Salli Richardson-Whitfield was born in Chicago and maintains strong ties to the Windy City. Her father Duel Richardson, was director of Neighborhood Relations/Educational Programs and Office of Community Affairs for the University of Chicago before retiring. He's of English and Italian hertiage. Salli's mother, Marcia Harris, is the retired head of Publications for Chicago State Univeristy. She's African American, Native American (Cherokee), Irish, Italian, and English and Salli has always identified strongly with the African American community. She's proud of her multicultural background.