Karyn Bass

Karyn Bass Ehler

Karyn Bass Ehler is a civil rights superhero. As an attorney, she fights day in and day out for justice and equality for all people, groups and organizations. Her strengths include, but are not limited to, cases of sexual harassment, education equality, gender, race and age discrimination and First Amendment violations. She also helps support other lawyers aspiring to serve in the public interest: she helped to create and found the Center on Public Interest Law at DePaul University's College of Law. She now sits on its board and was recently awarded DePaul Law's Outstanding Young Alumna Award.

Even greater is Karyn's commitment to the Jewish community. "She lives and breathes Gemilut Chasadim, with deeds of loving kindness a part of her professional life and a part of her philanthropic life as well," said Jill Rivkin, Karyn's cousin and nominator. She has been involved at and with KAM Isaiah Israel, Shorashim, the Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs and more. She is also busy raising a young Jewish family that includes a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old. Unfortunately, we forgot to ask her what her secret is.

Karyn Bass Ehler


Pays the bills:

Relationship status:
Taken (married)

Describe yourself in 10 words or less:
Passionate, committed, progressive, caring, and grateful

Celebrity doppelganger:
I’m often told that I look like Mia Sara, who played Sloane in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

How do you Jew in Chicago?
I’ve been involved in a number of Jewish projects over the years, such as serving as the Social Justice Committee Chair of KAMII, serving on the founding board of the Jewish Women’s Center, participating in the ADL’s Glass Leadership Institute, working as a madricha for Shorashim and, more recently, getting involved in the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs (JCUA) and J Street Chicago.

Politics, spending time with my family (my son is 3 and my daughter is 1), music, art, and traveling.

How do you give back?
I am a big sister/mentor to a Daniel Murphy Scholarship recipient and serve on the Board of the Center on Public Interest Law at DePaul University College of Law. In addition, the work I do every day as a civil rights attorney encompasses my commitment to Tikkun Olam.

Fill in the blank: If time and money were limitless, I would:
Be doing the exact same work that I’m doing now— civil rights litigation— but I also would give more money to the causes I believe in.

Chicago's Jewish community in 10 years:
Vibrant, diverse, engaged and filled with volunteer projects.

Me in 10 years:
Hopefully working on the same issues I care deeply about— civil rights, access to justice and educational equality. I’ll also be one proud mom because in 10 years, my kids will be 13 and 11, respectively, so we will also be celebrating my son’s bar mitzvah!