Evelyn Sanguinetti is an American attorney and human rights advocate who served as the 47th Lieutenant Governor of Illinois, becoming the first Latina Lieutenant Governor in the United States. She currently serves as the Executive Director of HOPE Fair Housing Center. In her 20+ years in public service, Evelyn has earned a reputation of being an impactful coalition-builder, problem-solver and change-agent.
Evelyn’s experience in influencing policy at a high level began at an early age. While she was practicing law as a first generation student at the John Marshall Law School (NKA: UIC Law School) [under Ill. Sup. Ct. R. 711], Evelyn successfully handled the first-ever case of source of income discrimination before the Chicago Commission on Human Relations — McCutchen v. Robinson — which became known for establishing a precedent for discrimination based on the source of income. Evelyn continued her growth and interest in leading change immediately after earning her J.D. from The John Marshall Law School (JMLS) in 1998. She accepted a position as an Assistant Attorney General where she would serve the people of Illinois until 2003.
After leaving her position as Assistant Attorney General, Evelyn gained experience in the private sector working for private law firms in Chicagoland and also took a position as an adjunct professor of law at JMLS.
By 2007, Evelyn’s life was forever changed after an accident in a public domain that severely impaired her ability to walk; subsequent medical examinations revealed that she had multiple sclerosis (MS). Her vow to not let MS affect her life allowed her to regain her strength to walk again and through her husband’s support, Evelyn made the conscientious effort to allow her battle with MS to inspire her to run for office. Evelyn chose to enter the political arena in 2011 and served on the Wheaton City Council until 2013 with a platform of promoting safety and improving economic development.
47th Lieutenant Governor of Illinois
In 2013, a student of Evelyn’s at JMLS recommended that she meet with then gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner. During the initial meeting, Evelyn asked “Are you looking for an endorsement or are you looking for a running mate?” to which he replied “both.”
On January 12, 2015, Evelyn Sanguinetti was named the first Latina Lt. Governor of Illinois — also becoming the first Latina in the United States to hold this position.
As Lieutenant Governor, Evelyn regularly visited all 102 counties in Illinois to understand and champion issues unique to each region. She raised awareness and advocated for policy changes on behalf of all Illinoisians — from increased access to telemedicine, to heightened awareness on rural affairs, to the reduction of invasive species like Asian Carp, to combating the opioid epidemic, improving access to quality educational opportunities for all residents —regardless of income or location and increasing access to Angel Investment Tax Credits for minority-owned businesses.
Evelyn was born in Hialeah, a neighborhood outside of Miami, Florida, to teenage parents — her mother a Cuban refugee and her father an Ecuadorian immigrant. Growing up in extreme poverty, Evelyn experienced firsthand the realities of relying on government assistance for food and housing. Despite financial instability, Evelyn’s parents remained determined to give her every opportunity to succeed.
From humble beginnings in Hialeah, Florida, to becoming the nation’s first Latina Lieutenant Governor, Evelyn has never forgotten where she came from or lost the desire to excel in whatever role comes her way.