Elaine Nekritz, 2024 Hannah G Solomon Award

NCJW Chicago North Shore is honored to present Change Maker, Elaine Nekritz, with the 2024 Hannah G Solomon Award. Elaine joined NCJW CNS in 1996 and quickly became involved with our Silent Witness initiative, abortion rights and, through lobbying in Springfield, gun control. She became a member of the NCJW CNS Board, then represented our section as State Policy Advocate (SPA).

Although Elaine brought many skills as an attorney, she stated it was the training, values, and support from NCJW that led her to run for Illinois State Representative in 2003, a position she held until her retirement in October 2017. During her tenure, she chaired numerous committees, including Judiciary-Civil Law, Personnel and Pensions and Elections and Campaign Reform. Her legislative focus was environment, health care, fiscal responsibility and transparency. She served as Assistant Majority Leader for over six years. At a time when the Illinois State Legislature had a razor thin Democratic majority, she worked tirelessly with her colleagues to stop bad bills and get rid of laws on the books that interfere with abortion access. She stood strong against school vouchers and for gun control, which was still a possibility. She was considered “the closest thing to a reform-minded independent voice in the Democratic House.”

Through Elaine’s service in the Illinois State House of Representatives, she credits her effectiveness because of relationships she made with members in both chambers and on both sides of the aisle. Elaine believes there is no change possible without building strong relationships. Early in life she was influenced by her father’s involvement in advocacy and government and followed his model.

After retirement, Elaine formed the consulting and lobbying firm Nekritz Amdor Andersson Group. It is a values-based firm representing nineteen organizations. They were instrumental in the Safety, Accountability, Fairness and Equity-Today Act (SAFE-T Act) eliminating cash bail. Elaine is proud to have represented the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition working with environmental justice, consumer, and climate advocates for three years to pass the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act. Currently she is heavily involved with a massive transportation bill that addresses climate and equity as well as improving the Chicagoland region’s transit system. Throughout her lengthy Springfield sessions away from home, her husband Barry has been encouraging and supportive. When she gets time off, Elaine and Barry enjoy spending time with their four grandchildren.

NCJW CNS considers Elaine to be a shining star. Her inspiring story of starting as a women’s advocate to impact issues that sorely needed intervention, led to state-wide change and she’s still working. Thank you for your service, Elaine. You are making a difference! We are grateful and couldn’t be prouder!