Michelle Mbekeani-Wiley, '14: Named to Crain's 20 In Their 20s 2017

Michelle Mbekeani-Wiley specializes in criminal justice issues at Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law. She wrote a report released in February on policing in Chicago Public Schools. She also persuaded officials to establish a polling place in Cook County Jail, where she spearheaded a voter registration drive last summer that registered nearly 1,000. She lives with her husband and 1-year-old son in Oak Park, becoming an Oak Park Township trustee in April. For fun, she sings jazz. Crain's recently talked to her about what led her to law and how it feels to be the child of immigrants today.

CRAIN'S: What made you want to be a lawyer?

MBEKEANI-WILEY: Your typical movies. I'm not going to lie. "A Time to Kill" was such a moving film for me at a young age. Just the complexities of, you're feeling like you want to represent or defend someone who technically broke the law. Then, as I got older, I noticed a common denominator: A lot of politicians and presidents I admire were lawyers. Like Abraham Lincoln.

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