For Immediate Release
March 18, 2014
AIDS Legal Council of Chicago Names Tom Yates as Executive Director
Chicago, IL – AIDS Legal Council of Chicago (“ALCC”), a community-based nonprofit founded in 1987 to serve the legal needs of people with HIV, announced that attorney Thomas D. Yates will become the organization’s executive director beginning on April 1, 2014. Tom succeeds Ann Hilton Fisher, who retires at the end of this month after 17 years of inspired and exemplary leadership.
Tom is recognized as a local and national leader for his work in Social Security disability policy representing individuals who are low-income, have disabilities, and need income support and health care coverage. He is one of the foremost attorneys in the country handing children’s disability cases, and has co-counseled several significant class actions driving systemic improvements in access to health. Because of his expertise, Tom is one of a select group of attorneys who meet with the Commissioner of the United States Social Security Administration on new regulations and guidance to states.
The recipient of many honors, including last year’s Chicago Bar Foundation Morsch Award for career contributions to public interest law, Tom came to ALCC in November 2013 after 17 years as supervising attorney and general counsel at Health & Disability Advocates, where he built a practice helping thousands of children and adults with special health care needs to get Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare, thereby enabling them to stabilize their lives.
Retiring executive director Ann Hilton Fisher reflects, “I love this organization—our staff and our clients—so much and I wanted to ensure that the new leader would understand what a special place it is. Knowing that Tom will be the new executive director means that I can retire in total confidence that ALCC will not only remain as the premier HIV legal services program in the nation, but will become a leader in all areas of disability law. It means that our clients will continue, every day, to get the services they need. It means the organization will continue to grow and change to meet not only today’s needs, but tomorrow’s as well.”
Tom takes the reins during a time of positive growth and transformation of the organization, which is expanding beyond single disease services and advocacy. Todd Solomon, president of the Board of Directors and partner at McDermott Will & Emery says, “Tom brings an incredible depth of experience in assisting low-income individuals with complex legal needs, and the Board is delighted to have him at the helm. We are confident that Tom is the right person to lead our capable staff and to drive the organization into the future.”
The nonprofit, legal, and health communities are embracing Tom in this new role. Ruth Ann Schmitt, Executive Director, Lawyers Trust Fund of Illinois: “Tom is one of the most knowledgeable attorneys in the state when it comes to programs affecting vulnerable, low-income individuals and families. He’s also well liked and widely admired in the legal community. We think he’s a great choice to lead the organization into a very promising future.” Adds John Peller, newly named CEO of AIDS Foundation of Chicago, “We are thrilled that Tom is taking the helm at ALCC. As one of the nation’s foremost experts on legal issues impacting people with disabilities, Tom has the knowledge and expertise to lead ALCC into the future. We look forward to working with Tom and the rest of the team to improve the lives of people living with disabilities and chronic health conditions.”