A Fierce Advocate for Youth and Chicago’s LGBTQIA+ Community Leaves a Lasting Legacy
Ralla Klepak’s legacy in Chicago is as a protector of families, children, and the LGBTQIA+ community. She extended this legacy by establishing the Ralla Klepak Foundation for Education in the Performing Arts.
The Chicago Poetry Center is honored to partner with the Ralla Klepak Foundation for Education in the Performing Arts on multiple projects this year. The foundation will support scholarship Poetry Residencies and Pop Up programs for youth across Chicago. With a separate grant, the foundation supports an exciting expansion of our programming into episodic video programming for young people across Chicago.
We’ll share updates on our Residency and Pop Up programs throughout the year, through our monthly program spotlights. We’ll continue to post updates about the video series as this new project progresses forward.
The Chicago Poetry Center is grateful to the Ralla Klepak Foundation for Education in the Performing Arts for this support across our education work, and for the opportunity to greatly expand the reach of our arts education work throughout Chicago, and to provide greater access to arts education to so many more young people.
About Ralla Klepak
Ralla Klepak (1936-2019) was a fierce advocate, educator, and attorney. She sought out the disadvantaged and fought for those whose rights were being violated. She was well-known for her tireless efforts in family law and her precedent-establishing struggles on behalf of the LGBTQ community. This accomplishment resulted in her 2017 induction into the Chicago LGBT Hall of Fame as a Friend of the Community.
Ralla attended Northwestern University for her undergraduate and postgraduate degrees and chose to teach in under resourced public schools to bring her best efforts to help educate Chicago students. She furthered her education and received her JD at the John Marshall Law School in 1964. She advocated for civil and woman’s rights with feminist activist, Sister Margaret Traxler. Ralla began her professional legal career working with her father, Jack Klepak, who introduced her to the non-textbook practice of law. These experiences instilled in her the love for her profession, which she never abandoned.
For decades, Ralla took on individual civil and criminal cases for people who she believed were being ill-treated by the legal system, often stating that one of her chief concerns was to ensure that the “system worked for everyone” or everyone “at least had the opportunity to have the best representation she could mount”. She was a member of various legal organizations throughout her career, taught law at Chicago-Kent College of Law, and was a tireless advocate for the rights of children in contentious family law matters. She practiced up to the time of her death.
The Ralla Klepak Foundation for Education in the Performing Arts will be funding performing arts programs that support the disabled and disadvantaged to contribute in Ralla’s goal of world peace. These programs will be her legacy for years to come.