Irene C. Hernandez was a former Cook County Commissioner who was lauded for her contribution to the Chicago community, her impact as a public servant, community leader and role model by Mayor Richard M. Daley and the Chicago City Council in a ceremony honoring her life and memory.
Commissioner Hernandez was born in Texas to immigrant parents. At the age of ten, she moved to Chicago with her family. As a young woman, she worked for the Consulate of Argentina and Venezuela capitalizing on her bilingual skills. Her interest in helping others led her to serve in the public sector.
Mrs. Hernandez was the first person of Hispanic ancestry to be elected to the Board of Commissioners of Cook County. She was appointed to a vacancy on the Board of Commissioners by Mayor Richard J. Daley and was elected by the people in November 1974. She later won elections in 1978, 1982, 1986 and 1990. Commissioner Hernandez always kept in mind the needs of the underprivileged and tried to protect and advance their interests in governmental decisions and policies. Her status as a public figure brought her informal requests for assistance from people throughout the community.
Commissioner Hernandez was the mother of seven children and raised five of them as a single parent after her husband passed away. She had a very active life but always made her family a priority. Her family was the nucleus of her life. She was a great role model for her sons, daughters, and grandchildren to see how important it is to contribute to one’s community and make a difference. Irene C. Hernandez passed away on September 27, 1997 at the age of eighty-two. The life of Irene C. Hernandez is an example to all Chicagoans of devotion and service to one’s community.
Irene C. Hernandez Middle School for the Advancement of the Sciences will provide a model school where each child will pursue self-actualization through the development of social, emotional wellness and academic skills, with an emphasis on Science and Technology, in order to function as informed citizens of our community, our city and the world of Technology.