Illinois Judges Association

Pro Bono - October 2022 

     After 22 years of practicing law, beginning with legal aid and achieving appointment as head of litigation for the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, litigating and managing complex construction, contract, and environmental cases, Judge Shelley was elected to the Illinois Circuit Court of Cook County where she oversaw criminal domestic violence, housing, professional liability, torts, product liability, premises liability, fraud, employment, commercial, and construction disputes. She was deemed qualified by all of the bar associations. She served for fifteen years and conducted nearly 100 jury trials. Prior to retiring she was responsible for a calendar of complex commercial cases from initiation through trial.

      As past president of the Illinois Judicial Council she arranged for a group of Liberian West Africa judges to attend the Illinois Judicial Educational Conference, the first time such an opportunity was offered to foreign judges. As president of the Illinois Judges Association, she spearheaded a series of forums on restoring confidence in the judiciary during a time of great social unrest. She was appointed Commissioner of the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism and to the Special Illinois Supreme Court Advisory Committee on Justice and Mental Health.

     She received the Chicago Bar Association’s Earl B. Dickerson Award for a career devoted to helping others gain equality and justice, and numerous other awards for her public and legal services.

     Most recently Judge Shelley was appointed by President Joe Biden to serve as U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Midwest Regional Administrator overseeing HUD’s six-state Midwest region: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin. She is HUD’s regional liaison to elected officials, congressional delegations, associations and stakeholders.

      A Chicago native with roots in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood, she earned a juris doctorate degree from the University of Iowa College of Law and a bachelor’s degree in political science and economics from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is a recipient of the Reginald Heber Smith Community Lawyer Fellowship designed to train social justice attorneys.

      At an early age she worked with community and religious groups that focused on feeding, clothing, housing and addressing social injustices. She worked on the first Chicago Free Breakfast for Children’s Program, feeding hundreds of children each school morning throughout the Chicago area. Upon graduating from law school, she worked with rural legal aid servicing farmers, migrants and rural low-income families. As a young practitioner she received the Cook County Bar Association Pro Bono Award.

     She has presented at the Judicial Educational Conference, Chicago Daily Law Bulletin Judges Symposium, Illinois Continuing Legal Education, Northwestern University of Law, National Business Institute Judicial Forum, United States Department of Agriculture, Chicago Public Schools, Mock Trial Competitions, United States Environmental Protection Agency, Chicago School of Professional Psychology, among others.

     She is a member of Trinity United Church of Christ Chicago, and her life is guided by the biblical principal: What is required of you? Act justly, love mercy and be humble. (Micah 6:8)