2019 – Lisa Parsons
Lisa Parsons has spent her 30-year legal career fighting for those who have fallen through the cracks the most—individuals struggling with homelessness, chronic mental illness, and substance abuse disorders. In a variety of roles, Lisa has bettered the lives of thousands of clients while simultaneously confronting and challenging the stigma attached to homelessness, addiction, and mental illness.
Since 2007, Lisa has been the Program Director of the Homeless Outreach Project at Legal Council for Health Justice. This program provides trauma-informed legal advocacy to persons with serious mental illnesses and co-occurring substance abuse disorders and helps them to secure federal disability income that allows them the opportunity to sustain housing. Lisa applies a trauma informed approach to all her lawyering: she strives to be non-judgmental, trustworthy and collaborative. It is through this lens that Lisa is not only able to provide quality legal services to her clients but help them recognize and strengthen their resilience, which is proven to help people overcome the negative health consequences of trauma and chronic stress.
Lisa’s commitment to her clients extends beyond legal advocacy, and she assists them in securing housing, healthcare, and other social services often taking them to their appointments herself. As her nominator aptly put it, “Lisa and her staff never give up on a client. She is willing to keep cases open for extended periods of time, waiting for clients to agree to medical care, treatment for substance abuse, or other services necessary to qualify for benefits. Lisa’s determination to stay linked with these clients assures that they will not fall through the cracks again.”
Whether it is conducting outreach on a street corner, a gas station, an abandoned building or a treatment program, or spending countless hours reading and analyzing thousands of pages of medical records and drafting compelling legal arguments to ensure the best outcomes, Lisa embodies the best of Chicago’s legal community.