FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Zena Naiditch, President and CEO
(312) 341-0022, ext. 7317, (800) 537-2632
TTY (800) 610-2779
Public Information Director
New Board Chair Michael Parks Leads Equip for Equality Into Era of Growth and Change
Agency Expansion Creates New Challenges
CHICAGO (May 14, 2003) -- Michael A. Parks, newly elected Chairperson of Equip for Equality's (EFE) Board of Directors, takes the helm of the federally mandated Protection and Advocacy System for people with disabilities in Illinois at a time of enormous growth and expansion for the comprehensive advocacy organization.
"Michael has a deep commitment to our mission and will be instrumental in moving our organization forward," said Zena Naiditch, EFE President and CEO. "I anticipate a productive partnership as we look to the future and focus on strategic planning, board recruitment and development, and new opportunities for generating revenue."
In the past two years, EFE's staff have doubled to 50 in its three regional offices, new programs and projects have burgeoned and the budget for 2003 has peaked at $5 million, reflecting new Congressional appropriations and grants from federal and state agencies, as well as funding from private foundations, corporations and individual contributors. On Sept. 1, EFE will move from its current location at 11 E. Adams to 20 N. Michigan Ave. where 19,000 square-feet of multi-use space will accommodate the continuing escalation of services and personnel.
Parks, who has served on EFE's Board of Directors for the past two years, is Senior Counsel responsible for all intellectual property at Tribune Company, a post he has held since October 2000.
Previously, he was a partner at Kirkland & Ellis in the firm's intellectual property practice, where he had experience with the full gamut of intellectual property issues, from patent and trademark infringement litigation to right of publicity disputes and transactional work, for such clients as General Motors, Motorola, BP Amoco and 3M.
Always committed to community service, Parks has devoted much of his time to pro bono work. While studying for the Bar, he worked as a PILI fellow at Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, where he worked on a variety of cases ranging from environmental matters and school reform issues to housing discrimination. In 1999, he was honored with an award for his commitment to pro bono legal services, including work for EFE.
"While working on pro bono legal matters for EFE, I became impressed by the agency's drive and dedication," said Parks. "There is so much work that can and should be done for people with disabilities and I am honored to have a role in its mission.
"I hope to ride the wave of continued expansion by recruiting a diverse pool of talented new members for our Board with a particular focus on entrepreneurial experience. I am also challenged to achieve a more interactive process between the Board and the agency so we can better understand the issues facing EFE in its daily endeavors and the issues facing the disability community generally."
Parks obtained his JD from DePaul University College of Law in 1993 and holds a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering from Northwestern University. He and his wife, June, have a 4½-year-old daughter, Lauren, and a 14-month-old son, Justin. The family resides in Hyde Park.
Equip for Equality is the independent, private, not-for-profit organization designated by the Governor in 1985 to administer the federally mandated Protection and Advocacy System (P&A) for safeguarding the rights of people with physical and mental disabilities in Illinois. It is the only comprehensive statewide advocacy organization providing self-advocacy assistance, legal services, disability rights education, public policy advocacy and abuse investigation.