Mary Jo Quinn
Location: Northbrook, Ill.
Mary Jo Quinn wants to break down barriers that keep Chicago residents from getting jobs. Her specialty? Helping clean up the records of people who have misdemeanors or felonies. Quinn, vice president and assistant general counsel with Allstate (No. 89), forged a partnership between the Illinois insurance giant and Cabrini Legal Aid in 2010. Today, it is Allstate’s largest pro bono project, and more than 70 of the company’s attorneys volunteer work at the organization’s help desk in downtown Chicago. “When you have a criminal record, that doesn’t mean you were found guilty,” says Quinn. “It just means you were arrested.” Many people struggle to find employment, even if they’ve never been found guilty of a crime. “They just want to work,” she said.
For those looking to scrub a felony from their records, the only path is to receive clemency from the governor. Allstate lawyers have taken up several clemency cases, and when Governor Pat Quinn (of no relation to Mary Jo) left office in 2014, he granted six out of the ten petitions that Allstate lawyers had penned. “Most of the people you meet, they were in the wrong place at the wrong time,” says Allstate’s Quinn. “When you’re living in poverty you’re in the wrong place more frequently.”