Meet Nick Gowen, IEJF Board Member & Sharp-Dressed Man
Nick Gowen is a litigation partner at Burke, Warren, MacKay & Serritella, P.C.His 15-year legal career includes a teaching post at U of I, being named one of Chicago’s “Top 40 under 40 Game Changers” by Ariel Investments and The Urban Business Roundtable & being appointed to the Board of Trustees of Chicago State University. He is also a member of the Advisory Board for Project H.O.O.D. (Helping Others Obtain Destiny), He joined the IEJF Board last September.
You joined the board of the Illinois Equal Justice Foundation (IEJF) last fall. What does success mean to you in terms of your work as a board member?
Success for me is continuing to learn about IEJF and its mission, advocating for its objectives within my network of contacts, and providing IEJF with my knowledge and energy to promote its goals.
If you just had 60 seconds, how would you make the case for state funding of legal aid?
We live in the wealthiest country on earth, and one of the wealthiest states in that country. Our leadership must make funding legal aid for the poor a public policy priority. IEJF helps fund scores of organizations that provide hands-on assistance to some of our neediest residents, helping them with access to essentials such as food, housing, and healthcare. The state must invest more in this effort so more of our citizens can be helped.
It has long been established that if the government doesn’t make progressive investments in improving the lives of our citizens – such as promoting access to housing, quality healthcare, and sustainable employment – we will certainly spend those funds later in regressive methods such as incarceration and the negative effects of underemployment and addiction.
In addition to the IEJF, until recently, you served on the board of Chicago State University and the board of Project H.O.O.D. What motivates you to prioritize giving back to the community?
I have spent most of my life in Chicago and believe I have a unique perspective in understanding how to help curb the cycle of poverty and despair that affects so many of our communities. I believe that the only way to end the cycle of poverty and uplift communities is to focus on enhancing educational opportunities, improving access to employment, and providing economic development opportunities for the neediest amongst us. The organizations that I associate with tend to address one or more of those mission-critical functions.
You were featured in Chicago Lawyer magazine as a ‘lawyer with style.’ How would you describe your personal style?
I like to use bold flashes of color, and accessories to make the traditional business suit a little more exciting. I also try to never wear the same outfit more than once, so I interchange suits, shirts, ties, pocket squares, etc. to make sure that no complete outfit has been worn before.