Carol Ronen

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Carol Ronen
Member of the Illinois Senate
from the 7th district
In office
January 2, 2000 – February 10, 2008
Preceded by Arthur L. Berman
Succeeded by Heather Steans
Personal details
Born (1945-03-28) March 28, 1945 (age 72)
Chicago, Illinois
Political party Democratic
Religion Jewish

Carol Ronen was a Democratic member of the Illinois Senate, representing the 7th District from 2000 to 2008.

Early life[edit]

Ronen graduated from Bradley University with a degree in Political Science. She went on to earn her master's degree from Roosevelt University in Public Administration.

Public service[edit]

Carol Ronen served in the Illinois State Senate from 2000 until she retired in February 2008. Carol was honored to represent one of the most ethnically and culturally diverse areas in the country that includes the Chicago neighborhoods of Edgewater, Andersonville, Bowmanville, Uptown, Lincoln Square, and Rogers Park.

Prior to her service in the Senate, she served seven years in the Illinois House of Representatives. She was best known for her fierce advocacy of Nurses, her commitment to human rights and equality and her advocacy on behalf of children and child safety. Legislation she passed focused upon early childhood development; health care; violence prevention; and protecting human rights…including a woman's right to reproductive choice.[citation needed]

During her tenure in the Senate she chaired the Health & Human Services Committee, where she helped author and pass legislation guaranteeing healthcare to every child and universal pre-K to every four-year-old. She also chaired the Labor and Commerce Committee, where she led the successful effort to increase the minimum wage in Illinois and pass the Equal Pay Act, which increased the number of women covered by equal pay protections and provided for strong state enforcement.[citation needed]

She was an acknowledged leader on a wide range of progressive issues. In 2004 she received the Independent Voters of Illinois-Independent Precinct Organization (IVI-IPO) Ethel Parker award that is bestowed upon the legislator with the best voting record.

In addition, Ronen was the lead senate sponsor of the Illinois Human Rights act, landmark legislation protecting Illinoisans from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Passage of the bill culminated 12 years of work and fulfilled a personal commitment she made when she first ran for office - to extend equal protection to Illinois gay, lesbian and trans-gendered citizens. Illinois was one of only five states in the nation to pass such sweeping protections.[citation needed]

Senator Ronen has been one of the most steadfast supporters of Illinois nurses. From her first year in the general assembly she championed the need to expand access to quality health care by greater utilization of Advanced Practice Nurses (APNs). She was the sponsor of a 1996 bill that allowed APNs to establish practices in Illinois. In recognition of her efforts, Senator Ronen was named the Illinois Nurses Association Legislator of the Year in 1996 and 1997. In 2005, the Illinois Society of Advanced Practice Nurses made Carol the first Honorary Advanced Practice Nurse. In 2007 the Illinois Advanced Practice Nurses Association and, in 2008, the Nurse Anesthetists Association acknowledged her for her years of support and advocacy.[citation needed]

Her work on behalf of children and other underrepresented groups has been recognized on numerous occasions. In recognition of her leadership and commitment to children, Carol was named the first Chair of the House Committee on Children in 1996 while serving in the House of Representatives.[citation needed]

Over the length of her legislative service she has been the recipient of many awards acknowledging her role in protecting children from unsafe products, expanding and improving child care, creating a universal pre-k program, establishing Illinois as the first state to provide every child with healthcare and support for immigrants.[citation needed]

Pension Spiking Scandal[edit]

In 2008, Ronen was hired by her "friend," as she called him,[1] Governor Rod Blagojevich for a position in Illinois state government which she held for approximately sixty days. Her short stint as an aide to the governor spiked her annual state pension by some $38,000 to over $100,000. This $38,000 per year increase, based solely on her short employment with the governor who was later indicted, would result in an additional $798,000 over her lifetime based on the 21-year life expectancy for a 63-year-old woman predicted by Social Security Administration actuarial tables.[2] Adjusting for the statutorily mandated cost of living increases (3% annually), the total amount of additional pension benefits Ronen extracted for just six weeks of work with the embattled former Governor Rod Blagojevich exceeds $1 million. This amount, like the rest of her pension, is free of state income tax. Media around the state editorialized against this manipulation noting that the Obama campaign denied she had worked for it and that Illinois has one of the largest underfunded public pension obligations in the nation.[3]


Carol is an active player in Democratic politics at the local, state and federal level. In her role as 9th C.D. Committeewoman, in 2008, she organized volunteers to travel to Iowa in support of her former state senate colleague Barack Obama. On November 4, 2008, she coordinated an election day phone back to Indiana voters.[citation needed]

Unopposed in each race, she was elected to a four-year term as the 48th Ward Democratic Committeeman in February 2008 and to a four-year term (her fourth) in February 2010 as Democratic State Central Committeewoman for the 9th congressional District where she works closely with longtime friend and ally Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky.

At the national level Carol was elected as a delegate to the 1996, 2000 and 2004 Democratic Conventions. In 2004 she was appointed to represent Illinois on the Democratic National Committee. In 2008 Carol was a super delegate at the Democratic convention that nominated her friend and former Senate colleague Barack Obama.[citation needed]

Helping women get elected to office is a driving interest. To further this goal Carol helped found Women's Voices, Women's Votes, an Illinois state political action committee that supports the election of progressive Democratic women in the Illinois General Assembly and she is on the Advisory Board of Illinois Women in Leadership, a group which mentors young women who seek to run for office.

Human Services[edit]

From 1970 through 1992 she held a variety of administrative positions with the city of Chicago in the health and human services arenas. Some of the positions she held include: Executive Director of the Women's Commission, Director of Research and Evaluation for the Chicago-Cook County Criminal Justice Commission and Director of Legislative and Community Affairs for the Chicago Department of Human Services.


In 2005 she was inducted into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame as a Friend of the Community.[4]


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