A friend of the late Hon. James B. Moran, Victor was one of the first people who joined the Board of Directors for the Moran Center, then known as the Evanston Community Defender Office, back in 1981. Victor beams with pride as he recalls the agency’s tiny office next to the Davis Street “L” station and reflects on the Moran Center’s significant growth over the past decade. “Judge Moran would be amazed, particularly by our prevention programming, including our educational and civil advocacy, as well as our efforts to build a more restorative community.”

The Moran Center was founded after the death of a young man in the custody of the Evanston Police Department. Nineteen-year-old John E. Cox committed suicide on November 20, 1970 after he was arrested and put in jail overnight, having no resources to help him pay his $250 bond. In response to John’s death, the City of Evanston and Northwestern University sponsored a study to evaluate the quality of indigent legal services in the community. The city then established the Evanston Defender Project in 1976, and The Evanston Community Defender Office incorporated as a free-standing legal aid agency in 1981. As the agency transitioned from being an “arm” of the City of Evanston to an independent nonprofit, Judge Moran approached Victor to join the Board of Directors. Working as a Partner at Bell, Boyd & Lloyd at the time, Victor agreed to join the Board and support his friend in building the Evanston Community Defender Office as a legal aid agency committed to “going deeper” in supporting youth – going beyond the presenting legal issues and addressing the symptoms of disconnection like social inequality, mental illness, and poverty.

When asked what has kept him motivated to stay involved with the Moran Center, Victor says that it’s the youth that we serve and the staff who support our youth. “The Moran Center works with the kids who have been missed by other organizations, systems, and institutions. We represent and serve the most disconnected youth in our community. Hearing how our staff wake up our kids and get them to school, rush to our kids’ jail sides to counsel them, attend their high school graduation ceremonies, inspires me… We save lives!” While Victor is proud of everything the organization has accomplished, he said his greatest accomplishment as a member of the Board was changing the name from the Evanston Community Defender Office to The James B. Moran Center for Youth Advocacy. The name-change importantly clarified the agency’s broader mission and honored his friend, Judge Moran.