Amy Campanelli joins Lawndale Christian Legal Center

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We are so pleased to announce that Amy Campanelli, former Cook County Public Defender, has become our Vice President of Restorative Justice. Here is the press release about it.  We hope you’ll join us in welcoming Amy to the LCLC team. 

Lawndale Christian Legal Center announced today that Amy Campanelli has joined the neighborhood nonprofit as Vice President of Restorative Justice.

“Amy Campanelli is a strong leader and fierce advocate,” LCLC Executive Director Cliff Nellis said. “During her term as Public Defender, I learned firsthand that she is a visionary on the front lines advocating for progressive models of defense.”

“She also brings a client-centered holistic focus and commitment to producing the best legal and social outcomes for our youth. Everything about Amy – her personal story, vision, 34 years of experience, and pursuit of racial equity and justice – is a perfect fit for LCLC.”

Campanelli served as the Cook County Public Defender from 2015 to this year. She worked as an Assistant Public Defender from 1987 to 1998 and again from 2003 to 2015, holding several leadership positions – such as Capital Case Coordinator, Deputy Chief of the Homicide Task Force, Deputy Chief of the Felony Trial Division and Deputy of Suburban Operations.

Amy Campanelli, Vice President of Restorative Justice for Lawndale Christian Legal Center.

Leading a county office with an $80 million budget and more than 700 employees, Campanelli established a first-in-the-nation unit that dispatches public defenders directly to police stations to represent clients in custody before they appear in court. She also created an Immigration Unit to represent noncitizen clients and a Mental Health Unit to improve evaluation and treatment for clients with mental-health needs.

“I’ve known and admired the work of LCLC for years,” Campanelli said. “I worked side-by-side with Cliff Nellis in helping juvenile and emerging adult clients, and I’ve known Dr. Deer both through his work in the mental health field and as a Cook County Commissioner.”

“I have always believed in providing clients with holistic representation, which recognizes that people need more than just a legal defense in the courtroom. Our youth deserve an embracing approach that includes education, a job and services – in order for them to reach their full potential. LCLC’s client-centered community-based approach is a model for the nation, and I am thrilled to become part of this organization. I look forward to transforming our ‘systems’ by being committed to racial equity and justice for all.”

LCLC and Campanelli also worked with Cook County stakeholders to help establish Illinois’ first Restorative Justice Community Court that opened in the Circuit Court of Cook County in 2017.

“I met Amy several years ago when we were serving on a panel around services for justice-involved youth with co-occurring disorders in the court system. She was as fierce and passionate about fighting for those who are underserved as she is now. She is a welcome addition as we fight for justice and equity in my home community of North Lawndale and beyond,” said Dr. Dennis Deer, LCLC Vice President of Organizational Health and Management.

Lawndale Christian Legal Center is the only holistic community-based legal practice in Chicago dedicated to the criminal defense of juveniles and emerging adults. LCLC provides services for individuals, 24 and under, who are from North Lawndale.

Every LCLC client receives services with a family-centered approach and a dedicated case manager who coordinates a wraparound support team of legal, social, psychological and job-training professionals. This on-the-ground program walks young people through, and then away from, the criminal justice system.