Tom Yates, Executive Director (He/Him)


Tom Yates has been Executive Director since April 2014. He has been a public interest lawyer for over three decades and has focused his work on access to health care, public benefits, and Social Security benefits. He is recognized as a local and national leader for his work in Social Security disability policy with an emphasis on young adults’ and children’s disability issues. He consulted with the Social Security Administration in development of the current childhood disability standard and was a catalyst for issuance of Social Security Rulings regarding child and young adult disability standards. He has handled significant class actions driving systemic improvements including Memisovski v. Maram (ensuring access to medical care for Medicaid-eligible children in Cook County, Illinois); enforcement of consent decrees in Memisovski v. Maram and Beeks v. Bradley (requiring the State of Illinois to pay Medicaid providers during a two-year state budget impasse); M.A. v. Norwood and O.B. v. Norwood (actions to ensure that Medicaid-eligible children needing nursing services at home qualified and received those nursing services); Chappell by Savage v. Bradley (action to ensure access to necessary dental care for Medicaid-eligible children); and Boatman v. Sullivan (action to ensure that Social Security applied constitutionally valid standards to determine benefits eligibility for children born out of wedlock on their deceased fathers’ earnings records). He has received many honors including the 2013 Chicago Bar Foundation’s Thomas H. Morsch Award for career contributions to public interest law. Tom came to Legal Council in November 2013 after 17 years as supervising attorney and general counsel at Health & Disability Advocates, 12 years with the Legal Assistance Foundation of Chicago, and two years with Northeast Kentucky Legal Services. Tom graduated from Cornell College and the University of Iowa College of Law.