Gov. Pritzker Names 2020 Census Co-Coordinators in Comprehensive Effort to Ensure Complete Count
Governor JB Pritzker has appointed Oswaldo Alvarez and Marishonta Wilkerson to lead the state's effort to ensure an accurate and complete 2020 Census count for the state of Illinois.
"The 2020 Census will determine if Illinois gets our fair share of federal resources and representation, and these outstanding leaders will be committed to ensuring a complete and accurate count," said Governor JB Pritzker. "We're engaging in a comprehensive effort to ensure every resident gets the representation they deserve. With a $29 million investment and a new Census Office, the state of Illinois will fight against the fear tactics coming from the federal government and make known that we're proud to be home to vibrant, thriving communities of all backgrounds."
"Illinois is well on its way to ensuring a complete and accurate count," said IDHS Secretary Grace B. Hou. "We've never seen such a significant investment in the census until now, and we're seeing a lot of excitement from our partners and stakeholders in the community. We look forward to working with our grantees to continue our efforts and reach the communities and demographics that have previously been hard to count."
The two census co-coordinators will lead the new Census Office within the Illinois Department of Human Services, created by Gov. Pritzker through Executive Order 10. In the FY20 state budget, $29 million was allocated for the state's comprehensive census effort, a majority of which will support community partners' work on the ground.
Oswaldo Alvarez has over 10 years of experience in the non-profit sector - ranging from ground-level program implementation to philanthropy and public policy implementation. Most recently, Alvarez served a Program Officer at Grand Victoria Foundation, which aims to empower communities to ensure Illinois is a great place to live and work. He also worked for the Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership, where he led the agency's strategy on immigration, adult education and apprenticeship programs. From 2007 to 2012, Alvarez directed workforce development initiatives at Erie Neighborhood House, guiding the program from a pilot with no budget to a fully staffed department providing vocational education across three industry areas. A fluent Spanish speaker, he earned his Master's in Social Policy and Administration from the University of Chicago and Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Political Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Marishonta Wilkerson brings a wide range of government and legal experience to the state's effort to ensure a complete count. Since January 2017, she has served as Assistant Counsel to the Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives, where she handled a broad range of high-profile public policy issues, lead technical research and provided bill analysis and legal guidance for members of the General Assembly, their staff and committees. Prior to her state government experience, Wilkerson worked in the Zeke Giorgi Legal Clinic and as an Associate Attorney at Dady & Hoffman, where she led research on immigration laws, cases and federal regulations. She also managed an array of family law and domestic violence cases. A fluent Spanish speaker, she earned her Juris Doctor from Northern Illinois University and Bachelor of Arts in Spanish Literature from Spelman College.
Last month, the Illinois Department of Human Services issued a statewide Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) to issue grants to community providers and local governments to encourage full participation in the 2020 Census. Applications were due Friday, September 13.
More information about Illinois' census efforts and the funding opportunity can be found on census.illinois.gov.