Community members gave a warm welcome to activist Precious Brady-Davis when she was sworn as the newest Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD) Commissioner the afternoon of July 12. Brady-Davis was greeted with a standing ovation from the crowd filling Center on Halsted's Hoover-Leppen Theater, where the ceremony took place.
Brady-Davis called the event "a deeply meaningful moment in my life." She was named to the post by Governor JB Pritzker on July 5, and is the first openly Black transgender woman appointed to public office in Cook County history, as well as the first the first openly Black transgender person to serve on a water reclamation board in the United States.
"While I may be the first I truly hope and believe I will not be the last," Brady-Davis said. She has a long history both in environmental- and LGBTQ+-activism, and she was praised for her work by a number of speakers prior to her swearing-in.
Calling Brady-Davis both "hard-working" and "passionate," former Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said that she proudly kept Brady-Davis' autobiography on display in the mayor's office in City Hall for visitors from "around the world" to see. Lightfoot said that the Brady-Davis' appointment signaled "an important statement in Cook Countythat trans lives matter and Black trans lives matter."
Former Illinois House Majority Leader Greg Harris echoed Lightfoot's sentiments when he said that the appointment "sends a message…about what our values are as Illinoisans."
Jennifer Walling, executive director of the Springfield-based Illinois Environmental Council, said, "I have watched Precious for so many years be a leader," further praising Brady-Davis' commitment to environmental justice, which she said was likely fine-tuned by several years working on social justice issues on behalf of the LGBTQ+ community.
"I cannot wait to lobby Precious," Walling joked.
Brady-Davis' oath was administered by Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton, who told Brady-Davis, "You will help lead the way, with your love of people and your love of the environment at the forefront. … You are our ancestors' dream."
Several MWRD commissioners welcomed Brady-Davis at the ceremony, among them openly gay Chairman of Finance Marcelino Garcia, Board President Kari Steele and Commissioner Daniel Pogorzelski, who said, "Precious is here because of her years of advocacy" that she sustained while navigating the myriad challenges that face transgender individuals. Pogorzelski further told Brady-Davis, "You survived. You thrived. You were willing to put yourself on the line."
In her speech, Brady-Davis also expressed her gratitude to both her children and her husband activist Myles Brady-Davis, to whom she said, "You have sacrificed so much, and at every turn you continually say yes."
Arnell Brady III of Cosmopolitan Community Church also spoke prior to the ceremony, and Adam Motz performed a song in Brady-Davis' honor. Activist Mary Morten was emcee.