Erika is an for advocate and passionate about standing up for the working class. In Washington, she will be a voice for every person in our district. She is a single-mom of three amazing young people, who in turn are her biggest supporters.
Like so many of you, Erika has felt disconnected from and disenchanted with the current political climate. She felt ignored, and discounted, yet experience has taught her the best way to change is to roll up her sleeves and get to work.
After years of working in multiple call centers, and abrupt change in circumstances, Erika found herself homeless with her three small children. After enduring nearly a year of housing insecurity, Erika secured an apartment and temporary employment. It was then that she decided to focus on transitioning her family out of the cycle of poverty. In 2005, Erika and her children moved to Coles County, and she enrolled in classes at Lake Land College. While working a myriad of student-employment positions, Erika completed an Associate’s degree in Business Administration, and then transferred to Eastern Illinois University to earn a Bachelor's degree in Kinesiology, Sports, & Recreation and then, a Master's degree in College Student Affairs.
Upon completing her graduate studies, Erika returned to Lake Land College where she served as a member of the faculty and as an Academic Counselor. Because she still dreamed of becoming an attorney, she applied for and accepted admission into Loyola University Chicago School of Law. Erika could not afford to relocate her family to the Chicagoland area, so she commuted the 184 miles from Mattoon to Chicago over the next three years. This meant three years of sleeping on couches, floors, and in borrowed spaces.
In her last semester of law school, Erika was elected to the Mattoon CUSD2 Board of Education. After law school, she worked a post-graduate legal fellowship with Land of Lincoln Legal Aid, as well as a part-time employee in a local factory. While working two jobs, she studied for the bar exam. After receiving her license to practice law in Illinois, Erika briefly worked in private practice before landing a position in the Coles County Public Defender’s office.
Erika shares many of the lived experiences of people in our district. She knows firsthand the struggle to balance limited finances, provide for a family, and work hard to move into a better position. Her decision to run for office was not based on her struggles, but the resiliency and perseverance to overcome them. She entered this race because she wants every family to have the opportunity to create and define their American Dream, but without the hardships she endured. Her campaign reflects and embodies her life, her work, and her heart for service.
Erika’s approach to the issues facing our district is unique and an outgrowth of her personal and professional experiences.