Prairie State Legal Services, Inc., a nonprofit law firm that provides free civil legal services to senior citizens and low-income persons in northern and central Illinois, has named Denise E. Conklin, managing attorney of its Peoria/Galesburg office, as its new Executive Director.

Conklin will succeed Interim Executive Director Linda Rothnagel and long-time Executive Director Mike O’Connor, who left the organization March 1, after announcing his resignation in late August 2021. Conklin will take office on April 1.

“We are thrilled to welcome Denise as our new Executive Director,” said Steven Greeley, President of Prairie State Legal Services Board of Directors. “Denise’s commitment to high quality legal services and to Prairie State is well-established. She has thoughtfully considered her vision for the future, including increased impact litigation and reviewing the organizational structure to move forward and honor the successful methods that have put Prairie State in the great position it’s in today.”

Conklin began her career at Prairie State as a volunteer attorney in the Peoria office in 2004 and became a staff attorney in 2007. Denise later became managing attorney in 2009. Prior to joining Prairie State, Conklin worked as a senior associate in the Litigation Department of the Katten Muchin Rosenman law firm in Chicago, IL. Her practice at Prairie State has focused on all aspects of poverty law, including family law, government benefits, education law, criminal records relief, and housing law.

“I’m honored, and grateful to the Board for the opportunity to serve in this new capacity and lead this great organization,” Conklin said. “I am so proud of all that Prairie State has accomplished and excited for the future ahead!”

Conklin graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Illinois College of Law in 1997. She received her Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 1994.