Chicago Treasurer Melissa Conyears-Ervin has lived her entire life in Illinois’ Seventh Congressional District. Melissa is running for Congress because our district deserves someone in Washington who understands it, and will fight for it. As a mom raising a daughter on Chicago’s west side, she lives it every day. Her community motivates her to fight even harder and to give back to the village that raised her. “I wasn’t born with a silver spoon,” she says. “I had to fight for everything that I have. I hate seeing so much hopelessness, because I know anyone can do it, if I could.”
She was born in Englewood to a single mother, who worked double shifts at a union job making glass to make ends meet for her three girls. The family was able to move to Austin, where they were one of the first Black families on their block, and Melissa grew up appreciating the diversity of her community and singing in the school and church choir. An active union representative, Melissa’s mom fought hard for employee rights, but struggled after the factory moved south, and faith tested the Conyears family, as Melissa worked her way through Chicago Public Schools.
Her mom insisted that Melissa go to college – not an option or a discussion – and she attended and graduated from Eastern Illinois University, where she joined Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority. At the time, the university was just five percent Black, and Melissa recalls being the only Black student in the college of business. After a professor suggested she might try another major instead, Melissa persisted and not only graduated with her Bachelor’s Degree in business, but went on to earn a Master’s Degree in Finance at Roosevelt University, the first in her family to earn any secondary degrees.
Melissa had a successful career in business at Allstate for nearly twenty years and was able to purchase her first home in North Lawndale. It was through volunteer work with the homeless through Allstate in Garfield Park that Melissa found her calling to public service. Having lived in underserved communities her whole life, Melissa saw just how unfair opportunity was across Chicagoland and wanted to be a lawmaker to fight that disparity.
She had just met and married her husband, Jason, and was preparing to have their daughter when Melissa ran and won a race for state representative. As a working mother to an infant while serving in Springfield, empowering families to better care for their children was a personal passion after she saw how difficult it is, and how little support working moms get. She successfully passed bills to provide more funding for affordable childcare and hundreds of millions in new, more equitable funding for Chicago Public Schools. She cofounded the Democratic Women’s Caucus, which fought for and won support for moms working in Springfield, and has championed more women and mothers serving as elected officials.
Melissa now serves as the Chicago City Treasurer, where she is a banker, investor, and custodian of public funds for the City of Chicago and the four City of Chicago employee pension funds. Melissa believes in using the power of her platform to improve the lives of her constituents and has actively used her position to help dismantle systemic racism in our financial institutions. As Treasurer, she empowers citizens financially to help build stronger economic futures for their families, invests in mortgages and small businesses in underserved communities, helps citizens improve their credit scores and financial health, and ensures that the city’s investments reflect the values of its citizens. That’s why she worked to stop investments in fossil fuels and the gun industry.
In her free time, she is an active volunteer and mentor to young women. But Melissa is at heart, most dedicated to family. She has supported her mother, her sister who lives with a disability, taken in her nephew, and is a devoted wife and mother to Jeneva, age seven. Through all these challenges, Melissa has learned how much more we can do to support working families in their challenges. Melissa, Jason, and Jeneva live in Garfield Park. The family worships at Mt. Vernon Baptist Church, where Melissa has been a member her entire life.
It's time for change. Residents in the 7th district want a member of Congress who works as hard as they do every day to make things better. What's going on in Washington right now isn't working right. We can do better.