Karen A. Yarbrough is the first African American and woman to serve as the Clerk of Cook County. As Clerk, she oversees one of the largest consolidated Clerk’s offices in the United States and serves as the Chief Election Authority for suburban Cook County. In December of 2020, Clerk Yarbrough’s Office
assumed all official duties of the former Recorder of Deeds Office and now manages the recording of all deeds, property documents, and business forms for all of Cook County.
The Clerk also maintains and administers all Cook County Vital Records, including births, marriages, civil unions, and deaths. In addition, Ms. Yarbrough plays a crucial role in the property tax system, maintaining delinquent tax records, tax maps, and information regarding TIF Districts. She also functions as the Clerk of the Cook County Board, preparing board agendas, post-meeting reports, and official County Board records. The Clerk also operates a Veteran’s Services Division, providing the free recording of veterans’ DD-214 Military Discharge papers as well as a Military and Veterans Discount Card that offers all active-duty military and veterans reduced costs and benefits from hundreds of Cook County businesses.
Before she was elected Clerk, Ms. Yarbrough served as the Cook County Recorder of Deeds and established herself as a national leader in efforts to confront property fraud and advocate for property owners.
A former State representative and Assistant Majority Leader in the Illinois House of Representatives, Ms. Yarbrough has a B.A. in Business Management from Chicago State University, an M.A. in Inner City Studies from Northeastern Illinois University, a Certificate of Public Leadership from Pepperdine University School of Public Policy where she serves as the Legislative Committee Chair, and has completed advanced leadership studies at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.
Recently she received the nation’s top professional achievement for election officials, being designated a Certified Elections Registration Administrator (CERA) after completing a multi-year course of study from Auburn University’s Master’s in Public Administration program.
She and her husband Henderson have a blended family of six and share 12 grandchildren and three great grandchildren.

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