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The Prosecutor Bringing Transparency to Chicago's Justice System

State’s Attorney, Cook County, Ill.

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The odds were stacked against Kimberly Foxx. She grew up in the 1970s and ’80s in Chicago’s infamous Cabrini-Green public housing project, a development known for its violence and high crime rates, along with drug abuse and police neglect. Foxx’s family later moved to the more affluent Lincoln Park, but she says that background shaped her in meaningful ways. “People made assumptions about me because of where I came from,” she says. “That was one of the things that motivated me: I knew I was just as good as anyone.”

She has worked with the public guardian’s office representing children in the foster care system and as the chief of staff for the Cook County Board president. She later served as an assistant state’s attorney for 12 years. In 2016, she challenged -- and beat -- the incumbent Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez to become the first African-American to hold the position. As top prosecutor of the nation’s second-largest county, Foxx has worked to make her office more transparent and “more thoughtful about how we use the tool of prosecution,” she says. 

She has also vacated dozens of wrongful convictions. “I’ve inherited a system that has been fraught with racism and sexism. It is systemic, which makes it more difficult to reform,” she says. “I don’t think there is a more noble pursuit than being an advocate for justice.”

Read about the Women in Government program and the rest of the honorees.

Caroline Cournoyer is GOVERNING's senior web editor.
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