I was born in Chicago but grew up on a farm downstate. I attended parochial high school in Goshen, Indiana and upon graduation returned to Illinois to attend Illinois State University (ISU) in Normal, Illinois for my undergrad and graduate degrees. Go Redbirds! I was very involved in student leadership while there and enjoyed it immensely. In fact, in April of 2017, ISU inducted me into its Steve and Sandi Adams Legacy Hall of Fame for my involvement in student affairs.
Upon completing my first year of graduate school, my mother passed away without a will and I was then baptized by fire into the probate process. She left behind my four-year-old sister, for whom I successfully petitioned the court to become an initial guardian. I then became a single parent juggling full-time work and graduate school. I suppose this experience played a role in my subsequent enrollment into law school.
I earned my law degree from Drake University Law School in Des Moines, Iowa in 1994 and upon graduation served a Public Service Fellowship at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. I parlayed my fellowship into full-time work at New Detroit, The Coalition, a premier organization devoted to community social and economic empowerment. I was first licensed to practice law in Michigan in 1996.
I left Michigan in 1997 and headed to Quantico, Virginia. I was selected to join the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) as a Special Agent in 1997 and I served my country in this capacity until 2007. I was first assigned to the St. Louis Division where I worked White Collar Crime investigations, including financial crimes, mortgage fraud, healthcare fraud and limited kidnappings and bank robberies. I was transferred to the Chicago Division in 2001 and worked Counterterrorism matters and served as the Division Recruiter responsible for recruiting agents and support staff as well as conducting marketing and administration regarding the FBI’s national and local internship programs.
I enjoyed my work as an Agent and likely would have completed 25 years of service; however, debilitating illness required me to take an early retirement. When I was again well enough to share my life gifts with society, I dusted off the law degree, sat for the Illinois Bar and hung a shingle. In July 2009 I formed Law at Last, Incorporated in Homewood Illinois.
Other than work, I enjoy encouraging and inspiring others to overcome obstacles when life deals the unexpected through engaging in motivational speaking. Being a believer in community and civic involvement, I said yes when former Governor Patrick J. Quinn selected me to serve as the inaugural Chairperson for Illinois’ then new Concealed Carry and Licensing Review Board and served from 2014 to 2015. I have served as a board member for Breakthrough Urban Ministries in East Garfield Park for a number of years now as well as maintaining membership in the National Council of Negro Women. I also am a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. Additionally, I volunteer my time for a program called Wills for Heroes wherein we write free wills and powers of attorneys for first responders such as police officers, fire department personnel and emergency medical technicians. I find all this community service extremely rewarding. However, the thing that brings me the most joy is being an involved grandmother.