Patricia Gladden: A Decade of Putting Justice In Action

Pat Gladden has been involved with the Moran Center for over 10 years! After becoming exposed to the Moran Center (then called the Evanston Community Defender) in 2008 while working on a project for the Evanston Community Foundation, Pat jumped in with both feet in 2009 when she assumed the role of Board President and, in partnership with Executive Director Naria Santa Lucia, worked to evolve, grow, and modernize the little-known agency into what is currently known as the James B. Moran Center for Youth Advocacy. Pat has continued to guide and lead the organization, serving as Board Secretary since 2013 and on the Strategic Planning Committee since 2014. Pat has never shied away from “going deep” to pursue justice.

From a young age, Pat recalls always having a strong sense of justice. As an “Army brat,” Pat’s family moved frequently and lived in far-flung places such as Taiwan and Alaska. As a young adult, she served in the Peace Corps in Chile. Inevitably, these impactful experiences shaped her ability to make astute observations, empathize with people, and embrace diversity.

After receiving her J.D. from Loyola Law School in 1978, Pat spent the bulk of her career at Washington National Insurance Company, serving as Corporate Counsel, Secretary, and Vice President, and Vice President of Human Resources for the Employee Benefits Division. During this time she also worked as an attorney for the Midwest Immigrant Rights Center, handling asylum cases. After leaving the company in 1993, Pat focused her energies and legal talents on pursuing school reform and assisting families and children with guardianship issues. These pursuits, in turn, led her to the Moran Center where she fully embraced the holistic model of providing youth with integrated legal aid and social work services.

Ten years later, Pat’s enthusiasm for the Moran Center is sustained in equal parts by her passion for the mission and her respect for the staff and her fellow board members. Pat says, “I admire the staff and what they do. All of them have good hearts and care a lot about the kids, even though it can be heartbreaking work. The board is committed, easy to work with, and our time together feels like time spent with friends.”

Fellow Board Member and Treasurer, Val Weiss, works with Pat on the Strategic Planning committee, which is currently in the midst of its second strategic planning process. According to Val, “Pat is deeply engaged in the strategic planning process.  Her vast experience, thoughtful approach, and sense of humor are invaluable to our team. She makes the process fun!  We’re grateful that she’s willing to give so generously of her time.”

When asked how the Moran Center has impacted the Evanston community, Pat suggests, “As someone who has lived in Evanston off and on for 48 years, I have seen the positive feeling that people have once they become acquainted with the important work that is being done. It makes us a more caring community… Given the cruelty and disregard that we see directed toward the poor and the stranger from our current national leadership, anything we can do to help families overcome their challenges is a worthwhile pursuit.”

Pat is a life-long learner and continues to expand her horizons by travelling and taking classes. In her “free time,” Pat enjoys spending time with her grandchildren and is thrilled that two of them are currently attending Evanston schools.