A former journalist and Emmy award-nominated editor at CBS-TV, State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins has used her experience and communication skills in support of a progressive agenda to create economic and social welfare policies that reduce inequality, expand opportunity and strengthen communities.
Collins has used her role as chairperson of the Senate Financial Institutions Committee to ensure the passage of legislation that protects Illinois consumers and their families. She has played a key role in addressing predatory lending and high foreclosure rates in Chicago through legislation that protects homebuyers and homeowners with subprime mortgages. Long before the national recession, she warned her colleagues and constituents about the dangers of predatory lending. Collins has advanced legislation to teach financial literacy in schools and laws that keep homeowners in their homes during tough times and strengthen renters’ rights.
For her work on financial literacy, Collins received the 2009 Desjardins Youth Financial Education Award. Her numerous other honors include the Egretha Award from AWBC magazine in 2011, the Neighborhood Hero Award for Auburn Gresham from the Neighborhood Housing Service, a Lifetime Achievement Award for commitment to financial issues from the Illinois state treasurer and the Blue Bow Award from Children’s Home + Aid for promoting policies that prevent child abuse.
Her major legislative accomplishments include the Mortgage Rescue Fraud Act, the landmark Sudan Divestment Act and the Payday Loan Reform Act. In addition to chairing the Senate Financial Institutions Committee, she sits on the Insurance, Transportation, Public Health, Commerce and Higher Education committees.
Born in McComb, Miss., Collins moved as a child to the South Side neighborhood of Englewood. She majored in journalism at Northwestern University and is a graduate of Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and Harvard Divinity School.
In 1983, she worked on the massive voter registration drive that helped elect Chicago Mayor Harold Washington. In 1984, she served as press liaison for the Rev. Jesse Jackson during the Democratic National Convention. From 1987 to 1999, she volunteered as minister of communications for the Faith Community of St. Sabina. In 1998, she was honored as a Leadership Greater Chicago Fellow and also had the distinction of serving as a 2001 Legislative Fellow for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton in Washington, D.C.
Collins’ political sentiments mirror those expressed by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: “I have the audacity to believe that people everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits.”