Lori Lightfoot, '89: "Leading the Long, Winding Journey to Chicago Police Reform"

Lori Lightfoot has worked in the U.S. attorney's office, City Hall and one of Chicago's largest law firms. But as president of the city's police board and chair of Mayor Rahm Emanuel's Police Accountability Task Force, her biggest job to date has been steering the public conversation about local police reform. In the more than two years since the fatal police shooting of Chicago teen Laquan McDonald, perhaps no one has examined the issue as thoroughly as this straight-talking 54-year-old lawyer.

Her task force sessions were so rigorous that one participant dubbed them "the 'Twelve Angry Men' meetings." Sybil Madison-Boyd, a task force member and program director at the Digital Youth Network project, explains that the tone—akin to defending a graduate dissertation—was set by Lightfoot.

"There's this part of you that fears her because you know that she has these high standards and she's not going to accept less," Madison-Boyd says. "You don't want to let her down, and you also don't want her to shoot you down."

But the fate of her task force's 126 recommendations is an open question. The city is still waiting for the results of a U.S. Department of Justice investigation into whether police officers systematically violated citizens' rights. It's also unclear whether the report will have teeth, since no one is sure if President-elect Donald Trump and his attorney general nominee, Sen. Jeff Sessions, will continue the practice of aggressively pursuing agreements that carry the full force of the federal courts.

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