Iris Millan is a devoted mom, passionate community organizer, and proud Mexican American. She lives in Humboldt Park with her loving partner Eddie and their two children. They pride themselves in being a bicultural, Mexican and Puerto Rican family.
Her life today was just a far-off – almost unimaginable – dream when her parents made the difficult choice to leave her in Mexico with her grandparents so they could chart a path to America and to be able to have Iris safely join them.
Iris was eight years old when she said goodbye to the only home she knew to join her family in America. Her new home was a small apartment in Logan Square, and on that first day reuniting with both of her parents, she met her five-year-old sister for the very first time.
Her parents worked long hours, her dad in a factory and her mom as a housekeeper. After earning legal residency, they all secured American citizenship with the help of immigration resources.
Iris and her family made great sacrifices, worked hard, and enjoyed the support of a welcoming community.
Iris was afforded the opportunity to learn English in her new school, Darwin Elementary. To make sure Iris could catch up to her peers, her parents signed a waiver to miss school recess so she could spend time learning English. And it paid off, in just a few years, her instructors asked Iris to help with the tutoring of other English learners in her class.
As the oldest, Iris played an important role in her family’s survival. She helped care for her three younger siblings, but her contributions didn’t end there. While attending Kelvyn Park High School, Iris landed a job at a local grocery store. At the same time, she began volunteering at our Lady of Resurrection Medical Center. Once her hard work and talent was recognized by her superiors, her volunteer position turned into a part time job in the evenings as a health information assistant.
Working at the hospital was a dream to Iris, it provided her the flexibility to continue school while helping her family make ends meet. Iris worked in that job for seven years. During those years, she graduated from high school and became the first in her family to attend college. While in college, she was blessed with the birth of her daughter.
But times were very difficult. Iris survived and continued towards her goals because she had access to Illinois’ state public benefits. SNAP benefits kept food on the table at home, her Medical Card provided access to doctors and care for Iris and her daughter, plus MAP and PELL grants meant she could stay in college. These state public benefits were a lifeline to create a better future for Iris and her family.
After graduating from Northeastern Illinois University, Iris volunteered in Senator Durbin’s and then-Alderman Manny Flores’s offices. This work inspired Iris to pursue a career giving back to the community that gave her so much.
Iris’s first opportunity came when she was hired to be the Director of Community Affairs in Alderman Joe Moreno’s office. In that position, she helped her neighbors gain access to community services, worked to improve our schools, and protected our parks and green space.
Following her work in Alderman Moreno’s office, Iris worked at St. Joseph Services helping to bring the community together to support and lift the most vulnerable populations through education. Today Iris works at the City Colleges of Chicago, where she identifies and establishes community partnerships to provide better services and support for students and their families around issues of immigration, housing, food insecurity, educational achievement gaps, civic engagement, and financial literacy. She was also honored to have been selected for the Northeastern Illinois University ENLACE Fellows Master’s Program with a focus on Higher Education Administration.
For Iris, giving back to the community never ends; this is why she also volunteers in her children’s school and accepted a volunteer appointment to the Cook County Commission on Women’s Issues.
Today, Iris is running for State Assembly in the 4th district because it’s disheartening to see the very assistance she relied on, which allowed her to create a better future for herself and her family, being denied to people and leaving the most vulnerable without a path to stability and prosperity.
As a Mexican immigrant, she is eager to galvanize communities to fight back against leaders who undermine the hard work and dedication immigrants put into our country through thriving local communities.
Illinois stopped investing in its future when the state stopped investing in its people. Because of a three-year long squabble over the budget, our community has suffered. Iris will put her experience as a community organizer to work for our neighborhoods, she’ll listen to residents and bring people together to undo the damage of politicians like Bruce Rauner.