Karen Yarbrough is an American politician currently serving as Cook County Clerk. Elected on November 6, 2018, she is the first female and African American to hold the position. Yarbrough previously served as Cook County Recorder of Deeds from 2012 to 2018 and as a member of the Illinois House of Representatives from 2001 to 2013. She became the interim Chair of the Democratic Party of Illinois after long-time chair Michael Madigan resigned from the position on February 22, 2021.
Education and career
Yarbrough earned a bachelor's degree in Business Administration from Chicago State University, a master’s in Inner City Studies from Northeastern Illinois University and attended non-degree executive education at the John F. Kennedy School of Government. Yarbrough is the founder and CEO of Hathaway Insurance Agency, where she has worked for thirty years.
Yarbrough has served as president of the Maywood Chamber of Commerce, and on the boards of United Way of Suburban Chicago and the Oak Park YMCA.
In 1998, Yarbrough unsuccessfully challenged incumbent Eugene Moore in the Democratic primary for the 7th district seat in the Illinois House of Representatives.
Yarbrough ran again for the 7th district seat in the Illinois House of Representatives again in 2000, this time succeeding, unseating incumbent Wanda Sharp in the Democratic primary and winning the general election. Her term began in January, 2001, and she was later appointed an assistant majority leader. She served on several house committees (Housing and Urban Development (Chairwoman); House Insurance Committee (Vice-Chairwoman); Environmental Health Committee; Appropriations: Public Safety, Computer Technology) and was a member of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus, and the Governor’s Safety and Re-Entry Commission.
Cook County Recorder of Deeds
Cook County Clerk
Vice chair of the Democratic Party of Illinois
Yarbrough serves as vice-chair of the Democratic Party of Illinois.
Yarbrough is regarded as an ally of former state party chairman Michael Madigan.
Yarbrough's father, Don Williams, is an insurance agent and former village president of the Village of Maywood. She is married to Henderson Yarbrough, Sr., a current Maywood village trustee and former Maywood village president. They have seven grandchildren.