25 Most Intriguing Chicagoans: Lori Lightfoot and Amy Eshleman

Ariel Cheung | September 10, 2019 | People

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Lori Lightfoot and Amy Eshleman were side by side on election night

LORI LIGHTFOOT AND AMY ESHLEMAN

MAYOR. FIRST LADY OF CHICAGO. GROUNDBREAKING PUBLIC SERVANTS.

You’d be hard-pressed to find a pocket of Chicago these two women haven’t impacted—and that was before Lori Lightfoot made history as the first black female, openly gay mayor of Chicago earlier this year. Amy Eshleman reinvigorated the Chicago Public Library’s connection to the city’s youth through the acclaimed YOUMedia and One Book, One Chicago programs, while Lightfoot has been a force in police accountability, fighting corruption at City Hall and, in her earliest political days, boycotting her high school’s pizza as class president.

In the early months of her tenure, Lightfoot has taken swift action, limiting aldermanic prerogative and pushing ethics reform, while Eshleman has taken on a volunteer role developing out-of-school educational programs. As the underdog in a race that saw her best a powerful roster of career politicians, Lightfoot shone as a beacon of change. During her acceptance speech, during which both Eshleman and their daughter, Vivian, stood at her side, Lightfoot evoked the powerful words of Martin Luther King Jr. in detailing the uphill battle she faced during the campaign. “‘Faith,’ he said, ‘is taking the first step when you can’t see the staircase,’” Lightfoot recounted. “We couldn’t see the whole staircase when we started this journey, but we had an abiding faith in this city, its people and its future. So we took that first step.” And what a climb it has been.



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Photography by: KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI/AFP/GETTY IMAGES