Cook County Honored with Record 36 National Association of Counties Achievement Awards

Today the Cook County Board of Commissioners approved the resolution acknowledging Cook County’s 2022 National Association of Counties (NACo) Achievement Awards. Cook County was honored with 36 awards that recognize innovative, effective county government programs that strengthen services for residents.

“To see the recognition of so many essential programs and initiatives spearheaded by the County is truly an honor,” said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. “This level of excellence doesn’t happen in a vacuum. I am grateful to all County employees for their dedication and collaboration in launching these critical programs for residents.”

The Cook County Office of the President won for its Equity Fund program which invests in specific ways to intentionally re-align government policies, practices and resource allocation to advance racial equity and ensure all Cook County residents can live healthy, prosperous lives. The recent expansion of United Way’s Neighborhood Network Initiative, as part of their $15 million investment in the Transforming Places Program, is the first project resulting from the Equity Fund’s recommendation to pursue place-based, community-driven and sustainable economic development. Over the next three years, the Neighborhood Network coalitions will develop and implement initiatives to improve the quality of life for residents that have faced systemic disinvestment in their communities.

The Bureau of Human Resources received an achievement award for its work positioning Cook County as an employer of choice. The nation’s unpredictable business climate and volatile job market placed increased pressure on government agencies to attract, develop and retain their workforce. In partnership with Deloitte, the County navigated a competitive talent marketplace by bolstering recruitment operations and positioning the County as a premier employer through innovative strategic sourcing, recruitment branding and marketing efforts.

The Cook County Bureau of Economic Development (BED) was recognized for the Manufacturing Reinvented program that helps manufacturers improve competitiveness as they continue to rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic. BED also led the Small Business Source program that received recognition. This program assists small businesses by providing no cost business advising, a library of resources, events, training and access to capital opportunities. The program has served approximately 8,200 businesses since its inception.

BED was also recognized for its Emergency Rental Assistance Program which coordinated with the state and city to address housing instability throughout the County. Program efforts include homeless services, crisis shelters, utility payments, debt relief counseling and eviction prevention. Subsequently, BED also established a unique court-based program that positions case managers in the courts to directly support eviction applicants. This initiative helped prevent nearly 4,000 evictions while creating a new model of support.

“The Bureau of Economic Development greatly appreciates this recognition for the quality and innovation of our programs designed to ensure the well-being of residents and the recovery of the local economy,” said BED Chief Xochitl Flores. “Investing in residents experiencing potential evictions and industries affected by the COVID-19 pandemic represent the foundation of our work right now. Our work prioritizes supporting the resiliency of residents and businesses.”

Cook County Health (CCH) won an achievement award for its work providing health care to asylum seekers arriving in Chicago. With less than twenty-four hours’ notice, CCH established a Refugee Health Center that offered medical, dental, behavioral health, a pharmacy, transportation, care coordination and social services to asylum seekers. This center is still in operation and has provided health care to nearly 8,000 patients since it was launched.

“Cook County Health was founded on the mission of providing care to all – regardless of immigration status or ability to pay. Caring for asylum seekers is what we do,” Cook County Health CEO Israel Rocha said. “I am incredibly proud of the work our team at Cook County Health has done to set up and run this clinic, which helps ensure that these men, women and children have access to compassionate and culturally competent care as they begin their new chapter in the U.S.”

Awards are given in 18 categories that reflect the vast, comprehensive services counties provide.

The winning department/agency’s programs and categories are as follows:  

Children and Youth

Civic Education and Public Information

Community and Economic Development

County Administration and Management

County Resiliency

Criminal Justice and Public Safety

Financial Management


Information Technology


Personnel Management, Employment and Training

Risk and Emergency Management


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