A lawyer with a wide array of business experience at two respected Chicago law firms left private practice to join the staff of the ACLU of Illinois last week. Heidi Dalenberg, who most recently was a partner at Riley Safer Holmes & Cancila LLP, assumed the role of Director of the Institutional Reform Project on July 1st.  In her new role, Dalenberg will lead the ACLU’s work aimed at making systemic reforms to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. She has participated in these efforts for more than two decades as a cooperating counsel while in private practice. 

“This is an incredible opportunity,” said Ms. Dalenberg in announcing her move to the ACLU. “The work on behalf of the children in DCFS care has been a passion over many years. Being able to turn that into my full-time commitment is a gift. It is the only destination for which I would have left my firm.”  

Ms. Dalenberg has a long history with the ACLU of Illinois.  As an associate with Schiff Hardin, she was recruited by the legendary Roger Pascal to serve as a cooperating attorney with the ACLU in the “B.H.” case, the long-time litigation aimed at repairing and reforming the DCFS.  More recently, she joined the ACLU Board of Directors and served – until last month – as a general counsel to the organization.  The ACLU recognized her talents and devotion with the Edwin Rothschild Civil Liberties Award.

“We are delighted – and extraordinarily privileged -- to welcome Heidi to our staff,” said Colleen K. Connell, executive director of the ACLU of Illinois.  “Heidi is an exceptionally talented lawyer and her knowledge of our clients and their needs makes her a powerful advocate for reform.”

“Heidi’s intellect, ability and experience make her perfect for this role.” 

As a private attorney, Dalenberg has defended clients in class actions and other complex civil litigation involving claims ranging from federal and state antitrust and RICO cases to matters of consumer fraud, product liability, and alleged civil rights violations.