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Taking Her Degrees to Another Level Once a substitute teacher, now a state-level advocate

160810-GIA-ORR-005Gia Orr ’01 has found that her two degrees from National Louis University — one in education and the other focused on the helping professions — have given her a broad scope of knowledge that has propelled her career forward.

Orr, with her M.S. in Human Services Administration and a ’07 M.Ed. in Administration and Supervision, currently wears many hats for the State of Illinois, mainly centered on empowering people and communities.

However, her career started out quite differently. She began as a substitute teacher and worked her way to a principal position at Chicago International Charter School.

A little too much first-hand experience with the challenging politics of education nudged Orr to a career shift that allows her to use the full spectrum of her skills. “If you wanted to see change, you needed to entrench yourself in change. And I knew I couldn’t continue to do that with 300 or even 3,000 students — it needed to go to another level,” explained Orr of her move into state government.

So how many hats does she currently wear? She’s the director of community rights, relationships and resources; an equal employment officer and a government results officer for the State of Illinois. She’s also a commissioner for the Cook County Human Rights Commission. Add up all those titles and you get an NLU alum who has some serious means to advocate for people who need it most.