Monday, July 31, 2006

An outstanding candidate

Jim Snyder

For more than 20 years attorney and community advocate Jim Snyder has for fought for stronger neighborhoods and communities. Through personal and professional experiences, Jim has developed insight on community problems and the experience to produce results. Snyder is committed to building community by serving individuals, community organizations and small businesses including:

- Developing individual and family economic opportunities and neighborhood businesses,
- Enhancing consumer rights, disability rights and health care,
- Addressing the role of addiction and recovery in crime, homelessness, and as a barrier to individual and family economic opportunity,
- Fighting for personal liberty and against discrimination.

Snyder received both his Bachelor of Arts in History (1985) and Juris Doctorate (1988) from Northern Illinois University and was admitted to the Illinois bar that year. Snyder is admitted to the United District Court, Northern District of Illinois and the United States Court of Appeals, 7th Circuit.

For five years following law school, Snyder served as an attorney for the Chicago Housing Authority where he worked to evict gang bangers and drug dealers to improve the quality of life of CHA families, helped develop resident management initiatives and job skills training for residents to achieve self-sufficiency and independence. Snyder then opened a neighborhood law office in Ravenswood serving small businesses, individuals, families and not-for-profits.

As his practice developed, so did his advocacy work. As a gay man living through the 90s, Snyder saw the AIDS crisis close-up. As a founding member of the board of directors of AIDS Care, he raised money, helped build the organization and aggressively worked to build a facility to assist those living with advanced HIV/AIDS achieve a higher quality of life and independence through housing, health care and supportive services.

Recognizing that lawyers are uniquely positioned to serve, Snyder increasingly worked in pro bono advocacy and with government organizations on behalf of his clients. His work was recognized by his alma mater in 2000 as Snyder was named NIU Law Alumni of the Year. That same work led him to leave private practice and accept the position of general counsel for the Illinois Human Rights Commission, the state agency in charge of helping victims of discrimination in employment, housing, or credit and individuals and businesses unfairly accused of discrimination.

The day after joining IHRC, the Chicago Tribune ran an investigative story detailing systemic problems with the commission and its leadership. For the past five years, Snyder has devoted himself to cleaning up the agency, an effort that dramatically accelerated with the election of Governor Rod Blagojevich. Snyder was appointed co-chair of the Governor’s Civil Rights transition committee and the committee on Alcohol and Substance Abuse Recovery.

With a mandate to clean up the commission, he has successfully worked to improve professionalism, eliminate the backlog of administrative hearings and restore fairness to this critical agency.

While his professional life continued, Snyder had a parallel career as a volunteer advocate for numerous causes and campaigns.

For nearly a decade, he struggled to amend the Illinois Human Rights Act to ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The revised act was finally passed and signed into law this past year.

Snyder served as campaign manager to State Representative Larry McKeon and County Commissioner Mike Quigley, and has fought to elect candidates that share his commitment to community development and civil justice.

In 2006, Snyder was honored to be appointed by the Illinois Supreme Court to the Judicial Performance Evaluation Committee. He has served on numerous boards and been active with many additional organizations including Equip for Equality, Stonewall Democrats, the Illinois Federation of Human Rights (now Equality Illinois), the Illinois Council against Handgun Violence, the Chicago Bar Association Civil Rights Committee, the Illinois State Bar Association Labor and Employment Section Council and Attorney General Madigan’s Civil Rights Transition Committee.

Snyder lives in Chicago’s Buena Park with his partner of 7 years, Scott Plummer.


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