Born to an unwed teenage mother in the Cabrini-Green housing projects in Chicago, never knowing his father, and adopted by his grandmother at birth, La Shawn K. Ford started his life with few material advantages. His family moved to the West Side of Chicago when he was two, moving into a two-flat family building at Leclaire and Chicago Avenues in the Austin community. Through hard work, love, and tenacity, his family provided him a chance to attend the school across the street, Our Lady Help of Christians Catholic Elementary School. They overcame further challenges when a fire gutted the family home when he was seven, causing Ford and other family members to live with relatives on the South Side of Chicago in the Englewood community for a time. Ford learned the value of hard work and made money for his family by shoveling snow, mowing lawns, collecting bottles and cans for recycling, and stocking produce in the local grocery store. Because of his drive to help people even at an early age, Ford was called “The Alderman” in the neighborhood. Incorporating the values taught by his church and school, and being a good student, Ford enrolled in another Catholic school, Weber High School. After high school, Ford became the first in his family to attend a four year college when he entered Niles College Seminary, and he contemplated becoming a priest. After a year, he entered Loyola University, where he played on the basketball team and earned a Bachelor of Science in Education with a minor in Political Science. For six years, Ford taught social studies to elementary school students and coached basketball in the Chicago Public Schools, and also worked as a Precinct Captain in the neighborhood where he grew up. As a licensed Real Estate Broker, he then decided to pursue his goal of opening his own business in real estate, and he achieved that goal by becoming the founder and owner of Ford Desired Real Estate, providing services to hundreds of clients since 2001. He is also an Illinois Licensed Insurance Agent. He is the proud father of his daughter, Tia.
|Political History and Philosophy
In 2006, campaigning on the theme, “Building Bridges to Success,” Ford unseated a 12 year incumbent who was backed by the Democratic Party, thereby gaining the opportunity to represent the people of the Eighth District in the Illinois House of Representatives. He was re-elected in 2008 and in 2010. Representing a diverse district, which includes the West Side of Chicago and the suburbs of Oak Park, Berwyn, North Riverside, Riverside and Proviso Township, Ford has seized the opportunity to work hard on issues important to his constituents and to all citizens of Illinois. Ford discusses issues with his constituents through his radio show on WVON 1690, “The Voice of the People”, his cable TV show on CAN-TV Channel 21, town hall meetings, small group discussions in constituent homes, and other opportunities. Increasing social justice and addressing disparities are the common themes in his work, in areas such as jobs, education, health, small business development and housing. Ford takes seriously his vow to uphold the Constitution of the State of Illinois, which was established to “eliminate poverty and inequality; assure legal, social and economic justice; [and] provide opportunity for the fullest development of the individual.”
|Community Service and Boards of Directors
Ford follows his natural instincts to get involved and is a leader in community affairs to create environments where organizations and communities can become more vibrant. He serves on many Boards of Directors, including the Austin YMCA, Christ the King Jesuit College Preparatory High School, Austin Chamber of Commerce, the Advisory Board for a Children’s Museum in Austin, Peace Corner, the External Advisory Board for Consortium to Lower Obesity in Chicago Children (CLOCC), and also serves as a Trustee for West Suburban Medical Center.
|Awards and Recognition
Ford has received numerous awards for his work in the Eighth District. Recognition of his contributions include the Austin Business Owner of the Year Award; the Archdiocese of Chicago “Christifideles” and “Augustus Tolton” awards; the Chicago Association of Realtors “Outstanding Achievement” and “Excellence in Performance” awards; the “Outstanding Community Service” Certificate awarded by State Senator Don Harmon in collaboration with the Changing a Generation Foundation; a Certificate of Appreciation from the Austin Community South Austin Coalition; a Certificate of Appreciation from Ashunti Residential Management System Inc.; Honors from the Youth Connection Charter School; The Vernon Jarrett Legislative Award from Dearborn Realtist Board; The Legendary Leaders Award from Circle Family Healthcare Network; Special Honors from Child Serv; Austin Senior Leadership Class Award; Principal for a Day at Spencer Math and Science Academy and George Rogers Clark Elementary School; the Safer Foundation Carre Visionary Award; the Illinois Farm Bureau Activator Friend of Agriculture award; The Austin Community Academy High School Black History Month Career Day award; the Illinois Council on Economic Education Certificate of Appreciation; the Quality Care Champion Award from SEIU Local 880; the 2008 Fleur-de-lis Program Service Award for Advocacy & Awareness presented by the Lupus Foundation of America–Illinois Chapter, Inc; one of Chicago’s Top 40 Game Changers in 2010 by the Urban Business Roundtable; the 2010 Friend of Agriculture Award from the Illinois Agricultural Association and the Illinois Farm Bureau; 2010 Legislator of the Year by Thrive Counseling Center, Oak Park; and Small Business Advocate Award for 2011 by Small Business Advocacy Council; and Award of Recognition for Expanding Opportunities for Employment from the Interagency Committee on Employees with Disabilities, 2011.