Blog: LCBH Alumni

Welcome to LCBH’s Blog. Our blog delivers original articles written by our staff, interns and volunteers. We strive to provide informative stories about the work we do on behalf of Chicago renters and the issues renters face.

We recently caught up with two LCBH alumni, Rachel Blake and Charles Nicholls. Rachel is Associate Director for Regional Housing Legal Services in Glenside, Pennsylvania. Her work is a mix of policy advocacy, organizational strategy and strategic planning. Charles is an attorney at Nicholls Law Offices in Chicago, IL. His firm deals with civil litigation, income, civil rights, employment and housing issues.

Patricia Fron

Patricia currently serves as the Co-Executive Director of the Chicago Area Fair Housing Alliance (CAFHA), where she jointly leads lead the organization’s membership programming, policy and advocacy initiatives, and fair housing training and technical assistance programming. CAFHA combats housing discrimination and promotes equitable place-based opportunity through education, advocacy, and collaborative action. Patricia was awarded the Barbra Grau Outstanding Housing Advocate award in 2019 for her and CAFHA’s work on the Just Housing Amendment.

How did you first get involved with LCBH?

I first came on in 2010 to assist with the Tenants in Foreclosure Intervention Project. During my 5-year employment with LCBH, my position evolved and I worked in several different programs including developing a renewed Policy & Advocacy Program.

What drew you to the work?

Together we give.

Giving Tuesday was launched in 2012 as a simple idea: to create a day that encourages people to do good. Over the past eight years, this idea has grown into a global movement that inspires hundreds of millions of people to give, collaborate, and celebrate generosity.

Today, LCBH is launching its month-long show of support for the different programs and initiatives at LCBH with Giving Tuesday. LCBH needs your help now more than ever.

Throughout December, we will introduce you to multiple stakeholders at LCBH. To start, we want to introduce you to one of LCBH’s Board Members, Mae Whiteside. We’re thankful for Mae's support and her drive to give back to the community. Her story highlights why it’s crucial to create a stable environment for families and the amazing things they can achieve when they are not worried about eviction. Please take a moment to hear Mae's story.

For low-income families, the threat of homelessness due to the pandemic is very real. While state and federal laws prevent evictions today, those restrictions will end soon, placing thousands of renters who have experienced a COVID-19 related income loss at great peril.

Celebrating Housing Justice!

Thank you for attending our Annual Fall Benefit - Bringing Justice Home! It truly was an amazing time where we laughed, cheered, and virtually chatted with the LCBH community!

This year we celebrated Lynette Barnes as the recipient of the Barbara Grau Outstanding Housing Advocate Award, Sharlyn Grace as the recipient of the Sharon L. King Distinguished Alumni Award, and Peter Rosenblatt on behalf of Loyola University Chicago's CURL (Center for Urban Research and Learning) as the recipient of the Outstanding Pro Bono Service Award!

In case you missed the event, don't fret. We have saved the video on LCBH's YouTube page and you can go watch it now.

Sharon King

The Sharon L. King Alumni Award recognizes outstanding professional achievement among Lawyers' Committee for Better Housing (LCBH) former legal fellows and interns. Sharon joined LCBH as a volunteer in the Attorney of the Day Program in 1997 and then became a member of the Board of Directors, serving two terms as President.

LCBH is grateful for Sharon's long service and the contributions she has made to sustain the future of LCBH. If you are a former staff member, board member, or intern, we encourage you to Share Your Story.

Tell us about your legal career. Where did you work, and what type of law did you practice?
My legal career began when I graduated from college and became fully aware of women's lack of workplace opportunities. Mount Holyoke College, a women's college in Massachusetts, had affirmed my understanding from childhood that women could and should make their opportunities, so I enrolled in law school even though the legal profession was not particularly welcoming to women at that time.

LCBH Executive Director Mark Swartz

I hope you, your family, and your colleagues are safe and healthy. As we stand in support of the Black Lives Matters movement, we do so in recognition that the majority of LCBH’s clients are Black and that the structural racism and racial disparities in our health, criminal law, and other systems are equally evident in our eviction system. As such we will continue to prioritize LCBH’s advocacy in Chicago’s hardest-hit Black communities.

As we have for 40 years, LCBH pledges to partner with you to reform eviction court and leverage technology to better serve renters facing serious housing issues. In this newsletter, I invite you to learn more about Renny and how you can help prevent COVID-19 related evictions.

Laurel Chen

Laurel Chen was an intern in LCBH's supportive services department during the 2018-2019 academic year. LCBH is grateful to have Laurel's voice and advocacy. If you are a former pro bono attorney, supportive services intern, or legal fellow, we encourage you to Share Your Story.

How did you get involved with LCBH?
I was an intern at LCBH during my 2nd year at the University of Chicago School of Service Administration (SSA). Before applying to SSA, I worked for the Vermont Coalition to End Homelessness, where I focused on a range of homelessness prevention strategies.

Why did you want to intern at LCBH?
I was interested in learning more about on the ground housing issues. I found LCBH in SSA's field placement catalog and I liked its holistic approach to housing issues by combining social work and legal-aid. So, I reached out to Jude Gonzales, LCBH's Supportive Services Director, about a position.

What was it like to be an intern at LCBH? What work did you do?
I worked with clients who were receiving legal services. I assisted them in finding a new housing situation. I would check in with clients by phone or person. A lot of this involved reaching out to landlords, going through affordable housing listings and supporting clients to find a good match for them. I did this in partnership with the attorneys on the case.

Patricia Bronte, LCBH Alumni

For this month’s Alumni Spotlight, we sat down for a conversation with Patricia Bronte, a former LCBH Board Member, Legal Director, and Acting Executive Director.

As part of LCBH’s 40th anniversary, we’re reaching out to our alumni, those individuals who have supported LCBH’s growth by serving as an intern, board member, or employee. Patricia Bronte is a special person who has worn all three hats in service to LCBH!

Patricia joined LCBH as an intern after her first year at Northwestern’s School of Law in 1985. Patricia said, "LCBH’s mission resonated with me and has remained in my heart ever since."

After her graduation from Northwestern, Patricia remained actively involved with LCBH. She served as a member of the Board of Directors from 1989 to 1999 and occupied the role of Board President from 1995 to 1998. In 1996, she was heavily involved with the editing of Time to Move, LCBH’s first significant report on Chicago’s eviction court.

In 2000, Patricia transitioned to the role of Legal Director and acting Executive Director, where she expanded the Attorney of the Day program, which provided legal representation for tenants with limited resources and advocated for systemic reforms. This expansion included paralegal volunteers, which increased the number of cases accepted.