Ruth Ann Schmitt, executive director of the Lawyers Trust Fund since the organization’s creation, plans to retire June 30, 2015, according to Board President Jennifer Nijman. Please join us in congratulating Ruth Ann on an incredible career, and thanking her for all her contributions to the legal field!
Ruth Ann began her illustrious career at CVLS as a staff attorney with the clinic program and the Jail Project, which provided civil legal services to Cook County Jail inmates. When federal funding for the Jail Project ended, Ruth Ann stepped into the Executive Director role, inheriting a large caseload, a decimated budget and a single staff support person. Working hard, however, she managed to raise enough money to keep CVLS afloat, eventually hiring additional staff and expanding the organization’s capacity. Within a few years, CVLS was a national model for pro bono legal services, and, at the behest of the ABA, she took a one-year leave of absence to help establish similar pro bono programs across the country.
Without Ruth Ann’s leadership and guidance, CVLS would not be the organization it is today.
After Ruth Ann moved to LTF in 1983, she leveraged LTF’s capacity to fund legal services organizations across the state by developing initiatives to improve its technology and accessibility. Under her leadership, the LTF helped to create a legal aid hotline—CARPLS—and Illinois Legal Aid Online. The Lawyers Trust Fund is now the largest Illinois-based source of funding for legal aid, distributing over $135 million in total grants since 1984.
Luckily for CVLS and fellow Illinois legal aid programs, LTF’ board of directors selected longtime LTF deputy director Mark Marquardt to succeed Ruth Ann, effective April 1, 2015. Ruth Ann will serve as executive director emeritus/transition adviser until June 30.