Growing up, Carole Cheney learned that determination and a strong work ethic could open the doors of opportunity.
As the youngest of three, Carole experienced the ups and downs Illinois families are facing today. To make ends meet, Carole’s dad worked two jobs – one as a butcher at the A&P grocery store, and another at Sears. But when her dad lost his job at Sears and the A&P went out of business, Carole’s family was forced to sell their home to pay the bills. Her mother found work as a secretary in downtown Chicago and when she turned 16, Carole got a job at a brand-new food chain called “Wendy’s.”
Carole knew nothing in life would be handed to her – that whatever she would make of herself, she would have to work for and earn. Carole waited tables to put herself through the University of Illinois-Urbana and later University of Illinois-Springfield, where she earned bachelor and master degrees in journalism. And she paid her own way through Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, where she had the honor of serving as editor-in-chief of the Law Review, with student loans.
Throughout her life, Carole has served in roles that have shaped her values and understanding of the real challenges we face in our communities. After college, Carole worked as a reporter for a downstate National Public Radio station where she saw the real problems facing people in her community – from the devastating effects of flooding that ripped families from their homes, leaving them with nothing, to families struggling to make a fair wage. Later, she joined the National Safety Council, a national non-profit dedicated to keeping us safe on the road, in our homes, and in the workplace.
Through these experiences, Carole saw people who were left on the sidelines; who had to fight back with their own hard work. She also found that, by working together, we can make a positive change in our community. That’s why she always found time to give back to those in need. Carole served food at the homeless shelter run by local churches, taking along her sons, Daniel and Jack, so they would learn respect for others and the value of giving back. Carole has served on the Chicago Advisory Board of Feed My Starving Children, as well as boards of a local Boys & Girls Club and a Children’s Advocacy Center which provides justice and healing to children who have been abused. And in both 2008 and 2016, Carole made life changing trips to Haiti, traveling with her church on humanitarian optical missions helping to improve the eyesight of people whose eyes were damaged by the sun and had no available treatment. Seeing firsthand the poverty and inability of these people to have a voice in their own government, Carole gained a renewed appreciation for the rights and freedoms we enjoy in this country.
Following law school, Carole joined the international law firm of Kirkland & Ellis LLP where she developed a depth of legal expertise, enabling her to get at the heart of an issue and craft lasting solutions, not the temporary fixes that kick the can further down the road often offered by politicians in Washington, DC. Carole’s determination and grit paid off, earning her a partnership at the firm.
As it does for everyone, life threw Carole some curves, and in 2012 she had major neck surgery that left her unable to work for more than a year-and-a-half. During this time, she lost her life savings. Realizing how fortunate she was to have had savings to turn to, Carole left her partnership at the law firm. She took a position as District Chief of Staff for Illinois’ 11th District in Congressman Bill Foster’s office where she focused on serving the district’s constituents. Carole worked to ensure the voices of the community were heard and that the services people had earned were delivered – whether it was helping veterans receive their disability payments, or helping seniors recover overdue social security benefits.
Now, Carole is running to be the next representative for Illinois’ 6th Congressional District because she wants to give a voice back to the community and fight for us in Washington DC. Peter Roskam has forgotten about his constituents; he is more concerned about spearheading President Trump’s reckless agenda than serving the needs of the people he was elected to represent.
To Carole, being a representative isn’t about scoring political points and working your way up the political ladder. It’s about working hard, as she has done her whole life, to make sure that opportunity still exists, and that our children will have hope for a future even better than ours. It is about earning the trust of the community, and keeping that trust. It is about service, and about working together, with shared values and toward shared goals.
These are the principles Carole will live by as the next representative for Illinois’ 6th Congressional District.