Public Interest Law Initiative

Staff

Michael G. Bergmann, Executive Director

Michael has served as PILI’s Executive Director since 2010 and is based in our Chicago office. Under his leadership, PILI has grown its Law Student Internship Program by over 30 percent and increased the Intern stipend for the first time in over a decade. He has overseen the development of innovative pro bono committees at the judicial circuit level across Illinois, as well as the launch of an active and robust Alumni Network. Michael originally joined PILI in 2006 as Pro Bono Initiative Director and more recently served as Director of Programs. Prior to joining PILI, Michael served as the Guardian Ad Litem Program Director for Chicago Volunteer Legal Services.

Michael is a frequent speaker on issues relating to legal aid, pro bono and public interest law at the state and national level, including the Illinois Legal Advocates Conference, the ABA/NLADA Equal Justice Conference, the ABA Young Lawyers Division, the National Legal Aid and Defender Association Annual Conference, the Equal Justice Works Conference & Career Fair, the NALP Annual Education Conference and the National Pro Bono Conference of Canada. During his tenure at PILI, Michael has also handled pro bono matters through Chicago Volunteer Legal Services, Lawyers’ Committee for Better Housing and the National Immigrant Justice Center.

Michael is an Adjunct Professor at the DePaul University College of Law, where he also serves on the Advisory Board for the Center for Public Interest Law. He also serves on the Advisory Board of the Chicago Lawyer Chapter of the American Constitution Society and the National Association for Law Placement’s PSJD Advisory Group. He also served on the Cook County Elder Justice Center Task Force for the Elder Law and Miscellaneous Remedies Division for the Circuit Court of Cook County. Michael also serves as a Commissioner on the City of Evanston’s Human Relations Commission.

An active member of the American Bar Association, Michael is currently serving in the ABA’s House of Delegates and as Chair-Elect of the Section Officers Conference. He previously served as Chair of the ABA’s Judicial Division during the 2015-16 bar year; only the third non-judge to hold that post. He is also a past chair of both the ABA Young Lawyers Division and of the Lawyers Conference of the Judicial Division. Michael is also a member of the Illinois State Bar Association where he serves on and is a past chair of the Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services, and serves on the Bench & Bar Section Council and the ISBA Assembly. He is also a member of the Chicago Bar Association, currently serving on the Continuing Legal Education Committee.

Frequently recognized for his contributions to the bar and the public, Michael was named one of “40 Under 40 Illinois Attorneys to Watch” in 2013 by the Law Bulletin Publishing Company. Michael was the recipient of the 2011 Young Alumni Merit Award from The Catholic University of America.  He was also the 2007 recipient of both the Outstanding Young Alumnus Award from DePaul University College of Law and the Illinois State Bar Association Young Lawyer of the Year Award. Michael was also the 2005 recipient of the Kimball and Karen Anderson Public Interest Law Fellowship from The Chicago Bar Foundation.

Michael attended The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., where he earned his Bachelor of Arts in Politics. He received his Juris Doctor from DePaul University College of Law. Prior to and during law school, Michael was a consultant with PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP. He is admitted to the practice of law in the State of Illinois, and before the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois and the Supreme Court of the United States.

Lauren Harper, Development & Communications Associate

Lauren joined PILI as our Development and Communications Associate in March 2015 and is based in our Chicago office. She supports PILI’s programs, fundraising and communications, and manages PILI’s social media presence. Before coming to PILI, she worked as a content writer and blogger for an internet marketing company. She also has worked at Oxfam America, the Obama 2012 Campaign, and Autism Speaks. Lauren is originally from Utah, where she received a Bachelor’s Degree in Liberal Arts at Utah State University. While there, she researched how nonprofits use business language within their organizations.

Shana Heller-Ogden, External Relations Director

Shana joined PILI in February 2011 and is based in our Chicago office. She is responsible for managing PILI’s fundraising efforts with law firms, corporations, foundations, and individual donors, as well as organizing PILI’s annual fundraising events and maintaining PILI’s website and other communications. She previously worked as a Domestic Violence Education and Outreach VISTA at the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law and as the Teen Services Trainer at Women Empowered Against Violence (WEAVE) in Washington, DC. She holds a Master of Nonprofit Management from DePaul University’s School of Public Service, and she graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Valparaiso University with a Bachelor of Arts in Secondary Education, French and Theology.

Elizabeth Jensen, Program Director

Beth Jensen Cropped

Beth joined PILI as our Program Director in January 2017 and is based in our Peoria office. She is responsible for overseeing the planning, organizing, implementing and evaluating all of PILI’s Programs statewide. Beth has specific responsibility for PILI’s efforts to expand and enhance pro bono across Illinois, with an emphasis on increasing the reach and impact of PILI’s Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Committees.

A graduate of Loyola University Chicago School of Law, Beth most recently was Of Counsel at Heyl, Royster, Volker, & Allen P.C. in Peoria, concentrating her practice in all aspects of school, labor and employment, and municipal law. Previously, Beth worked as a law clerk to Justice Daniel L. Schmidt of the Third District Appellate Court of Illinois, as assistant corporate counsel for the City of Peoria, and as staff attorney at Prairie State Legal Services. Beth also served during law school as a PILI Law Student Intern at Cabrini Green Legal Aid.

Beth is actively involved in the community and currently serves as a member of the City Council of Peoria. Beth had been serving as a member of the PILI’s Tenth Judicial Circuit Committee, through which she regularly volunteered at that Committee’s Self-Represented Litigant Help Desks at both the Peoria County and Tazewell County courthouses. She is a former board member and past president of the Lawyers Trust Fund of Illinois, former board member of Illinois Bar Foundation, member and past board governor of the Illinois State Bar Association, and current member of the Peoria County Bar Association.

Karen Lazcano, Administrative Assistant

Karen joined PILI in November 2016 as our Administrative Assistant and is based in our Chicago office. She ensures the efficient day-to-day operations of PILI and provides support for our programs and staff. Karen graduated from Yale University in May 2016 with a degree in Ethnicity, Race, and Migration. During her time at Yale, Karen was an active member of La Casa Cultural, the Latinx Cultural Center at Yale. She is the founder and past president of LWAY: Latina Women at Yale. Karen has previously interned at the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California and the U.S. House of Representatives. She was a part of the inaugural class for the Women in Politics Fellowship at Yale, which funded her summer internship with the Office of Congressman Luis V. Gutierrez.

Brent Page, Program Associate

Brent Headshot

Brent joined PILI as the Program Associate in March 2017 and is based in our Chicago office. He is responsible for the Law Student Internship Program, Graduate Fellowship Program and Alumni Network. He previously worked as the Supervising Attorney for Community Engagement at the Domestic Violence Legal Clinic and as a staff attorney at Katz Law Office. He graduated from Chicago-Kent College of Law in 2011, and while in law school completed several public interest law internships and fellowships including an internship at Equip from Equality, a Coles Fellowship at the Illinois Human Rights Commission, and a judicial externship for the Honorable Mary K. Rochford. He also worked with Family Rescue servicing victims of domestic violence in the court house. An Alumni of PILI’s Internship Program himself, Brent served as a PILI Law Student Intern at AIDS Legal Council, now known as Legal Council for Health Justice, in 2010. Brent is also an active volunteer with Chicago Volunteer Legal Services.

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