Michelle Sanders is the Chief Public Defender for Macon County. Prior to being appointed as the Chief Public Defender in March 2021, Michelle served in the office in other capacities—first as an Assistant Public Defender and later as the First Assistant Public Defender. She also served for five years as a judicial law clerk for Justice Lisa Holder White on the Fourth District Appellate Court. Since 2014, Michelle has been an adjunct professor at Millikin University, teaching undergraduate courses in Constitutional Law, Civil Liberties, and Criminal Justice.
Michelle graduated summa cum laude from Western Illinois University in 2002 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English. She earned her Juris Doctorate from Southern Illinois University School of Law in 2007, where she wrote for the SIU Law Journal and served as a Taylor Mattis Fellow.
Currently, Michelle serves on the Macon County Criminal Justice Council, the Macon County Juvenile Justice Council, the Illinois Family Violence Coordinating Council for the Sixth Judicial Circuit, and multiple steering committees for the local specialty courts. She also assists the Decatur Bar Association with its annual mock trial event and continuing legal education presentations. Michelle previously served as the president of Games for Troops, Inc. a local nonprofit organization, on the Board of Directors for Heritage Behavioral Health Center, and as a moderator for the Teen Court diversion program.