Staff

 Bonnie Allen, Executive Director

Bonnie Allen became executive director in December 2015. Prior to joining CLC, Bonnie was the principal of Choose-Change, a consulting practice focused on strategic planning, fundraising, and leadership development. Her clients included the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, Legal Council for Health Justice, the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty, and the Florida Bar Foundation. Previously, Bonnie served as development director at the Mississippi Center for Justice, executive director of the Center for Law and Renewal at the Fetzer Institute, co-director of the Project for the Future of Equal Justice at the National Legal Aid and Defender Association, and director of the ABA Center for Pro Bono.

A graduate of Rhodes College and the University of Florida College of Law, Bonnie started her legal career as an appellate court law clerk in Florida and practiced civil litigation in Tampa. Bonnie left private practice in 1993 to follow her passion – formed out of her experiences growing up in the segregated South - to pursue a career in social justice law. Bonnie taught ethics and professional responsibility at the University of Maryland School of Law, and has published numerous journal articles on the topics of community lawyering, leadership, and ethics. Bonnie also holds a Master’s Degree in Theological Studies from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, and she serves on the board of the Center for Courage and Renewal.

You can contact Bonnie Allen at ballen@clccrul.org.


Jody Adler, Director of The Law Project

Jody Adler is the Director of The Law Project. She specializes in the law of exempt organizations working with community-based nonprofit organizations. Jody has taught classes in nonprofit law and management for Oakton Community College and Spertus College. She is on the board of directors of AIDS Legal Council of Chicago and Changing Worlds, a Chicago-area arts in education organization.  She is a former president of Interfaith Housing Center of the Northern Suburbs, a member of Chicago Women in Philanthropy, and Vice-Chair of the Legal Aid Committee of the Chicago Bar Association.  Jody was recently awarded a Wasserstein Visiting Public Interest Fellowship at Harvard Law School.

You can contact Jody Adler at JAdler@thelawproject.org.


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   Timna Axel, Communications Associate

Timna Axel joined the Chicago Lawyers' Committee as Communications Associate in June of 2016. Prior to CLC, she worked for three years as the Senior Midwest Field Organizer for J Street, the political home for pro-Israel, pro-peace Americans. Timna was born in Israel and grew up in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. In 2012 she reported for the Cape Argus in Cape Town, South Africa and investigated wrongful convictions with the Medill Justice Project. She received her B.A. in History and her Bachelor of Science in Journalism from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism in 2013.

You can contact Timna Axel at taxel@clccrul.org.


  C. Esther Choi, Staff Attorney

Esther is a Staff Attorney with the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee. Prior to becoming a staff attorney, Esther was a Civil Rights Fellow at CLC, primarily representing plaintiffs in Federal Court settlement conferences involving Title VII, Section 1981, and Section 1983 matters.  Esther is currently staffed in the Fair Housing Project where she is involved in all levels of the Project’s work including coordinating housing tests to determine the presence of unlawful housing discrimination and overseeing the intake process. Esther received her Juris Doctor from Cornell Law School in 2013 and her Bachelor of Arts, specializing in International Studies, from Ewha Womans University in Seoul, South Korea. She is fluent in Korean, and is admitted to practice in Illinois and the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

You can contact Esther Choi at echoi@clccrul.org.


   Ryan Cortazar, Legal Fellow

Ryan Cortazar is a Redstone Fellow in CLC’s Employment Opportunity Project.  He currently assists CLC’s employment discrimination, voting rights, police reform, and prisoners’ rights initiatives.  Ryan previously worked as a law clerk in the Civil Rights Division of the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office and the Office of Congressional Ethics of the U.S. House of Representatives.  As a student, he was an articles editor of the Harvard Law Review, contributor to the On Labor blog, and research assistant in the areas of constitutional law, criminal law, and social movement narratives to Professors Laurence H. Tribe, Andrew Manuel Crespo, and Ron Susskind.  Before law school, Ryan was a Shakman Accord compliance officer in the Office of the Inspector General of the City of Chicago and an investigator at the James Mintz Group.  He received his J.D. from Harvard Law School and A.B. from Harvard College. 

You can contact Ryan Cortazar at rcortazar@clccrul.org.


   Angela Dear, Office Administrator

Angela Dear is the Office Administrator for the Law Project. She is responsible for the day-to-day coordination of office procedures and administrative support to TLP staff.  She manages TLP's client and volunteer database.  Prior to her work with TLP, Angela was a legal secretary at Business and Professional People for the Public Interest (BPI).  Angela has a Bachelor of Arts in Paralegal Studies.

