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Rep. Harper serves on the

following committees:


Agriculture & Conservation


Other Committee Assignments


Appropriations - Public Safety;

Energy & Environment;

Environmental Justice Subcommittee

Immigration & Human Rights Committee

Property Tax Subcommittee

Revenue & Finance

Sonya Marie Harper

Sonya Marie Harper has been a journalist and community activist on the south side of Chicago since she was 16 years old. Sonya’s passions include promoting community, economic development and civic engagement in an effort to create more peaceful and prosperous neighborhoods.


Harper has been a member of the Illinois House of Representatives since 2015, representing the diverse and hard-working 6th district.

  • She is the Chairperson of the Agriculture & Conservation committee, the first black member to serve in that capacity.

  • In addition she is also a current member of the following Illinois Legislative committees

    • Appropriations – Public Safety Committee

    • Economic Opportunity & Equity

    • Elementary Secondary Education. School Curriculum Policies.

    • Energy and Environment

    • Health Care Availability and access

    • Revenue and Finance

    • Sales, Amusement and other taxes subcommittee

  • She serves as Joint Caucus Chair of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus.

  • Was recently appointed Chairman of the Agriculture committee for the National Black Caucus of State Legislators (NBCSL).

  • Serves as a board member for the National Organization of Black Elected Legislative Women,

  • Is the Illinois State Director for Women In Government, a national non-partisan organization.


Holistic approaches to solving food deserts through urban and rural agriculture

  • The state of Illinois now recognizes urban agriculture and provides incentives for urban farmers because of a recent law sponsored by Harper.

  • She has assisted with authoring the social equity components of the Cannabis Regulation & Taxation Act by co-chairing the Black Caucus’s Economic Access, Opportunity & Equity and Cannabis Workgroups and engaging communities that have been harmed the most by the war on drugs in the policy conversation.

  • Because of Harper’s work in passing healthy food access related legislation the state has to track and report the locations of food deserts throughout the state as well as allow hot meals and double value incentives at farmer’s markets for SNAP recipients.

  • Harper has been at the forefront of Agriculture Equity by authoring the Illinois Farmer Equity Act, Agriculture Disparity Study, Cannabis Equity Commission and currently working to pass an Agriculture Equity Commission.

  • Harper passed the Right to Garden Act which protects homeowners rights to grow food on their own property.


Youth Safety and Empowerment

  • Harper passed a law that requires all schools in Illinois test for lead in their drinking water.

  • Rep. Harper worked with colleagues to create a statewide taskforce to develop opportunities for disconnected youth who are jobless and out of school.

  • Harper continues to speak up for the equitable distribution of violence reduction funds to grassroots organizations who have consistently been on the front line of serving youth and adults impacted most by the public health crisis of gun violence.

  • Committed to youth leadership development and under the direction of Imagine Englewood If, she created Growing Citizen Leaders, a community organizing training program for teens in Greater Englewood


Professional Achievement

  • Sonya runs a public relations and community organizing consulting firm, Sharper PR Communications. Sonya returned home to Chicago, specifically West Englewood, to help nonprofits and community organizations with their communications and public relations needs. As a community organizer, she has also worked for local and national political and issue based campaigns.

  • A staunch advocate for food access and wellness education, Sonya co-founded the Wood Street Meet & Greet Community Garden in 2012

  • She founded and served as Executive Director for Grow Greater Englewood, a non-profit organization which advances development projects, economic and educational opportunities related to food, urban agriculture and healthy living.

  • She was the Director of Outreach at Growing Home, Inc., the city’s first and only USDA-certified organic high production urban farm.

  • She spent more than 10 years working in television news as a producer, writer and reporter for NBC (KOMU-TV) , FOX (WXIX-TV) and CBS (WBBM-TV) affiliates throughout the Midwest. Sonya began her journalism career as a legislative reporter covering state capitol news and issues in Jefferson City, Missouri (KMOX).


Connected to Community

Sonya resides in West Englewood, with her 12 year old daughter. She is a member of the Faith Community of Saint Sabina Church.

Sonya is:

  • a former member of the Appointed Local School Council at Lindblom Math & Science Academy;

  • Organized the Englewood Votes! Coalition,

  • Served on the leadership team for the Resident Association of Greater Englewood (R.A.G.E.)

  • Led efforts to organize the yearly neighborhood clean-up, Greater Englewood Unity Day when she was with Imagine Englewood If.


Committed to youth leadership development and under the direction of Imagine Englewood If, she created Growing Citizen Leaders, a community organizing training program for teens in Greater Englewood.



  • BILLD Fellow (Bowhay Institute for Legislative Leadership Development, Council of State Governments),

  • Edgar Fellow, 

  • Emerging Leaders Fellow as part of the State Legislative Leadership Foundation,

  • McCormick Foundation Executive Fellows program on Childhood Trauma co-sponsored by Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton.

Subject Matter Expert

Chairwoman Harper frequently presents her requested model legislation at national conferences such as the

  • Council of State Governments Annual Meeting,

  • National Black Caucus of State Legislators Annual Conference and

  • NOBEL Women Annual Legislative Conference.


She also serves as a member of the Joint Caucus of Black Elected Officials, State Innovation Exchange, Agriculture Cohort, National Caucus of Environmental Legislators and an Executive Board member of the Great Lakes Legislative Caucus, CSG.

Committed to the Community... 


Dedicated to Progress.

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