Former prosecutor and Massachusetts' first openly gay state senator, Cheryl graduated from Boston College in 1984 and received her J.D. from Suffolk University Law School in 1987.
Before her six terms in the state senate, Cheryl served as an Assistant District Attorney in Middlesex County and went on to serve as an Assistant Attorney General in the Trial Bureau of the Attorney General's Office. Due to her experience as a criminal prosecutor, Cheryl was the first freshman legislator and first woman to chair the Judiciary Committee when she was elected to the Senate in 1992.
As a state senator, Cheryl was a leader on civil rights and equality in the Massachusetts Legislature. In 1996, she successfully pushed for the inclusion of sexual orientation in the Commonwealth's Hate Crimes Statute. She also passed legislation establishing standby guardianship provisions to protect the children of AIDS patients and other chronically ill individuals.
She has been an outspoken advocate for the needs of gay and lesbian youth in Massachusetts. Three years ago she lead a bi-partisan coalition to protect funding for the Safe Schools Program, which helps finance Gay-Straight Alliances in Massachusetts's high schools, as well as other gay and lesbian youth suicide prevention measures. In 2002, Cheryl lead a bi-partisan coalition of legislators to defeat the so-called Defense of Marriage Act in Massachusetts.
In addition to her duties as an elected official, Jacques worked as Counsel to the law firm of Brody, Hardoon, Perkins and Kesten and was an Adjunct Professor of Law at Suffolk University Law School, and served on several state and local boards.
Cheryl began as president and executive director of the Human Rights Campaign in January 2004. She has a passionate commitment to civil rights and equality based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. She resigned on November 30, 2004, citing "a difference in management philosophy" with her board, following criticism of the HRC's failure to defeat referendums in 11 states banning same-sex marriage and, in some cases, civil unions.
Cheryl took helm of Human Rights Campaign after serving nearly a dozen years in the Massachusetts State Senate. She was first elected to her seat at the relatively young age of 29 in a traditionally conservative district, proving her ability to speak to constituents across a spectrum of ideologies.
Currently, Cheryl writes and speaks nationally on issues of diversity, civil rights and politics. She is Of Counsel to the law firm of Brody, Hardoon, Perkins and Kesten, and is a consultant on diversity issues to corporations and non-profit organizations. She was also an official political commentator for Q Television until its demise in 2006, appearing weekly with her own segment called Political IQ.
Cheryl and her partner, Jennifer Chrisler, live in Silver Spring, Maryland, where they are raising their twin boys, Timmy and Tommy.