program. Since leaving Edgar’s Cabinet in 1999, Bombela-Tobias served on the advisory board of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and co-authored Barron’s The Complete Job Search Guide for Latinos. She is President of LULAC Council 313 in Chicago.

Three Latinos currently hold Illinois Cabinet posts:

Hiram Grau became the first Latino Director of the Illinois State Police In April 2011, Grau, of Puerto Rican descent, is a decorated Vietnam veteran and 27-year veteran of the Chicago Police Department, where he spent nine years on the FBI’s Street Gang Investigation Squad and five years as Deputy Superintendent of Investigative Services. He also oversaw narcotics investigations for the Cook County State’s Attorney.

In May 2011, Salvador “Tony” Godínez became Director of the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC). Godínez began his career with IDOC in 1973 as a reentry counselor and became assistant warden at Stateville Prison in 1981. He served as warden of the maximum security Ely State Prison in Nevada, deputy director of the Michigan Department of Corrections and with the Cook County Department of Corrections.

Manuel “Manny” Flores was named Secretary of the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) by Governor Quinn in 2012 after previously running the IDFPR Division of Banking. In 2010, Flores became only the second Latino named to the Illinois Commerce Commission in that agency’s 100-year old history. Previously, he was a Cook County prosecutor and Alderman of Chicago’s 1st Ward, where he was the youngest member of the City Council.

Latinos also hold leadership positions in Illinois non-cabinet agencies.

  • Marty Castro became chairman of the Illinois Human Rights Commission in 2009 and was also appointed in 2011 by President Obama as Chairperson of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.
  • Named Illinois State Board of Education Chairman in 2011, Gery Chico previously sat on the Board of Trustees for both Chicago Public Schools and City Colleges of Chicago. He was Chief of Staff to the Chicago Mayor in the 1990s.
  • Miguel del Valle, a trailblazer who was Illinois’ first Latino State Senator and Chicago’s first Latino City Clerk, was tapped by Governor Quinn in 2013 to serve as Commissioner on the Illinois Commerce Commission.