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  • Writer's pictureTyzza Macias

Breaking barriers, making history, and challenging the status quo.


Clerk Iris Y. Martinez

She is a Latina leader of faith, strength, and honor, Breaking barriers, making history, and challenging the status quo. Her name is Clerk Iris Y. Martinez. Born and raised in Chicago’s West Town community.


Clerk Martinez believes in transformational change. She advocated that change is met with resilience and resistance. She has emerged as a powerful force, representing the Latino culture, community, and Latinas wherever she leads and advocates.


“On November 3, 2020, Clerk Iris Y. Martinez once again made history when elected as the first Latina Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County.”

Her time in elective Office began on January 8, 2003, when Clerk Martinez made history as the first Latina elected to the Illinois State Senate, representing the people of the 20th Legislative District. She continued to make history by serving as Assistant Majority Leader from 2007-2008, a position never before held by a Latina. She was named Majority Caucus Whip in 2013 and became Assistant Majority Leader again in 2018.


On November 3, 2020, Clerk Iris Y. Martinez again made history when elected as the first Latina Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County. The largest of 24 judicial circuits in Illinois. And one of the largest unified court systems in the world.


“She is one of the founding members of the Illinois Unidos, a consortium of over 200 Latino elected and appointed officials.”

On December 1, 2020, Clerk Martinez centered efforts on the statutory duties and responsibilities of the Office while supporting her mission to update and increase the use of technology, transform operations, and increase transparency while providing proper Covd-19 safeguards for employees and constituents.


Clerk Martinez has served as President of the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators and is currently the 4th Congressional District State Central Committeewoman for the Democratic Party of Illinois, the City of Chicago’s 33rd Ward Democratic Committeeperson, and Chairwoman of the Hispanic Caucus for the Democratic National Committee.


Her involvement with the Illinois Legislative Latino Caucus, including previously serving as a Co-Chair, expanded her work on initiatives of importance to minority communities. She championed a law allowing people who are not comfortable speaking or understanding English and those who have trouble hearing to get assistance from an interpreter in the courtroom. Another law she spearheaded ensured that all healthcare facilities treating Medicaid patients in managed care plans must develop and implement language services.


She is one of the founding members of the Illinois Unidos, a consortium of over 200 Latino elected and appointed officials, together with health professionals and representatives of community-based organizations. The initiative aims to present one united voice in stopping the spread of COVID-19.


She strongly advocates for affordable housing, expanding health care access, improving care for seniors and differently-abled populations, and for programs designed to Improve the quality of education for youth in Illinois.


Clerk Martinez believes that her tribe of females in her life and her household helped her stay grounded and taught her resilience and strength to accomplish anything she believes she is capable of.


In the middle of this Summer 2022, I had the pleasure to Interview the one and only Clerk Iris Y. Martinez, regarding her career, accomplishments, and what advice she would give to today's Latina and the future Latina.


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