Jesse H. Ruiz, a partner in Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP’s Corporate and Securities practice, received the Barristers Philanthropic Award from Lawyers Lend-A-Hand to Youth, along with his wife Michele. The Ruizes were recognized at the organization’s Spring Awards Dinner on April 18, 2012 for their dedication to the Chicago community, and, as lawyers, their personal commitment to outstanding youth mentoring programs in Chicago.

Ruiz’s efforts to improve the education system for all students have long been recognized through public service in key leadership appointments. In 2011, he was appointed to serve as the vice president of the Chicago Board of Education by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and as a commissioner on the U.S. Department of Education’s Equity and Excellence Commission by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. Ruiz is the only practicing lawyer on the Chicago Board of Education.

Last year, Ruiz also received the National Association of State Boards of Education’s Distinguished Service Award in recognition of his exceptional leadership and dedication as the chairman of the Illinois State Board of Education, a position he held from September 2004 until May 2011. He also serves on the National Association of Latino Elected/Appointed Officials Education Task Force, and the board of the Illinois Association of School Boards.

“Jesse’s commitment to education and the legal profession is exemplary and we are extremely pleased that he and Michele are being recognized in this way,” said Edwin A. Getz, the regional partner in charge of Drinker Biddle’s Chicago office.

Ruiz concentrates his law practice in mergers and acquisitions and the representation of public and middle market companies. He serves as the firm’s Walmart relationship partner and oversees all facets of the legal services Drinker Biddle provides Walmart across the United States. In 2011 the Walmart Legal Department awarded Ruiz its inaugural Legal Spark Award for his outstanding client and community service and dedication to diversity in the legal profession.

“There are no two alumni of the University of Chicago Law School of whom I am prouder than Jesse and Michele Ruiz,” said Michael H. Schill, dean, The University of Chicago Law School of the Ruizes. “They perfectly embody our desire to train lawyers who are both extraordinary attorneys and stellar public servants. They are tireless advocates for making the world a better place, and their brilliant minds and enormous hearts are a credit to our profession. To know that this great partnership was formed when they met at my Law School makes me happier than I can even begin to say.”

Recognized as a champion of diversity in the legal profession, Ruiz is co-chair of Drinker Biddle’s national Diversity Committee and also sits on the American Bar Association’s Presidential Advisory Commission on Hispanic Legal Rights and Responsibilities. He is past chairman of the Chicago Committee on Minorities in Large Law Firms, past president of the Hispanic Lawyers Association of Illinois, and in 2010 was named to Hispanic Business magazine’s list of 100 Most Influential Hispanics.

Lawyers Lend-A-Hand to Youth channels the legal community’s resources to promote best practice mentoring and tutoring programs in disadvantaged communities that foster consistent, long term bonds between adults and youth. This year Lend-A-Hand awarded $210,000 to 37 mentoring programs serving over 7,500 Chicago area youth. Since its founding, Lend-A-Hand has awarded over $1.3 million in grants and positively affected the lives of tens of thousands of youth.