Not only is Anne Burke known for her founding of the Special Olympics in 1968, but she also was recently appointed to serve as the Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice- one of the highest and most honorable positions in the federal court system. Burke grew up in the Chicago area, spending more of her time at local parks and playgrounds than in the classroom or library. Unlike many other dyslexia success stories, as a self prescribed ‘C student,’ Anne Burke was not chastised by her parents or teachers, but rather encouraged to continue engaging in activities she had natural talent for and gained enjoyment out of doing. This helped spur Burke's passion for movement, activity, and recreation in many forms; after graduating Maria High School, Burke worked as a physical education teacher through the Chicago Park District and soon was adamantly advocating for giving developmentally challenged children the opportunity to compete in different athletic events. Less than 10 years after she began advocating for this idea, the Special Olympics were born and have had a long and impactful legacy since.

While Anne’s dyslexia gave her trouble in the classroom, her open mind gave her the ability to see every challenge and obstacle as an opportunity for growth and an expansion for her foundation of skills. After having children, Burke returned to school, earning her Bachelors of Arts from DePaul University and then her Jursidoctarate from the Chicago-Kent College of Law. Since then, Anne has had a prolific career advocating for and protecting the rights of other people, serving on the National Review Board for the Protection of Children and Young People. While at first, reading long legal cases was daunting to Burke, she boiled down the cases to their core; conflicts and discussions between people, and as a people person, she found it easy to understand and remember the details during courtroom deliberations. Despite her struggles in school, Burke’s relationship with dyslexia has been a positive one, giving her tools and strengths that she would have never had without learning to use her dyslexia to her advantage. She encourages parents to be open minded when their children are struggling and encourage them to try a hand at all kinds of activities, in and out of the classroom.

Anne Burke