2017 – Sheri Mecklenburg

After leaving a successful career in private practice 19 years ago, Sheri Mecklenburg not only has demonstrated excellence in her work in the public sector, she has continually gone above and beyond the call of duty to improve the justice system.

Sheri began her public service career at the City of Chicago Law Department and later was appointed General Counsel of the Chicago Police Department. During her tenure with the CPD, Sheri drafted significant legislation and policies, including a First Amendment Policy protecting the right to freedom of speech in mass demonstrations as well as the first Witness Rights policy in the country. Sheri also trained law enforcement on interrogation techniques and played a key role in implementing the electronic recording of interrogations.

In 2007, Sheri began working at the United States Attorney’s Office, where she regularly tries complex cases and often works with new lawyers to mentor them. She was appointed to the Federal Bar Association’s Chicago Chapter Board of Directors and now serves as President President of the Board. In addition, she is responsible for the successful William J. Hibbler Program in the Court, which brings students from disadvantaged areas to the courthouse to meet with lawyers and judges and learn about the justice system.

Sheri consistently goes beyond her professional obligations to improve access to justice. In 2003, after learning that Cook County had a backlog of over 1,000 untested rape kits, Sheri founded a 501(c)(3) organization to address the issue, the Women’s DNA Initiative. She assembled a Board of Directors, organized fundraising, and facilitated a contract with an independent laboratory to process the backlog of rape kits. Sheri even reached out to rape survivors affected by the backlog to ensure their kits were processed and worked to pass legislation mandating that any future backlogs be reported annually so they would not go overlooked.

Throughout her career, Sheri has developed a well-earned reputation as a great lawyer—a hard worker who treats everyone fairly and is tirelessly committed to improving the justice system and our overall community.