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Alumni On the Move

Alumni of the NIU College of Law are an accomplished and driven group, comprising a nationwide community of legal practitioners, judges, public servants, and educators. We are proud to highlight their distinguished achievements and activities. Check back regularly for updates and see how NIU Law alumni exemplify excellence in their professions. 

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2017

August:

  • Patrick Flaherty ('78) has won a 2016 Trial Lawyer Excellence Award from the Jury Verdict Reporter. He is one of only 13 attorneys in the state of Illinois to receive this honor. Flaherty is a partner at Kinnally Flaherty Krentz Loran Hodge & Masur, P.C. in Aurora, IL.
  • Nancy E. Joerg ('85), senior attorney and managing shareholder of the St. Charles, IL office of Wessels Sherman Joerg Liszka Laverty Seneczko, was one of 47 female lawyers across the United States selected for inclusion in a book called Grit, the Secret to Advancement: Stories of Successful Women Lawyers. The book was published by the American Bar Association in July 2017. It contains a collection of letters from the attorneys, each sharing her advice, insight and experience as a female attorney who has achieved success in the practice of law.  
  • Lt. Phil Lee ('12) was featured on the WGN-TV news on August 1, 2017 in a story on his welcome home from military service. First Lieutenant Lee recently returned from his U.S. Army deployment in Afghanistan after being wounded in a mortar explosion several months ago. He was awarded a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart. He is currently recovering at home in Frankfort, IL.
  • John CurranJohn Curran ('98) was sworn in as the new state senator for the 41st Senate District of Illinois on July 26, 2017. He most recently served as vice-chairman of the DuPage County Board and is a former Cook County assistant state's attorney. Curran will represent citizens in thirteen communities in the western suburbs of Chicago.
  • Alice Sackett ('91) was sworn in as vice-president of the Kane County Bar Association on June 7, 2017. She had served as secretary-treasurer in 2016-2017.

July:

  • Cynthia PietruchaCynthia Pietrucha ('09) has been selected to co-chair the Disability Rights Committee for the Young Lawyers Division of the American Bar Association. Her term will run from September 2017 until September 2018. Pietrucha also regularly appears in front of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to assist workers with equal opportunity, access to gainful employment and reasonable workplace accommodations for physical and mental disabilities.
  • A golden plaque given to Marissa Hanson in recognition of her winning the Kane County Bar Association's Outstanding New Lawyer Award for 2017. It details her commitment and dedication to the legal profession and features embossed signatures from Lawrence W. Lobb, president of the bar association, as well as Alice Sackett, the secretary and treasurer of the bar association and an NIU Law alumna.Marissa Hanson ('09) received the 2017 Outstanding New Lawyer Award from the Kane County Bar Association.

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  • Daniel Mills ('89) has joined the Chicago office of Cunningham, Meyer & Vedrine, P.C. as a shareholder. He focuses his practice on professional liability, healthcare and civil defense.
  • Lindsay HatzisLindsay Hatzis ('09) was sworn in as the secretary/treasurer of the Kane County Bar Association on June 7th, 2017.

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  • On May 3, 2017 the Hon. Mark Lopez ('83) presented the keynote address titled "The 14th Amendment -Transforming American Democracy" to the Chicago Bar Association's Young Lawyers Section at their Law Day celebration. Then on May 4th, Judge Lopez received the Public Service Award for 2017 from the Northwest Suburban Bar Association at their annual Judges Night reception.
  • Cavan J. Berry ('98) was appointed attorney magistrate for the 60th District Court for the county of Muskegon, MI on June 13, 2017.
  • Jerrod Williams ('02) was recently appointed to the Illinois Judicial College Committee on Judicial Branch Staff Education for a two-year term. Jerrod will also be serving under Dartesia Pitts ('05) in the Cook County Bar Association as her vice president of the Committee on Committees.

June:

  • Dartesia Pitts raises her right hand and recites the oath of office during her swearing-in as president of the Cook County Bar Association.Dartesia Pitts ('05) was installed as president of the Cook County Bar Association on Friday, June 23rd (photo courtesy of Percy Ollie).

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  • James McCluskey raises his right hand and recites the oath of office as he is sworn in as president-elect of the Illinois State Bar Association.James McCluskey ('79) was installed as president-elect of the Illinois State Bar Association on Friday, June 16th. 

