Im a licensed attorney in the state of Illinois. Back in law school, in the misty days of yore, my goal was a career in civil liberties litigation. But although I keep my license current, beyond some contracts and minor volunteer work I havent really practiced since I passed the Bar ... events intervened to lead me in a different direction, as they have a way of doing.
I helped pay my way through college and law school by working in campus computer labs—and by the time Id moved back to Chicago, convinced a corporate law degree was the short route to an ulcer, I decided to parlaymy friends and colleagues connections into a venue for those skills, abetted by my design sense and editorial abilities. For a while I supported myself as an independent IT/communications specialist, offering services ranging from systems and network consulting, to graphic design and web site creation, to marketing and promotions: the whole spectrum of services from hard to soft.
Meanwhile the entrepreneurial bug led me toward various sidelines along the way, and Ive dabbled in other business and investment ventures... not to mention freelance writing beyond the commercial materials discussed above. Ive also written reviews, articles, political essays, and fiction for (occasional) publication, as well as a certain amount of hobby-related fan writing done just for the love of it. Just look under the Editorial and Recreational sections of this site. Spreading the memes thats what its all about!
After devoting increasing portions of my time to volunteer work with worthy nonprofit and social service organizations (such as Chicago Youth Programs, where I pitched in on everything from rewriting brochures to chaperoning underprivileged kids to the circus, and The Public Square, where I served as a moderator for weekly Café Society public-affairs discussions), I finally decided it was time to make a career transition and redirect my various professional skills wholeheartedly into the nonprofit sector. The business world was feeling like a treadmill, while the social and political landscape looked ever more dire. Combatting those trends, finding ways to make the world a better place to live, was my biggest ongoing motivation.
I found just the fresh start I was looking for as Associate Director of the League of Women Voters of Chicago — helping to steer the local chapter of one of Americas most respected nonprofit organizations, dedicated to the principles of participatory democracy and accountable government through an informed and active citizenry. After two years, though, a leadership change on the Board cast me adrift again (along with the other staff), and I had to go seeking a new professional home.I moved on to serve as the Executive Director of Equality Illinois, the state's leading advocacy organization for GLBT civil rights. Illinois passed a statewide employment non-discrimination law in 2005, but the playing field was still far from level (in areas ranging from adoption to inheritance rights and more) and challenges from the right-wing fringe keep rising afresh, so there's always significant work yet to be done in the fight for basic justice and equality, and I was glad to be a part of it.
Some disillusionment with the nonprofit job market (not to mention the worst economy in a generation) led me to dust off an old ambition to get some extra letters after my name, and simultaneously to focus more on the policy sphere (which is what I loved most about the work) while setting aside the back-office business matters.
After a diligent search of relevant programs at universities around the country, I applied in late 2009 to ten different Public Policy PhD programs. In early 2010 I got an offer I couldn't refuse from Indiana University—admission and four years of funding for the Joint PhD program in Public Policy and Political Science, at IU's School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA), a top-ranked policy school. It's a terrific interdisciplinary program, right up my alley. I'm finding it interesting (albeit intimidating) to be back in academia... but I've jumped into the deep end of the pool and I'm paddling for all I'm worth.