Senator Heather Steans Bio

Senator Heather Steans, born May 8, 1963 in Lake Forest, Illinois was appointed to the 7th District in February 2008, following the retirement of long-time State Senator Carol Ronen.

Senator Steans earned her B.A. in Urban Studies from Princeton as well as an Masters in Public Policy from Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. She brings a variety of experience to the Illinois Senate as her professional career has focused upon government finance, economic development and education reform.

Senator Steans is a former strategic planner for the Chicago Public Schools and Budget Director for the Wisconsin Department of Industry, Labor & Human Relations. Steans also has worked as the Director of Economic Development for the Civic Committee, an officer to the President of LaSalle National Bank where she focused on Chicago Public School Policy, and as a consultant for Ernst and Young where she implemented software systems for state governments.  She also has experience with Bureau of the Budget here in Illinois where she focused upon the Department of Public Aid’s welfare budgets.

Senator Steans recently served as Board Chair for Chicago Public Radio and serves on the board of Harborquest in addition to serving as a member of the Dean’s Alumni Leadership council for the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Senator Steans also serves as Trustee of the Steans Family Foundation which concentrates its grant making and programs in North Lawndale, a revitalizing neighborhood on Chicago's West side. By dedicating time, money, and skills, the small family foundation works in partnership with local residents and institutions to build and enhance the North Lawndale Community. The Foundation's work supports the idea that effective revitalization can occur within the embedded social and economic networks that create and sustain communities.

Senator Steans is married to Leo Smith and they have three children.

Senator Heather Steans


7th District

Years served: 2008 - Present

Committee assignments: Appropriations I (Chairperson); Appropriations II; Environment and Conservation; Executive Appointments; Executive; Government Accountability/Pensions; Human Services; Oversight Medicaid Mang. Care, Spec (Chairperson); Subcommittee on Special Issues (HS) (Sub-Chairperson).

Biography: Born May 8, 1963, in Lake Forest, IL; B.A. in Urban Studies from Princeton; M.A. in Public Policy from Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government; former budget director, WI Department of Industry, Labor and Human Relations and former strategic planner, Chicago Public Schools; married (husband, Leo Smith) with three children.

Associated Representatives:
Kelly M. Cassidy
Gregory Harris