You can contact Angela Dear at adear@thelawproject.org.


   Allegra Cira Fischer, Staff Attorney

Allegra Cira Fischer is a staff attorney with The Law Project (TLP) and is focused on issues of equitable and inclusive development. She works with coalitions of non-profit organizations in negotiations with developers to secure benefits for surrounding communities, including commitments to build affordable housing, hire local residents and pay livable wages, among other investments important to Chicago neighborhoods and their residents. Prior to joining The Law Project, Allegra’s legal advocacy focused on homeowners in foreclosure at Chicago Volunteer Legal Services (CVLS) and families in the child welfare system at the Family Defense Center.  At CVLS, Allegra represented homeowners in court as well as in over 200 mediation sessions through the Cook County Mortgage Foreclosure Mediation Program. She is fluent in Spanish and is a certified mediator through the Center for Conflict Resolution. 

Allegra received her undergraduate degree in Communications from the University of Miami (Florida) and her Juris Doctor cum laude with a Certificate in Public Interest Law from DePaul University College of Law, where she served on the Editorial Board of the Journal for Social Justice and received the Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Scholarship Award from the National Association of Women Judges.  

You can contact Allegra Cira Fischer at AFischer@thelawproject.org.


  Ami Gandhi, Director of Voting and Civic Empowerment

Ami Gandhi is the Director of Voting Rights and Civic Empowerment at Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights (CLC), working to reduce barriers to voting and improve civic participation, especially in communities of color and low-income communities.  Ami’s experience includes leading statewide voter protection for the 2016 election, advocating for communities of color during Illinois redistricting, advising local election boards as they implemented the first Hindi ballots in the country, and leading exit poll studies.  She previously worked as the Executive Director of South Asian American Policy & Research Institute (SAAPRI), where she led initiatives in voting rights, immigrants’ rights, and other civil rights and racial justice issues.  Prior to her work at SAAPRI, Ami worked as the Legal Director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice Chicago and as a commercial litigation attorney at Freeborn & Peters LLP.  Ami serves as the board chair of Common Cause Illinois and also serves on the board of American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois.  She received the 2015 Changemaker Award from Chicago Fair Trade for her role in passing anti-sweatshop laws and the 2015 Public Interest Award from South Asian Bar Association of North America.  Ami earned her J.D. from The George Washington University Law School and her B.A. in psychology and cognitive science from Indiana University.  

You can contact Ami Gandhi at agandhi@clccrul.org.


   J. Cunyon Gordon, Senior Counsel and Director of the Settlement Assistance Project 

J. Cunyon Gordon is the Director of the Settlement Assistance Project.  In this role, Cunyon evaluates cases and potential clients, recruits volunteer attorneys, and represents litigants in cases in which she is unable to find a match. Prior to CLC, Cunyon was Of Counsel at Eimer Stahl Klevorn & Solberg LLP, during which time she was an early volunteer with SAP.  Cunyon was also a civil litigator at Jenner & Block LLP for ten years, where she earned the distinction of being the first black woman to make partner at the then 75-year old firm. Cunyon has also served as an attorney with the U. S. Navy JAG.  Cunyon attended Yale College and earned her J.D. from Yale Law School.

Cunyon has taught as a Distinguished Visiting Professor for the Boston University School of Law and Visiting Professor for Seattle University School of Law. Cunyon was a board member of Access Living and LAF for over fifteen years, and served as the CLE chair for the Chicago Bar Association for two years.

You can contact J. Cunyon Gordon at cgordon@clccrul.org.


   Charlie Greengoss, Development & Communications VISTA

Charlie Greengoss is an Americorps Vista focusing on Development and Communications at CLC. He received his Bachelor of Arts from The University of Wisconsin - Madison in 2011, and shortly thereafter began his career working in digital and print advertising in New York and Chicago. Thrilled to be at CLC, he is energized by the level of commitment and passion displayed by those around him. He also co-manages a startup record label called Vinyl For A Cause, which raises money for various charities in need of program assistance nationwide.

You can contact Charlie Greengoss at cgreengoss@clccrul.org.


