Emil Jones, Jr. is President and CEO of Strategic International Group, a business and political consulting firm based in Chicago, Illinois. Prior to forming this company in 2009, he served as a member of the Illinois General Assembly for 36 years, retiring from that august body as President of the Senate in January, 2009. As an independent-minded and progressive legislator, Jones was and continues to be a strong proponent of social justice and fair and adequate funding of public education. As a champion for children, the elderly, and disadvantaged and working class citizens of the State, he has earned a solid reputation for fairness and equitable treatment for all.
In October, 2011, Governor Pat Quinn named Jones Chairman of the Illinois Sports Facility Authority. As Board Chairman, he is responsible for directing the operations and business affairs of Chicago’s White Sox Park. Jones also continues to lend his expertise to his community by serving on a number of Corporate and Non-profit Boards.
Throughout his career, Jones mentored many politicians but most notably, President Barack Obama, and State Senator Emil Jones, III, Jones’ son. During a recent visit to Chicago, President Barack Obama said it was the strong support he received from Jones that enabled him to be elected to the United States Senate. The President has often referred to Jones as his “political godfather”. Senator Jones, III is serving his first term in the Illinois General Assembly, carrying on the legacy of his father as a committed legislator.
Emil Jones, Jr. is a life-long resident of Chicago’s South Side, a member of the Holy Name of Mary Church, the Knights of St. Peter Claver, the Shriners, the Druids, the Original Forty Club, the Chicago Assembly and is a 33rd Degree Mason. He graduated from Loop Junior College, matriculated at Roosevelt University, later graduating from Chicago State University. He was inducted into the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society of Harold Washington College, and received a Doctorates of Humane Letters from both Roosevelt University and Chicago State University. Jones has four children, four grandchildren and is married to Dr. Lorrie Rickman Jones.
Initially elected to serve as a member of the Illinois House of Representatives in 1973, Jones was elected to the Illinois Senate in 1983 where for the next 26 years, he was committed to fighting for education and justice reform, healthcare for the needy, and to bringing economic development and opportunities to under-served areas and working families. Early in his Senate career, Jones became Chair of the powerful Insurance, Pensions and Licensed Activities Committee. It was during his tenure presiding over this committee that Jones enhanced his understanding of the inner workings of the Senate and positioned himself to assume a greater leadership role. After a skillfully executed campaign for the leadership of his Caucus, Jones was elected Minority Leader of the Senate Democrats in 1992. He served the State and his constituents in that capacity for the next 10 years and is highly regarded for his unparalleled achievements on behalf of working families.
In 2002, after the Democrats gained control of the Illinois Senate, Emil Jones, Jr. was elected Senate President by his peers, only the second African American to hold this position. For the first four years of his tenure (2003-2007), Jones was the only African American Senate President in the United States. In January, 2009 while serving as the Senate’s Chief Presiding Officer over the 95Th General Assembly , Jones’ hard work and determination led Senate Democrats to gain an unprecedented five additional seats, securing a “veto proof” super-majority and making it the only Chamber in the General Assembly to realize such advances. This Senate maintained this super-majority for the remainder of his tenure as its leader.
Jones served three consecutive terms as President, and was the longest serving leader of either party in the Illinois Senate since the 1970 Constitution. At the time of his retirement in 2009, Jones had held this position longer than any other African American elected to the office.
During this tenure, Jones served on the Board of Directors of the Forum of Senate Presidents, State Legislative Leaders Foundation and was a member of the National Conference of State Legislators and the National Black Caucus of State Legislators.
Key Legislative Accomplishments
Funded largest single increase in per-pupil funding in the state’s history
Mandated the teaching of the contributions of African Americans and women in schools
Created the “Ticket for the Cure” using lottery revenue to fund breast cancer research
Expanded healthcare (All Kids) for uninsured children
Required videotaped interrogations in capital cases
Required law enforcement to collect data on racial profiling
Required police committing perjury in capital murder cases to lose employment
Doubled personal exemptions in state income tax to benefit working families
Created program to require pension system to include small business
Required equal pay for equal work for women
Increased minimum wage, twice
Provided major support for the following select buildings and programs:
- Convocation Center, Chicago State University
- New library, Chicago State University
- New dormitory, Chicago State University
- Media Center, City Colleges
- Equity Services Center, Northern Illinois University
- DuSable Museum expansion
- Muntu Dance Theatre
- Harris Theatre, Millenium Park
- Bronzeville Children’s Museum
- AKA Sorority Community Center