Erica Kirkwood is Vice President and General Counsel at GMA Construction Group. GMA is a veteran and minority owned, national, commercial general contracting firm that focuses on building facilities in the healthcare, education and affordable housing industries. Erica provides legal and business counsel on business development, real estate development, mergers & acquisitions, corporate transactions, contracts, litigation, HR, risk management and compliance. Erica negotiates notable multimillion dollar construction contracts and joint venture agreements like the Pullman National Monument, Cook County Hospital Harrison Square project, Terminal A expansion at Midway Airport, the 95M Chicago Police and Fire Training Facility, Dolton Public Library, University of Chicago Student Wellness center and the Northwestern University Blackhouse project. She is leading legal and business development efforts to expand GMA’s operations to East Africa. In 2019 and 2020 Erica and her CEO met with real estate developers, government officials and African ambassadors in Kenya and Ethiopia. Erica also coordinates summer internships at GMA for high school and college students from disadvantaged communities.
Prior to GMA, Erica was Deputy General Counsel of the Illinois Department of Children & Family Services. Before DCFS, her career included consumer fraud investigations for the City of Chicago Department of Business Affairs & Consumer Protection, and Kirkwood Law Group, Inc., where she handled a broad range of commercial litigation.
In 2018, Erica served as President of the Black Women Lawyers’ Association of Greater Chicago, Inc., a 300-member bar association of attorneys, judges and law students. Through BWLA, Erica established the first annual Black Women Lawyers Judicial Reception, the first free Illinois public directory of black women attorneys and she founded The Directors Institute. This institute focuses on increasing the presence of female attorneys of color on the boards of government entities, nonprofits, and private and publicly traded companies. The Directors Institute faculty includes prominent corporate and government board directors and board recruiters from across the nation. The program has successfully graduated 25 attorneys and over 30% of them have obtained meaningful board positions.
Erica is passionate about philanthropy and works to promote diversity efforts through various community organizations like the Black Women Lawyers Association Scholarship Fund Board, Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, Chicago State University Alumni Board, and Jack & Jill Incorporated.
Erica has received the following notable awards: 2020 Chicago Daily Law Bulletin & Chicago Lawyer 40 under Forty Illinois Attorneys to Watch, 2020 Crain’s Chicago Business Notable Women in Construction & Design, 2020 National Black Lawyers Top 100 Black Attorneys in Illinois, 2019 Crain’s Chicago Business Notable General Counsel, 2019 Diversity MBA Top 100 under 50 Executives and the 2018 National Bar Association 40 under 40 Nation’s Best Advocate. Erica is a 2018 Chicago Urban League IMPACT Leadership Program Fellow, a program in conjunction with the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. She earned a B.S. cum laude in Criminal Justice at Chicago State University. She received a J.D from Western Michigan University Thomas Cooley Law School. Erica lives in Chicago with her husband J.L. and son Braxton.