Sidley Austin Partner Appointed Executive Director of LAF


Chicago – LAF (formerly the Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago) is pleased to announce that it has appointed John Gallo as its Executive Director. Mr. Gallo, presently a partner at Sidley Austin LLP and former Assistant U.S. Attorney, will succeed Diana White in this role effective October 1, 2017.


After 20 years of outstanding service to LAF, Ms. White will be retiring as of June 30, 2017. Katherine (“Kate”) W. Shank, LAF’s current Director of Volunteer Services, will serve as interim executive director leading up to Mr. Gallo’s arrival.


“John is a transformational candidate with an impeccable public service background and exceptional professional pedigree,” said Rich Klawiter, co-president of LAF’s Board of Directors. “His ability to think outside the box to conceive and implement innovative solutions will advance our mission to make legal services accessible to the most vulnerable members of our community. Diana has done an amazing job of raising LAF’s profile during her tenure and we sincerely thank her for her many notable contributions.”


Mr. Gallo will join LAF from Sidley where he has been a partner for 21 years. During his tenure with the firm he has held multiple leadership positions, including serving as head of the litigation group of more than 100 lawyers in the firm’s Chicago office and as global co-leader of Sidley’s white collar practice group. Before joining Sidley, Mr. Gallo served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Northern District of Illinois for 10 years. He has extensive experience in both state and federal court advising clients ranging from large corporations to criminal defendants in complex civil litigation matters. Throughout his illustrious career, Mr. Gallo has demonstrated a deep commitment to providing pro bono counsel to indigent criminal defendants and others in need.


“When the opportunity to join LAF presented itself, I recognized immediately that it would allow me to follow my passion to provide a voice for those in need while helping an incredibly deserving organization continue to grow,” said Mr. Gallo. “I’ve always felt that, as a lawyer, I have a responsibility to use my skills to provide services to individuals that otherwise could not afford legal representation. It is an honor to be selected to lead the city’s preeminent provider of legal services to people living in poverty and other vulnerable groups.”


LAF partnered with Koya Leadership Partners, a national executive search firm that specializes in leading searches exclusively for nonprofit clients, to fill its executive director role.


For over 50 years, LAF has provided free, comprehensive civil legal services to the most vulnerable people living in Cook County. LAF helps families stay in their homes and avoid homelessness; enables victims of abuse and trafficking begin new, safe lives; ensures veterans receive all the benefits to which they are entitled and children receive the special education services they deserve; protects seniors victimized by consumer scams and employees victimized by wage theft and employment abuses. Because of LAF, every year thousands of people obtain justice, and begin the move out of poverty.


LAF’s work starts by making the legal system accessible to clients and concludes with a resolution that changes their lives and gets them back on their feet. With more than 150 full-time attorneys and staff providing our clients with comprehensive legal services, our advocacy results in successes that help people achieve safer, healthier, more stable lives and a foothold on building a better future for themselves and their families


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