DETROIT — Dawn Ison, a Detroit native, has officially been sworn in as the new U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan.
Ison replaces Saima Mohsin, who has been serving as acting U.S. attorney since Matthew Schneider resigned earlier this year when President Biden took office. She is the first Black woman to hold the 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 graduated from Cass Tech High School and attended law school at Wayne State University. Her father was murdered when she was only 9-years-old.
“I have been a victim of crime,” she said. “My mother was a single parent, worked at the post office and struggled to take care of me and my brothers. I am the wife of a retired police officer. I’m the mother of a young Black son — so is this lived experience that I hope to bring to this role.”
Ison served as a criminal defense attorney for roughly 12 years and as an assistant U.S. attorney for 19 years, during which she cracked down on public corruption and prosecuted drug trafficking cases at the highest level. She also led the federal prosecution that broke up the Black Mafia Family and sent dozens of its members to prison.
Ison’s priorities include rooting out systemic discrimination in policing, housing and employment, and restructuring the approach to violent crimes. She said she also has a zero tolerance policy for crime and corruption, but also has a commitment to community and wants to make people feel safe, protected and valued.
“I believe that having had that perspective I can relate to so many people,” she said. “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. 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.”
Biden nominated Ison last month and the U.S. Senate confirmed her on Dec. 21.
“Dawn Ison’s confirmation is great news for Michigan,” U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) said. “I’m confident in her ability to serve the people of Michigan and I know she will continue her excellent work as U.S. attorney.”