William D. “Will” Burns is currently serving in his first term as 4th Ward Alderman of the City of Chicago. In February 2011, he was elected Alderman of the 4th Ward after being elected two terms for Illinois State Representative for the 26th district. As alderman of the 4th Ward, Will is committed to attracting quality commercial and residential development, improving neighborhood public schools, enhancing public safety, and increasing transparency, efficiency, and accountability in city operations.
In the Illinois House, Will passed laws to increase economic opportunity by reducing barriers to licensure, incentivize community based alternatives to incarceration, protect renters from the foreclosure crisis, and create thousands of jobs for residents of low and moderate income communities through a $425 million investment in energy efficiency programs. He was a strong supporter of efforts to reform Illinois’ procurement and campaign finance laws.
Prior to his election to the House in 2008, he served as Deputy Chief of Staff and Senior Advisor to the Illinois Senate President. In that role, Burns developed legislation for the Senate Democratic Caucus on issues ranging from criminal justice, consumer protection, education, minority business development, and ethics reform. His experience has helped him to hit the ground running as a freshman lawmaker.
Prior to working for the Senate President, Burns was the Vice President of Program and Field Offices for the Chicago Urban League. He spearheaded the League’s voting rights/redistricting efforts, managed its day-to-day programmatic activities, and coordinated the League’s public policy initiatives.
Before joining the League, Burns was the Education and Tax Policy Manager for the Metropolitan Planning Council. While there he organized a statewide education funding reform coalition and directed its legislative and communications campaign.
Burns has also served in a number of political and governmental capacities including: Deputy Campaign Manager for Obama for Congress 2000, Campaign Coordinator for the Democratic Party of Illinois, senior advisor and legislative analyst in the Office of the Illinois Senate Minority Leader, and as a community outreach coordinator for then State Senator Barack Obama. Recently, Burns served as a consultant to the Issues Department of Obama for America 2008, and as Deputy Political Director for Quinn for Illinois 2010.
A strong commitment to social justice and civic engagement is demonstrated through Burns’ participation on the boards of several not-for-profit organizations, such as Lugenia Burns Hope Center, Mikva Challenge, Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, the Blue Gargoyle Youth Service Center and the South East Chicago Commission.
In 2001, Burns was named an American Marshall Memorial Fellow of the German Marshall Fund of the United States. He is also a speaker with the United States Department of State Bureau of International Information Programs. In 2009, Burns was selected as an Emerging Leader by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.
Burns attended the University of Chicago where he earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees.