Professional Biography

Theresa D. Cropper Professional Staff

Chief Diversity Officer

  • Chicago

    D +1.312.324.8593

    F +1.312.324.9400


    131 South Dearborn Street, Suite 1700

    Chicago, IL




As Chief Diversity Officer for Perkins Coie LLP, Theresa Cropper is responsible for the firm's diversity policies and initiatives.  She develops programs for recruitment, retention, and promotion of lawyers of color, women, gay lesbian bisexual and transgender and those with disabilities.  Theresa works with each office to develop and support local diversity initiatives, and she partners with firm management and practice groups to explore ways to promote diversity and inclusion. 

Theresa previously served as the National Director of Diversity at DLA Piper US LLP, where she was responsible for implementing all aspects of the firm's national diversity initiative. Before entering the law firm arena, Theresa served as the Dean of Students at Northwestern University School of Law. During her 14-year tenure at Northwestern, she was the first Director of Minority Affairs and led the initiative to increase the diversity of the student body from 9% to over 30%.  She also developed model programs for retention and professional development for diverse students.  After six years in that position, she was promoted to Dean of Students and worked to create an inclusive community through programming that emphasized a team approach to student problem solving. She launched programs designed to provide professional development outside of the classroom with a focus on leadership, team building, mandatory diversity training, problem solving, and networking. These programs became the hallmark of the Office of Student Affairs.

Theresa is President Emeritus and Historian of the Association of Law Firm Diversity Professional (ALDFP), a group she founded in 2004.  The group is the professional organization of diversity professionals in law firms.  She was inducted in the National Black Law Students Association (NBLSA) Hall of Fame in 2008, with the historical recognition of being the first woman to serve as the national chair of the NBLSA in 1978.  She presents at several diversity and legal conferences, including the Minority Corporate Counsel Association, Pathways to Diversity, the National Association of Law Placement Annual Conference, the Law Firm Chief Marketing Officers' Forum, Strafford Publications, the American Conference Institute and several law student associations.  She most recently published a section in Kaplan's Guide to Law Firms, "How to Succeed at a Law Firm", produced by building a better legal profession (a Stanford's law student organization).

Prior to her work in diversity in the legal profession, Theresa worked with the Stevie Wonder organization in several capacities.  She initially began that relationship working as consultant/"lobbyist" for Stevie Wonder's effort to get Dr. Martin Luther King's birthday a national holiday.  In that role, she coordinated all efforts of two national marches on Washington, the legislative lobbying strategies and the grass roots movements with a radio and petition campaign. 

After Dr. King's birthday became a federal holiday, Theresa joined the organization as Director of Legal and Administrative Affairs.  In that role, she managed all administrative activities for the corporate headquarters of Stevie Wonder.  She also coordinated with all law firms on retainer to provide better service to the company.  Theresa also coordinated special televisions projects for Mr. Wonder including "Saturday Night Live", "The Cosby Show", HBO's "Stevie Comes Home", NBC's "All Star Celebration for Dr. Martin L. King, Jr.'s Birthday", and MTV's Stevie Wonder's Characters.

Upon graduation from law school, Theresa first worked as membership director for the National Bar Association.  Immediately thereafter, she worked as Administrative Assistant to the Reverend Jesse Jackson for Operation Push.


Related Employment

  • DLA Piper Rudnick Gray LLP, National Director of Diversity
  • Northwestern University School of Law, Associate Dean and Dean of Students
  • Northwestern University School of Law, Director of Minority Affairs





  • American University Washington College of Law, J.D., 1979
  • Ohio Wesleyan University, B.A.