Mary Rita is an attorney and longtime active member of the community.
Mary Rita began her legal practice working on civil rights cases, including the first case to go to trial challenging the Chicago Police Department practice of routinely strip-searching women. In another important case, Mary Rita helped litigate a class action suit challenging the City of Chicago practice of delaying payment of judgments that plaintiffs had won against the City. For more than 25 years, Mary Rita helped people with disabilities secure their benefits. She currently practices residential real estate law, helping hundreds of local families buy and sell their homes.
She has long been deeply engaged with her community. When her daughters were in Walker Elementary School and Chute Middle School, Mary Rita was a regular classroom volunteer and played active roles in the PTAs for both schools, serving multiple terms as president of each.
Mary Rita’s commitment to quality education for all children in the district led to her election to two terms on the Evanston/Skokie School District 65 Board of Education where she served as its president for two years. During her tenure, Mary Rita represented the Board on ED-RED, an advocacy organization that influences state education policy.
Mary Rita has actively worked on and contributed to Democratic candidates for county, state, and national offices. She is a member of Democratic Party of Evanston and a lifetime member of the Skokie Caucus Party.
For almost thirty years, Mary Rita has given back to her profession by teaching DePaul University law students the skills required to be successful trial attorneys.
With her husband Michael Gelder, who teaches health policy at Northwestern University and University of Illinois, Mary Rita has lived in Skokie for more than thirty years, where they raised their two daughters, Hannah, a community organizer in Chicago, and Moriah, an environmental engineer who lives in Baltimore.