Senator Kimberly A. Lightford: The Pathway from UIS to Illinois Senate

Image of Kimberly A. Lightford

Photographs courtesy of

Image of Kimberly A. Lightford

In light of Women’s History Month, The Journal acknowledges Senator Kimberly A. Lightford. A University of Illinois Springfield (UIS) Alumna, Lightford has amassed an index of accomplishments in the political realm. Holding a position in the Illinois State Senate for over 20 years, the former Prairie Star has made an irrefutable governmental impact since the time of her studies in Springfield and continues to fuse politics with the integral expansion of community.

After receiving a bachelor’s degree in Public Communication from Western Illinois University, Senator Lightford began her postgraduate journey. It was at UIS – then known as Sangamon State University – that Lightford attended graduate school, earning a master’s degree in Public Administration. Senator Lightford interned for two years while fulfilling her higher level studies. In a 2000 interview for The History Makers, Lightford states that the two-year internship program “was at the Department of Corrections in the director’s office at that time.”

In addition to interning for the Democratic Illinois House of Representatives, Lightford was catapulted in the direction of politics. Shortly thereafter completing her master’s degree, she found herself venturing on the streamlined path toward her political career. In 1998, at the early age of 30, Kimberly Lightford became Senator Kimberly Lightford. With an official seat on the Illinois General Assembly, the then newly-appointed senator had a direct influence on many notable government matters.

From the very start of her role in the Senate, Lightford has represented the fourth Senate District, encompassing Cook County. Senator Lightford – also a primary member of the Senate Education Committee – advocates for academic changes for school-age children to young adults. Lightford’s most notable contributions include social and emotional screenings made available to children through school-related examinations.

Today, Senator Kimberly Lightford continues her work in the Senate. Facilitating a great number of laws, Lightford focuses on what matters most: community. In her long-term efforts, the Senator encapsulates the steady-going mission of serving those prone to underrepresentation. From a “Saturday University” for children to sponsoring bills related to the affordability of college course material, Senator Lightford continues to bring resources to the community. In honor of such commendable work in politics, Lightford was awarded the 2020 Distinguished Alumni Award from the UIS Public Administration sector.