The Illinois Justice Project (ILJP) is a continuation of the Justice and Violence Group at Metropolis Strategies and engages in criminal justice reform efforts that promote policies that will make our communities safer and reduce recidivism among youths and adults. Established in 2014 as a legacy project of Metropolis Strategies, the non-profit ILJP is a supporting organization of the Chicago Community Trust and an affiliate of The Commercial Club of Chicago.
The staff of ILJP consists of Paula Wolff, Sharone Mitchell, Jr, Korynna Lopez, Garien Gatewood and Jenny Green. You can read more about them in the Staff section below.
An advisory board provides counsel to the staff of the Illinois Justice Project. It is led by Brother James Gaffney, FSC, president of Lewis University in Romeoville, Illinois.
Paula Wolff is Director of the Illinois Justice Project, a civic organization developing and implementing policy initiatives and programs to reform the criminal justice system by addressing youth trauma and reducing youth and adult violence, crime and incarceration.
From 2000 until the creation of the Illinois Justice Project in 2014, she was Senior Executive at Chicago Metropolis 2020 and Metropolis Strategies where she led the Justice and Violence Group, the predecessor to the Illinois Justice Project.
From 1992 to 2000, Wolff served as President of Governors State University. During her tenure at GSU, the budget doubled and enrollment grew by 22 percent to more than 9,000 students on the campus in Chicago’s south suburbs.
From 1977 to 1991, Wolff served as Director of Policy and Planning for Governor James R. Thompson. She directed development and implementation of policy for all areas of state government, serving with her staff as liaison to 57 state agencies. She also worked for Governor Richard B. Ogilvie from 1969 to 1971.
In 1990-91, she directed Governor Jim Edgar's Transition Team, as she had participated in Governor James R. Thompson's in 1976-77. In 2014-15, she co-chaired Governor Bruce Rauner’s Public Safety Transition Policy Committee.
Wolff has been a college professor and visiting lecturer at several universities. She lectured at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy from 1991 to 1992 and again between 2000-2012, and she taught a public policy graduate seminar regularly while President at GSU.
Wolff has a bachelor’s degree from Smith College and a master’s and doctorate in political science from the University of Chicago.
Wolff serves on numerous boards including the Johnson Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, Ariel Investments, the Metropolitan Planning Council, the University of Chicago Medical Center Board and the University of Chicago Board of Trustees. Wolff is the former chair of the City Colleges of Chicago Board and also the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority.
She is married to Wayne W. Whalen, a lawyer, and has five children.
Korynna Lopez, Project Assistant, works on a variety of juvenile and criminal justice projects, research assignments and events. After interning with the Illinois Justice Project as a college student, Lopez joined the staff full-time in October 2016 after receiving her bachelor’s degree with a double major in communications and media as well as sociology from DePaul University.
She served as President of the Youth Advisory Board to the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission, which is the federally mandated State Advisory Group to the Governor, the General Assembly and the Illinois Department of Human Services. Lopez and other advisory board members provided a youth perspective and voice to the Commission’s effort to improve juvenile justice.
From 2013 to 2015, Lopez participated in the Mikva Challenge program as a Youth Leader Intern assisting the Cook County Juvenile Justice Council. She contributed to reports recommending ways to help youth transition successfully from the juvenile justice system and assisted in the creation of a web-app to help people expunge their records.
Korynna can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SHARONE R. MITCHELL, JR.
Sharone Mitchell joined the Illinois Justice Project in July of 2016. Previously, Mitchell was a trial attorney with the Cook County Public Defender’s Office from 2009 to 2016.
His responsibilities at the Public Defender’s Office included handling complex felony litigation at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse located at 26th and California in Chicago. In his career as a trial attorney, Mitchell has tried over 100 criminal cases, ranging from serious Class X felonies to simple misdemeanors, including bench and jury trials.
Before transitioning to the Criminal Division of the Cook County Public Defender’s Office, Mitchell was assigned to the Civil Division where he handled over 80 parent/child unification cases involving the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and the Cook County Public Guardian’s Office.
Currently, Mitchell sits on the Associates Board of the Chicago Debate Commission, the organization that facilitates high school policy debate in the Chicagoland area and serves on the Board of Directors of the Suiters Academy, a group that partners at-risk youth with leaders in the design community.
Mitchell has a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He also earned a law degree from DePaul University College of Law. A lifelong resident of Chicago, he attended Morgan Park High School and grew up in the West Pullman neighborhood.