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  • Matt PfeifferMatt Pfeiffer ('00) was installed as president-elect of the DuPage County Bar Association on Friday, June 9th.

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  • Judge James Snyder.Hon. James Snyder ('88) was recently elected first vice-president of the Illinois Judges Association.

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  • Joseph Kolar ('85) was recently elected treasurer of the Bohemian Lawyers’ Association of Chicago.
  • Brian Cunningham and Rikkilee Moser hold up their certificates of admission to the bar of New York while standing in front of a fountain.Brian Cunningham ('16) was admitted to the bar of the state of New York on June 28th, 2017. Brian traveled all the way from his home in Dublin, Ireland to be sworn in. He is currently pursuing an LLM degree in International and European Business Law at Trinity College School of Law. He is pictured with 2016 classmate Rikkilee Moser.
  • Rikkilee Moser ('16) was admitted to the bar of the state of New York on June 28th, 2017. Rikkilee made the long trip from her home in London, England to be sworn in. She is currently pursuing an LLM degree in Human Rights Law from University College London. She is pictured with 2016 classmate Brian Cunningham.
  • Meg HoganMeg Hogan ('13) recently joined Swanson, Martin & Bell, LLP’s Chicago office as an associate. She focuses her practice on civil litigation with an emphasis on defending toxic tort premises and products cases alleging exposure to asbestos or diacetyl.

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  • Gary PinterGary Pinter ('07) recently joined Swanson, Martin & Bell, LLP’s Edwardsville, IL office as a partner. His practice areas include Asbestos Litigation, Toxic Tort Litigation, Product Liability, General Trial Practice, Construction and Environmental Law.

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  • Sonni WilliamsSonni Choi Williams ('99) has been appointed the city attorney for the city of Lockport, IL. She will begin work in the position on June 12, 2017. Williams has been working as a municipal attorney in Peoria, IL for the past 17 years.

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  • John Festa ('15) has been named co-chair of the Chicago Bar Association Young Lawyers Section's Wills for Heroes Subcommittee. The Wills for Heroes Foundation provides essential estate planning documents, such as wills and powers of attorney, free of charge to American veterans and first responders as well as their spouses and partners.

April:

  • Rich LenkovRich Lenkov ('95) was featured in the April 2017 edition of Chicago Lawyer magazine in an interview regarding his roles as attorney, radio host and head of his own production company.

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  • Richard Irvin ('98) was elected the first African American mayor of Aurora, IL in the April 4, 2017 election. Irvin had been serving as an alderman-at-large in Aurora and owns and operates the law offices of Richard C. Irvin and Associates.

March:

  • Brent EamesBrent Eames ('09) has been named a partner in the firm of Whiteside and Goldberg, Ltd., according to a press release from the firm. Eames joined the firm in 2011 and works on civil personal injury cases, workers’ compensation claims and police and firefighter disability pension claims.

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  • Clayton R. Lee ('01) has been appointed an associate judge in the 14th Judicial Circuit of Illinois. He was voted to replace Hon. Michael R. Albert, who is retiring on March 31st. Lee will be sworn in on April 28th and finish Judge Albert's four-year term through 2019. Lee practices with the firm of Lee & Lee in East Moline, IL.
  • Larry Bettag ('94) has written a new book called No Rewind: Only One Shot, published by WestBow Press. The book tells the stories of people who Bettag met during his time as a mortgage counselor and advisor and how Bettag used faith to help them overcome their struggles. He says the book has an important message for Christians as well as non-Christians. Bettag is regional vice president of Cherry Creek Mortgage in St. Charles, IL.
  • Louis ApostolOn March 16th, Louis G. Apostol ('78) served as a juror on the “Trial of the Parthenon Marbles,” a special event presented by the National Hellenic Museum at the Rubloff Auditorium in Chicago. There were over 700 attendees. Louis has also been selected to be a judge at the 2016-2017 ABA National Appellate Advocacy Competition (NAAC) finals at the Dirksen Federal Building in Chicago on April 7th.
  • Paul Isaac ('09) has been working on the lawsuit recently filed by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan against Navient and Sallie Mae over alleged student lending abuses. Isaac has served as an assistant attorney general at the Illinois Attorney General’s Office since 2011, and is currently part of the Consumer Fraud Division.
  • Eric C. Weis ('97) was sworn in to his fourth term as state’s attorney for Kendall County, IL in December of 2016.  Eric is a member of the Kendall County Chief’s of Police Association, the 16th & 23rd Judicial Circuits Family Violence Prevention Steering Committee and is an executive board member of Fight Crime: Invest in Kids. Eric recently served as a representative on the Capital Punishment Reform Study Committee and he also currently serves as chairman of the Kendall County Juvenile Justice Council.

