Corey Dixon

Elgin City Councilmember Corey Dixon In his day job, Elgin City Councilman Corey Dixon works as a Kane County Sheriff’s Department administrator, overseeing programs that help jail detainees prepare for a productive life.

With a degree in business management and a master’s in public administration, along with a wealth of experience as a volunteer and organizer, Dixon has all the academic qualifications. But he also has a personal story from a troubled youth that informs the man he has become.

“I was heading toward an early grave or jail, and I knew it,” Dixon said of his teenage years in Elgin.

Instead, Dixon found a better way by taking some advice and looking within.

Dixon spent his early childhood in Schaumburg. His mother and father moved there after experiencing a break-in at their Elgin home. Dixon said his father, whom he never knew, was murdered in Chicago shortly after his birth. His mother would later remarry and that man would go on to raise, Dixon.

His family eventually moved back to Elgin, where Dixon attended Abbot Middle School. On the eve of Dixon entering Larkin High School, his stepfather died suddenly from a heart attack. It presaged several years of trouble for Dixon, who excelled playing football and basketball, but did not distinguish himself in the classroom.

“I was a terrible, terrible student,” he said. “I gave very little effort – barely enough to get by. I got involved in everything you’re not supposed to.”

Dixon said he got some corrective advice from longtime U-46 Board Member Joyce Fountain. Dixon said there was girl he liked, but her mother wouldn’t allow them to continue to date unless Dixon got his act together. The mother was friends with Fountain, and one day Fountain and Dixon had lunch, where Fountain told Dixon to stop wasting his potential.

“That wasn’t the first time I’d been told that,” he recalled. “But that time it sunk in.”

Vowing to turn things around, Dixon attended two sessions of summer school and an additional semester at Elgin High School in order to graduate.

From there, he enrolled at Grambling State University in Louisiana, earning a degree in business. During his junior year, Dixon began volunteering with a local Boys & Girls Club and found gratification in helping others and sharing his story.

After graduation, he returned to Elgin, earning his master’s degree and completing area leadership programs, including the African American Parent Leadership Institute with U-46 and one with the local chamber of commerce. Dixon worked in banking initially, but later gravitated toward work that involved helping people. He spent five years as an Illinois Department of Human Services caseworker before taking the position with the sheriff’s office as senior Assistant Director of Administration.

In the meantime, Dixon became Elgin’s youngest city council member with his 2017 election. He had served on two other city commissions before running for office. 

The lessons Dixon has drawn from his own life lead to some straightforward advice to anyone facing an obstacle.

“Never give in, never give up, always keeps on going,” he said.

He and his wife, Janelle Dixon, an attorney, are the parents of three daughters, and their oldest attends a U-46 school.