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Laurene M. Heybach, Arts ’74, Law ’78

Laurene HeybachAfter earning a bachelor of arts degree in philosophy at Marquette, Laurene Heybach returned to earn her law degree. “When I came to Marquette in 1969, I found tremendous teachers here: James Robb, Athan Theoharris, Father Paul Prucha and Denis Savage,” says Laurene. “I also found a community of conscience — driven, in part, by the Jesuit ethos — that challenged racism, economic inequality and other social injustices. These forces inspired me and changed my life.”

Laurene has practiced civil rights and poverty law for almost 28 years and is currently director of the Law Project of the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless. “In the past year, I have been increasingly drawn into human rights law and advocacy,” she says.“Together with international advocates and grass roots organizations, I participated in a hearing on the right to housing in the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. I hope to be part of the developing momentum to implement economic human rights in America.”

Laurene’s advocacy for the rights of homeless children and families and her work to secure greater housing rights for low income persons has been highlighted in the Chicago media including the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, the Chicago Tribune, the Sun-Times and the Daily Southtown. She has been especially active in securing the educational rights of homeless children, and in shaping both local and national law and policy.

Recipient of the Sandra Neese Lifetime Achievement Award for her work on the legal rights of homeless children, Laurene has also received the first Thomas S. Morsch Public Service Award from the Chicago Bar Foundation for the excellence of her legal work and expanding legal services to the poor. In addition, she co-authored the American Bar Association handbook “Educating Children without Housing.”

“What I like best about what I do is the chance to work with so many extraordinary people,” says Laurene. “Low-income parents who struggle day by day but have a generosity of spirit few can match; and caring people who are deeply committed to making social justice a reality and who sacrifice to do so.

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