Theresa Mah, the first Asian American elected to the Illinois General Assembly, was sworn in on Jan. 11.
Mah, 48, represents a heavily immigrant district that includes Chicago’s Chinatown.
Mah inspired Asians to show up on Election Day in a way Chicago had not seen. “Nobody believed I could win,” she said. “Nobody believed Chinese voters would turn out.”
Mah earned a doctorate from the University of Chicago in U.S. social and cultural history.
She spent six years as a college professor in Ohio, then returned to Chicago in 2006 and became active in issues affecting the Chinese community.