Dorothy Brown was elected as the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, in 2000, and has been reelected to two additional terms in Office. Three consecutive victories by overwhelming margins illustrate voter confidence in her abilities. As the official keeper of records for all judicial matters brought into one of the largest unified court systems in the world, Clerk Brown is responsible for managing an annual operating budget of more than $100 million and has a workforce of over 2,100 employees.
Clerk Brown has brought revolutionary changes to the operations of the Circuit Court Clerk’s Office through her focus on improving services within five strategic areas: 21st Century Technology, Operational Efficiency, Customer Service, Employee Training and Development, and Financial Accountability. Clerk Brown has implemented a host of innovative programs, which have streamlined processes, improved quality service, saved millions of dollars for taxpayers, and increased revenue for Cook County administration.
Major projects and services developed under Clerk Brown’s leadership include but are not limited to: Electronic Filing (E-Filing), an Online Traffic Ticket Payment System, Mortgage Surplus Search, SmartForms (Online Order of Protection service), Smart Kiosks (court information terminals), and IDMS (Imaging Document Management System). All of these “Green Court”/E-Court initiatives improve accuracy, save time for court users, cut costs for the court system, and conserve energy. Clerk Brown has transformed the Clerk’s Office and diligently keeps it in pace with the rapidly changing needs and expectations of court users. She places professionalism over politics in her administration, and has leveraged her experience and leadership skills into making the Clerk’s Office a model of excellence in governmental service.
Clerk Brown says she consistently seeks to deliver new and enhanced services at the Clerk’s Office because the citizens of Cook County deserve the best and “it’s the right thing to do.”
Dorothy Brown’s Personal, Educational and Professional Background
Dorothy is an Attorney, a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), and she holds a Master’s Degree in Business Administration (MBA). She is one of eight children born to a staunch unionist father and a deeply religious mother. Dorothy remembers her childhood days growing up in the small, southern town of Minden, Louisiana. Although her parents were poor and uneducated, they instilled in their children the values of sacrifice, self-discipline, and the importance of obtaining a good education.
Dorothy often describes how her father worked in the laundry room of the Louisiana Army Ammunitions Plant near Minden. He also owned a cotton farm in Athens, Louisiana, where Dorothy and her seven siblings helped him pick and chop cotton. Dorothy’s mother worked as a cook and a domestic. She inspired Dorothy with her strong moral values. The values her parents instilled resulted in Dorothy and her siblings acquiring seven bachelor degrees, six master’s degrees, two jurist doctorate degrees, one doctor of philosophy degree and one certified public accountant’s license among them.
Dorothy’s humble upbringing fueled her efforts in high school, college and throughout her professional career. She first distinguished herself as captain of the Webster High School girl’s varsity basketball team and continued on by graduating in the top ten percent of her high school class. Throughout high school, Dorothy helped to defray family expenses by working as a housekeeper during the evenings. During the summer months after her junior year of high school, Dorothy worked in a government-funded nutritional program for welfare mothers.
When Dorothy entered college in 1971 at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, she continued her quest for educational and professional excellence. During the summer vacation of her third year in college, Dorothy worked on a paint assembly line in a factory, Pathfinder, Inc., in Niles, Illinois. The income from this job helped to defray family expenses and pay her college tuition. Dorothy graduated Magna cum Laude from Southern University in 1975.
In 1977, Dorothy received her license as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). As a CPA, Dorothy worked for one of the “Big Eight” accounting firms, a major utility company and a major Chicago Bank. She also helped to start a minority CPA firm. In 1981, she received her Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) with honors from DePaul University in Chicago.
Fifteen years later in 1996, Dorothy received her law degree (Jurist Doctorate) with honors from Chicago-Kent College of Law. Dorothy attended law school at night while successfully managing a full-time career during the day and raising her daughter.
For nearly a decade, 1991 through 2000, Dorothy served as General Auditor for the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA). Under her leadership, the CTA designed a mechanism to monitor fare collections at train stations and prevent the misappropriation of funds. She also participated in the implementation of the automatic fare collection system currently in use by the CTA. During her administration, Dorothy enhanced the overall professionalism in CTA’s Office of Audit by ensuring that new employees had the requisite educational levels and appropriate professional experience.
Dorothy Brown’s Civic, Social and Community Involvement
Dorothy’s depth of passion and broad understanding of issues comes from a lifetime of commitment to professionalism and public service. Throughout her professional career she has maintained a high profile status among women and various other groups in the finance, legal, political, and religious sectors. She is a past President of the National Woman’s Political Caucus of Greater Chicago; a past President of the Lutheran Social Services of Illinois; and a past President of the Southeast Case Management Auxiliary Board. Dorothy has served as Treasurer for both Working in the Schools (WITS) and the Illinois Chapter of the American Association of Attorneys and Certified Public Accountants. She is the Founder and Executive Director of the Dorothy Brown Scholarship and Community Development Fund, an organization developed to secure funding for college bound students. Dorothy is a member of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and she is a proud member of the King of Glory Tabernacle Church of God in Christ. Her professional memberships include the Chicago Bar Association, the Cook County Bar Association, the Black Women Lawyers’ Association, and the Illinois Association of Certified Public Accountants.
Clerk Brown has a strong commitment to the community and has been recognized by various organizations for her outstanding professional and public service. Among numerous accolades, Clerk Brown was awarded: the 2002 Hillary Rodham Clinton Leadership Award from the Illinois Democratic Women, the 2003 Marks of Excellence Award from the National Forum for Black Public Administrators, the 2003 Women of Achievement Award from the Anti-Defamation League, the 2004 NAACP Medal of Freedom from the Proviso/Leyden Township in Illinois, the 2004 Pakistan Women Association Outstanding Community Service Award, the 2005 “Voice of Freedom Award” from the Harriet Beecher Stowe Fine & Performing Arts Academy, the 2006 Justinian Society of Lawyers Humanitarian Award, the 2006 Indian American Medical Association Public Service Award, the Information Integrity Coalition’s 2007 Excellence in Information Integrity Award Finalist, Nielsen’s 2007 “Single Mama of the Year” award, the Illinois Institute of Technology 2007 Professional Achievement Award, the Youth Pride Center’s 2008 Youth Advocate of the Year Award, Demoiselle 2 Femme’s 2008 Community Partnership Award, the Illinois Traffic Safety Leaders (ITSL) 2009 Joanne Blair Award, the 2009 Chicago-Kent Professional Achievement Award, and the Cook County Bar Association’s “2010 Law Day Award of Appreciation.”
Dorothy Brown brings incisive analysis, innovative thinking and creative approaches to century-old challenges. She has redefined the fundamental purposes of the Clerk’s Office – “Professionalism over Politics.” Dorothy Brown’s strategy focuses on customer service, operational efficiency, employee development, and technological enhancements. She is committed to developing well-trained and motivated employees who are committed to the delivery of friendly, professional service geared to winning the goodwill and confidence of the public.
Dorothy is very proud of her accomplishments and says, “All my life, wherever I have been and in whatever I have done, I have tried to conduct myself in a manner that would be pleasing to my father and mother, because I know I am a representation of the hopes and dreams that they instilled in our family.”
Clerk Brown lives in Chicago with her husband Dr. Benton Cook, and she has a daughter, Detris, a graduate of Howard University in Washington, DC, and London Metropolitan University, London, England, who holds a MBA from American International University, London.