CFD veteran tapped to become first Black woman to lead department

Chicago News

CHICAGO — Mayor Lightfoot announced Friday that the current acting commissioner of the Chicago Fire Department will become the permanent replacement, pending City Council approval.

Annette Nance-Holt will be the first woman and Black woman to serve as commissioner. Her resume covers more than 30 years in various roles with the department.

She was appointed first deputy commissioner in 2018 and has been serving as acting commissioner since Richard C. Ford retired earlier this year.

“Commissioner Holt has more than three decades of proven leadership and a passion for public service that makes her the perfect fit for this role,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “Furthermore, in a time where more work remains in order to eliminate discrimination, racism and sexism from the firefighter profession, Commissioner Holt’s history-making appointment as the first woman and Black woman to lead as Fire Commissioner couldn’t have come at a better moment.”

In 2007, tragedy forced Nance-Holt into the spotlight. Her 16-year-old son Blair Holt was shot and killed on a CTA bus while shielding a classmate from gunfire.

Since then, she helped start the non-profit Purpose Over Pain; which helps parents who have lost children to gun violence.

Lieutenant Quention Curtis, founder of the Black Fire Brigade, said Nance-Holt is an inspiring pick for the community at a time when there is much still work to do to bring more diversity to the department.

“We have a huge diversity problem in the fire service, it’s not a secret and we’re hoping Annette will come in and fill that gap,” said Curtis. “We know she has the tools to do it, just a matter of getting it done.”

As she awaits City Council confirmation, Nance-Holt helped welcome several new paramedics to the department Friday at a graduation ceremony.

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