Born and raised on the south side of Chicago, Risa Lanier graduated from Percy L. Julian High School and matriculated to Illinois State University, earning a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration. She then attended Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, School of Law, earning a Juris Doctorate in 1999, where she served in leadership positions for the Black Law Students’ Association. On February 14, 2000, Risa was sworn into the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office where she has practiced criminal law as a prosecutor for the past 23 years.
Having risen through the ranks as a public servant, Risa Lanier currently serves as the First Assistant State’s Attorney at the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, the second largest prosecutor’s office in the country, where she oversees the operations of the office of approximately 1200 employees and works alongside members of the executive staff to create policies and procedures in the State’s Attorney’s Office that promote public safety, equity, and integrity in the criminal justice system. Recognizing the need for increased opportunities for leadership training, she created the first in-house training program specifically designed to enhance the managerial skills of all supervisors across the office. Understanding that public safety is a priority and shared responsibility for all, Risa regularly collaborates with elected leaders, stakeholders, and community members, and continues to appear in court.
As a life-long learner dedicated to her own personal growth and leadership development, Risa earned a certificate in Civic Leadership from the University of Chicago Center for Effective Government in 2018 (the Harris School of Public Policy), and a certificate in Behavioral Economics from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business in 2023.
Risa’s dedication to service extends beyond the courtroom and into the community. She is a member of the National Black Prosecutors Association, Cook County Bar Association, and the Chicago Bar Association (CBA). At CBA, she served two terms as Chair of the Judicial Evaluation Committee and as a member of the Board of Managers. She currently serves on the Finance and Membership Committees.
She has taken her passion for the law into the classroom and presented civics lessons to middle school students as part of the Lawyer’s in the Classroom Program and has presented lectures to high school students on Internet Crimes and Security. Risa served as the PTO Grant Writer for Oakdale Christian Academy and led a successful fundraising campaign that provided updated technology for each classroom. Risa is an active member of New Faith Apostolic Church, where she sits on the Executive Board and has organized Back to School Supply Drives for the Auburn community. She is a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated®, where her service to the community continues in a variety of ways, including as Chair of the College Admissions Process Program where she assisted high school seniors in their college application process.
Risa is an avid reader, Peloton rider, and enjoys spending time with her husband and sons.