DEI Initiatives

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Initiatives

The legal aid system in Illinois is responsible for serving a diverse population, and the organizations that provide legal aid services recognize the benefits of diversity and inclusion within their respective boards of directors and staffs. These benefits include better and more representative decision-making; the ability to engage with diverse communities and potential clients more effectively; and increased attention to issues of fairness and equity in the provision of services.

While many legal aid organizations have efforts in place to promote diversity and inclusion within their organizations, until recently there has been no active forum for discussion of these issues among legal aid groups. In addition, no aggregate data has been available about diversity in the Illinois legal aid system. As a key initiative of its strategic plan for 2019 – 2021, the Lawyers Trust Fund of Illinois set out to address these gaps.

LTF convened the Illinois Legal Aid Diversity & Inclusion Working Group in June 2019. The 17-member group consists mostly of legal aid staff members who play a wide variety of roles (front-line staff attorneys, program managers, administrators, and executive directors), as well as attorneys in private practice and academia. Participants include:

 

NAME AFFILIATION TITLE
Reena Bajowala (Co-Chair) Ice Miller LLP Partner
Kenya Burnett (Co-Chair) Legal Council for Health Justice Program Director
Shannon Bartlett Northwestern Pritzker School of Law Associate Dean of Inclusion & Engagement
Dowin Coffy Land of Lincoln Legal Aid Staff Attorney
Andrea DeTellis Prairie State Legal Services Managing Attorney
Mona Elgindy Prairie State Legal Services Staff Attorney
August Hiebler Center for Disability & Elder Law Legal Fellow
Jessica Hodierne Prairie State Legal Services Director of Human Resources
Sarah Holibaugh Chicago Volunteer Legal Services Paralegal
Angela Inzano  The Chicago Bar Foundation Senior Manager of Advocacy & Engagement
Brandy Johnson  Early & Miranda, PC Attorney
Miguel Keberlein  Legal Aid Society Executive Director
Brent Page Public Interest Law Initiative Senior Managing Attorney
Mary Rosenberg Access Living Senior Attorney
Adam Salzman Greater Chicago Legal Clinic Executive Director
Ruby Smith  Legal Aid Chicago Chief Operating Officer
Andrew Weaver Land of Lincoln Legal Aid Deputy Director of Program Operations

The Working Group’s report and recommendations can be found at the following link: Legal Aid Diversity and Inclusion Working Group Report March 2021.

Additionally, in order to implement a key recommendation from the report, LTF has made a series of DEI matching grants available to current grantees of the organization for calendar year 2022. Please click here for more information.

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