Professor Colleen Boraca is the 2021 recipient of the Chicago Bar Foundation’s Jay Leonard Schrager Award of Excellence. The Award was established to recognize exemplary attorneys in academia who, in the spirit of Schrager’s legacy, have made significant and lasting contributions to improving access to justice.
Professor Boraca has focused her entire career making a difference in the everyday lives of people, many of whom are in crisis and are impacted by poverty. Professor Boraca has directed the NIU Law Health Advocacy Center (HAC) in Aurora, IL since 2014. The HAC is a joint venture between NIU Law, Hesed House (the second largest homeless shelter in Illinois and recuperative shelter that houses the clinic in Aurora), and Aunt Martha’s Health Center (an organization supporting numerous child welfare and family services across multiple facilities in Illinois). Clinic students work with medical professionals and social workers to provide free legal, medical and social services to clients with limited resources from across the region.
Prior to her position at NIU Law, Professor Boraca spent five years as an attorney for the AIDS Legal Council of Chicago (ALCC). At ALCC, she helped families and teens impacted by HIV. Professor Boraca helped lead a coalition of advocates including ALCC, Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, the AIDS Foundation and other agencies that successfully worked to repeal a 25-year-old law which discriminated again children with HIV.
Professor Boraca served as a Cook County assistant state’s attorney for seven years in both the Child Support Enforcement Division and the Seniors and Persons with Disabilities Unit. She is a former chair of the Chicago Bar Association Mental Health and Disability Law Committee. Professor Boraca co-chairs the Kane County Bar Association Elder Care, Disability and Mental Health Committee as well as MLP Illinois, a task force consisting of representatives from medical-legal partnerships throughout Illinois.
Professor Boraca’s dedication to clinical education started as a student attorney and teaching fellow at the Loyola University Chicago Elder Law Clinic. She served as an adjunct clinical professor in Loyola’s Health Justice Project during the 2012-2013 year, teaching courses on Health Justice and Interdisciplinary Health Advocacy.
Professor Boraca was honored as Marquette University’s Klinger College of Arts and Sciences 2017 Young Aluma of the Year. In 2014, The Chicago Daily Law Bulletin named her as one of “40 Under 40” Illinois attorneys to watch. In 2011, Professor Boraca was a recipient of the Chicago Bar Foundation Sun-Times Public Interest Law Fellowship, an award that recognizes commitment to public interest work, academic achievement and integrity.