Dina Merrell joined The Chicago Bar Foundation (CBF) in October 2004 as Associate Director. Dina is responsible for the development and implementation of various programmatic work of the CBF—including grants, technical assistance and leadership in the pro bono and legal aid community—as well as overseeing the administrative operations of the CBF. Through its grants program, the CBF provides over $4 million annually in grants and other support to over 40 pro bono and legal aid organizations in the Chicago area. As part of her programmatic work at the CBF, Dina also engages in research and developing reports on issues impacting Chicago’s pro bono and legal aid system, such as Investing in Justice: A Framework for Effective Recruitment and Retention of Illinois Legal Aid Attorneys, a 2006 statewide study of recruitment and retention trends and challenges in Illinois’ legal aid community she co-authored.
Prior to joining the CBF, Dina served as Director of the American Bar Association Center for Pro Bono, a national support center providing technical assistance and means for encouraging pro bono activity to pro bono programs, bar associations, law schools and other segments of the legal profession. From 2001-2003, in addition to her responsibilities with the Center for Pro Bono, Dina also served as Counsel to the ABA Commission on Loan Repayment and Forgiveness, which was established in August 2001 by then-ABA President Robert Hirshon to examine law graduates’ debt burdens and the extent to which debt impedes graduates’ ability to pursue and remain in public service legal careers.
Earlier in her legal career, Dina served as Special Counsel to the Guardian of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and as a Staff Attorney at Cook County Legal Assistance Foundation in the Evanston office.
Dina graduated with honors from Chicago-Kent College of Law in 1995 and earned a B.S. from Miami University (Oxford, Ohio) in 1987. A native of Louisville, Kentucky, she has resided in Chicago since 1989.