LCBH Board Member, Collette Woghiren

LCBH Board Member, Collette Woghiren

What can you tell us about your background?
I was born and raised in St. Andrew, Jamaica and lived in Jamaica until the age of 10 when my family moved to New Jersey. After a few years on the east coast, we transitioned to Boca Raton, Florida. I completed my undergraduate studies at Florida State University and obtained a master’s degree at Georgia State University before becoming a high school English teacher in South Florida. I moved to Chicago to attend the University of Chicago Law School in 2010 and fell in love with the city of Chicago.

What is your involvement outside of LCBH?
I joined Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg in 2013, after interning there during my second year of law school. I currently serve on the board for the Alumni Club of the University of Chicago, where I am the chair of the By-Laws Committee in addition to playing an active role in fundraising, service and community engagement. I also serve as a mentor to UChicago’s Black Law Student Association. I previously served as an associate board member for the Chicago Committee on Minorities for Large Law Firms.

How did you become affiliated with LBCH?
Pro bono is a cornerstone of my firm’s mission and it partners with many organizations, including LCBH. A few years ago, an opportunity came up to support the LCBH in representing a renter who was being sued for eviction. We were able to negotiate a very favorable settlement for the client. That was my first- time volunteering with LCBH and it was an incredible experience.

How do you feel connected to the mission?
Ending housing inequality is a personal mission for me. Like a lot of immigrants, being able to afford the first month’s rent and security deposits, my parents had to work really hard to remain stable. Finding a safe neighborhood and a good school district within our zip code were other challenges that we faced while living in New Jersey. Consequently, housing for us was a big deal and difficult to achieve. It became a tradeoff, which often meant choosing between an unsafe neighborhood with cheaper housing or a better option that we likely couldn’t afford. Fortunately, we had a lot of relatives who supported us with resources. However, that is not the case for many families.

What do you hope to achieve while on the board?
I’m really excited to be on the board. It was my top choice so I’m glad that LCBH selected me. Having sat in eviction court, I’ve seen the inequality that exists because most renters are not represented and landlords almost always are. Inequity is especially evident among families with children and even more so with the moratoria lifted. I’ve practiced a lot in both state and federal court so I hope to contribute my litigation experience to the board. I’m looking forward to getting involved with all the great things that LCBH is doing for tenants beyond representation. I am willing and able to contribute in whatever way that the board as a whole sees fit.