1st Filam to win Illinois assembly seat
|Posted by Manila Mail under US News|
CHICAGO – Aurora Abella Austriaco, a Filipino American, made history in here by becoming the first Asian American to be elected to the state legislature.
What made her success even sweeter is that this 43-year-old lawyer unseated an incumbent Republican state representative who served the district for eight terms by winning 59% of the votes cast. She was earlier wrongly reported as having lost the election.
In her 17 years as a real estate litigation attorney and as a certified mediator, Austriaco has devoted herself to serving the children, elderly, women and minority population of the state.
â€œMy life experiences have prepared me to tackle any challenge with confidence and determination. I am as committed to being a strong public servant as I was in working hard to graduate college and law school after coming to America,” Austriaco wrote in an essay published by the Chicago Tribune. Austriaco was born in the Philippines to a family of eight, and as such she understands the importance of having a good education, of working hard and in being accountable.
â€œI have overcome many challenges in my life, most significantly immigrating to America when I was 18. Entering a new culture with no connections and only my parents and brothers and sisters, who were new to America, as well, overcoming barriers was difficult but I worked hard to persevere,” Austriaco wrote further.
She realized her dream of being a lawyer by working her way through law school, working during the day and going to school at night. Once finished with her law degree, she set out to fulfill her public spirit.
â€œIf it were not for her parentsâ€™ courageous decision to immigrate to the US, Aurora would not have her life as a loving wife and mother of two, and as a successful lawyer,” the website added.
Austriaco currently serves as Secretary of the Chicago Bar Association and concurrently serves on the board of the Chicago Bar Foundation. She serves as Vice-President of the Center for Conflict Resolution (CCR) and served as the first female and minority President of the Illinois Real Estate Lawyersâ€™ Association (IRELA), an organization of approximately 1,200 real estate lawyers throughout Illinois.
She is a founding board member of the Filipino American Bar Association, past board member and current member of the Asian American Bar Association and the ISBA Real Estate Section Council. Aurora also served as board member of the Womenâ€™s Bar Association of Illinois (WBAI) and was recently elected to the Board of Directors of Attorneysâ€™ Title Guaranty Fund, Inc., a bar related title insurance company. Austriaco is the first female minority elected to the ATG board.
In addition to her bar association involvement, Aurora is also active in the community.
She is currently serving her sixth term as Chair of the Cook County States Attorneys Asian Advisory Council and her ninth year as Commissioner for the Cook County Human Rights Commission. She also serves as a Commissioner for the Park Ridge Building and Zoning Commission. Aurora recently served as President of the Asian American Institute and was elected to the Board of Governors of the Catholic Lawyers Guild of Illinois.
She is a member of the Governorsâ€™ Asian Advisory Council, the Attorney General Asian Advisory Council and Illinois State Treasurerâ€™s Asian Advisory Council. Aurora was a 2004 Fellow of the Leadership of Greater Chicago. She served as a member of the Filipino American Voters League from 1996-98 and as Treasurer of the League of Women Voters of Chicago.
Austriaco is married to Dr. Jerome Austriaco and they have two daughters, Danielle and Isabelle. As a teenager and freshman student at Miriam College, she along with her sisters came to Chicago to join her parents here.