Kankakee attorney Dave Baron vividly remembers accompanying his youth ministry group to Pembroke — in 1999 — one of the poorest counties in the nation located 20 miles south of Kankakee.

The first Hearts of Hope mission trip group, in 1999. David Baron is far right, with his friend on top of his shoulders

“I went to a community known for its poor conditions,” Baron says, “but instead I witnessed a richness of spirit.”

Viatorian Associates Ken and Michelle Barrie led that first mission trip and it has stayed with Baron through his years at Bishop McNamara High School, the University of Notre Dame and Harvard Law School. He started his career working at a prestigious law firm in Chicago before working for the city itself, committed to fighting for social justice and the rights of the marginalized.

Associates Ken and Michelle Barrie

David Baron

Since 2018, Baron and his wife, Anya, moved back to his native Kankakee, where he joined his father’s law firm, Deck & Baron, and began working with groups to revitalize the city. This week, he announced his candidacy for the 2nd Ward Alderman spot.

“My perspective and understanding of servant leadership was shaped greatly by Viatorian Associates Ken and Michelle Barrie,” Baron says. “They showed me that leading doesn’t always mean getting out in front of people. It calls for being among them, finding creative ways to hear, encourage, and partner with them.

“So that when it comes to local government,” he added, “I view fixing a pothole, drafting an equitable housing ordinance, or organizing a neighborhood association as ways to wash someone else’s feet.”