Sharone can be reached at email@example.com.
Garien Gatewood joined the Illinois Justice Project in April 2019. Previously, he was the Director of Policy Advocacy at the Juvenile Justice Initiative, where his work focused on legislation and policy reform for youth in Illinois. While at the Juvenile Justice Initiative, Gatewood worked on legislation on both local and state levels with a focus on the rights of children, detention reform, eliminating youth homelessness, juvenile expungement, and reentry.
Prior to JJI, Gatewood worked for the Children’s Law Center where his work focused on systemic change and individual reentry services for youth throughout Ohio and Northern Kentucky. This youth reentry project was the first in the region to provide both reentry and legal services. In 2015, he was one of ten people selected as Youth Justice Leadership Institute Fellow of the National Juvenile Justice Network. During his fellowship, he developed a statewide youth reentry guide for Ohio and partnered with organizations throughout the nation to develop youth reentry programs.
Currently, Gatewood sits on Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center Advisory Board, the National Juvenile Justice Network's Membership Advisory Council, and the Board of Directors for Restore Justice Illinois and Lighthouse Youth Services.
Gatewood earned his law degree from the University of Mississippi. During his time in law school, he clerked with the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Mississippi Innocence Project. Prior to law school, he earned his Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Belhaven College and a B.A. in Political Science from Jackson State University.
Garien can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jenny Green, Program Assistant, joined the Illinois Justice Project in 2015. Green provides administrative assistance to the directors and assists on special projects. Green provides technical and logistical support for multiple projects, meetings, conferences and events.
Prior to her position at ILJP, she served as an executive assistant in the Patient Safety and Quality Department of Alexian Brothers and St. Alexius Medical Center. In her role at the hospital, Green supported the Patient Safety and Quality Department’s Vice President, three directors and departments across two campuses. Green served on the Physician Reward and Recognition Team and the Employee Satisfaction Team.
Jenny graduated from Northern Illinois University with a bachelor’s degree in general studies and humanities.
Jenny can be reached at email@example.com.
ILLINOIS JUSTICE PROJECT ADVISORY BOARD
ILJP’s diverse advisory board is comprised of representatives of community organizations, business, labor and civic groups from across the Chicago region. The advisory board is chaired by Brother James Gaffney, FSC, President Emeritus of Lewis University. Affiliations are for identification purposes only.
Gerald W. Adelman, Openlands
James L. Alexander
MarySue Barrett, Metropolitan Planning Council
Frank H. Beal, Civic Consulting Alliance
Dr. Byron T. Brazier, Apostolic Church of God
John Canning, Madison Dearborn Partners, LLC
Frank M. Clark, ComEd, Retired
Nora Daley Conroy
Ronald E. Daly, Océ North America, Retired
Peggy Davis, Chicago Community Trust
Judy Erwin, ASGK Partners
Tyrone C. Fahner, Mayer Brown
Esther Franco-Payne, Cabrini Green Legal Aid
Bro. James Gaffney, Lewis University
Jack M.Greenberg, The Western Union Company, Retired
M. Hill Hammock, Chicago Deferred Exchange Company
King Harris, Senior Fellow, Metropolitan Planning Council
Lanetta Haynes Turner, Cook County Justice Advisory Council
Grace B. Hou, Woods Fund of Chicago
Anna LauBach, Robert R. McCormick Foundation
Donald G. Lubin, Dentons
Andrew McKenna, Schwarz Supply Source
Michael H. Moscow, The Chicago Council on Global Affairs
David Mosena, Museum of Science and Industry
Aurie Pennick, Esq., Field Foundation of Illinois, Retired
Angelique Power, Field Foundation of Illinois
Quinn K. Rallins, Justice, Equity and Opportunity Initiative, Office of the Lieutenant Governor
George Ranney, Metropolis Strategies, Retired
Raul I. Raymundo, The Resurrection Project
Jesse H. Ruiz, Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP
Maria Saldaña, Sanchez Daniels & Hoffman LLP
Bryan Samuels, Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago
Adele S. Simmons, Global Philanthropy Partnership
Julia Schwartz, Miller Shakman & Beem LLP
Kurt Summers, City of Chicago
Gladyse Taylor, Illinois Department of Corrections
Don A. Turner, Chicago Federation of Labor, Retired
Kelly Welsh, Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago
Honorable Corinne G. Wood, Lieutenant Governor, Retired