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API Welcomes Formation of Illinois Assyrian Caucus

Senator Villivalam leads press conference announcing the Illinois Assyrian Caucus.

The Assyrian Policy Institute welcomes the formation of the Illinois Assyrian Caucus in the Illinois General Assembly. State Senator Ram Villivalam (IL-08) and State Representative Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz (IL-17) convened the Illinois Assyrian Caucus to bring together members of the Illinois General Assembly from disparate jurisdictions to strengthen coordination to advocate for Illinois’s Assyrian American community—providing a unified voice and platform to educate the public on Assyrian American identity and issues. Illinois is the first state in the nation to establish a statewide caucus on Assyrian issues.

This bipartisan, bicameral forum will exchange ideas and develop strategies to identify opportunities for the growth and advancement of the Assyrian American community in Illinois. Members of the Illinois Assyrian Caucus will play a key role in advancing the interests of the Assyrian American community—both in Springfield and in public discourse.

The founding Members of the Illinois Assyrian Caucus include Senators Cristina Castro (IL-22), Sara Feigenholtz (IL-06), Laura Fine (IL-09), Adriane Johnson (IL-30), Laura Murphy (IL-28), Mike Simmons (IL-07), Celina Villanueva (IL-11), and Ram Villivalam (IL-08); and Representatives Kelly Cassidy (IL-14), Deb Conroy (IL-46), Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz (IL-17), Amy Grant (IL-42), Maura Hirschauer (IL-49), Michael Kelly (IL-15), Lindsey LaPointe (IL-19), Michelle Mussman (IL-56), Denyse Stoneback (IL-16), and Mark Walker (IL-53).

Atour Sargon, Vice Chair of the API, joined legislators during a press conference announcing the caucus. “The formation of the Illinois Assyrian Caucus speaks to the growing influence of the Assyrian community and is a welcome development,” she said. “We are thrilled to have such a dynamic coalition of dedicated public servants committed to our community, and we’re confident that this initiative will lead to increased understanding of our unique needs and priorities, and heightened visibility for Assyrian-Americans across Illinois.”

Senator Villivalam and Rep. Gong-Gershowitz are also the original co-sponsors of Illinois Senate Joint Resolution 21 which calls for formal recognition of the Assyrian Genocide at the state-level.

“We look forward to working with members of the caucus to advance critical policy priorities, especially in overcoming the tremendous challenges faced by our community in accessing cultural resources, retaining our ancient language, and sustaining our heritage,” said Sargon. “Likewise, we look forward to the caucus’s work to assure the passage of Senate Joint Resolution 21, which would make Illinois the fourth U.S. state to formally recognize the Assyrian Genocide.”

The Assyrian Policy Institute strongly advocated for the formation of the Illinois Assyrian Caucus, and looks forward to coordinating with other community stakeholders to expand caucus membership and promote policies that support Assyrian interests.

A formal Illinois Assyrian Caucus launch event that is open to the public will be held at the Assyrian National Council of Illinois in Skokie in April 2022, following the end of the spring legislative session.


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