Senator Kwame Raoul

Senator Kwame Raoul (D-13th)

State Senator Kwame Raoul was born in Chicago, Illinois, on September 30, 1964, to Haitian-born immigrants Janin Raoul, M.D., and Marie Therese Raoul. On November 6, 2004, Raoul was appointed to fill the vacancy left in the 13th Legislative District by former State Senator Barack Obama’s election to the U.S. Senate.

Since his arrival in Springfield, Sen. Raoul has quickly gained the confidence of leaders to handle difficult negotiations, from workers’ compensation reform to redistricting to one of the most contentious legislative issues in recent memory: comprehensive public employee pension reform. In fact, Senate President John Cullerton trusted him to chair the conference committee that was ultimately able to break the deadlock on the pension question. The Chicago Tribune has characterized Raoul as the "new ‘it guy' in Springfield" for his ability to take on major responsibilities and bridge partisan divides.

An attorney concerned both with crime victims and the rights of the accused, Sen. Raoul consistently backs criminal justice reform legislation designed to make Illinois not just tough on crime, but smart on crime. He sponsored historic legislation abolishing the death penalty and numerous diversion and second-chance programs for non-violent ex-offenders.  He passed legislation aimed at breaking the code of silence by deterring intimidation of those who cooperate with law enforcement officers. He passed landmark law enforcement reform, including standards for officer-worn body cameras to increase trust and transparency. He also has been recognized for his work against domestic violence and on behalf of its victims. Most recently, Sen. Raoul passed a comprehensive criminal justice reform package aimed at reducing gun violence by cracking down on repeat offenders while creating diversion programs that prioritize recovery over recitivism for first-time offenders.

Sen. Raoul has supported efforts to create and retain jobs in Illinois, including convention center reforms and a multibillion-dollar capital bill.  He sponsored legislation extending the Economic Development for a Growing Economy (EDGE) tax credit for companies that locate in economically depressed areas. He recently spearheaded comprehensive workers’ compensation reform expected to save Illinois employers more than half a billion dollars.

During his tenure as chairperson of the Senate’s Pensions and Investments Committee, Sen. Raoul fought to expand opportunities for minority and women-owned financial service firms and to eliminate corruption in the state’s pension systems. 

In 2011, Raoul was tapped to chair the Senate’s Redistricting Committee, which was responsible for developing new legislative and congressional maps. In that role he secured passage of the Illinois Voting Rights Act to protect racial and language minorities and increase transparency and public participation in the redistricting process. Currently, Sen. Raoul serves as chairperson of the Judiciary Committee, vice chairperson of the Criminal Law Committee and a member of the Executive, Gaming and Insurance committees.

Raoul’s life experiences have shaped his legislative philosophy and made him a leading progressive voice in the Illinois Senate. His father, a physician in the Woodlawn, North Kenwood, Grand Boulevard and Englewood communities for over thirty years, kindled in him a personal commitment to health care access and the people of the South Side.

Raoul is a graduate of DePaul University (B.A., Political Science) and the Chicago-Kent College of Law. He has worked as a prosecutor for the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office and in-house counsel for the City Colleges of Chicago. He is now a partner with the nationwide law firm Quarles & Brady. Raoul has been a member of the Board of Directors of International Child Care, a non-profit organization that operates Grace Children’s Hospital in Port au Prince, Haiti, and has been involved in efforts to rebuild the hospital’s inpatient building, which was destroyed in the devastating earthquake of 2010. Raoul also serves on the board of Legal Prep Charter Academies and was previously on the board of the Cook County Bar Association. He is a member of 100 Black Men and Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity.

Sen. Raoul is a lifelong resident of the Hyde Park/Kenwood community, where he proudly raises his two children, Che and Mizan.