Sadzi Oliva ASH'92
“Your example, even more than your words, will be an eloquent lesson to the world.” -St. Madeleine Sophie Barat
Published June 2018
Sadzi Oliva ASH’92 has taken Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat’s inspirational words and has lived them to the fullest. On June 9, 2018, at the annual Angel Brunch ceremony, the newest members of the Sheridan Road Alumni Association and their families had the privilege of hearing Ms. Oliva speak about her experiences at Sacred Heart and beyond.
Ms. Oliva’s memories of her time at Sacred Heart are vivid – she remembers the pink goûter donuts, Sister Munch’s tiny personalized lambs at Advent, the pink statue of Mater Admirabilis, and dressing up as First Lady Elizabeth Monroe for Mrs. Stawicki’s First Ladies’ Tea. More than these events, however, she remembers that everyone at the school was kind and wanted to help – there was an expectation of the students should be helpful.
This expectation of kindness and empathy permeated Ms. Oliva’s life – she has spent her entire professional career in the public sector helping citizens and those less fortunate. After leaving Sacred Heart, she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from DePaul University, then her Juris Doctorate from Loyola University Chicago. Her career began as an Assistant Attorney General at the Office of the Illinois Attorney General, where she prosecuted financial crimes. She also served as an Ethics Officer; Administrative Law Judge and General Counsel at the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation; and Chief Administrative Law Judge for the Department of Children and Family Services.
In 2017, Ms. Oliva was appointed by Governor Rauner to the Illinois Commerce Commission, as the first Latina to serve as Commissioner in the State of Illinois. In her ground-breaking role, she protects the interests of consumers and utility providers so that citizens receive safe, reliable, and cost effective public utilities.
Throughout her life, and in each of her jobs – including raising her nine-year old son – she has drawn upon the lessons learned and lived at Sacred Heart. She realizes that for every decision she makes, it is not all about her – she has staff, citizens, and her son to consider. She believes whole-heartedly that Sacred Heart taught her a profound sense of empathy, and that anything less would not be tolerated. It was a student’s duty to lead by example, an obligation that she continues to honor as an adult.
Besides devoting her career to the public sector, Ms. Oliva has volunteered at Josephinum Academy (a Sacred Heart network high school), public schools through “Lawyers in a Classroom,” and is currently a mentor for the International Confederation of Energy Regulators Mentoring Program. Through this program, Ms. Oliva communicates weekly with a mentee in Africa who is just starting her career in the energy industry – she provides advice and support to the young woman from across the ocean.
In her address to the new Academy and Hardey alumni, Ms. Oliva emphasized that they have been given a tremendous life foundation, having studied at Sacred Heart and learned the Goals and Criteria. She reminded them to be examples of goodness, exceptionalism, thoughtfulness, and gratitude – as they have been encouraged to do during their time on Sheridan Road. She emphasized that the Goals and Criteria have led to her successes – academically, professionally, and socially. Ms. Oliva is proudly and successfully living Saint Madeleine’s Sophie Barat’s words, and believes the same achievements are possible for the Class of 2018.