Karina Ayala-Bermejo served as Managing Deputy Commissioner for the Department of Human Resources (DHR) for nearly a year before being appointed Acting Commissioner. Prior to coming to the City, she spent seven years as the Director of Community Services for the Chicago Bar Association (CBA) where she encouraged attorneys to take pro bono cases and worked with the Circuit Court of Cook County on initiatives to improve the justice system. Prior to joining the CBA, Ms. Ayala-Bermejo was an attorney in the Litigation Division of the Chicago Board of Education for nearly four years.
Ms. Ayala-Bermejo has been involved in community service for nearly 20 years and received the Mayor's Leadership 2000 Award. She was selected to participate in the Leadership Greater Chicago Fellows Program (2002) and the Metropolitan Leadership Institute (2005).
Ms. Ayala-Bermejo is the former President of the Hispanic Lawyers Association of Illinois where she founded their mentoring program, JD Mentors. She also served as the General Counsel, National Vice President and Regional President of the Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA).
She has served on numerous boards and task forces, including the U.S. District Court Northern District of Illinois Magistrate Judge Selection Committee (2004 & 2008); Member of the Diversity Pipeline Subcommittee of the ISBA Task Force on Diversity; Planning Committee of the Women Everywhere Service Project; Latina Leadership Council of the Chicago Foundation For Women; Coordinating Committee Member for the Equal Justice Illinois Campaign; Mentor for the Young Women’s Leadership Charter School; Advisory Board member for Centro Comunitario Juan Diego; Board Member for Southeast Chicago Development Commission; Board Secretary for Our Children in the Courts Foundation; Member of the Illinois Task Force on Unaccompanied Immigrant Children; and Member of the Charter Steering Committee for Voices for Illinois Children.
She currently serves on the Board of Trustees for the Hispanic Lawyers Scholarship Fund; Board of Directors of the Jane Addams Juvenile Court Foundation; Alumni Board Member for Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity; Advisory Board Member for the DePaul University College of Law Public Interest Law Institute and as a Board Member of the Chicago Legal Clinic.
She has received numerous awards and recognitions including: CBA Alliance for Women’s Alta May Hewlett Award; Seton Academy 2008 Alumni of Distinction Honoree; Chicago Commission of Human Relations: Advisory Council on Latino Affairs Award (2008); Cook County State’s Attorney Richard A. Devine, El Humanitario Award (2004); DePaul College of Law, Latino Law Student Association Distinguished Alumnus Award (2003); and DePaul College of Law, Outstanding Service as a Young Alumnus Award (2002).
Ms. Ayala-Bermejo was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and raised in South Chicago, where she currently resides with her husband and three children. She is a graduate of Loyola University-Chicago and received her JD from DePaul University College of Law in 1998.