Genita Robinson - House District 6
Why We Endorse Genita Robinson: “We were incredibly impressed with Genita Robinson’s knowledge of and passion for education. Her commitment to fighting for better schools will be a welcome addition to the dialogue in Springfield.”
Bio: Genita C. Robinson was born in Englewood the second daughter of a teen-age mother. She grew up in a close knit extended family. Genita’s grandmother, one of eleven children from the town of Mound Bayou, Mississippi, had migrated to Chicago with her husband in the 1930s and was eventually joined by four of her sisters.
Genita’s grandparents originally lived in the Black Belt near 27th Street and Dearborn until they were able to purchase a two-flat in Englewood in 1955. That home, owned by Genita’s grandmother until the day she died in 2002, served as a permanent and temporary home to many family members and good friends.
In 1977, Genita’s mother received a low-income housing voucher (Section 8) and made the decision to move to the suburbs. While children, Genita and sister continued to spend most weekends and every summer with their grandparents.
At the age of 11, Genita decided that she wanted to be lawyer. She received her undergraduate degree in International Politics from Georgetown University and her law degree from the University of Chicago Law School. Genita practiced commercial litigation at Sachnoff & Weaver, Ltd. (now Reed Smith LLP).
Genita’s original plan was to work at a law firm for several years while paying down her education debt and then become a public defender or work in a legal clinic. While in law school, she had worked in a Juvenile Justice clinic defending children charged with criminal offense.
Genita quickly realized that her true passion was education. Her transition from the practice of law to education included a period in higher education administration. She was the Assistant Dean for Admissions at the University of Chicago Law School, where her annual admissions plan substantially increased the number of applicants to the school and yielded some of the most diverse classes in the institution’s history.
Genita has become a tireless advocate for children believing in the right of all to access quality schools. She worked Chicago Public Schools (CPS) for four years in the New Schools Office and in the Office of the Chief Executive Officer. As the authorizer for charters schools, Genita set policy for the district’s relationship with 35 campuses serving 15,000 students and administered a $90 million budget.
In the CPS CEO’s Office, Genita helped set strategy and managed complex, district-wide projects including developing and implementing a program to support schools such as Harper and Tilden that received students from phased out or closed schools. She worked with Dugan and Second Chance Alternative Schools in the Back of the Yards neighborhood to help to join them under a single umbrella, the Peace and Education Coalition High School. In both positions at CPS, Genita helped schools to “negotiate” the bureaucracy and determine how best to allocate limited resources.
Genita was the Executive Director of Lawyers Lend-A-Hand to Youth for seven years. Lawyers Lend-A-Hand provides much needed support in the form of grants, volunteers, and other in-kind resources to one-on-one mentoring programs across the Chicago area. Genita partnered with organizations such as Black on Black Love, which ran a program at the former Williams Elementary near the Dearborn Homes, and Changing Life Education Initiative, Inc., which works with Bond Elementary students in Englewood. Genita led the organization through a comprehensive strategic plan that grew the board, increased revenue, and rationalized the grants process.
Genita has lived in the South Loop since 1997 and was a founding member and former board member of Historic Printers Row Neighbors, re-launched as South Loop Neighbors. She appreciates the convenience of the South Loop and the fact that she is within walking distance of her remaining great aunt, a 94 year-old former resident of Ida B. Wells who has lived in the South Loop since 1991.
In her other volunteer activities, Genita is a Board Member and Finance Committee Member of Cook County Justice for Children, a nonprofit organization that seeks to ensure the just and effective administration of the Cook County Juvenile Court. Genita was previously Governance Committee Chair and a Board Member with the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, and she served on the Board of Ethics for the City of Chicago and the Serve Illinois Commission.
Genita’s political experience includes volunteering on Lisa Madigan’s first campaign for attorney general and working as a consultant to Friends of Will Burns (State Representative, 26th District). She also co-chaired Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky’s Ultimate Women’s Power Lunch in 2009. A former law student and early supporter of now President Barack Obama, Genita volunteered in the call center for Obama for America and was a member of the Illinois Finance Committee.
Genita is adept at community outreach and building coalitions. In 2011, Genita ran for Alderman of Chicago’s 2nd Ward. She finished second in a field of six candidates and garnered over 30 percent of the vote and the endorsements of the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times, and the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce.
As a former attorney who has spent most of her career in nonprofit and government, Genita’s passion and skills draw her to mission-driven work. She believes that public office provides the right mix of policy and grassroots work with constituents that will allow her to have a positive impact on the communities that she seeks to represent.
(Paid for by Stand for Children IL PAC)