Prairie State Legal Services has selected Kira Devin, a current staff attorney in the Rockford office, to serve as the program coordinator of Prairie State’s new Justice, Equity, and Opportunity (JEO) program. This innovative program will address inequities in targeted low-income neighborhoods through community lawyering, utilizing community residents to work as advocates beside our attorneys, and providing legal information to help low-income residents understand their legal rights and responsibilities. This new program is supported with funds from the new Illinois Restore, Reinvest, and Renew (R3) program.
The Illinois R3 program directs a portion of adult-use cannabis sales to be used for civil legal aid, violence prevention, youth development, economic development and reentry programs serving certain communities. An independent R3 Board selected Prairie State Legal Services for four regional grants totaling $1.1 million and funding more than eight attorney positions and seven new full-time community advocates.
Under the JEO program, staff attorneys will be located in seven of our offices (Rockford, Waukegan, Kankakee, Bloomington, Peoria, Rock Island, and Joliet) and will address a range of legal issues, including racial inequality, barriers to residents’ efforts to be self-sufficient, and threats to adequate housing. As program coordinator, Kira will train and support community advocates; lead and unify the legal work across offices; and coordinate grant reports.
“The most rewarding part of my job is advocating for client rights and fair treatment,” said Kira. “I hope that we can address racial equity issues through community identified needs. We can help individuals and groups on a range of issues from enforcing their rights to habitable rental housing to obtaining fair and appropriate education for their children to overcoming barriers to employment like criminal records and driver’s license issues.”
Kira brings appellate case experience to this new position, as well as expertise defending against wrongful evictions, obtaining needed repairs to rental units, and giving people a second chance by expunging and sealing old criminal records. She has received the “40 under 40” award from the Rockford Chamber of Commerce and was nominated in 2020 for the YWCA’s Racial Justice Award.