Family & Upbringing
Juan is a life-long resident of Aurora, IL where he attended West Aurora Public Schools. From an early age, Juan was chosen to be a leader by his classmates and in the community. He was elected Student Council President at Washington Junior High School and served as class president and Student Council President at West Aurora High School. Juan was elected by his colleagues from around the State of Illinois to serve as President of the Illinois Association of Student Councils during his senior year in high school. At West High, he was also a trumpet player in the symphonic, jazz, and marching bands.
Juan’s family has always been an integral part of the Aurora community. He was raised with a strong faith tradition and belief in community service. His mother, Wanda, is the Vice President of the Association for Individual Development (A.I.D.) in Aurora, working to improve the quality of life for the disabled community. She has served on the board of numerous community organizations including, YWCA, Easter Seals, and the Visiting Nurses Association. Juan’s father, Larry, owned LT’S Restaurant in Aurora for over 25 years and was a founding member of the African-American Chamber of Commerce. Juan developed his entrepreneurial spirit by working in his dad’s restaurant as a youngster and his desire to serve others by working with the disabled community at A.I.D. during the summer in college. Juan grew up as a member of Gayles Memorial Missionary Baptist Church in Aurora where he was baptized. As a child, he was a member of the church choir, usher board, and the youth department.
Juan is a graduate of Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA. He later received his J.D. and a Master of Arts degree in Educational Policy from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana. Juan has completed course work to receive a Master of Arts degree in Religious Studies from the University of Chicago School of Divinity. On September 13, 2008, Juan married the love of his life, Angela Nicole Clay, who is from Silver Spring, MD. Angie has become an integral part of the Aurora community and in 2016 she made history by becoming the first African American woman to be elected to the Kane County Board where she serves as the Vice Chair of the Board. Juan and Angie are proud members of St. John AME Church in Aurora where he serves as the Minister for Social Justice.
Service to Community
Juan has always had a passion to serve his Aurora community. While in law school, he successfully ran for the West Aurora School Board, commuting 120 miles each way every weekend during the campaign. At the age of twenty-five (25), Juan became the youngest person ever elected to the West Aurora School Board and became the first African American ever re-elected to the school board in 1999. While on the school board, Juan served as Chairman of the Board’s Personnel Committee. In 2005, he was elected Aurora Township Clerk becoming the first African American to be elected in Aurora Township and the first Democrat ever to serve as Aurora Township Clerk. Juan has also served as Chairman of the Aurora Township Democratic Party.
Juan has dedicated much of his life to serving the youth and those in need. In college, Juan returned home in the summer and worked with the disabled community at the Association for Individual Development (A.I.D.). He has worked as a Youth Pastor in his church and has mentored high school and junior high students on Saturday mornings with the West Suburban Mentoring Program of 100 Black Men of Chicago, Inc. at the Quad County Urban League. Each year, Juan leads a mentoring session on the ‘Art of Public Speaking & Debate’ for these students. Juan has organized groups of students to travel to Springfield to learn about state government. Juan has served on the Board of Directors of Mutual Ground Inc., an organization committed to providing services to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault and their families in the Aurora area and was the 1st Vice President of the NAACP DuPage County Branch and he is currently a member of the A+ Foundation Board of Directors and the Aurora Kiwanis Club.
Juan is also a past board member of the Community Renewal Society, the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, the University of Illinois College of Education Board of Visitors and the University of Illinois College of Law Alumni Association.
Juan served as the 75th President of the National Bar Association (NBA) from 2017-18. The NBA is the nation's oldest and largest network of nearly 65,000 African American lawyers, judges, and law students. As President, Juan co-founded the National Commission for Voter Justice to address voter suppression across the country while advancing electoral reform and civic engagement. Juan was the first NBA President to lead a delegation of lawyers to Silicon Valley to support diversity and inclusion in the tech industry. Also, under his leadership the NBA established its first LGBTQ Lawyers Division to promote inclusion for all members regardless of their sexual orientation or identity.
As a result of Juan's dedication to leadership and to his profession, he was invited to serve on the Leadership Advisory Board of the National Conference of Bar Presidents, a national association whose mission is to provide high-quality programming and leadership development training for lawyers.
Juan is the General Counsel for the Morehouse College National Alumni Association and in August 2019 Juan was elected by his peers from around the country to serve as the Secretary of the American Bar Association's Civil Rights & Social Justice Section. Juan is also a member of the Leadership Council of the American Bar Association's Section for State & Local Government.
Throughout Juan’s life he has been consistently recognized for his leadership, advocacy, and service to the community and in the law. Earlier in his career, Juan was honored in the Aurora Beacon News (1998), the Chicago Suntimes (1999), Ebony Magazine (2001), and in Who’s Who in Black Chicago (2006, 2007).
He is a 2002 Fellow of Leadership Greater Chicago and currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Leadership Fellows Association. Juan is also a 2004 graduate of the Harvard Divinity School Summer Leadership Institute.
Juan has worked diligently to be a devoted and competent lawyer. Juan has proven, in spite of any obstacles, that he is persistent and committed to his profession and his community. He is a past recipient of the American Bar Association Solo & Small Firm Section’s Solo Practitioner of Merit Award. In 2011, he was invited to become a Fellow in the American Bar Association Foundation for his outstanding achievements in the legal profession. He is also a Fellow with the Illinois Bar Foundation and in July 2019 was appointed to serve on the Board of Governors for the Illinois State Bar Association.
In 2015, ‘The National Black Lawyers: Top 100’ included Juan on its list of the Top 100 Trial Lawyers, an honor given to only a select group of lawyers for their superior skills and qualifications in the field. Membership in this exclusive organization is by invitation only and is limited to the top 100 attorneys in each state or region who have demonstrated excellence and have achieved outstanding results in their careers. Juan’s selection was based upon his performance as an exceptional lawyer in the practice area of matrimonial and family law in the state of Illinois.
In 2018, Juan was awarded the Katie Holmes Educational Foundation Public Service Award for Leadership and Service in the Legal Community and the J. Ernest Wilkins Award from the Cook County Bar Association for his national leadership as President of the National Bar Association. Juan has also received five National Bar Association Presidential Service Awards.
In 2011 and again in 2015, Juan was given the honor of being named, Citizen of the Year by his fraternity, Omega Psi Phi, Mu Xi Chapter for his service and dedication to the community. He has received the NAACP, DuPage County Branch’s President’s Award both in 2013 and 2014, as well as, the 2014 recipient of the NAACP, DuPage County Branch’s Claude Audley Award of Leadership Excellence, for his leadership and service to the community.
Most recently, Juan was featured by the American Constitution Society as their June 2019 Lawyer.