2013 – Kenya Garrett-Burnett
Kenya Garrett-Burnett joined LAF as a staff attorney in 2009. She currently works in LAF’s Public Benefits Practice Group, where she focuses on representing low-income people with HIV who are seeking public assistance such as Social Security benefits, Medicaid, and Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program benefits (food stamps). Recently, Kenya also was appointed as the leader of the organization’s HIV/AIDS Task Force, through which she will steer LAF’s internal and external efforts to establish community contacts and foster relationships that will allow LAF to better serve HIV+ people. Kenya’s work is vital to ensuring that this vulnerable population, many of whom suffer from a physical and/or mental disability, receives the assistance they need. Prior to specializing in this area, Kenya worked on a broad range of matters at LAF, including representing victims of domestic violence and clients in divorce, child custody, and special education proceedings, as well as representing people with HIV who were in danger of losing their homes or jobs.
Kenya’s schooling and past work experiences prepared her well for her current role. She received a Bachelor of Science in Community Health from University of Illinois and then worked her way through DePaul University College of Law as an HIV case manager. After graduating from law school in 2004, Kenya worked first as a legal advisor and later as the Director of Legal Affairs at the Christian Community Health Center, which provides a wide array of health and social services on the south side of Chicago and in the south suburbs. Five years later, she returned to LAF, where she had interned a summer during law school.
Kenya’s commitment to public interest law is strong and deeply personal. Having worked many years in and around Chicago in areas of heavy violence, poverty, and unemployment, she can readily identify with the plights of her clients. Beyond purely assisting clients with their legal issues, her ties to the community have enabled Kenya to create the community connection that is so critical to LAF’s work while also serving as a role model.
As a result of her extraordinary efforts and accomplishments advocating for low-income individuals and families, Kenya was awarded a CBF Sun-Times Public Interest Law Fellowship in 2013, a financial award that will help meet her law school loan obligations. Kenya’s favorite quote is “Service is the price we pay for the space we occupy” by Marion Wright Edelman. “It encompasses my life’s philosophy and it aptly describes my work at LAF.”