Champion of inclusion: Jillian Zacks

Champion of inclusion: Jillian Zacks

Nominated by Achieva and Jewish Family and Community Services for her dedication to working for and with individuals with disabilities, Jillian Zacks will receive the Shore-Whitehill Award. This award is given annually by Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh and Jewish Residential Services, an organization that supports individuals with psychiatric, developmental or intellectual disabilities, helping them to live, learn, work and socialize as valued members of the community.

The Shore-Whitehill Award, created in 1996 and named for Robert Whitehill and the late Barbara Shore who co-chaired a task force on special needs in the community, celebrates volunteers who promote the inclusion of people with disabilities in the fabric of Jewish life through advocacy or direct service to individuals and families.

Awardees are selected for the value of their contributions as champions of inclusion and the commitment of their nominating organization or group to publicly honoring them so they may serve as a springboard for change and inspire further action by others.

Jillian has served as the board chair for JFCS and The Arc of Greater Pittsburgh and as a board member for Achieva, Friendship Circle, and 21 and Able. In her job as an attorney, she specializes in Estate Planning, Special Needs Trusts, Guardianship, Estate Administration, and Orphans’ Court Matters. She has dedicated much of her career to assisting families in planning for the future of their loved ones with disabilities. In addition to her professional and volunteer roles, Jillian is a passionate advocate for the rights of individuals with disabilities who has met with state and federal legislators to promote legislation that removes barriers to individuals with disabilities working and living in the community. 

As a mother to two adult children on the autism spectrum, Jillian has made it her life’s work to help and advocate for individuals with disabilities and their families. “Jillian has long been an advocate for individuals with disabilities, and this passion was more important than ever in the last two years during this pandemic,” explained JFCS President and CEO Dr. Jordan Golin. “She was instrumental in helping us to ensure that no one in the community was left behind during the transition to remote service delivery and that those with unique needs received unique interventions.”

Achieva Senior Vice President and The Arc of Greater Pittsburgh President Nancy Murray also recognized Jillian’s dedication to her work. “Jillian is a passionate, dedicated advocate and attorney who is devoting her legal work to educating, supporting and representing people with disabilities and their families,” Nancy expressed. “She knows firsthand how difficult it is for people with disabilities and families to obtain information, navigate through systems and get the services they need. That is exactly why Jillian devotes herself to advocating for and helping other families!”

Jillian will be presented the award by Robert Whitehill on February 16, 2022 at a luncheon event that will be followed by a virtual panel for parents of children with disabilities to discuss resources for transitioning into adulthood. More details to follow soon.

Click here to watch an interview with Jillian to learn more about her work in the community, and legal and financial special needs planning.


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