Our People

Portrait of Aisha Edwards

Staff Profile

Aisha Edwards

Program Officer, Criminal Justice

Aisha is an integral part of the Criminal Justice team, whose work focuses on reducing over-incarceration and changing the way America thinks about and uses jails.

Before joining the Foundation, Aisha was the Supervising Attorney of Criminal Defense at Cabrini Green Legal Aid, a non-profit organization based in Chicago that provides legal and social work services. Aisha provided direct representation to clients with felony, misdemeanor, and juvenile matters, including delinquency and parole violations. She further supervised criminal defense matters handled by other staff, fellows, volunteers, and law student interns. Additionally, she conducted community outreach and education about the criminal legal system to various audiences throughout Cook County.

Prior to her defense work, Aisha was an Assistant State’s Attorney for Cook County, where she gained criminal litigation experience in various assignments, including criminal appeals, felony review, domestic violence, preliminary hearings, and special prosecutions. While there, she was part of an interdisciplinary task force that included prosecutors, legal advocates, and the county clerk’s office, whose work created a regular court call for hearing expungement and sealing petitions. The resulting process reduced the county’s backlog from four years to three months. Through her years as a criminal litigator, Aisha has conducted hundreds of trials, motions, and hearings and has also argued in front of both the Illinois Appellate and Illinois Supreme Courts.

Prior to practicing law, Aisha worked in various non-profit settings, including policy and advocacy at the Illinois Center for Violence Prevention, Fight Crime: Invest in Kids Illinois, and the CIVITAS Childlaw Center at Loyola.

Aisha is also an adjunct professor at the Loyola Chicago University School of Law, where she teaches a Criminal Law Practicum and also co-leads a workshop about Diversity and Inclusion in the legal field. 

Aisha obtained her MBA and undergraduate degree in psychology from the University of Illinois. Aisha received her juris doctor and advocacy certificate from the Loyola University School of Law, where she was the law school’s recipient of the President’s Medallion; an honor bestowed yearly to a single student that exemplifies the principals of leadership, scholarship, and service.

Aisha has received the Norman C. Amaker Award of Excellence, Advocacy Honors Program Coach of the Year Award, and the BLSA Young Alumni Service Award from the Loyola School of Law. She is a member of the Chicago Bar Association.

Aisha Edwards works on the following MacArthur programs and projects:

Criminal Justice

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