Annette Nance-Holt Becomes Chicago's First Black Woman Fire Commissioner

Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Annette Nance-Holt will make history as she takes the helm of Chicago’s Fire Department. Nance-Holt was voted to become the first Black woman to lead the city’s fire department by the Chicago City Council on Wednesday (July 7). This marks the first time a woman and a Black woman will lead the fire department in its 162-year history. 

“It’s official,” Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot tweeted after the council voted Nance-Holt in. “Annette Nance-Holt has made Chicago history by becoming the first Black woman to serve as Chicago Fire Department commissioner,” the tweet added. 

According to NBC Chicago, Nance-Holt has been with CFD for more than 30 years and previously served as First Deputy Commissioner, becoming the first woman to hold that role, too.

Lightfoot said in a statement that Nance-Holt’s experience in public service “makes her the perfect fit for this role."

“Furthermore, in a time where more work remains in order to eliminate discrimination, racism and sexism from the firefighter profession, Commissioner Holt’s history-making appointment as the first woman and Black woman to lead as Fire Commissioner couldn’t have come at a better moment,” Lightfoot added.

Nance-Holt said in a statement that representation within firefighters is important to creating community role models. 

“As a child, I never laid eyes on either a female firefighter or a firefighter of color,” Nance-Holt said in a statement. “There were no role models who looked like me, and so I never thought that becoming a firefighter, which was my dream, would be a possibility for me.

"As Fire Commissioner, I intend to show the next generation of young Black women that they too can achieve any and everything they set their minds and hearts to,” she said. 

The city’s newest fire commissioner is involved in Chicago’s communities, giving back through her nonprofit organizations Purpose Over Pain and the Blair Holt Scholarship Foundation, named in her late son's honor.

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