    Angie Hall, Staff Attorney

Angie Hall is a Staff Attorney for the Law Project. She works primarily with the Small Business Program and the Homeownership Program. Prior to TLP, Angela was a solo practitioner whose legal practice consisted primarily of residential real estate transactions. She is also a licensed real estate broker who was formerly affiliated with Lake Michigan Financial, Inc. Prior to having her own practice, Angela was an Associate at Robbins, Schwartz, Nicholas, Lifton & Taylor, Ltd. and counseled and litigated municipal law, real estate and employment discrimination cases. Early in her legal career, she was a Litigation Counsel at the Attorney Registration & Disciplinary Commission and a Cook County Public Guardian. Angie received her law degree from the University of Illinois College of Law and her Bachelor of Arts degree from Northwestern University.

You can contact Angie Hall at ahall@thelawproject.org.


Elesha Jackson, Office Manager

Elesha Jackson has worked as an Office Manager for CLC for the past 19 years, after spending 5 years as a paralegal for the Chicago Housing Authority.  Elesha is responsible for managing all office operations and intake activities and is certified as a paralegal in litigation by Roosevelt University. 

You can contact Elesha Jackson at ejackson@clccrul.org.


   Julie Justicz, Program Development Counsel

Julie Justicz currently serves as Program Development Counsel, helping CLC to design, implement and support innovative projects that promote racial justice and economic opportunity. Prior to joining CLC, Julie worked as an independent consultant, assisting a wide range of nonprofit organizations in the greater Chicagoland area. Previously, Julie was Director of Program Development at Health & Disability Advocates, Director of the Children’s SSI Project at the American Bar Association, Executive Director of the AIDS Legal Council of Chicago, and a staff attorney with the Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago. After graduating from the University of Chicago Law School in 1988, Julie completed a two-year clerkship for a United States District Court Judge in Atlanta, Georgia. 

You can contact Julie Justicz at jjusticz@clccrul.org.


   John Knoff, Director of Finance

John Knoff is the Director of Finance at CLC. John prepares financial reports for the board, funders, and staff. He also is charged with overseeing the annual audit process and preparing the annual budget. In addition to his work at CLC, John is the President of John Knoff Consulting, Inc., through which John prepares monthly financial statements, provides fiscal oversight for grants, leads budget workshops, and develops budgets and cash flow projections and sets up accounting systems.  He is also adjunct faculty in the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, teaching graduate level financial management classes.

You can contact John Knoff at jknoff@clccrul.org.


 Candace Moore, Staff Attorney

Candace Moore is a Staff Attorney for the Educational Equity Project where she advocates for the educational rights of young people through a lens of racial and social justice. She was instrumental in the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee’s re-launch of the Educational Equity Project. Candace’s work has focused on organizing legal advocacy resources to address disparate discipline and barriers to enrollment for students throughout Chicago and its surrounding communities. She also works in partnership with community-based reformers and institutional policy makers to achieve sustainable and meaningful solutions.

She is a proud graduate of both Loyola University Chicago’s undergraduate program and the School of Law (J.D. ’13). In 2014, Candace completed the inaugural class of the Racial Justice Training Institute hosted by the Sargent Shriver National Poverty Law Center. In 2015, she completed the inaugural class of the Surge Fellowship, a leadership development program focused on addressing the issues of race and class in urban education. In 2015, Candace was awarded the distinct honor of being the year’s recipient of the Kimball R. Anderson and Karen Gatsis Anderson Public Interest Law Fellowship. 

You can contact Candace Moore at cmoore@clccrul.org.


   Josefina Navar, Testing and Outreach Coordinator

Josefina Navar is the Testing and Outreach Coordinator for the Fair Housing Project. She conducts intake, investigations, testing for housing discrimination, outreach and education. Prior to CLC, Josefina worked as a social service provider, assisting clients in obtaining emergency, permanent, and less-restrictive housing, and regularly conducting intake, outreach, and education. Josefina received both her Bachelors and MSW from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

You can contact Josefina Navar at jnavar@clccrul.org.