February:

  • Juneitha ShambeeJuneitha Shambee ('11), a solo practitioner based in Evanston, IL, has been named to the National Black Lawyers Top 100. Her areas of specialty include Criminal Defense, Intellectual Property, Matrimonial and Family Law. According to the official Top 100 website, it is "an invitation-only professional honorary organization composed of the top 100 (black) lawyers or (non-black) attorneys that promote diversity from each state [and] who serve individuals, families and businesses needing attorneys to represent them in the American legal system."
  • Stephen SoteloStephen Sotelo ('12) of the Homer Law Firm in Naperville, IL has been named a 2017 Rising Star by Super Lawyers in the area of real estate law. Sotelo practices consumer real estate law, civil litigation, estate planning, probate cases and estate & trust litigation. He was also named to the Rising Star list in 2016.

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  • Michael BaimaMichael J. Baima ('09) has been named a shareholder in the firm of Reinhart Boerner Van Dueren s.c., based in Milwaukee, WI. According to a press release from the firm, Baima is a registered patent attorney in Reinhart’s Intellectual Property Practice. He serves a wide range of clients involved in the mechanical and electromechanical industries. 

January:

 

  • Sarah VaheySarah Vahey ('08) has been selected to the Super Lawyers 2017 Illinois Rising Stars list. Each year, no more than 2.5 percent of the lawyers in the state are selected by the research team at Super Lawyers to receive this honor. Vahey was also named a rising star in 2016. She is a partner at Castle Law in Joliet, IL.

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  • Christopher KellyChristopher Kelly ('09) was promoted to the position of chief of the Immigration Law and Practice Division (ILPD) at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Washington, D.C. ILPD provides specialized legal advice on immigration, citizenship, and protection law issues to the agency.

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  • Michael Martinez ('09) has been named a 2017 Illinois Super Lawyers Rising Star. The Rising Stars list recognizes no more than 2.5 percent of attorneys in each state. To be eligible for inclusion in Rising Stars, a candidate must be either 40 years old or younger, or in practice for 10 years or less.

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  • Christian Sullivan (’02) has been named partner at Swanson, Martin & Bell, LLP in Chicago. He focuses his practice on Class Action Defense, Insurance, and Appellate Practice.

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  • Andrew Lothson ('08) has been named partner at Swanson, Martin & Bell, LLP in Chicago. He focuses his practice on Product Liability, Appellate Practice, and Commercial Litigation and Business Disputes.

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  • Julie NeubauerJulie A. Johnson (formerly Neubauer) (’07) has been elected a member in the firm of Aronberg Goldgehn Davis & Garmisa in Chicago, effective January 1, 2017. Her practice is focused on matrimonial and family law, including divorce, child custody, domestic violence/orders of protection, child support, post-judgment litigation, adoption and parentage.

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  • Karoline CarstensKaroline Carstens (’06) has been made a shareholder in the firm of Simmons Hanly Conroy in Alton, IL. Carstens focuses her practice on helping those affected by asbestos-related diseases, such as mesothelioma.

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  • Cynthia PietruchaDowners Grove, IL Mayor Martin Tully appointed Cynthia N. Pietrucha ('09) to the Downers Grove Liquor Commission. As a member, she will review applications for liquor licenses and make recommendations to the liquor commissioner accordingly, as well as conduct disciplinary hearings and consult on liquor ordinance violations & disciplinary action. Pietrucha will serve a three-year term.

