James L. Bennett
Midwest Regional Office
James L. Bennett is the Midwest Regional Director for Lambda Legal, the oldest and largest national legal organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and people with HIV. He is responsible for expanding Lambda Legal's organizational reach in ten states with a focus on strategic planning, financial development, and educational and media efforts.
In 2009, Lambda Legal won a historic and unanimous victory for marriage equality in Iowa. Bennett was a leading strategist of Lambda Legal's educational and media efforts in Iowa. Working in partnership with the state equality group One Iowa, Bennett helped create and implement a broad, layered grassroots program throughout the state educating thousands of Iowans and building sustained support for equal marriage rights in America's heartland.
Bennett brings nearly 20 years of not-for-profit leadership experience to his work. In 2005, Bennett led the Katrina Relief Project, an initiative with United Way of Metropolitan Chicago, the City of Chicago and other key service agencies, to create and implement a comprehensive resettlement plan for 2,685 families that relocated to Chicago from New Orleans.
Prior to 2005, Bennett served as the Marketing and Development Director for the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law where he led and managed the organization's brand identity project and comprehensive giving program. From 1989 to 1999, he led development, marketing and programmatic (disaster, health) departments and initiatives through leadership positions at the American Red Cross central Illinois chapter and the American Red Cross national headquarters.
A long-time member of Broadway United Methodist Church (known for its vigorous commitment to issues of justice), Bennett has advocated locally and nationwide for full inclusion of the LGBT community in the Methodist denomination.
Bennett holds an M.B.A. from the University of Illinois and a B.S. from Illinois State University. Bennett also graduated from the Second City Conservatory and is a company member of the award winning sketch comedy ensemble, GayCo Productions.