Akele Parnell

Program Counsel | Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights

How have you and/or company helped others since March?

In response to the devastating impact that COVID-19 has had on small business, my employer –  Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights – is providing emergency legal assistance to small businesses, helping them access critical relief funds and legal assistance for free. To do this, we partnered with several large law firms to offer free virtual brief service and legal advice on certain critical issues now facing small businesses, such as:

  • Information about how to access federal, state, county, and City of Chicago loan funds.
  • Employment law, leases, contracts, taxes, debt relief, real estate, dissolution, M&A and more.
  • Referrals to other organizations in Chicago that are providing more in-depth assistance on completing loan applications.

COVID-19 has changed so much about life and your company has been on the forefront of those changes. How has your job changed or role become different in 2020?

Before the pandemic my work focused on small business development in under-resourced communities. Now, in response to COVID-19, my work is also focused on helping small businesses survive during these really challenging times.

What is your one ‘work from home’ item you can’t live without?

A reliable internet connection. I literally can’t do anything without it.

If you could pick one person to be quarantined with for the next 6 months, who would it be and why?

Jeff Bezos! I’d spend the entire 6 months trying to convince him to let me borrow a billion dollars (he has several to spare) to go start some new enterprise. Plus, I’m sure he has a decent place to crash.