2016

December:

  • John Gibbons (’04) was named chief of the Criminal Division of the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office on December 1, 2016. Also, on November 5th, he was presented the AAIM Outstanding Assistant State’s Attorney Award for 2016.
  • Robin Zandri ('97) has been named a 2016 Leading Lawyer by the Leading Lawyers Network. The Law Bulletin Publishing Company operates the network and names approximately five percent of all attorneys in Illinois to the list each year. Zandri is a family law attorney with Goostree Law Group, P.C. in St. Charles, IL.
  • Daniel J. McCarthy III ('96) recently became a partner with the firm of Goldstine, Skrodzki, Russian, Nemec and Hoff, Ltd., in Burr Ridge, IL. Dan practices in the areas of taxation, business and corporate law, real estate and land use and development.
  • Britt Anderson ('14) recently became staff counsel for ComPsych in Chicago, the world's largest provider of employee assistance programs (EAP).

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November:

  • Julie Pirtle ('12) has been named one of Illinois' ten best family law attorneys in the area of client satisfaction by the American Institute of Family Law Attorneys (AIOFLA). Pirtle is a partner at Pucci|Pirtle, LLC in Elgin, IL.
  • Dartesia PittsDartesia Pitts (’05) was honored with a Leading with Virtue Award. She was recognized as a dynamic female executive and entrepreneur who leads with passion, purpose and perseverance at the Ladies of Virtue annual gala in Chicago on November 4, 2016.

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  • Khristian G. Parker ('10) has been promoted to general counsel for Teamsters Local 705. Teamsters Local 705 is one of the largest locals of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters with a membership of 1,600 members. As general counsel, Parker is the head of the legal department, representing the local in matters before the National Labor Relations Board, serving as lead negotiator and/or legal advisor for collective bargaining negotiations, representing the local and its members in arbitration matters and advising on internal governance and administrative tasks and policies of the local.
  • Dean Molitor ('13) was featured in the spotlight of the Association of Corporate Counsel's Chicago newsletter.

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  • Michael Cortina (left) and Robin Belleau.Michael Cortina ('98) received the Lawyer's Assistance Program (LAP) Executive Director's Award from Executive Director Robin Zalewski Belleau ('95) on November 3, 2016, for his dedication and commitment to raise money and awareness of LAP. Michael is a partner at SmithAmundsen LLC.
  • Irakere Picon ('15) will be a featured speaker at the Loyola University Chicago School of Law's public interest law symposium, called "(Un)Documented: Human Impact of Our Immigration Policies and Advocacy Strategies," on Friday, November 11, 2016. Picon will speak on a panel discussing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) at 10:00 a.m. along with Nebula Li, Community Activism Law Alliance; Kalman Resnick, Hughes Socol Piers Resnick & Dym., Ltd.; Luis Huerta-Silva, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights and Michael Santomauro, Santomauro Law.

October:

  • The NIU College of Law Alumni Council held elections and appointments for new leadership at their meeting on October 22nd, 2016. Each of these members will serve a two-year term from 2016 to 2018. Melinda Rosales-Byerly (’03) is the new president of the NIU College of Law Alumni Council. Larry Stein (’93) is now the first vice president. Omar Salguero (‘12) was elected as second vice president and Laura Alms (’12) was elected to serve another two-year term as secretary.
  • Carolyn McGuire ('92) has been named an associate at the law firm of Waltz, Palmer & Dawson LLC in Rolling Meadows, IL. Carolyn practices in the areas of employment law, litigation, and business law.

September:

  • Lindsay Hatzis (left) with her nominator, Ed Petti.On Tuesday, September 20, 2016, Lindsay Hatzis (’09) was one of the recipients of the Best Under 40 Award, given by the Kane County Chronicle in recognition of outstanding leadership and professional accomplishment within the Kane County, Illinois community. She is pictured with her nominator, attorney Ed Petti.
  • Erica Mynarich ('08) has received the Lon O. Hocker Award from the Missouri Bar Foundation. Erica is a shareholder in the Springfield, Missouri firm of Carver, Cantin & Mynarich, LLC.
  • Jennifer Grady-Paswater ('04) has been made policy advisor for public safety in the Office of the Governor of Illinois. She also serves as the chief labor and employment counsel for public safety for the Labor and Employment Advisory Division, Illinois Department of Central Management Services.
  • Gregory MaddenGregory Madden (’99) is joining the Procurement Law Division at the Office of General Counsel of the United States Department of Veterans Affairs in Hines, IL as a contracts attorney. His primary client will be the department's National Acquisition Center. Madden previously worked for the National Acquisition Center in a managerial capacity.

