At Legal Aid Chicago, we work together to provide high-quality civil legal aid to people living in poverty and other vulnerable groups. Through advocacy, education, collaboration, and litigation we empower individuals, protect fundamental rights, strengthen communities, create opportunities, and achieve justice. In carrying out our mission, we treat everyone with compassion and respect.

The leadership of our Board of Directors is instrumental to our ability to achieve our mission and serve our clients well. The Board is comprised of leaders from across multiple law practices and valued members of our community, with a shared goal of being an inclusive and representative board where all members belong and strategically advance community needs. Alice Scott, who has served on the Board since 2019, and Nadine Chest, who joined in 2022, are two of our Board members who bring valuable insight to our legal services work.

Board member Alice Scott [center]
“Legal Aid Chicago gives a voice to underserved folks who would otherwise go unheard in the legal arena,” said Alice Scott. “As a Board member, I have gained information that I can pass along to members of my community in need of representation from Legal Aid Chicago. That is why our community needs to see Black leaders at this table. Black leaders in every Black community are necessary and have always existed. Most Black leaders in the Black Community are unsung heroes. They are the nosey neighbor who watches out for the schoolchildren, the ones who help the homeless who are often undervalued and mistreated. The unsung Black leaders are some of the very glue that holds the Black Community together. That is how I see my role as a Legal Aid Chicago Board member,” she added.

 “One thing about me that doesn’t appear in my bio is that I hate the idea of people going hungry. I feed as many as I can as often as I can,” said Ms. Scott.

As advocates for people living in poverty, Legal Aid Chicago witnesses firsthand how structural racism thwarts the health and stability of low-income communities and perpetuates the cycle of poverty. Free legal assistance can be an effective tool to fight racism.

Board member Nadine Chest

Board members, like Ms. Scott and Ms. Chest, understand this all too well because of their own lived experiences. “In 2018, a creditor who bought a debt that was over 20 years old was suing me. During this time, I had recently been laid off from my job of 15 years, and I was at risk of being homeless,” said Nadine Chest. “I found out about Legal Aid Chicago, and the civil lawsuit was dismissed- we counter-sued, so no money was owed. I was so grateful, and it was during this time I realized how important it was to have a lawyer. If Legal Aid Chicago did not provide a free attorney, my life would have been devastated. I could have lost everything, including the motivation to keep going. When I found out about the opportunity to be on the Board of Legal Aid Chicago as a Community member, I was elated. The organization saved my life and provided me the opportunity to pick myself up again and start over.”

Ms. Chest, who is a US Veteran, believes that Black representation at the leadership table is crucial to providing legal services to the community. “It is very important for Black leaders to sit at the table to create a diverse and inclusive point of view. Black leaders can bring a broad view of perspectives that are not witnessed or relatable by those who have not lived the Black experience in the world. Black leaders can provide insight on issues and express a point of view in the decision-making process without being biased towards the Black communities. Black leaders can make sure the Black community is considered, included, valued, and treated fairly,” she added.

Nadine recommends individuals committed to fighting injustice should read The Other America and The Warmth of Other Suns.

At Legal Aid Chicago, it is our vision that poverty and race will not be an impediment to justice in Cook County. We are proud to celebrate Black History Month and honor the contributions of Black individuals- while raising awareness of the injustices faced by the Black community. Our Board of Directors, staff, and volunteers, work to ensure those contributions are honored every day of the year. You can join our fight for equal justice by donating or volunteering with us. Learn more here.