2019 WEJF Distinguished Service Award Recipient
Growing up in Oconomowoc in an Irish Catholic family, the importance of serving others was ingrained in Lisa Clay Foley from an early age. Upon earning a Bachelor’s Degree in medical technology from Marquette University, she worked as a medical technologist for nearly a decade and earned a Master’s degree in healthcare administration. But the desire to serve others ultimately led her to pursue another path – a career in public interest law.
Foley earned her law degree from University of Wisconsin Law School in 1987 and joined Legal Action of Wisconsin as a Staff Attorney with the Elderly Advocacy Project, helping seniors with Medicare and Social Security concerns. She then worked for two years at the Wisconsin Geriatric Education Center at Marquette University before joining the staff of Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee. There, she served as guardian ad litem in Children’s Court and Project Attorney for both the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin and AIDS Law, Education, Research and Training (ALERT).
She moved to Disability Rights Wisconsin in 2009 to work on issues of abuse and neglect for people with disabilities and institutionalizations. In her time at DRW, Foley fought to end instances of abuse at the Milwaukee County Mental Health Complex and for payment of services for her clients from Milwaukee County and various state funded services. From 2011 until her retirement in September of this year, she was Supervising Attorney of the Benefits Team. In that role, Foley conducted training and educational sessions on Social Security and Medicaid issues for Wisconsin’s disability benefits specialists. (Each of the 72 counties in Wisconsin has a disability benefits specialist to counsel citizens for free regarding services and benefits available to those with disabilities). These trainings are critically important to bringing more federal resources to Wisconsin to serve those disabilities.
In retirement, Foley hopes to spend more time with her family. She is proud mom of two daughters, Casey and Sasha, and the happy grandmother to Aiden and Henry.