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  • Donald J. DoodyDonald J. Doody ('78), shareholder at the law firm Goren, Cherof, Doody & Ezrol, P.A. in Fort Lauderdale, FL, was named Municipal Attorney of the Year as he received the Paul S. Buchman Award at the Florida Municipal Attorneys Association's (FMAA) recent seminar.

August:

  • Rene Cruz (left) is sworn in as 16th Circuit Judge by the Hon. James Hallock.The Honorable Rene Cruz (‘95) was appointed circuit judge in the 16th Judicial Circuit of Illinois. Judge Cruz, initially appointed associate judge in 2012, became the first Hispanic judge in Kane County at that time. He is currently assigned to the Family Division. Judge Cruz is being sworn in by Judge James Hallock (’78) in the photo at right. An official swearing in ceremony will take place September 1, 2016.
  • Keith A. Johnson ('95) has been appointed an associate judge of the 16th Judicial Circuit of Illinois and will be sworn in on September 1, 2016. Johnson is currently engaged in practice with the law firm Speers, Reuland & Cibulskis, P.C. in Aurora, IL.
  • Latoyia Kimbrough ('14) was featured in the August 2016 edition of the Chicago Volunteer Legal Services newsletter. The article spotlighted her involvement with the Justice Entrepreneurs Project.
  • George B. Huff, Jr. ('79) has been selected by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) for NIST’s Community Resilience Program as the disaster resilience fellow for business continuity. Huff founded and owns The Continuity Project, LLC, which provides business continuity management consultancy services to organizations of all types and sizes. Huff also serves as special advisor to the Standing Committee on Disaster Response and Preparedness of the American Bar Association and is an elected member of the Board of Directors of ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board

July:

  • Roman Ricker ('15) was named partner as of July 2016 at Hall, Partenheimer, and Kinkle in Princeton, Indiana. His practice consists primarily of real estate, land disputes, and criminal defense. He is also the vice chair of the Evansville Bar Association's Family Law Section and co-counsel for South Gibson School Corporation.
  • Dartesia PittsOn July 8, 2016, Dartesia A. Pitts (‘05) was installed as president elect for the Cook County Bar Association, which has been in existence for over 100 years and is one of the oldest African-American bar associations in the country. In addition, Dartesia received the National Bar Association’s 40 under 40 Award on July 19th.
  • Nick Alexander ('07) has been named associate legal counsel for Stryker Corporation, a Michigan-based health care products company. He is responsible for advising the Sage Products business unit. Sage Products is a hospital products company located in Cary, IL, and was recently acquired by Stryker. Prior to this job change, Alexander worked for Sage Products managing the company’s intellectual property portfolio.
  • On Friday, July 15, 2016, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker appointed Clayton Kawski ('07) to serve as a judge on the Dane County Circuit Court, replacing retiring Judge David Flanagan. He will begin his new assignment on August 8, 2016. Kawski has served as an assistant attorney general since 2010 and is the deputy director of the office’s special litigation and appeals unit. Before joining the Attorney General’s office, he practiced law at the firm of Michael Best & Friedrich in Madison, WI. Additionally, Kawski clerked for Justice David T. Prosser on the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
  • Meeghan Lee ('04) has been appointed by the Mercer County, IL Board to serve out the remainder of the term of retiring State's Attorney Greg McHugh, which expires on November 30, 2016. Lee is at this time running unopposed in the November election to fill the position permanently.
  • Adam VaughtAdam R. Vaught (’05) was named partner at Hinshaw & Culbertson in Chicago, IL where he focuses his practice in the area of professional liability defense, with particular emphasis in the counseling and defense of attorneys and law firms in malpractice and disciplinary matters. He also serves as appellate counsel in numerous cases. Adam was lead author of the American Bar Association’s amicus curiae brief filed in the U.S. Supreme Court in Williams-Yulee v. Florida Bar, 135 S. Ct. 1656 (2015). Before joining Hinshaw, Adam served as law clerk to Illinois Supreme Court Justice Thomas L. Kilbride and then as counselor to Justice Kilbride during his term as Illinois' Chief Justice. He currently serves on the Illinois Appellate Lawyers Association’s Board of Directors.
  • The Honorable Diann MarsalekHon. Diann K. Marsalek (’89) was elected treasurer of the Illinois Judges Foundation and a member of the Board of Directors for the Illinois Judges Association.

