Detroit native Dawn Ison becomes Michigan's first Black female US Attorney

Detroit native Dawn Ison has officially been sworn in as the next U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan.

She will be the first Black female to hold that role.

"Much like our Vice President Kamala Harris said, I might be the first, but I won't be the last," Ison said. "It is huge but what I will say is there are so many qualified women before me who could have served in this role, but what they did was pave the way for me."

Ison attended Cass Tech High School and law school at Wayne State University. She said life has thrown obstacles at her, starting when her father was murdered when she was 9. 

"I have been a victim of a crime. My mother was a single parent, worked at post office and struggled to take care of me and my brothers," she said. "I am the wife of retired police officer. I’m the mother of a young Black son – so it is this lived experience that I hope to bring to this role."

Ison brings with her not only her life experiences but an extensive resume, which includes a dozen years as a criminal defense attorney, as well as 19 years as an Assistant U.S Attorney. In that role, she cracked down on public corruption and prosecuted drug trafficking cases at the highest level.

Ison led the federal prosecution that broke up the Black Mafia Family and sent dozens of members to prison for years.

MORE: How 'Black Mafia Family' highlights origins, brotherhood behind notorious drug org

She said has a zero tolerance policy for crime and corruption, but also a commitment to community. She wants to make people feel safe, protected, and valued.

Ison's priorities include rooting out systemic discrimination in policing, housing, and employment, as well as restructuring the approach to violent crime to get the worst offenders off the streets.

"I believe that having had that perspective I can relate to so many people. I have represented people, the same types of people that I've prosecuted in cases. This empathy, this lived experience combined with extensive professional experience is what I want to bring to this role," she said. "I had a lot of unfortunate circumstances I have overcome in my life, but simply put I am a little girl from the east side of Detroit with a big mouth, who refused to be defined by her circumstance, and who wanted to use her mouth to help people like her, like her mother and I have devoted my entire life to doing that."