BioRobyn Gabel took office as 18th District state representative on April 19, 2010. Gabel looks forward to pursuing legislative priorities like implementing national health care reform, creating jobs, promoting economic development, and crafting better food and nutrition policies.
Throughout her career, Gabel has shown a strong commitment to serving the people of Illinois as an advocate for working families.
Gabel began her career as an educator in a women's health center, later serving as the training coordinator and eventually co-director of a health center. As her interest in public service grew, she became a legislative assistant to then-Alderman Luis Gutierrez in Chicago, where she was responsible for the development of policy positions and legislation for health care, housing and economic development.
Gabel then began 20 years of service as the Executive Director of the Illinois Maternal and Child Health Coalition. In this role, she was responsible for carrying out the Coalition’s mission of improving the health of women and children in Illinois through policy development, education and advocacy. She used her expertise to lead advocacy and education activities to increase access to health care for women, children and families, enhance school-based services, and improving access to immunizations.
While at the Coalition, Gabel helped develop the KidCare health insurance program to provide coverage for over 200,000 children and pregnant women. She was a leader in the effort to establish the All Kids program, giving every child in Illinois access to quality, affordable health care. There are now over 2.2 million children and their parents enrolled in All Kids and FamilyCare. Gabel also worked to see that 500,000 uninsured adults gained access to low-cost or free dental care.
In April 2005, Gabel received a Fellowship for Community Leaders Award from the Chicago Community Trust to support a year of her research into the health of babies born to Mexican-American women. The purpose of her study was to gain insights that would lead to the development of better policies and culturally-appropriate outreach strategies to reduce infant mortality rates.
As an advocate for families, Gabel has served on several statewide boards and committees, including-
The Illinois Commission on the Elimination of Poverty
The Maternal and Child Health Advisory Committee for the Illinois Department of Human Services
The Immunization Advisory Committee for the Illinois Department of Public Health
The Medicaid Advisory Committee for the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services
The Family Services Advisory Committee for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services
The Perinatal Advisory Committee for the Illinois Department of Public Health
The Stakeholders Advisory Group for the Illinois Department of Human Services, Community Health and Prevention
The Primary Care Case Management Steering Committee, Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services
Gabel has received a number of awards for her work on behalf of Illinois families, including- the Grace Today Magazine, Women’s Health Activism Award (2007); Illinois Public Health Association, President's Award (1998); Infant Welfare Society, Child Advocate Award (1998); and is a member of the Delta Omega Honorary Public Health Society.
Gabel received her B.A. in Anthropology from Beloit College (1975), her M.S. in Public Health from the University of Illinois, Chicago (1979) and her M.J. in health law from Loyola University Chicago Law School (1996).
Gabel has been happily married to Ivan Handler for 30 years. They are the proud parents of one daughter, Lilah.
The18th District includes all or parts of Evanston, Glencoe, Kenilworth, Rogers Park, Wilmette and Winnetka.