Julie Elena Brown
Senior Staff Counsel & Director, Housing
As Co-Director of BPI’s Housing and Community Development Program, Julie helps steer the development of BPI’s housing policy efforts and the creation of new BPI housing programs, working to enhance housing choice in Chicago and throughout the region, especially for those who lack meaningful access to quality affordable housing. She serves as co-counsel in the historic Gautreaux v Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) public housing desegregation litigation and oversees the implementation of the 2019 Gautreaux Settlement Agreement.
In her role as class counsel for Gautreaux, Julie participates in CHA’s mixed-income stakeholder working groups, supporting the vision of CHA resident leaders and community residents as former CHA high-rise developments are reimagined and redeveloped as mixed-income communities. She has been a founding member of the Ida B Wells Commemorative Art Committee and played a key role in the creation of the Ida B Wells Monument by world-renowned Chicago artist Richard Hunt in the heart of the Oakwood Shores community, on the former site of the Ida B Wells public housing development.
In addition to her housing and legal work, Julie played a leading role in creating BPI’s Polikoff-Gautreaux Fellowship program, which provides an opportunity for recent law or policy school graduates to work for two years at BPI. She continues to provide leadership for the program to build and train the next generation of social justice leaders.
Prior to BPI, Julie began her career as Assistant Corporation Counsel with the City of Chicago Law Department. She holds a BA from the University of Wisconsin and a JD from the University of Wisconsin Law School, where she was a member of the Law Review and an editor at the International Law Journal.
Julie’s family’s history includes a long line of social justice activists, and she sees her legal and policy work at BPI advancing racial and social justice as engaging in the “family business.” Being able to work with and support people as they repair and improve their communities and the world keeps her in the fight and motivates her year after year.