As a legacy is celebrated, a new chapter is being written. Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton became chair of the National Lieutenant Governors Association (NLGA) at the weekend’s annual meeting, making history as the first Black woman to hold this position. This milestone comes as the NLGA commemorates 60 years of providing a meeting ground to the nation’s second in command in Chicago, the city where the organization was founded.


Members continue to uphold the tradition started decades before of convening to listen and learn from each other and foster connections to better lead in their roles while also ringing in a new era of leadership. “It is an honor and a privilege to contribute to the rich, 60-year history of the NLGA as the first Black woman to chair the organization,” said Lt. Governor Stratton. “I look forward to taking on this role and fulfilling my duties so that we, the proud members of the NLGA, can all serve our residents and make even greater impacts as leaders.”


Lt. Governor Stratton also made history as the first Black woman elected to a constitutional office in Illinois. She began her journey as a college student conducting voter registration drives and promoting education for all as part of a local school council. She also served in executive leadership roles for government agencies and became state representative for the 5th district. Lt. Governor Stratton stands on the shoulders of the women lawmakers who came before her to pave the way, and she builds on their legacies by committing to bridging gaps and expanding opportunities for all.


“Congratulations to my dear friend, Lieutenant Governor Stratton, on her historic appointment as chair of the NLGA. She is the kind of leader that pushes us forward—that inspires us to think of creative, equity-centered solutions for our greatest challenges,” said Illinois Governor JB Pritzker. “At every turn, the Lieutenant Governor acts with intention—building coalitions and forging connections. Just as she has done for the great state of Illinois, there is no doubt in my mind that Lieutenant Governor Stratton will bring about immeasurable progress within the NLGA.”

Lt. Governor Stratton was elected by a bipartisan vote of her peers and service begins immediately and will run through August 2023. She is proud to mark this momentous occasion in the hometown of Lt. Governor Stratton and the NLGA both share and continue opening doors for underrepresented voices and perspectives. “As an active, non-partisan organization, NLGA has created a forum for seconds in command to advance opportunities for our states and our constituents,” Lt. Governor Stratton said.

“It provides all state and territorial officeholders who are first in a line of gubernatorial succession a professional opportunity to find effective ways to address new problems, foster cooperation between states and generally improve the effectiveness of our offices.” The NLGA was formed in 1962 as the professional and educational association for the elected officials who are first in a line of succession to the governors of the 50 states and five territorial jurisdictions of American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

“Lt. Governor Stratton’s selection reflects the faith that her colleagues nationwide have in her ability to lead this vital group,” said NLGA Director Julia Brossart. Her Chairship was confirmed by all members attending the Annual Meeting in Illinois. “Throughout my first year in office, I have looked to Juliana Stratton as a role model for what an effective lieutenant governor can accomplish,” said Rhode Island Lieutenant Governor Sabina Matos. “As the first woman of color to chair the NLGA, she will continue to inspire and empower our colleagues across the nation. I look forward to working alongside her during the 2022-2023 session.”

NLGA provides a medium for networking and exchanging essential information among officials while providing a timely discussion of topics from agriculture and transportation to housing and health. NLGA provides specific STEM education opportunities across the states. For more information on the NLGA, visit

Stratton Gave Testimony During Senate Hearing: The Senate Judiciary Committee released Illinois Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton’s prepared testimony during a recent hearing entitled A Post-Roe America: The Legal Consequences of the Dobbs Decision. Her testimony focuses on the steps that Illinois has taken to protect access to abortion, the challenges of out-of-state patients coming to Illinois to seek care, and the significant racial disparities that already exist for abortion access and maternal mortality. Key quotes as prepared:

I come before you today because people throughout the entire Midwest are relying on our commitment to protect and preserve women’s rights—namely the right to an abortion. [Illinois is] not just an oasis of reproductive care, but an island… It looks like disenfranchised yet determined patients coming from every surrounding state, but also from as far away as Tennessee, Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, and Florida.

