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Meet the Team

Patrice James

Patrice James

Founding Director

Patrice James has spent her career in service of and with a deep love and respect for Black people and its communities. After a nationwide search, she was selected as the Founding Director of the Illinois Black Advocacy Initiative where she will build the IBAI from the ground-up, organizing and gaining buy-in and engagement, building its management and financial capacity, driving change, and ultimately establishing a plan of collective advocacy and policy solutions for the needs of Black communities throughout Illinois.


Prior to joining IBAI, she was Director of Community Justice at the Shriver Center on Poverty Law, a founding attorney of Still She Rises, Tulsa, where she provided holistic legal representation primarily to low-income women of color, engaged in community building, and advocated for shifting the narrative of women involved in the criminal justice system “from broken women to broken systems”, and a public defender at the Bronx Defenders Office. Patrice is also the co-founder and board member of the Black Public Defender Association.

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