Hello, my name is Bridget Gainer and I am honored to serve as Cook County Commissioner for the 10th District, representing the North Lakefront and portions of northwest side. I live on the northside of Chicago with my husband, Dennis, and our three children.
I come to Cook County Government with 20 years of experience in the non-profit, public and private sectors, a career that has provided a strong foundation in finance, human services and the workings of local government. At the County, I have focused on making the County budget more understandable and transparent to citizens.
I began my career as a community organizer in New York City and continued that work in Chicago where I founded a community center at Senn High School. After seven years as an organizer, I went to work for the City of Chicago, starting in the Budget Department and then at the Park District. As the Director of the Lakefront Parks, I ran a $50 million budget and managed 200 staff. For the past eight years, I have been with Aon, a Chicago based insurance broker, where I have held financial and strategic roles with focus on pension and healthcare policy as well as risk management in the public sector and private sector.
A native of Chicago, I am passionate about the civic life of our city. My focus is insuring that everyone, especially lower income workers, has a fair and just workplace and that the financial services system - banks, insurance and tax system - are accessible to all. I am a Board member of Women Employed, The Center for Economic Progress and St. Gregory's High School. I received a bachelor's degree in political science and English from the University of Illinois and a M.B.A. from the University of Chicago.
My accomplishments at the County thus far have been: voting to repeal a portion of the Cook County Sales Tax, which will stem the tide of shoppers and businesses leaving the County and force County government to run more efficiently and effectively. I also voted to make the Independent Hospital Board permanent. The most critical mission of the County is to preserve and maintain the safety net of quality, humane health care to the most vulnerable in our County. I voted to make the Independent Cook County Health and Hospital Systems Board permanent for that reason alone.
By working together with the AIDS Foundation, I helped create funding for HIV and STD testing at the Cook County Jail, bringing critical public health services to a high risk population.
In order to end the process of separating incarcerated mothers and their newborns, I also worked to create funds for eight additional beds at Haymarket Center so that almost every baby born to a mother in the Cook County Jail will stay together and receive services at Haymarket.
I have created an independent bureau within the State's Attorneys office to allow County litigation to be handled by State's attorneys rather than outside private counsel, saving the county millions of dollars each year.
I have also been working to reform the county lobbying ordinance requiring full transparency in the contracting process as well as, working with housing advocates to address the foreclosure issue in our county by securing funding for foreclosure mediation programs.
All in all, I identified and cut $4 million in spending from the County budget for 2010. I believe that there are places where the county can run more efficiently without impacting the core services that the County must provide, including public health and public safety.