“Brighter days are ahead of us all. I am passionate about building effective relationships as well as building bridges to success, meeting the needs of all.” – La Shawn K. Ford
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. Growing up in the Austin and Englewood communities in Chicago, he attended Catholic elementary and high schools by the hard work, tenacity and love of a supportive family and community. 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. Being a good student, Ford became the first in his family to attend a four year college when he entered Niles College Seminary and then Loyola University Chicago, 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 elementary school social studies and coached basketball in the Chicago Public Schools. As a licensed Real Estate Broker, he founded his own real estate business, Ford Desired Real Estate. He is an Illinois Licensed Insurance Agent and continues to be licensed as a teacher. He is the proud father of his daughter, Tia.
Because of his drive to increase social justice and address disparities in areas such as jobs, education, health, increasing opportunities for ex-offenders, small business development and housing, Ford ran for state representative, but lost in 1998 and 2000. However, Ford remained persistent, and was elected in 2006. He was re-elected in 2008, 2010, and 2012. Representing a diverse district, which includes the West Side of Chicago and the western suburbs, Ford has seized the opportunity to work hard on issues for all of Illinois. He was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 2012.
A common theme in Ford’s work is working for social justice, and in the 96th General Assembly Ford authored and passed House Resolution 468 with bipartisan sponsorship urging that social justice be the guiding principle in decision-making in the House of Representatives. Currently Chairman of the Small Business Empowerment & Workforce Development and Restorative Justice Committees, Ford has had significant success passing legislation which has become law in Illinois in areas as diverse as: Creation of the African American Employment Plan Act; Expansion of sealing of criminal records for certain Class 3 and 4 non-violent offenses; Expansion of HIV screening; Protecting the privacy of students who have HIV; Helping people use their LINK cards at farmers’ markets; Lowering the compulsory school age to 6 years; Established a micro-loan program for qualified ex-offenders who are establishing their own businesses; Made law that not less than 10% of state contracts be awarded to small businesses; Established the Small Business Empowerment & Workforce Development Task Force; Established the Violence Prevention Task Force; Established Right to Privacy in the Workplace Act; Established Right to Privacy in the School Setting Act; Established the Council on Responsible Fatherhood; and passing a Resolution urging Congress to amend the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to make all its provisions permanent, among many others. Ford’s State Employment Application Act (Ban the Box) passed both Houses in a previous General Assembly, and the intent of the law has been established by the governor by Administrative Order.
Rep. Ford’s office sends out job listings daily to thousands of people. He has received several awards, including Archdiocese of Chicago “Christifideles” and “Augustus Tolton” awards; Safer Foundation Carre Visionary Award; Illinois Farm Bureau Activator Friend of Agriculture award; One of Chicago’s Top 40 Game Changers by the Urban Business Roundtable; and Small Business Advocate Award by Small Business Advocacy Council. He is the founding Committee Chairman of Illinois State Troop 606 of the Boy Scouts for boys on the West Side of Chicago. In 2014, Ford was elected Community Representative on the Local School Council (LSC) of George Rogers Clark Elementary School. He serves on many Boards of Directors, including Austin Chamber of Commerce, Advisory Board for a Children’s Museum in Austin, Loretto Hospital, Fathers Who Care, Peace Corner, External Advisory Board for Consortium to Lower Obesity in Chicago Children, and the Governing Board of West Suburban Medical Center.