Lori Lightfoot

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Lori Lightfoot

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Lori Lightfoot
Lightfoot in 2021
56th Mayor of Chicago
Assumed office
May 20, 2019
DeputyTom Tunney
Preceded byRahm Emanuel
President of The Chicago Police Board
In office
May 2015 – May 2018
Preceded byDemetrius Carney
Succeeded byGhian Foreman
Personal details
BornLori Elaine Lightfoot
August 4, 1962 (age 60)
Massillon, Ohio, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
SpouseAmy Eshleman ​(m. 2014)​
EducationUniversity of Michigan (BA)
University of Chicago (JD)

Lori Elaine Lightfoot (born August 4, 1962) is an American politician and attorney who served as the 56th mayor of Chicago from 2019 to 2023.[1] She is a member of the Democratic Party.[2][3] Before becoming mayor, Lightfoot worked in private legal practice as a partner at Mayer Brown and held various government positions in Chicago. Most notably, she served as president of the Chicago Police Board and chair of the Chicago Police Accountability Task Force.[4][5][6] Lightfoot ran for mayor of Chicago in the 2019 Chicago mayoral election, advancing to a runoff election against Toni Preckwinkle, which Lightfoot won on April 2, 2019.[7][8] She lost reelection in the first round of the 2023 Chicago mayoral election.[9]

Lightfoot is the first openly lesbian black woman to serve as mayor of a major city in the United States and the second openly lesbian woman (after Annise Parker) to serve as mayor of one of the ten most populous cities in the United States as well as the first black woman, the second woman (after Jane Byrne), and the third black person (after Harold Washington and Eugene Sawyer) to serve as mayor of Chicago.[note 1][10][11]

Early life and education

Lightfoot was born in MassillonOhio, the youngest of four children. Her mother, Ann Lightfoot, was a nighttime healthcare aide and school board member, and her father, Elijah Lightfoot, a local factory worker and janitor.[12][13][14][15][16] She grew up in a mostly white neighborhood on the west side of the city.[13]

She is a graduate of Washington High School in Massillon, where she was a trumpet player in the school band, sang alto in choir, point guard on the basketball team, volleyball player, softball player, yearbook editor, and Pep Club member.[13] She was elected high school class president three times.[13] Her campaign slogan while running for high school class president was “Get on the right foot with Lightfoot”.[15] Her high school alumni association named her a “Distinguished Citizen” in 2013.[13][17] While in high school, Lightfoot helped organize a boycott of her school’s lunch program over the quality of its pizza.[18] Her boycott was a success as the school provided more flavorful pizza.[16] Her punishment for the boycott was detention.[15]

Lightfoot received her Bachelor of Arts in political science from the University of Michigan in 1984, graduating with honors.[19] Despite not knowing the subject, she initially hoped to become a systems engineer following the advice of her oldest brother.[13] She pursued seven different types of employment to pay for her education, including working as a resident assistant[14][19][20] and as a cook for the school’s football team.[21] She also held factory jobs at home during summers to help pay for her education.[19] While Lightfoot was an undergraduate, her older brother, Brian Lightfoot, was arrested in connection with a bank robbery and the shooting of a security guard.[13][15][16]

Lightfoot held positions working for Congress members Ralph Regula and Barbara Mikulski before deciding to attend law school.[13][22][23] She has said she chose to attend law school not because of her brother’s legal troubles, but because she wanted a job that offered financial independence.[13] She matriculated at the University of Chicago Law School, where she was awarded a full scholarship.[24] As president of the University of Chicago Law School’s student body, she led a successful movement to ban a law firm from campus after the firm sent a recruiter who made racist and sexist remarks towards a student.[12] Lightfoot quarterbacked an intramural flag football team while at Chicago Law School.[13] Lightfoot also served as a clerk for Justice Charles Levin of the Michigan Supreme Court.[22] She graduated from the University of Chicago with her Juris Doctor degree in 1989.[23][24]


Assistant U.S. Attorney (1996–2002)

After law school, Lightfoot became a practicing attorney at the Mayer Brown law firm, serving a wide cross-section of clients.[13] Lightfoot first entered the public sector as Assistant United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois. During her mayoral campaign, Lightfoot cited several reasons for entering public service, including a desire to represent the African-American community, a sense of injustice based on the murder of a family member by a Ku Klux Klan member in the 1920s, and struggles with the law encountered by her older brother, who was charged with possession of crack cocaine with intent to distribute.[12][15]

While working as a federal prosecutor, Lightfoot helped to prosecute those accused of federal crimes, including drug crimes.[13] She assisted with Operation Silver Shovel, an FBI investigation into Chicago corruption. She helped to convict alderman Virgil Jones.[12] In 1999, Lightfoot was issued a warning for misconduct by judge Richard Posner in a case in which she was found by the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit to have misled a United States Circuit Judge regarding a suspect’s whereabouts, making it impossible for the judge to stay the suspect’s extradition to Norway.[13][25] Lightfoot and the Justice Department at the time disputed this characterization of her actions.[26]

Chicago Police Department Office of Professional Standards (2002–04)

In 2002, Lightfoot was appointed chief administrator of the Chicago Police Department Office of Professional Standards, a now-defunct governmental police oversight group, by Police Superintendent Terry Hillard. She held the position for two years. In the position, she was in charge of investigating possible cases of police misconduct, including police shootings of civilians. However, a Chicago Tribune report found that the Office of Professional Standards’ investigations often lacked thoroughness. Lightfoot says her recommendations for disciplinary action were often rejected by the police department.[12]

In one notable case, Lightfoot went against Police Department orthodoxy by recommending the firing of officer Alvin Weems, who shot and killed an unarmed man, Michael Pleasance. Weems was initially believed to have accidentally shot Pleasance, but after video evidence contradicting the initial claims was revealed, even Weems himself expressed feeling that the shooting was unjustified. Weems was not fired by the Chicago Police Department, but the city was eventually forced to pay a settlement to the Pleasance family. Weems

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