Sharon Fairley, recent Chief Administrator, Civilian Office of Police Accountability


Sharon Fairley is a former federal prosecutor, Assistant Attorney General and criminal justice reform expert and advocate.

Sharon spent eight years as a federal prosecutor with the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois, investigating and trying criminal cases involving illegal firearms possession, narcotics conspiracy, bank robbery/murder, murder for hire and economic espionage, among other criminal acts. She has also served as an Assistant Attorney General in the Criminal Appeals section of the Office of Illinois Attorney General. Sharon joined the City of Chicago Office of the Inspector General as First Deputy Inspector General and General Counsel, where she worked to root out inefficiency and corruption in city government. In that role, she also oversaw the Inspector General’s Hiring Oversight Section, which monitors and reviews city hiring practices to ensure they comply with hiring plans established by federal court order.

In December 2015, with the city in crisis around the death of Laquan McDonald, Sharon became Chief Administrator of the Independent Police Review Authority, the agency that was responsible for police misconduct investigations. She led the agency’s overhaul an transformation into the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, or COPA.

Prior to law school, Sharon held various positions in marketing management, marketing consulting and advertising management, working for and advising multi-national corporations on some of the most well known consumer brands.

Sharon graduated magna cum laude from Princeton University with a B.S. degree in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. Sharon also obtained an M.B.A. in Marketing from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and a law degree from the University of Chicago.

Fairley, who grew up in Silver Spring, Maryland, lives in Chicago’s Garfield Ridge community on the Southwest Side. She is the mother of two adult children.

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