First black woman promoted to Deputy Fire Commissioner in Chicago

The city's first woman deputy fire commissioner is someone Chicagoans know for her sacrifice. Annette Nance-Holt is the mother of Blair Holt, a young victim of gun violence.

Annette is second in command of the Midwest’s largest fire department. In 2007, her only child, 16-year old Blair Holt, was shot to death on a CTA bus, shielding a friend from gang gunfire.

“I never could’ve imagined that my son would be killed, ever, ever. We did everything to keep him safe,” she said.

Annette and Blair’s father, Chicago Police Commander Ron Holt, became activists against gun violence, taking the message to the highest political levels with support from the Obamas and the Clintons.

She pushes forward by remembering Blair.

“He always said, ‘mom I’m going to take care of you.’ This is a little boy saying this. He's taking care of me from heaven,” she said. “I think everything I’ve been through means I can make it no matter what.”

Annette was one of the first African American women to join Chicago’s department in 1990. She says everything prepared her to continue making history.

As first deputy, Annette wants to expand programs that help first responders cope with the stress of their jobs. She says the fire department is seeing more suicides among its members.

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