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June:

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  • Matt PfeifferMatt Pfeiffer (’00) was installed in June as second vice president of the DuPage County Bar Association. The swearing-in ceremony was conducted by Hon. William J. Bauer of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

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  • Alice Sackett (left) presents Lindsay Hatzis with the Outstanding New Lawyer Award for 2016 from the Kane County Bar Association.Lindsay Hatzis (’09), pictured on the right receiving her award from Alice Sackett ('91), was presented with the Outstanding New Lawyer Award for 2016 on June 9th by the Kane County Bar Association. The award is presented to someone who is in their first eight years of practice, has shown commitment to the Kane County Bar Association, exhibited a commitment to their community and has promoted a positive view of the legal profession through their integrity and professional responsibility, and who has demonstrated a high level of professional development in this early stage of their career. Additionally, Lindsay has been appointed as the editor-in-chief of the Kane County Bar Briefs for the 2016-2017 year.
  • Kenya Jenkins-WrightKenya Jenkins-Wright (’03) was installed as the president of the Black Women Lawyers' Association of Chicago on June 8th. The BWLA is celebrating its 30-year anniversary under her presidency.

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  • Dartesia Pitts (’05) was installed as the president-elect of the Cook County Bar Association on June 24th.
  • Hon. James SnyderHon. James Snyder (’88) was elected as second vice president of the Illinois Judges Association.

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  • Jennifer Sellers WongJennifer Sellers Wong (’06) made partner at Early Tousey Regan Wlodek & Wong in Elgin, IL. She maintains a general practice with an emphasis in higher educational law, contract matters and disputes, personal injury, real estate, estate planning and civil litigation.
  • April Morgan (’08) was named chief attorney at the Chicago Transit Authority.
  • Aldona Norkus Gorman (’98) recently joined Baker & McKenzie's North America Compensation and Employment Law Practice as of counsel in Chicago, bringing more than 16 years of experience advising companies on effectively and competitively compensating their global workforces.
  • Gina Salamone ('07) has been named a 2016 Emerging Lawyer by Leading Lawyers, an honor awarded to less than 2% of Illinois attorneys under age 40 or practicing less than 10 years.
  • Marishonta Wilkerson ('15) has joined Dady & Hoffmann LLC in Rockford, IL as an associate attorney. Wilkerson spent the last year at the NIU Law Zeke Giorgi Legal Clinic where she worked as an Illinois Bar Foundation fellow.
  • James McCluskeyJames F. McCluskey (’79) was sworn in as second vice president of the Illinois State Bar Association on June 17, 2016. McCluskey, a founding partner in the law firm Momkus McCluskey, LLC in Lisle, IL, is now in succession to lead the largest bar organization in the state with over 33,000 members in June 2018.
  • In August 2015, John N. Maher ('96) opened the Maher Funeral Home in Tinley Park, Illinois with his brother, Phillip, who has been a funeral director for 25 years. At the same time, John started Maher Legal Services, also in Tinley Park, which concentrates on estate planning, elder law, federal employment defense, and military defense. In 2016, John, also an NIU MBA '14, started teaching business law in the evening MBA program.
  • Julie NeubauerJulie A. Neubauer (’07) has been appointed chair of the ISBA Standing Committee on Women & the Law and has also been appointed to serve on the ISBA Diversity Leadership Council and ISBA Family Law Section Council. In addition, Neubauer has been named a 2016 Emerging Lawyer by Leading Lawyers, an honor awarded to less than 2% of Illinois attorneys under age 40 or practicing less than 10 years.

