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Annette Nance-Holt Becomes 1st Woman to Head the Chicago Fire Department

After working for over 30 years in several different positions within the Chicago Fire Department, Annette Nance-Holt recently became the first woman to lead the CFD.

Her appointment to the top position of Fire Commissioner was confirmed last week by Chicago’s City Council, reports.

“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 Lori 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.”


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

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

Nance-Holt since then has helped start Purpose Over Pain, a non-profit which aids parents who have lost children to gun violence.

Commissioner Nance-Holt was mainly raised in the Maple Park community on the south side of Chicago and attended both parochial and public schools. She learned responsibility at an early age, having worked at the family-owned grocery store on the south and west sides of Chicago.

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While studying and working full time, she obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree from Chicago State University, and later obtained a Master’s in Public Administration in Fire and Emergency Services  from Anna Maria College.

Prior to joining the CFD, Commissioner Nance-Holt worked in the private sector for eight  years



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