About Brent E. Adams

Brent Adams headshot

Brent Adams is an experienced financial and social justice advocate with background in the nonprofit, public, and private sectors.

A licensed attorney since 1997, Brent has worked as a litigator, lobbyist, political organizer, educator, and policy advocate. Beginning his career as a litigator for one of Chicago’s largest law firms, in 2002, he pursued his passion for not-for-profit advocacy by becoming a policy associate for the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, and would later go on to become the Policy Director for Citizen Action/Illinois. At Citizen Action, he authored the Payday Loan Reform Act, a groundbreaking bill in Illinois that regulated the payday loan industry and established a statewide database that tracks all payday loans, auto title loans, installment payday loans, and small consumer loans made in Illinois.  Furthering his work within the financial services arena, he became an attorney for the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, and  then, in 2009, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn appointed Brent the Secretary of Financial and Professional Regulation.  In that capacity, Brent served as the State’s top regulator, overseeing most of the state’s professions. While Secretary, he chaired the Mortgage Fraud Task Force, which, under his leadership, received national recognition, disciplining more than 100 entities and assessing fines in excess of $2 million. He also coordinated the Mortgage Relief Project, a statewide program that helped thousands of struggling homeowners.  In 2012, Brent pursued his interest in teaching in Brooklyn, New York, where he became a teacher and debate coach. In 2016, he joined Woodstock Institute. As Senior Vice President of Policy and Advocacy, Brent leads Woodstock’s policy advocacy and government relations work at the local, state, and national levels. 

Brent received his B.S. and M.A. in Rhetoric from Northwestern University and his J.D. from New York University School of Law.

Brent Adams on the cover of Positive HIV Magazine

Brent is a long-term survivor of HIV, and he shares his story to encourage others struggling with HIV, addiction, and/or mental illness.