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Michelle Mbekeani

Community Justice Staff Attorney | Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law

"For all communities to have access to quality mental health care instead of criminalizing and incarcerating individuals with mental health conditions. I will advocate for community mental health centers that provide community treatment models that meet people where they live and assist in connecting them to needed services."


Undergraduate Degree: Stony Brook University, '11

Fun fact: I enjoy writing children's books for my son.

Michelle Mbekeani is a Staff Attorney at the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law. There she focuses on police reform within schools and policy reform in the area of mental health, voting rights, criminal and juvenile justice. 

Michelle received her law degree from the University of Chicago Law School, where she was awarded the Tony Patino Fellowship. Michelle started her legal career in the Civil Rights Team of Equip for Equality. There she provided legal assistance to individuals living with disabilities in Illinois state prisons and Institutions of Mental Diseases. 

Michelle earned her B.A. from Stony Brook University in German Language and Literature, Political Science and Middle Eastern Studies. As a former Émigré Memorial German Fellow, she worked for Germany’s State Parliament in the Department of Education and Integration advocating for primary/secondary language assistance programs for immigrant children in Germany. 

In 2017, Michelle was awarded Crain’s Chicago Business 20 in their 20's award. Michelle was elected as Township Trustee in Oak Park, Illinois in May of 2017. The Oak Park Township has an annual operating budget of $6.6 million dollars. It oversees the Community Mental Health Board, and provides youth and senior services. Michelle’s writing has been published in Crain’s Chicago Business, the Chicago Reporter, and Oak Park’s Wednesday Journal. 

She has been featured for her work on CBS News, WBEZ, WTTW, Slate Magazine, and the Chicago Tribune. In her spare time, Michelle enjoys spending time with her 2-year-old son, singing, writing children’s books, and hosting parties.