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James (Jim) Bennett

James (Jim) Bennett, Chair of the Commission on Discrimination and Hate Crimes. Jim Bennett currently serves as the Director of the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR). As Director, he is responsible for overseeing the agency's mission to secure for all individuals in Illinois the freedom from discrimination. During his tenure, the Department has convened state agencies and advocates issuing guidance affirming nondiscrimination in matters related to Covid-19.  Under Bennett’s leadership, the Training Institute developed, piloted and launched new training that advance knowledge and understanding of DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) and implicit bias.  IDHR also continues to modernize infrastructure for every aspect of work, including a new case management system which will dramatically improve the efficiency of the investigative process and will be more customer friendly. 

Prior to his role at IDHR, Bennett served as the Midwest Regional Director at Lambda Legal, the nation’s largest legal organization dedicated to securing the full civil rights of the LGBTQ community and people with HIV. In 2013, he chaired Illinois Unites for Marriage, the statewide coalition that led the successful effort to win marriage equality in Illinois. He was inducted into the City of Chicago’s Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame in 2013 and was the recipient of Equality Illinois’ Freedom award in 2018 and was inducted into the Steve and Sandi Adams Legacy Hall of Fame at Illinois State University in 2015. Bennett received his Bachelor of Science from Illinois State University and Master of Business Administration from the University of Illinois at Springfield.