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Volunteer Spotlight: Jill Weinberg

Illinois advocate Jill Weinberg gravitated to the end-of-life choice movement for both professional and personal reasons. A lawyer who works in research at the American Bar Foundation and as a sociology professor at DePaul University in Chicago, her areas of focus are choice and consent in everyday life. And last September, Weinberg’s husband, Davin, died suddenly. “I am 34; he was 40. It came very unexpectedly, and quite frankly I was not prepared for anything, both in terms of the emotional component and also logistically speaking,” she explains. “We had nothing in place. Because who would really think that would be something that would happen to either one of us?”

Weinberg’s experience opened her eyes to the importance of talking about and planning for the end of life – as early as possible. “It’s a conversation that needs to happen,” she said. “And from what I’ve seen, it’s a much more fulfilling process than you’d think.” Compassion & Choices’ efforts to promote advance planning to adults of all ages drew her to join the Chicago Action Team. “C&C speaks to broader issues, not just the aid-in-dying component – which is certainly very, very important – but also places great emphasis on end-of-life choices: how to talk about them, how to memorialize them effectively, how to change the culture so it’s not the morbid conversation people fear having.”

On April 27, Weinberg represented C&C at the White House Conference on Aging Regional Forum in Cleveland, Ohio, an annual event focused on key issues affecting older Americans.  She urged panel members to discuss the decision-making processes that often get overlooked given the focus on prolonging life. “They seemed to be very sympathetic to it,” she noted, “It should be okay to have a contingency plan.”

Her volunteer efforts also include expanding outreach in the Chicago area. She developed a Facebook page and Twitter account for her local group, which she has great confidence in: “It’s a small chapter, but everyone there is really committed. They would march to the Capitol steps and force lawmakers to sign a bill tomorrow if they could. There’s just true dedication to this cause, which is really nice to see.”


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