It looks like the entire staff in our state’s abortion clinics fielding phone calls for appointments because the number of out-of-state patients has doubled since Roe V Wade was overturned. [W]e know that inequities are amplified within the Black and Latinx communities. A post-Roe America will be devastating for Black women, whose maternal mortality rate is already two to three times higher than that of white women because of structural racism and misogyny.

One study… projects that without access to safe and legal abortions, that number will increase by over 30 percent among Black women and nearly 20 percent for Hispanic women. We are facing a future rife with needless death, despite 61% of Americans believing abortion should be legal… Before the threats to Roe V Wade were fully realized, Illinois was proactive, upholding bodily autonomy, and protecting the right to an abortion. And still, the overturning of Roe V Wade has sent us down a dark, agonizing path.

I say this, not just as the Lt. Governor of Illinois, but as the mother of four daughters. My daughters, now have fewer rights than I had. And based on Justice Clarence Thomas’ concurring opinion, it is likely this may not be the last rights that will be stripped from future generations.” Stratton is the first Black woman to serve as Illinois’s Lieutenant Governor, a position she has held since 2019. She is currently defending her title as her and Govenor J.B. Pritzker are running for reelection.

For the first time in Illinois history, a Black person sits in the number two seat in the State Capitol. In her inauguration speech in Springfield in 2019, Stratton noted her role in history: “On December 3rd, 1818, Illinois became the 21st state. 200 years later, with the DNA of my formerly enslaved great, great grandfather William Stephens as part of my genetic makeup, I am proud to stand before you as our state’s first Black Lieutenant Governor.”

Stratton told the Defender, “It is incredibly exciting. It has been 200 years since Illinois became a state and now entering into the third century” we have our first Black Lieutenant Governor. While we don’t often hear much from the second-in-command of the state, it already seems as if Stratton was different. She played a key role in the campaign of Governor Pritzker and he has called her his “partner” numerous times including in his inaugural address.

“JB views me as a partner,” Stratton confirmed. “I’m viewed as a real partner…I want to do some creative and innovative things with the office of Lieutenant Governor….I want to place emphasis on making sure voices of communities that are often not at the table, Blacks and other communities of color…I want to make sure our voices are lifted up.” She repeatedly states that it is significant that economic opportunity is included in any plan for criminal justice reform.

“Economic inclusion is the real path to strengthening communities; it is not just through programs. …When we think about criminal justice reform, we can’t have that conversation without thinking about economic opportunity. The lack of opportunity is what leads them to the justice system…and then when they come out of it, it is the lack of opportunity that leads them back; so we have to pair these two issues to address how we create real paths so that they don’t enter the criminal justice system in the first place, but secondly, when they exit our system, they are able to successfully integrate into the community.

“We need to make sure families have the opportunity—access to capital, technical assistance; people in Black and Brown communities need to have money to grow businesses in their community.” The inclusion includes procurement in the State. All businesses should have access to contracts with the State. “We need to make sure we’re not just doing the bare minimum,” the new Lieutenant Governor stated. “We need to be ambitious with our goals; we hear ‘we can’t find businesses we can contract with or subcontract with.’ We need to make sure we have businesses representing our communities.”

“I’ve been as accessible as I can be as Lieutenant Governor. I recognize that there are communities that have grown weary of elected officials and those in government; they don’t feel like their community has been served well. But I’ve done the very best I can to make sure our communities are heard, that our voices are lifted up. It doesn’t mean the outcome will be what everyone wants. Half the battle is making sure you are a part of the process. It is important to me and it is important to Governor Pritzker.”

Stratton didn’t take her office lightly. She said, “the Lieutenant Governor does play an important role. This person has to be prepared in the event something happens to the Governor…the Lieutenant Governor has to be prepared to step in. I support Governor Pritzker in his ideas as governor. We have a great partnership…and we like each other.” – Public Eye / Katara Patton