The Chicago Fire Department (CFD) gained its first female commissioner at a graduation ceremony this past Friday. On May 14, 2021, Mayor Lori Lightfoot appointed Annette Nance-Holt as the first woman to head the Chicago Fire Department.
A 30-year veteran of CFD, Nance-Holt was chosen to lead the department in 2018 as the first deputy commissioner. Richard Ford, the previous commissioner of the Chicago Fire Department, withdrew from the position earlier this year, and Nance-Holt has managed the position since then.
“CFD should possess integration and guidance that reflects the citizens it serves. Growing up, I never saw a woman firefighter, let alone a Black one,” Nance-Holt commented. Even though being a firefighter was always her childhood dream, Nance-Holt did not think it would be attainable because no CFD mentors resembled her. “I plan to be an example to young Black girls that aspire to grow up and one day become a firefighter. I want them to know that whatever you determine in your mind to do is possible.”
This female firefighting mother lost her son, Blair Holt, to Chicago gun violence 14 years ago. Blair, who attended Percy L. Julian High School on the southside of Chicago, was on a CTA bus when gunfire rang out. The young man attempted to protect a friend from danger as bullets from rival gangs sprayed the atmosphere.
Unfortunately, her 16-year-old was killed. Soon after the death of her son, Nance-Holt started a non-for-profit organization entitled, Purpose Over Pain. This is a group of mothers and fathers whose children fell prey to gun brutality.
In May 2017, her son was observed by the city of Chicago with a street sign displaying his name. Ironically, here it is May 2021, and Nance-Holt is also being observed and promoted to first female commissioner of the Chicago Fire Department.
The City Council needs to approve her commission for Nance-Holt to become CFD commissioner officially.
Written by Sharri Rogers
Edited by Cathy Milne-Ware
Chicago Tribune: Mayor Lori Lightfoot nominates Chicago Fire Department’s first woman commissioner; by Gregory Pratt and Jeremy Gorner
Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Arvell Dorsey Jr’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License