Alex Tillett-Saks, a third-year student at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, is the recipient of the 2015 Sheldon H. Nahmod Civil Rights Award for Social Action. Tillett-Saks is being recognized for his “outstanding commitment to the promotion of positive change and development that has a progressive impact on the community.”
The award will be presented on Wednesday, February 25 from 3-5 p.m. in Illinois Institute of Technology’s McCormick Tribune Campus Center (MTCC) at 3201 South State Street, in Chicago. The program is free and open to the public, but reservations are requested.
The Nahmod awards, established in 2010 by Illinois Tech and named for IIT Chicago-Kent Distinguished Professor Sheldon H. Nahmod, honor leaders within the university who are working positively to impact their communities and affect change.
Tillett-Saks is a 2015 candidate for a J.D. with a certificate in labor and employment law. “Upon graduation, I am excited to jump into my new role as a legal advocate, using the law as an agent for positive social change,” he said. “I am thrilled and honored to be selected as a Sheldon H. Nahmod Civil Rights Award recipient, and will work hard to continue furthering the cause that it represents.”
Tillett-Saks earned his undergraduate degree in political science from Beloit College. After graduation, he organized more than 1,000 casino workers in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Florida, Ohio and Nevada for UNITE HERE. Tillett-Saks has served as organizing director of the Wisconsin Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals. There, he assisted the attorneys who successfully halted Wisconsin governor Scott Walker’s attempt to pass anti-worker Voter ID legislation.
Tillett-Saks is a two-time recipient of the Peggy Browning Fund Fellowship, which provides opportunities for students to become involved in workers’ rights issues. He spent his fellowship periods at the American Federation of Teachers and the Chicago Newspaper Guild. In addition, Tillett-Saks was one of seven law students nationwide selected as AFL-CIO Union summer legal interns.
At IIT Chicago-Kent, Tillett-Saks is a self-described “student activist” who led a student movement to stop professors’ use of racial slurs in the classroom. He serves as a student editor of the Employee Rights and Employment Policy Journal. With IIT Chicago-Kent Professor César F. Rosado Marzán, Tillett-Saks co-authored an article on the rights of Northwestern University football players to be considered employees under the National Labor Relations Act and co-authored a brief on the subject on behalf of 18 labor law professors from around the country that was filed before the National Labor Relations Board.
“Not only does [Alex] work exclusively for progressive causes and against discrimination of all kinds, but his belief in equality permeates every classroom and community he steps into,” said fellow student Hanna Kaufman, one of three people who nominated Tillett-Saks for the award.
“Whether it’s encouraging students to challenge the use of hateful speech by their teachers, listening quietly to an ally in Law, Literature & Feminism [class], or challenging peers to take action if they believe that ‘black lives matter,’ everyone at Chicago-Kent feels his presence,” said Kaufman. “We may not always like it — he may make us uncomfortable or even scared — but he acts as the conscience of our community, pushing us to live up to the best versions of ourselves.”
Professor Rosado Marzán, who also nominated Tillett-Saks cited his “deep commitment to social justice.” “He has channeled that commitment through the labor movement — as well as other causes– such as racial inclusion and equality at the law school.”
Nominations for the Nahmod awards are open to IIT students, student organizations, Interprofessional Projects Programs (IPRO), faculty and staff in three categories: Social Action, Social Justice and Vision. Other recipients of the 2015 Sheldon H. Nahmod Awards for Civil Rights are Gerald P. Doyle, vice provost, IIT Office of Student Access, Success, and Diversity Initiatives (Vision award), and the IIT student chapter of Engineers without Borders (Social Justice award).
To RSVP for the Nahmod Awards presentation, please click here.
This event reflects the values expressed in IIT’s Diversity Statement and is intended to promote diversity at IIT.