Comptroller's Biography

About Judy

Judy Baar Topinka was sworn-in as Illinois State Comptroller on January 10, 2011 - becoming the first woman in Illinois history to serve in two State Constitutional Offices. Prior to becoming Comptroller, Topinka served as the Illinois State Treasurer from 1994 to 2007. She was the first woman in Illinois history to hold the post, and made history again by becoming the first State Treasurer to be reelected to three consecutive terms. A recognized and respected taxpayer watchdog, Judy has a well-earned reputation for speaking up against mismanagement of public funds.

Early Years

Topinka was born in the Chicago suburb of Riverside to small business owners who taught her the importance of living within your means and managing money responsibly. She is a 1962 graduate of Ferry Hall High School in Lake Forest and earned a Bachelors of Science degree in 1966 from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. Upon graduation, Topinka became a reporter for several award-winning suburban Chicago newspapers, and eventually rose through the ranks to become an editor.

After a successful career in journalism, Topinka began her political career as a State Representative from the Western Suburbs in 1980. Serving two terms in the Illinois House of Representatives positioned Topinka for a successful bid for State Senate in 1984 - where she served as State Senator for a decade. In 1994, Topinka joined the Illinois State Treasurer race and was elected to the position.

Dedication to the Community

Topinka belongs to more than 60 business and professional organizations, including the City Club of Chicago, Government Finance Officers Association, Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America, and the Western Chapter of the Alpha Gamma Delta Sorority. In 2008, she established Smart Women, Smart Money Educational Foundation, a not-for-profit financial counseling agency that helps families facing foreclosure save their homes.

Judy's achievements as a journalist and public servant have earned her awards from more than 250 civic, business, professional and social service organizations, including the "Molly Pitcher" Award (1994); The Prairie Institute's Everett McKinley Dirksen Award for Outstanding Public Service (1998); Americanism Award from the Anti-Defamation League (1999); The Money Smart Award from the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago (2002); National Association of Women Business Owners Chicago Area Chapter Hall of Fame (2003); the Asian American Coalition of Chicago Grand Asian Award (2003); the Department of the Army's Outstanding Civilian Service Medal; and the AMVETS Silver Helmet Award (2003).

She's Back

Judy is proud to be putting her experience, integrity, and sound judgment back to work for the people of Illinois. She is honored to once again be able to bring her standards of hard work, plain talk, and common sense back to Springfield.

Today Topinka resides in Riverside, Illinois. She is the proud new grandmother of Alexandra Faith Baar Topinka, who is the daughter of Judy's son Joseph and daughter-in-law, Christina. The family resides in Texas, where Joseph is currently assigned as a Major in the United States Army Judge Advocate General's Corps.