We have to continue because the fight is not over.

Meet Donna Carpenter, a COFI/POWER-PAC IL mother and lifelong Englewood resident who has stood at the forefront of the affordable utilities fight for years.

In 2006, with her youngest child in preschool, Donna attended her first leadership training with COFI. Over the next decade and a half, she steadily found her voice and power as a core member of the Stepping Out of Poverty campaign. Having faced her own struggles with utilities debt and shut offs, the emerging leader spoke out more and more against utility companies’ problematic, unjust practices that punish families from Black and Brown communities.

Fifteen years later, with her youngest just out of high school and now three grandsons, Donna shows no signs of slowing down in the affordable utilities fight! And, she was just elected as the statewide Co-President of POWER-PAC IL. In 2021, she played a pivotal role in the passage of Senate Bill 265, giving hundreds of thousands of Illinois families access to affordability programs like PIPP (Percentage of Income Payment program) and LIHEAP (Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program). Donna even spoke at the bill signing with Governor Pritzker! 

Donna and other parent leaders continue to make their voices heard at tables with other community partners and advocates, taking on powerful utility companies. In 2022, she and other Utilities Affordability Campaign parent leaders and partners celebrated a huge victory: utility companies Ameren and ComEd have agreed, starting in 2024, to reduce the number of disconnections in the Illinois zip codes that have suffered them the most!

Check out this fantastic City Bureau profile of Donna and her work in making utility bills more fair and affordable for all families.