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Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago

As part of its Black History Month celebration on February 26, Mayor Fred Bilotto of the City of Blue Island awarded Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD) President Kari K. Steele with the prestigious Trailblazer Award. This accolade recognizes individuals who have demonstrated pioneering leadership in education, healthcare and economic development. 

State Rep. Bob Rita and Blue Island Mayor Fred Bilotto with President Steele
(L-R) State Representative Bob Rita, MWRD President Kari K. Steele, and Blue Island Mayor Fred Bilotto.

"Thank you to Mayor Bilotto for this meaningful recognition,” said President Steele. “Your support motivates me to continue pushing boundaries for positive change. It is an honor to be acknowledged as a trailblazer, and this award reinforces my commitment to serve our communities with dedication, while spreading awareness about the resources and opportunities at the MWRD."

During President Steele's leadership, the MWRD has made significant advances in stormwater mitigation strategies that emphasize the importance of protecting our most valuable resource, Lake Michigan. Her efforts have contributed to the environmental well-being of Cook County and have served as a model for sustainable practices nationwide. President Steele is proud of the MWRD’s work to emphasize environmental justice in all agency practices.


Mayor Bilotto presented the award and acknowledged President Steele's visionary leadership and her relentless pursuit of excellence. "Kari Steele represents the very essence of a trailblazer - someone who leads by example, breaks down barriers, and opens doors for others,” said Mayor Bilotto. “Her contributions within the Illinois Legislature have not only advanced environmental stewardship but have also empowered communities, making her a deserving recipient of this year's Trailblazer Award." 

The City of Blue Island's Black History Month celebration is an annual event that honors the achievements and contributions of African Americans in our society. 

This year's theme, "Trailblazers in Leadership and Service," highlights individuals like President Steele, who have made significant impacts in their fields and communities. President Steele was elected in 2012 to her first term as a Commissioner of the MWRD and re-elected in 2018 for a second term. 

In January 2019, she became the first African American woman in the more than 130-year history of the MWRD to be elected by the Board of Commissioners to serve as President. She is currently serving her third term.

President Steele at Blue Island Trailblazer awards ceremony
President Steele at Blue Island Trailblazer awards ceremony
President Steele at Blue Island Trailblazer awards ceremony
Press Release
Awards and Announcements

Established in 1889, the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD) is an award-winning, special purpose government agency responsible for wastewater treatment and stormwater management in Cook County, Illinois.


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