Sulema Medrano Novak
Sulema Medrano Novak was appointed to the Chicago Board of Education by Mayor Lori Lightfoot and began serving on July 13, 2022.
Sulema Medrano is an accomplished and award-winning trial lawyer with extensive experience leading trial teams to verdict, particularly in cases related to commercial disputes and insurance claims. Sulema honed her courtroom skills as an Illinois state prosecutor and is known for defending corporate clients in complex contract and consumer disputes. In addition to representing clients in commercial litigation, she is an active advocate for women and diverse lawyers, and a dynamic community leader with responsibilities at several nonprofit organizations both at the national level and across Illinois.
Notably, Sulema recently served as the Chair of the Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA)’s Commission on Women, which develops programs and strategies for Latina lawyers and students to overcome barriers to entry and advancement into the profession. As Chair of the Commission, Sulema organized and facilitated national pipeline and educational programs focused on the recruitment, retention and advancement of women of color in the law, and served as an advocate for the policies and priorities affecting female attorneys. Sulema also helped design an executive leadership program for women lawyers with over ten years of experience to help women lawyers continue to break glass ceilings within their sector of the legal profession.
Sulema is also the former Regional President for the HNBA and former Board of Director for the Hispanic Lawyers Association of Illinois, a nonprofit organization that promotes legal education and civil rights among Hispanic attorneys and the Illinois community. Sulema has also combined her passion for her community with her legal knowledge to represent the Chicago Human Resource Board as Commissioner.
Sulema is currently a member of the Board of Directors for Mujeres Latinas en Acción, an agency that empowers Latinas by providing services such as domestic violence advocacy, substance abuse and parenting counseling, job placement and other educational services. She is also a member of the board of trustees of Cristo Rey St. Martin, a Catholic learning community based in Waukegan, Ill., that offers educational and employment opportunities to students of limited economic means.
Sulema’s community involvement continues as an executive board member of the Latino Leadership Council; a member of the American Bar Association’s Committee on Gun Violence; and a member of Latin School of Chicago’s Risk Management Committee.
Beyond her organizational leadership responsibilities, Sulema annually volunteers to raise money and donations for underprivileged children and families in the Chicagoland area during the winter and holiday months.
Sulema also contributes significant time to the community through pro bono work and her dedication to women’s rights and inclusion in the Chicago community. She has volunteered her time toward pro bono legal work, including the ACLU COVID Detainee Project and representing victims of domestic violence in civil proceedings.
Honors - In her legal practice, Sulema has been recognized as a top lawyer under 40 by the Chicago Law Bulletin and the Hispanic National Bar Association. She has also been recognized as Chicago Kent College of Law’s Young Alumna of the Year 2019; one of the Lawyers of Color’s Nation’s Best for 2019; a Rising Star by Illinois Super Lawyers; and Who’s Who in Hispanic Chicago by Negocios Now. Sulema received the 2018 Latina Lawyer of the Year Award from the Hispanic Lawyers of Illinois.
Education - Chicago-Kent College of Law, J.D.; Michigan State University, B.A., cum laude
Bar Admissions - Illinois
Court Admissions - U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois; U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois; U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois; U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana; U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin; U.S. District Court of Wyoming