Over the last year, IDHS teams across the state have been leading the way to support Illinoisans in navigating the COVID-19 pandemic. Serving our community during this time has come with many logistical challenges, but committed staff across the agency have made the work possible.
In today's Bright Spot, I am excited to highlight the work of our small but mighty Legislative Affairs team, which includes: Andre Jordan (Director), Emily Katalinich (Deputy Director), Kassandra Silva (Legislative Liaison), Roberta Vojas (Legislative Liaison), Lisa McClure (Constituent Services Manager), and Angela O'Neal (Constituent Liaison).
While most of our staff directly deliver programs and services to constituents, Legislative Affairs advocates for IDHS staff, programs and services with members of the General Assembly to ensure our agency and those we serve have the resources and policies necessary to succeed. They also work to guard against policy changes, including budget changes, that could have unintended negative consequences for our patients, customers, and residents. Often referred to as the "ears of our clients, and the voice of IDHS," among lawmakers they provide proactive outreach and engagement that helps our elected officials to hear personal stories from the community level. As for so many IDHS staff, during the pandemic, their work has intensified.
As partners to 177 elected officials, Legislative Affairs helped to provide valuable information to General Assembly members regarding IDHS and its services, so that legislators could effectively engage with and support their constituents. In collaboration with members of the State House and Senate, our legislative team has used Facebook Live as a tool to educate constituents. They have assisted elected officials and their caucuses in connecting Illinois residents to expanded benefits, food, testing, and vaccine appointments.
Legislative Affairs has supported many IDHS successes during this pandemic, but their responsibilities and challenges are significant even in ordinary times. You can support their work by continuing to make policy suggestions, sharing your subject matter expertise, and quickly responding to their requests to assist legislators and constituents who reach out to our agency for help.
Legislative Affairs Assignments include:
- Andre Jordan - Division of Mental Health, Division of Developmental Disabilities, and Office of the Inspector General
- Emily Katalinich - FCS Programs (Youth Services, Immigration, SNAP/TANF/Medical, Justice, and Housing)
- Kassandra Silva - Division of Substance Use Prevention and Recovery CCAP/Early Intervention, OCAPS, and FCS (Immigration)
- Roberta Vojas - Division of Rehabilitation Services, Budget, Legislative Analyst, and the Office of Strategy, Equity and Transformation
- Lisa McClure - FCS Constituent Service Liaison
- Angela O'Neal - DDD, DMH, DRS, and SUPR Constituent Service Liaison
Thank you to Legislative Affairs for all of your hard work and advocacy. I am grateful for your dedication to the IDHS mission.
Grace B. Hou