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Columbia College Chicago
Sylvia Neil

Sylvia Neil

Sylvia Neil is a Lecturer in Law at the University of Chicago Law School. She founded and chairs the Project on Gender, Culture, Religion and Law at Brandeis University and co-edits its book series (Brandeis University Press). Ms. Neil currently sits on the boards of the Art Institute of Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (Vice Chair), Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Columbia College Chicago (vice chair), Chicago High School for the Arts, and is president-elect of the Grand Teton Music Festival in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Ms. Neil also serves on the Visiting Committee for the Humanities at the University of Chicago, the national advisory committees of Human Rights Watch Women’s Rights Division, WomenOnCall and the national board of NARAL. In 2013 she received the Rabbi Robert J. Marx Social Justice Award from the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs.

Ms. Neil began her career as a poverty law litigator at Legal Assistance Foundation. For many years she was the legal counsel and executive director of the American Jewish Congress for the Midwest region where she focused on developing programs to positively impact religious liberty, civil rights, women’s rights and peace in the Middle East. She litigated and appeared amicus curiae in numerous cases, authored legislative enactments and testified before several legislative bodies on these issues.  She was appointed to both the Illinois and Cook County Human Rights Commissions. Ms. Neil has been a consultant to not for profit organizations and civic institutions and created the prototype Jewish Women’s Foundation for the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago. Ms. Neil was an adjunct professor at Northwestern University School of Law for several years and has taught courses at several institutions on religious liberty, gender, jurisprudence and legal writing.  She also served as associate dean for external affairs and strategic planning at the University of Chicago Law School.

Sylvia Markowicz Neil has an AB with High Distinction from the University of Michigan, a JD cum laude from Northwestern University School of Law and recently completed an MA in Jewish Studies from the University of Chicago. She was born in Toledo, Ohio and is married to Daniel Fischel. Together they have a wonderful blended family of five children, two daughters-in-law and three grandsons.