Attorney and retired federal law enforcement officer Terry Alexis Cummings is a member of the Mableton community of South Cobb. Terry grew up with her two sisters, Keely and Kim in Teaneck, New Jersey. Their father, Rudy Collins, was a well-known jazz drummer. He found his passion early in life and bypassed college to focus on his passion. Their mother, Dr. Mattie Collins taught pediatric clinical nursing. Dr. Collins was one of the first black nurses with the Visiting Nurses Service in NY. Terry’s family home was a place where a diverse group of musicians and neighbors spent a lot of time. The importance of community involvement and giving back to others was instilled in Terry at an early age by her devoted parents. Terry grew up with a love of learning about her African heritage and was greatly influenced by the teachings she received from her educator grandfather, Dr. Chancellor Williams, a Professor of African Studies at Howard University who wrote The Destruction of the African Civilization. Terry met her husband John, a Marine veteran, while both were working at the United States Penitentiary (USP) in Atlanta. Terry and John moved with their son, Kenan, to Mableton to be closer to Terry’s mother who suffered from Alzheimer’s. Following retirement from her law enforcement career, Terry’s mother moved in with them and Terry became her primary caretaker until her transition.
Terry attended Rutgers University where she received her B. A. Degree in Political Science. While in college, she served as President of the Douglass Black Student Congress. Terry was an active member of the Rutgers Black Student Union, Black Women’s Association For Black Unity, and was initiated into Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Terry continued her community activism for the greater New Brunswick community by organizing Kwanza celebrations, children outings, and book drives. During her senior year of college, Terry worked as a Congressional Intern with United States Senator Bill Bradley from New Jersey.
Terry’s 30-year career in law and criminal justice began after college. While attending Georgetown Law Center at night Terry worked full time during the day as a Court Room Clerk at the District of Columbia Superior Court in Washington, D.C. While in law school, Terry was active in the Black Law Student Association and was a member of the Ethics Law Journal. Terry participated in the Tenant and Landlord Legal Clinic and interned in the D.C. Public Defenders Office. Terry also worked for the late R. Kenneth Mundy, Esq., where she assisted in the defense of former D.C. Mayor Marion S. Barry Jr. After graduation, Terry worked as a judicial clerk for the Honorable Harold Cushenberry. She then began her extensive legal career with the United States Department of Justice being accepted into the highly competitive Honors Attorney Program.
Terry’s career with the Department included working in the Legislative and Correctional Issues Branch in Washington, D.C. She was the first attorney to work at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago, Illinois. From there Terry was promoted to Supervisory Attorney at the USP in Atlanta, then Senior Litigation Counsel at the Atlanta Regional Office. Since 2005, Terry has also worked as an Associate Professor at Colorado Technical University, where she teaches legal and criminal justice courses.
Career highlights for Terry include representing the Federal Bureau of Prisons during post-trial hearings of the infamous El Rukn gang (the largest gang trial in Chicago’s history) and representing the agency during the first federal death penalty case in Georgia for the murder of a correctional officer at USP Atlanta. She also worked as a neutral with the Department of Justice. Terry has received numerous honors, awards, and recognitions including Attorney of the Year. Terry is well known and respected for her tenacity, her ability to think outside of the box, her strong advocacy skills, and her unwavering commitment to clients.
Terry’s advocacy also extends into her work with her community. Terry conceived and coordinated the Returning Citizen (Ex-Offender) Job Fairs at Clayton State University. She has partnered with the Georgia Justice Project on record expungement seminars and has participated in seminars on federal sentencing guidelines, mass incarceration, and the school to prison pipeline. Recently, Terry coordinated the job fair portion of Cobb Restore 360; the first Record Restriction and job fair for returning citizens in Cobb County which was held in February 2020.
Terry is a member of the inaugural class Cobb 101 Citizens Academy. She is a lifetime member of the National Association of Blacks in Criminal Justice (NABCJ) and Mableton Improvement Coalition. She holds memberships in the National Association of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE), American Bar Association, National Bar Association, the Georgia Association of Black Women Attorneys (GABWA), NAACP, SCLC, and Austell Community Task Force. Terry was recently selected to serve on the Board of her HOA. She is a Post Seat Holder with the Cobb Democratic Committee. Terry remains active with her sorority, Delta Sigma Theta, where she has served in senior leadership positions and is currently a member of the Political Action Committee.