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It is with a heavy heart that I announce that last month we lost a dear friend, collaborator, and member of the Phalanx family. James Cannon, the longtime Workforce Development Consultant of Phalanx Family Services, passed away on July 11, a mere 5 days after his 66th birthday.
Because he had been such an integral part of Phalanx, it is difficult to put into words just what he meant to me, my husband Gladstone, and this organization. Every single one of our employees brings something special to the table that makes Phalanx operate at the level that we do. But arguably, James Cannon was one of the most important influences on the success of this organization, literally before its inception and throughout its entire existence.
James Cannon had been a workforce consultant with the Office of Employment Services that I led within the Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago in the 90s. His talent in securing volumes of job opportunities for the disadvantaged was legendary.
His work, ingenuity, and relationships made the Office of Employment Services a resounding success. That, coupled with the vision I and my husband, Gladstone, had for a new way of helping people go to work would eventually lead to the formation of Phalanx Family Services.
Over the past 19 years since Phalanx Family Services was founded in 2003 to this very day, James Cannon has literally brought thousands of job opportunities, several important relationships, and millions of dollars in funding to this organization. From the State Homelessness Prevention program, 2008’s Put Illinois to Work, and even this very newspaper and The News School, which he helped found, James Cannon played a critical role in ensuring that Phalanx was at the table for several major public and private sector opportunities and initiatives.
True to his trademark saying, “I make it do what it do!” he was all about making significant, positive, and concrete things happen for those in need.
On a more personal level, James Cannon was a trailblazer in every sense of the word and absolutely marched to the beat of his own drummer. He was never without his trademark cowboy hats and boots, and infectious laugh and smile. His friendships and relationships stretched far and wide, no doubt because of his charm, easy demeanor, and honest way with people. He was a charmer who loved life and loved people. And, so very many people sincerely loved him.
James Cannon was a colorful and vital part of the Phalanx Family constellation who will be sorely missed. He was a unique and highly impactful individual who was larger than life every single day. How many of us can say that?
July 6, 1956 – July 11, 2022
Phalanx Family Services