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Kim Foxx’s office hires Chief Diversity Officer and Deputy Chief of Staff

Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx has hired a Chief Diversity Officer and Deputy Chief of Staff to fill the roles once occupied by two Black women, one of whom was recently promoted. The other resigned for a position in the private sector.

The new chief diversity officer is Lea Gutierrez, who once served in a similar position in a department of the Illinois Supreme Court. In the other position, Ted Berger will serve as Foxx’s new deputy chief of staff after working as the Emergency Management Deputy Incident Commander for Cook County.

Foxx said she believes these appointments will help drive her second-term policy agenda forward, as well as continue her investment and commitment to diversity within the office.  Both appointments are effective immediately.

Gutierrez replaces Jennifer Ballard Croft, a Black executive who served both as Foxx’s Chief of Staff and Chief Diversity Officer. In an email, Foxx said Croft resigned several weeks ago for a position in the private sector. Croft’s LinkedIn account shows that she is currently employed as chief legal and human resources officer at INTREN, LLC, a construction firm in Union, IL, which is located 59 miles northwest of Chicago.

Asked if there were any existing Black employees in the office in the diversity and inclusion department, Foxx’s office said in an email, “State’s Attorney Foxx is committed to having a prosecutor’s office that reflects the diverse communities in Cook County, and Ms. Gutierrez will be the key driver leading this effort. Through initiatives such as Employee Resource Groups, the SAO is expanding the office’s support and inclusive policies for the retention of attracting and retaining diverse employees. Currently, the SAO has five active ERGs: Asian American Prosecutors, AA ERG (African-American), HASA (Hispanic ASAs), LGBT+, and W.I.S.E. (Women’s Insight & Support through Education) to increase professional development and community outreach to assist the communities we serve.”

Foxx’s response also included a link to a story in the online publication The Crime Report. The story, “Why Culture Change for Prosecutors is More Than Hiring People of Color,” detailed concerns Black prosecutors face in pushing for diversity after decades of lily-white staffs.

Berger replaces Alyson Miller, who in January was promoted to the new, hybrid position of Chief of Staff and Policy.

Foxx made the announcement three months into her second term in office as Cook County’s first Black female State’s Attorney.

Lea G
Lea Gutierrez

“I am excited to bring new perspectives to my leadership team to advance the critical work of this office,” Foxx said. “Ted Berger’s and Lea Gutierrez’s dedication to public service and commitment to inclusive policies will serve this administration well as we continue our renewed focus on criminal justice reform for the people of Cook County.”

Gutierrez was the founding Director of Diversity and Inclusion at the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission of the Sup- reme Court of Illinois (ARDC).

In that role, Foxx said Gutierrez’s pioneered efforts to recruit diverse attorneys, promote a culture of inclusion and create methods for increased public accessibility to the ARDC. As chief diversity and inclusion officer, Foxx said Gutierrez “will lead the development and implementation of proactive diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives designed to optimize organizational culture and align the organization’s diversity, equity and inclusion goals with organizational outcomes.

“Our people who make up the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office should represent the diversity of Cook County in every sense of the word. Lea’s unwavering commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion will be an asset to the men and women of the State’s Attorney’s Office as well as the people of Cook County. I’m thrilled to have Lea join my executive team where her expertise will provide a strong perspective for the work we do,” said Foxx.

Berger has worked in the public sector at the local, state and federal levels. He most recently served as the Emergency Management Deputy Incident Commander for Cook County’s unified command response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. As Deputy Chief of Staff, Foxx said Berger “will collaborate with managers and supervisors to oversee and implement policies within the CCSAO.”

“Ted comes to the role with vast knowledge of how government offices work and years of public service, both are important to navigating the second largest prosecutor’s office in the country. Ted’s experience working with the General Assembly is a great benefit as we build a progressive policy and legislative agenda for the second term,” said Foxx.






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