Wendi Barish for Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas
Wendi’s family thinks of her as “the glue” that keeps them all together. Born in Northeast Philadelphia, Wendi grew up knowing she wanted to be a lawyer. At the age of 8, when her parents divorced, she negotiated the plan that allowed her dog to come with her when she and her mom, sister and brother moved into her grandparents’ house. In elementary school, children would comment how different Wendi’s sister was, due to her having a disability. Wendi would fiercely protect her. Growing up in a single-parent home was not easy. But thanks to the help of social workers and teachers, Wendi gained the confidence to know that she would accomplish her goals. She considers herself raised by the City of Philadelphia.
Wendi started working at age 13 as a babysitter and worked throughout high school to help support herself. She graduated at the top of her class from George Washington High School, and received both financial and merit based scholarships. She elected to have a new experience and travel to Massachusetts for college at Brandeis University and to New York for law school at Hofstra University. She always knew she would return to Philadelphia to start her career. Wendi worked tirelessly during college and law school to support herself. She often worked several jobs during the summer time to put herself through school. She was determined to become independent and self-sufficient.
Wendi always planned to return to the City that molded her upon graduating from law school. She only wanted to work in the field of employment law on behalf of employees alleging discrimination. She interned at Community Legal Services in Philadelphia during law school. After graduating, she discovered the National Employment Lawyers Association and applied to every member in Philadelphia.
Her determination allowed her to obtain a position before she passed the bar exam. She worked for three years on behalf of employees at the Law Offices of Thomas More Holland. At that point, Wendi wanted to expand her knowledge and work in a larger firm environment. She went on to work at Margolis Edelstein and transitioned from there with her supervising partners to Weber Gallagher. She soon became a partner, Co-Chair of the Civil Rights Department and Vice-Chair of the Employment Law Department. She also spent a great deal of time recruiting and mentoring younger associates. She understands the importance of investing in the future of others. When Wendi made the switch to defend employers and municipalities, she focused her attention on making sure all people with claims of discrimination and civil rights violations were treated fairly and equitably under the laws protecting their rights. She also counseled and educated clients on workplace conduct and implementing practices to ensure those rights she held dear were being protected.
Wendi has tried cases in both state and federal courts and amicably settled hundreds of cases throughout her career. She has also served as an arbitrator and mediator for both the federal and state court.
In 2015, she made the decision to give back to her community and accepted a position at the Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA). She made a shift in her career path because she wanted to effectuate change and contribute to a healthier work environment for the more than a thousand employees at PHA. She was drawn to PHA’s mission to help the citizens of Philadelphia who cannot afford housing. Since joining PHA, in addition to working as the Deputy General Counsel, she has taken on the role of Acting Executive Vice President, Human Resources. In these capacities she is able to work for change and improve the lives of those working for and being served by PHA.
Wendi takes a well-rounded and objective approach in dealing with legal matters. She strives to protect the rights of all people and believes everyone should be treated equally and with respect. She believes in giving people second chances and that the punishment should fit the crime. Wendi knows that people cannot be defined by one mistake. She also knows all people are capable of great things and should be held accountable for their actions.
As a child, Wendi often felt judged because she was a recipient of public assistance. She will never forget the assistance the City of Philadelphia provided her and makes it a priority to give back to her community. She does so through her work with Career Wardrobe, the Settlement School of Music and the Female Hebrew Benevolent Society.
Career Wardrobe provides women who have received public assistance help in transitioning back to the workforce through career development skills training and providing the right attire for an interview. She chose Career Wardrobe because the organization provides help to women going through the same experience her mother went through.
The Settlement School of Music is important to Wendi because the scholarships they provide enable children from lower income households to study music. Wendi’s late grandfather, Jerry Snyder, was a piano player and she grew up with music in her life. She knows music can empower and inspire children.
The Female Hebrew Benevolent Society (FHBS) is the oldest Jewish charitable organization in continuous existence in the United States. FHBS' core mission is to help Jewish women in financial crisis. This organization is meaningful to Wendi as she received assistance from the Jewish community as a child.
Wendi wants to continue to give back to her community and the City of Philadelphia. She is choosing to run to become a Judge now because she wants to ensure those inalienable rights to equal treatment and fairness under the law are protected.