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OCI Board of Directors

Alpa Jayanti Patel, Board Member

Alpa Jayanti Patel is the Assistant Deputy of the Cook County Public Guardian’s Juvenile Division.   Alpa has dedicated her legal career to advocating for abused and neglected children and adults with disabilities. Alpa received her undergraduate degree from the University of Chicago, and her Juris Doctorate from Loyola University Chicago School of Law.  As a founding member and past president of Our Community of Illinois, Alpa is proud to be a part of an organization committed to making a positive difference in the lives of youth impacted by Illinois’ child welfare system.

Thomas Mulcrone, Co-Vice President

Thomas Mulcrone is an attorney and guardian ad litem at the Office of the Cook County Public Guardian, advocating for abused and neglected children since graduating from Loyola University Chicago School of Law in 2010. During law school, Thomas clerked in the Adult Guardianship Division of the Public Guardian's Office and in the Child Protection Division of the Cook County State's Attorney. He attended the University of Notre Dame as an undergraduate in history and developed a passion for working with underserved communities. Thomas joined OCI in 2011 and coordinates the bike donation program.

Mallory Struck, Treasurer

Mallory Struck has worked for the Cook County Public Guardian as a lawyer and guardian ad litem for abused, neglected, and dependent children since September 2008. She graduated from DePaul University College of Law in 2008 and from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2005. During law school, Mallory was a part of the Women's Law Caucus, the Family Law Fellows program, and the Public Interest Law Association. From 2006-2008, Mallory volunteered at the Cook County Juvenile Court as a Court Appointed Special Advocate for foster children. Mallory has also tutored several children and adults throughout the past 10 years and currently tutors children weekly through the Cabrini Green Tutoring Program.

Ashley Reed, Co-Vice President

Ashley Reed has a passion for bettering the lives of children in foster care that stems from her years as an attorney for the Office of the Public Guardian. While at the guardian's office she worked in the juvenile division representing foster children in abuse and neglect proceedings.  Ashley received her undergraduate from Baylor University and her Juris Doctorate from Loyola University of Chicago with a certificate in Child and Family Law.  As a law student Ashley participated in the CIVITAS Child law clinic, and clerked at both the Cook County Assistant State's Attorney and the Department of Children and Family Services.  Ashley is now working from home to allow her more time with her children.

James Burton, Member Emeritus

James Burton is a founding member of OCI. His passion for helping children stems from representing abused, neglected, and dependent children in the Cook County Juvenile Court system since 1992. Prior to the Public Guardian's Office, he managed a dormitory facility for 30 disabled adults. He also managed a group home for 4 young adults with autism. He graduated from John Marshall Law School in 1991. At present, Jim works in the Financial Recovery Unit of OPG's Adult Guardianship Division, recovering stolen property for disabled and elderly victims.

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Erica Helland, Secretary

Erica Helland advocates for abused and neglected children as an attorney with the Office of the Cook County Public Guardian. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Pomona College in 2007, and her Juris Doctor from the Loyola University Chicago School of Law in 2010.  As a law student, Erica participated in the Civitas ChildLaw Clinic and clerked in both the Child Protection and Domestic Relations divisions of the Public Guardian’s Office.