LGBTQ-rights advocate, environmental activist, and Columbia College Chicago alum Precious Brady-Davis ’13, who graduated from Columbia College with an Interdisciplinary BA in Theatre and Liberal Education, has been appointed by Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker to the Board of Commissioners for the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) of Greater Chicago. Brady-Davis, who currently serves as Associate Regional Communications Director at the Sierra Club, will fill the currently vacant seat on the nine-member board of commissioners.
Brady-Davis is the first openly Black transgender woman appointed to public office in Cook County, Illinois, history, according to the Chicago LGBT news site Windy City Times. She is also the first openly Black trans person to serve on a water reclamation board in the United States. Her appointment was announced by Gov. Pritzker on July 5, 2023. She was officially sworn in on July 12, as reported in Block Club Chicago by Columbia College alum Jake Wittich.
The MWRD of Greater Chicago protects Lake Michigan and local waterways from environmental concerns and manages wastewater, stormwater, and drinking water projects and programs in the Greater Chicago area. Its 2021-2025 Strategic Plan calls for a commitment to environmental responsibility and health and safety as the region adapts to the growing effects of climate change. “I’m honored to join the board and serve the nearly 13 million people who access MWRD services every day,” said Brady-Davis. “MWRD has a responsibility to lead in environmental problem-solving while protecting the most vulnerable members of the Chicagoland region. These are both missions I have worked for throughout my life, and I look forward to continuing that work with MWRD.”
Brady-Davis — who came to Chicago from Lincoln, Nebraska, to study at the Columbia College Chicago Theatre Department — served for three years as the assistant director of diversity recruitment initiatives at Columbia College Chicago, implementing the campus-wide diversity initiative and providing leadership and oversight of national diversity recruitment and inclusion policy initiatives. She also served as the youth outreach coordinator at the Center on Halsted in Chicago, the largest LGBTQ community center in the Midwest. During her tenure there, she launched a $1.6 million CDC HIV prevention grant, which provided outreach, education, youth programming, and testing services to more than 3,000 young African American and Latinx gay, bi, and trans youth.
Brady-Davis previously ran for MWRD Commissioner in 2022. She was the first Black trans woman to ever appear on the Cook County Ballot. The political news site Politico reports that Brady-Davis’ appointment to the MWRD board will give her an edge to get the Democratic Party of Illinois’ endorsement next month when it determines whom to slate for the seat for the 2024 election. Brady-Davis, who is appointed to fill out the term of another commissioner who left the board for an appointed seat in the Illinois General Assembly, has already announced her intention to run for the position. But, Politico reports, “Holding onto the county-wide seat won’t be simple. Along with being up for grabs in 2024 because the appointed position needs to be filled by an elected person, it will be open in 2026, too, when the seat automatically opens up. That’s a lot of campaigning.”
“The appointment of a lifelong advocate and trailblazer like Precious Brady-Davis will bring another fierce voice in defense of environmental justice and equity to the MWRD board,” said Governor Pritzker. “I am proud to appoint her to this essential role and hope that Black, trans youth across Illinois see a role model for civic engagement and service to others that reflect their own identities and experiences in her work.”
As previously reported in this blog, Brady-Davis’s memoir, I Have Always Been Me, was published in July of 2021 by Topple Books, an imprint of Amazon Publishing. Topple’s editor is former Columbia College film and video program student Joey Soloway, Emmy Award-winning creator of the Amazon television series Transparent. Topple specializes in works by women of color as well as writers who identify as queer and/or gender nonconforming.