How we got started
Alicia Aiken and Sam Tuttle met 15 years ago when they both worked for the Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago, now LAF. After years of acting as one another’s sounding board (frequently over wine or take-out) as each took different professional journeys, Alicia and Sam decided that it was time for them to work together again. They launched the Danu Center for Strategic Advocacy in January 2019. After years working in legal services, public policy, training, and with service providers, Sam and Alicia know the multiple pressures that face advocates and organizations. They are dedicated to supporting advocates and mission-based organizations as they navigate those pressures and help them translate their values into effective action.
Alicia L. Aiken, JD
Alicia Aiken has spent 20 years working within the public and non-profit sector to achieve social justice for people living in poverty and surviving violence. Alicia brings a deep understanding of the legal and social services non-profit sector, having spent 15 years at LAF, the 150-person legal services program in Chicago. As Director of Training, Pro Bono and Client Support Services at LAF, Alicia sat on the Executive, Budget, and Strategic Planning Committees.
Alicia is the Director of the Danu Center’s Confidentiality Institute, a national policy and technical assistance project that supports helping professionals to protect privacy for crime victims. In 2016, Alicia became the Faculty Fellow for Practising Law Institute’s Interactive Learning Center where she designs innovative programs that teach lawyers to work well with individual clients. Alicia regularly strategizes with direct service non-profits, local coalitions, government entities, and professional organizations on a wide range of issues, including service delivery models, organizational structure, internal procedures, legal compliance, litigation strategy, policy advocacy, professional development, and distance learning design.
Clients and partners include the American Bar Association, National Network to End Domestic Violence, National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence, Management Information Exchange, Chicago Metropolitan Battered Women’s Network, Allstate Foundation, National Association of IOLTA Programs, National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, Break the Cycle, LAF Chicago, Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP, National Crime Victim Law Institute, and domestic violence/sexual assault coalitions in more than 25 states and territories.
Alicia attended the University of Michigan, where she received a Law degree (’95) and a Bachelor of Arts in English/History (’92). In 2006-2007, Alicia was awarded the Chicago Foundation for Women Founder’s Award, enabling her to study organizational change at Northwestern University, and to undertake a national study of model domestic violence courts. Most recently, she received the American Bar Association’s 2018 Sharon L. Corbitt Award for Exemplary Legal Service to Victims of Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Stalking.
Sam Tuttle, JD
Sam Tuttle has dedicated her career to fighting poverty and injustice through public policy, community engagement, and litigation. Sam is Director of the Danu Center’s Policy Project, where she works with advocates to build their skills and helps organizations implement effective strategies to advance public policy and cultivate successful advocacy programs that reflect their organization’s values.
Until 2018, Sam was the Director of Policy and Advocacy at Heartland Alliance for Human Needs & Human Rights, a 130-year old social service agency dedicated to advancing human rights. In this role, Sam spearheaded the organization’s policy work, helped transform it’s policy platform, supported the agency in navigating complex collaborations with government agencies and partner organizations, and developed strategic alliances to advance change. Sam helped her team develop the substantive knowledge and the professional skills necessary to drive social change. Under Sam’s leadership, Heartland Alliance achieved policy victories in a wide variety of areas, including human trafficking, criminal justice and reentry, worker rights, housing, asset-building, consumer protections, health care, immigration, and public benefits.
While at Heartland Alliance, Sam helped found the Restoring Rights and Opportunities Coalition of Illinois (RROCI), a groundbreaking coalition led by people with criminal records in collaboration with community organizers and policy specialists that aims to rebalance our system of collateral consequences for people with records. Since its inception in 2014, RROCI has passed six pieces of legislation, including the broadest sealing legislation in the country.
Prior to joining Heartland Alliance, Sam was an attorney at the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, where she advanced policy solutions on behalf of low-income tenants, homeowners, and survivors of violence and served as counsel in litigation to preserve federally subsidized housing and enforce fair housing laws. Sam began her career representing low income families in civil litigation at LAF. Sam was honored by the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless for her work with RROCI in 2018, is a recipient of the Safer Foundation’s Visionary Award, and was one of the 2015 Community Renewal Society Partners of the Year.
Sam received her law degree from the University of Michigan Law School in 2002 and earned her BA summa cum laude from the University of Minnesota in 1999. She clerked for Judge Terri Stoneburner at the Minnesota Court of Appeals immediately following law school.