Denise Winfrey of Illinois takes reins as new president of NACo

By Mary Ann Barton

Surrounded by her family, Will County, Ill. Board Member Denise Winfrey was sworn in Sunday, July 24 as NACo’s new president at NACo’s 87th Annual Conference in Adams County, Colo.

With her daughter Lisa and granddaughter Logan at her side, Winfrey was sworn in by fellow Will County Board Member Herbert Brooks, Jr.

“I’m pleased to announce today that RISE! will be the focus of my NACo presidency,” Winfrey told county officials gathered in the Gaylord Rockies ballroom. (RISE stands for Resiliency, Inclusion, Solvency and Empowering.)

“In the year ahead, we will share examples of county innovation in expanding Resiliency efforts, promoting Inclusion, establishing Solvency through economic mobility opportunities, and counties Empowering our residents by integrating human services with workforce programs to strengthen career pathways for vulnerable residents, like parenting women,” she said.

“We want to highlight counties on the RISE, particularly those attempting to address women’s equity in each of these areas.”

“The year ahead will include national public awareness campaigns, peer learning exchanges, and conversations on the county role in each of these areas,” she said.

Winfrey told the crowd that her parents helped her get where she is today. “So, who am I and how did I get here?” she asked.

“I can honestly tell you…It’s my parents’ fault. Some of you have heard me speak of their community involvement. They were big on ‘get out the vote’ efforts. As a child, my brothers and I were in the back seat of the car putting together candidate literature. My mother drove while my father knocked on doors. They were working to get the first Black person on the Will County board. My mother also worked for years as an election judge. My father poll watched and drove people to and from the polls.”

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