SCLS Welcomes New Executive Director and Board President

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SCLS Welcomes New Executive Director and Board President

Snohomish County Legal Services Welcomes New Executive Director and Board President

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media contact: Jen Gonyer, Development Director, jeng@snocolegal.org

November 27, 2018

A photo of Christopher Graves, SCLS Executive Director

Christopher Graves, SCLS Executive Director

Everett, WA – Snohomish County Legal Services is pleased to welcome Christopher Graves as our new Executive Director as of October 26, 2018, and Robert O’Neal as the new President of the Board of Directors as of November 1, 2018.

Graves is a trial lawyer who has worked as a prosecutor, public defender, and personal injury/civil rights attorney prior to joining SCLS in March 2018 as a Housing and Family Law staff attorney. He holds a Juris Doctorate from Howard University (2001), and a Masters in Public Administration from Syracuse University (1997).

Graves was appointed the new Executive Director upon the departure of Benjamin Haslam, who served as ED since August 2015. “Ben always had an amazing ability to keep the needs of our clients, who face dire circumstances and barriers to justice, first and foremost in our work,” Chris said. “I’m excited and honored to carry on the mission of SCLS, and I look forward expanding our capacity to help and advocate for those most in need. It is an honor to work with this incredible team of SCLS staff and volunteers who all share the same vision – to help those who most vulnerable in our community and break the cycle of poverty.”

O’Neal is in his 17th year as an attorney with the Snohomish County Public Defender Association, and first joined the SCLS Board of Directors in September 2017. He holds a Juris Doctorate from the University of Washington (2002).

A photo of Robert O'Neal, President of the SCLS Board of Directors

Robert O’Neal, President of the SCLS Board of Directors

O’Neal follows in the footsteps of former Board President James Pautler who served on the Board for over ten years. “I will miss the thoughtful and dedicated leadership that Jim brought to the boardroom, but I know that he is only a phone call away when I need help and guidance in my new role,” said Rob. “As a public defender in the criminal courts, working with low income clients for close to two decades, I have always been frustrated by the many barriers my clients face in other aspects of their lives. Nobody gets a court appointed lawyer when they are wrongfully evicted, or their boss withholds their pay, or they face deportation or don’t feel safe at home. It is the mission of SCLS to fill those gaps, and I am excited to be a part of the solution.”

Snohomish County Legal Services provides free civil legal aid to those living in poverty in Snohomish County. The 2015 Washington State Supreme Court Civil Legal Needs Study found that 70% of those living in poverty in Washington State experience at least one civil legal problem per year, and the average number of problems per household is nine – from domestic violence to housing instability to critical issues senior citizens face. Civil legal aid programs like SCLS have been proven to make a difference in the lives of those struggling with poverty who are able to access help. SCLS helps make access to justice a reality for Snohomish families.

Learn more about Snohomish County Legal Services at www.snocolegal.org. Download pdf of this press release here: SCLS welcomes new leadership 11-27-18.

Snohomish County Legal Services is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization,

EIN 91-1215739

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About Author

Chris Graves

SCLS Executive Director

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