For over 30 years, Jim Barber was an attorney and partner at the law firm of Hancock, Rothert, and Bunshoft. He began his collaboration with The ALS Association Golden West Chapter in 2006, when he was diagnosed with ALS. Though he retired from active practice, Jim put his legal expertise to work on behalf of the ALS community and was always noted for saying, “How can I help? What more can I do?”
Jim was instrumental in advancing statewide advocacy efforts that led to the passage of two bills into law in 2008- SB 1502: the tax check-off bill allowing California taxpayers to make a voluntary contributions to the ALS/Lou Gehrig’s Disease Research Fund on their personal income taxes, and SB 1503: the ALS Standard of Care bill, which acknowledged The ALS Association’s Certified Centers of Excellence as the gold standard for ALS care and treatment, and gave them the designation of a "specialty care center" in the state’s Health and Safety Code. Jim not only led the efforts for drafting the legislation, he also testified at numerous committee hearings in support of this bills. He attended many ALS Awareness events in Sacramento and served on numerous statewide advocacy committees.
To date, the California Tax Check-Off Campaign raised nearly $600,000 for the ALS/Lou Gehrig’s Disease Research Fund and helped to launch the California ALS Research Network, where Jim served as an active member. The key activity of the network was an annual summit of researchers, investigators, clinicians, biotech companies, government representatives, partner organizations, and advocates in ALS and related fields in the State of California. Now in its sixth year, the purpose of the summit is to help increase, expedite and promote the amount and level of ALS and related research done in California; and to foster networking, collaboration and cooperation among investigators, their peers and their colleagues to identify new ideas, develop and deliver effective treatments and, ultimately, a cure.
Jim’s advocacy efforts to support ALS research extended beyond the legislature. He offered key testimony for the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) which led to an $18 million dollar grant for ALS research at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. A former Army Captain and Vietnam veteran, Jim was featured in numerous articles about ALS, veterans, and other key issues to the ALS community. He participated in many local and national public awareness campaigns, including “ALS Across America”, “I am Lou”, “4ALS” events with the SF Giants, and the "ALS Ice Bucket Challenge". In 2010, the chapter honored Jim with the prestigious Iron Horse Award at our annual Gala. He created many relationships among his friends and colleagues with the chapter, including his former law colleagues now working for the firm of Duane Morris LLP, which serves as an ongoing sponsor of many chapter events. Through “Team Barber”, his family and friends are longtime participants of the East Bay Walk to Defeat ALS.
In addition to their efforts for the ALS community, Jim and Cheryl, his wife of 48 years, are passionate advocates for education. Both were graduates of the University of California Santa Barbara, where Jim was awarded a varsity letter in football. Jim received the "Player's Player" award and played on the1965 Camillia Bowl team, which was inducted into the UCSB Hall of Fame in 2005. He also served as a member of the Board of Directors of the UCSB Alumni Association, and was a founding member of the Gaucho Athletics Association. Through a generous anonymous gift to the athletics program, UCSB renamed their student resource center, “The Jim and Cheryl Barber Academic & Student Success Center.” This critically-needed center serves 500 student-athletes and 20 programs daily, supporting the second highest NCAA graduation rate in the UC system.
A celebration of Jim's life and memorial service will be held on Saturday, February 13, 2016 at 1:00 p.m. at the Hillcrest Congregational Church
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