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   Jessica Schneider, Staff Attorney

Jessica Schneider is a Staff Attorney in the Educational Equity Project Jessica coordinates a pro bono project representing students in expulsion hearings and other educational civil rights matters and also represents students in school discipline and educational equity cases with a focus on racial justice and disrupting the school to prison pipeline. She also engages in community lawyering, education and policy and reform work in educational equity. Jessica is a member of the 2014 inaugural cohort of the Shriver Center Racial Justice Training Institute, which supports legal advocates in explicitly addressing racial inequity through the law. Jessica is a native Chicagoan and joined the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee in 2011 as a Civil Rights Fellow and has also worked in the Fair Housing Project.. She received her bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Spanish from Washington University in St. Louis and her law degree cum laude from DePaul University with a Certificate in Public Interest. Jessica speaks Spanish and has previously done work with immigrants and low income communities. She is a board member of the National Lawyers’ Guild Chicago Chapter and the PILI Alumni Leadership Council. Jessica is a proud 2014 recipient of the Chicago Bar Foundation Sun-Times Public Interest Law Fellowship. 

You can contact Jessica Schneider at jschneider@clccrul.org.


   Betsy Shuman-Moore, Director of the Fair Housing and Hate Crimes Projects

Betsy Shuman-Moore is Director of the Fair Housing and Hate Crimes Projects. Some of her accomplishments include co-authoring amendments to the Illinois Human Rights Act to make the law substantially equivalent to the Fair Housing Act, trying dozens of civil rights cases, and bringing some of the first sexual harassment in housing cases. Prior to CLC, Betsy was a Staff Attorney and later Legal Director for the Leadership Council for Metropolitan Open Communities. Betsy earned her law degree cum laude from Indiana University in Bloomington and her bachelor of social work degree from the University of Illinois. Betsy is a board member of the Chicago Area Fair Housing Alliance.

You can contact Betsy Shuman-Moore at bshuman-moore@clccrul.org.


   Erica Spangler Raz, Staff Attorney

Erica Spangler Raz is a Staff Attorney for The Law Project and works primarily in the Nonprofit Support Program. She has counseled hundreds of nonprofit organizations and regularly presents seminars on board responsibilities and fiduciary duties, startup nonprofit business planning, income tax exemption, financial distress and dissolution, and general nonprofit governance and compliance to community groups, nonprofit consultants and attorneys. Erica was awarded a Sun-Times Public Interest Law Fellowship by the Chicago Bar Foundation for demonstrated commitment to public interest work. She serves as Secretary of the associate board of Coordinated Advice and Referral Program for Legal Services (CARPLS) where she was previously a Staff Attorney providing brief services in the areas of eviction, foreclosure, and consumer law. In addition to active participation in Chicago Bar Association committees, Erica is also a member of the Northwest Suburban Bar Association, and chaired its Corporate/Business Committee for three years. Prior to her legal career, Erica managed marketing communications for a financial software firm. Erica is a graduate of Marquette University and received her law degree from DePaul University.

You can contact Erica Spangler-Raz at espanglerraz@thelawproject.org.

   Elizabeth Temkin, Project Coordinator - Educational Equity Project

Elizabeth Temkin is the Project Coordinator for the Educational Equity Project. Primarily, she works alongside her EEP team members to support and grow the work of the Transforming School Discipline Collaborative, of which CLC is an active member. Prior to joining the CLC team, Elizabeth taught English to 9th and 10th grade students at a high school in Paris. She also worked at organizations in New York and Chicago that serve students who will be the first in their families to attend college. Elizabeth graduated from New York University in 2013 with an interdisciplinary B.A. in Human Rights and Social Justice, French and Spanish. 

You can contact Elizabeth at ETemkin@clccrul.org


    Debra Walker-Johnson, Director of Development

Debra Walker-Johnson is Director of Development for CLC. Debra has more than 20 years of experience in marketing, communications, coalition building and nonprofit fundraising and management. Over the course of her career, Debra has successfully designed and implemented programs to serve disenfranchised individuals, as well as secured funding to support them. Most recently, she served as the Vice President of Marketing and Development for National Able Network, Inc., where she was responsible for the development and growth of the organization's private and public sector fundraising programs and all marketing, media relations and advocacy efforts. She has also served as Executive Director of CTCNet Chicago, the Director of Community Initiatives for Women Employed, and the Director of the Employment Training Program for Southwest Women Working Together.

Debra is currently a member of the Chicago Jobs Council Board and is the past president of Illinois Women Work! She has also been a member of the City of Chicago's Community Development Advisory Committee and the Economic Development subcommittee, the Governor's Commission on the Status of Women in Illinois, the Statewide Non-traditional Leadership Team, Daley College's Advisory Board, the Beverly Area Planning Association's Public Education Committee, and Leadership Illinois.

You can contact Debra Walker-Johnson at dwalkerjohnson@clccrul.org.