CHICAGO (CBS) — Mayor Lori Lightfoot has tapped Acting Chicago Fire Commissioner Annette Nance-Holt, who lost her teenage son to one of the city’s most infamous shootings in 2007, to serve as the first Black woman to run the Chicago Fire Department.
Lightfoot announced Nance-Holt’s nomination at a graduation ceremony for the latest class of Chicago Fire Department paramedics on Friday.READ MORE: Chicago Weather: Another Wave Of Downpours Coming Early Friday Morning
“Pending City Council approval, Annette will be the first-ever female fire commissioner, putting yet another crack in that glass ceiling,” Lightfoot said. “I know a thing or two about firsts, so madame commissioner, welcome to the club.”
Nance-Holt urged the class of 42 new paramedics to treat the patients they serve as members of their own families.
“Always remember that you will be answering the call for someone on their worst day, and they will remember how you made them feel. You have an opportunity to leave a lasting impression about the Chicago Fire Department and the services that we provide to our citizens.”
Nance-Holt is the mother of Blair Holt, a 16-year-old Julian High School honor student who was shot and killed in 2007, as he was trying to shield a classmate from gunfire on a CTA bus. She and Blair’s father, retired Chicago Police Cmdr. Ronald Holt, have become outspoken advocates for victims of gun violence ever since.READ MORE: Frank Pietrangelo, Hero Of 1991 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Says He Was Among Those Sexually Abused By Hockey Coach Tom 'Chico' Adrahtas
A product of the Chicago Public Schools and a graduate of Chicago State University, Nance-Holt has been a firefighter since 1990, four years after the first women were hired at CFD. Lightfoot said Nance-Holt has served in virtually every role at the department, except for engineer.
“Commissioner Nance’s impressive career has brought meaningful change not only to our Fire Department, but to our city as a whole. Graduates, look to Commissioner Nance-Holt’s exemplary example of sacrifice and service even in the face of her own personal pain and tragedy. She is the real deal, and I have total confidence and support of her to lead this Fire Department in its next chapter,” Lightfoot said.
In 2018, Nance-Holt became the first woman and first Black woman to serve as First Deputy Commissioner.
Lightfoot tapped her as Acting Fire Commissioner in early April, after Commissioner Richard Ford II retired when he reached the department’s mandatory retirement age.
The mayor said Nance-Holt is taking the reins at CFD “at a time when we still have work to do in order to eradicate the scourges of discrimination, racism, and sexism in the firefighter and other professions.”MORE NEWS: Shane Jason Woods Of Downstate Auburn, Illinois Charged In Jan. 6 Capitol Insurrection
“Commissioner Nance’s appointment couldn’t come at a better time, and will further root our city values of equity and inclusion in this great Fire Department,” Lightfoot said.