Beth Johnson

Beth is an agent of change. Her fourteen-year legal career has focused exclusively on removing barriers caused by arrest and conviction through fierce legal representation, collaboration with strong partners, and systemic change efforts to transform laws and policies that result in far too many obstacles for individuals.

Beth’s legal career launched and grew at Cabrini Green Legal Aid (CGLA), where she worked for fourteen years after graduating from law school in 2005. Starting as a staff attorney in the newly created Criminal Records Program, she became supervisor of the program for seven years and then served as the Director of Legal Programs for the next five years. During her tenure, Beth led the programmatic development and alignment with the organization’s strategic plan of focusing its services on individuals, families, and communities impacted by the criminal justice system. She was proud to be part of the leadership team that focused the organization’s services and grew the programs, staff and partnerships throughout Illinois. In 2018, Beth transitioned into the role of Senior Policy Advisor, focusing her efforts on deepening the policy and advocacy work of the organization.

During her career at CGLA, Beth represented thousands of clients in all areas related to mitigation of criminal records through courts and administrative proceedings.  She also worked in Springfield for nearly ten years and collaborated with individuals and coalitions to successfully pass thirteen bills, including several related to expungement and sealing, all which became law in Illinois. She worked alongside her partners in CGLA’s Leadership Council to raise awareness about the different forms of relief from criminal records and has traveled across the state, partnering with jurisdictions to execute community summits and events for local residents. She views this statewide work as some of the most rewarding, helping partners throughout Illinois build the capacity to serve their local residents, including Rockford, Peoria, Alton, Champaign, Danville, Decatur, Bloomington and Kankakee. She is a published author through the Illinois Institute of Continuing Legal Education (IICLE), “Expungement and Sealing: A Lawyer’s Guide” and has trained, mentored and supervised hundreds of attorneys and law students during her years of practice. 

Beth was selected as a 2014 Chicago Community Trust Emerging Leader fellow, which focused on criminal justice advocacy and policy work. She was awarded a Sun-Times Fellowship for loan repayment through the Chicago Bar Foundation.  She was honored by the Lawyers Trust Fund of Illinois in 2018 with the Esther R. Rothstein Award for her advocacy in the legal field, she received awards from the Community Renewal Society as a Trusted Partner in 2013, the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County as an Outstanding Woman in Nonprofit in 2012 and was a recipient of the Safer Foundation Visionary Award in 2010.

Beth serves on the Board of Directors of Community Renewal Society and is a council member of her home church, St. John’s United Church of Christ in Lyons. Along with her husband, she works every day to be a good role model to her six and nine year old, raising them to be caring and confident little people.

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