December 17, 2015


Colette Holt provides legal counsel and consulting services to governments and businesses on procurement and contracting; employment discrimination; regulatory compliance; organizational change; program development, evaluation and implementation; and issues relating to inclusion, diversity and affirmative action. Ms. Holt is a nationally recognized expert in designing, implementing and defending affirmative action programs. She has concentrated her practice in these areas for over 25 years, after serving in senior legal and management government positions. Colette Holt & Associates was founded in 1994 and has become the nation’s premier law and consulting firm on these issues.  Licensed to practice law in Illinois.

In particular, she provides expert witness testimony and consultations in suits involving public and private procurement and employment policies. Ms. Holt evaluates the effectiveness of employment and contracting policies and processes and proposes solutions to support leadership’s commitment to improvement and innovation. She has served as co-consultant with and counsel to economics consulting firms in conducting numerous studies of contracting and employment discrimination. In addition to work for public sector clients, the firm counsels government vendors on compliance with federal employment and procurement regulations, including serving as a court appointed compliance monitor for firms  entering into consent decrees with prosecutors.

Ms. Holt is General Counsel to the American Contract Compliance Association, the national organization of officials responsible for minority, women and disadvantaged business initiatives. Ms. Holt is a frequent author and media commentator on affirmative action, and employment topics. She is the former Vice-Chair of the American Bar Association’s Public Contract Law Section. Ms. Holt was appointed an Adjunct Professor at the Loyola University School of Law and The John Marshall Law School.

Yale University, B.A., Philosophy
University of Chicago, J.D.

Prior Experience
Associate Superintendent, Chicago Park District
Chief Operating Officer of $350 million/year independent municipal agency with 4,000 employees. Implemented contracting and procurement systems to improve processes and service delivery, reduce costs, and support budgeting and auditing functions. Developed and implemented agency’s first minority and women business program. Led District’s fundraising and first Strategic Planning process. Created professional fundraising and community relations departments, including missions statements, structures, budgets, and personnel requirements. Developed model community councils program to provide citizen input into park operations.

Senior Attorney, Legal Counsel Division, Dept. of Law, City of Chicago
Provided advice to the Mayor, City Council, and City departments regarding legislation and policy development, administrative and municipal law, public contracting, first amendment issues, land use and public incentives, and zoning. Developed groundbreaking minority and women business program for City departments.

Associate, Schiff Hardin & Waite, Chicago, Illinois
Specialized in federal and state litigation, municipal bonds, administrative law, and employment discrimination.

Law Clerk to the Honorable Thomas E. Fairchild, Former Chief Judge, United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
Assisted federal appellate judge with research and drafting opinions.

Professional Honors and Awards

  • Women Business Champion of the Year, US Small Business Administration
  • Advocacy Award, Women’s Business Development Center
  • Advocacy Award, Federation of Women Contractors
  • Founder’s Award, Black Contractors United
  • President’s Award, National Black Chamber of Commerce
  • Eagle Award, National Eagle Leadership Institute
  • Awardee, Women’s Voices, Harris Bank