May:

  • Joseph J. Hylak-Reinholtz (’09) was named partner at Burke Warren MacKay & Serritella in Chicago, IL. Joe practices in the area of health care and corporate where helps healthcare entrepreneurs and providers achieve their business objectives by negotiating and closing transactions while ensuring compliance with ever-changing federal and state healthcare regulations.
  • Alice Sackett Henrikson (’91) was named partner at Turner & Sackett Law Offices in Sycamore, IL where she practices in the areas of personal injury, worker’s compensation, and civil trial advocacy.
  • Tyler Stevenson (’12) is a senior advisor at First National Bank in Sandwich, IL.
  • Ashley JenkinsAshley Jenkins (‘11) was promoted to Deputy Chief Legal Counsel to Illinois Senate President John J. Cullerton and the Illinois Senate Democratic Caucus. As Deputy Chief Legal Counsel, Ashley analyzes proposed legislation and provides legal counsel on current law, national reform, and constitutional issues. Ashley also serves as parliamentarian and legal counsel for the Senate Criminal Law Committee, the Senate Executive Committee, and the Special Committee on Restorative Justice.
  • Marissa Hanson ('09) and Otto S. Hurtado ('08) have both been appointed to serve on the Illinois State Bar Association's (ISBA) Standing Committee on Racial and Ethnic Minorities and the Law for 2016-2017. The purpose of the committee is to educate attorneys, judges, and members of the public about the law; monitor and comment upon proposed legislation, administrative rules, and judicial decisions; gather and centralize resources on other issues; further professional development and inclusion; and create programming and other resources to support professional needs all as it relates to racial and ethnic minority groups.
  • Melissa Olivero ('97) has been appointed vice chair of the Illinois State Bar Association's (ISBA) Standing Committee on Women & the Law. She has also been appointed to serve on the ISBA Bench & Bar Section Counsel. Additionally, the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism featured Olivero in its 2 Civility communication channel.
  • Ryan GaileyRyan Gailey ('11) has been appointed by the President-Elect of the Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA) to serve as a member of the ISBA Standing Committee on Military Affairs for 2016-2017. The purpose of the committee is to provide information, support and assistance to the military community and the general public relating to the legal issues that service members may face during and after service. In addition, Gailey has been named a 2016 Emerging Lawyer by Leading Lawyers. That places him in the top 2% of attorneys under the age of 40 in Illinois.

April:

  • The annual list of top attorneys in Illinois has been released by Leading Lawyers, a division of the Law Bulletin Publishing Company, and we are proud to congratulate the alumni who were named 2016 Leading Lawyers. Fewer than 5% of all lawyers licensed in each state have received this distinction. Leading Lawyers have been recommended by their peers to be among the top lawyers in the areas of practice noted.
  • Kristen M. HenryKristen M. Henry ('09) has been appointed by the President-Elect of the Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA) to serve as a member of the ISBA Federal Taxation Section Council for 2016-2017. As a member of the council, Kristen will inform and advise the members of the bar on current developments in federal taxation and their ramifications; review and comment on federal tax laws, regulations, court decisions, and Internal Revenue Service pronouncements and practices; and monitor improvement and understanding of the federal tax system through proposals of, and changes in, tax laws and regulations, and through writing, testimony, conferences, and seminars.
  • Matt Pfeiffer (’00) was elected vice chair of the NIU Law Board of Visitors.
  • Kate McCabe (’01) was re-elected secretary of the NIU Law Board of Visitors.
  • Brent EamesBrent R. Eames ('09) has been appointed by the President-Elect of the Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA) to serve as a member of the ISBA Workers’ Compensation Law Section Council for 2016-2017. As a member of the council, Brent will assist lawyers who practice before the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission by disseminating information relevant to the practice; making recommendations on proposed legislation; conducting conferences and seminars on topics important to section members; and promoting communications between the bar and all personnel of the commission.
  • Gregory J. Chinlund ('96) has been appointed to the International Trademark Association's (INTA) Non-Traditional Marks Committee. INTA is a global association of trademark owners and professionals dedicated to supporting trademarks and related intellectual property.
  • Russell Crull ('13) has been made a name partner in the firm of Tess & Crull, LLC in Rochelle, IL (formerly Tess & Maas).
  • Alyssa FreemanAlyssa Freeman ('15) has accepted a judicial term clerk position with Magistrate Judge Matthew P. Brookman in the Southern District of Indiana.

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  • Aaron SzetoAaron Szeto (’04) made partner at Barrick Switzer in Rockford, IL. Aaron concentrates his practice in the areas of municipal law, residential/commercial real estate transactions, real estate development and entitlement processes, corporate/business transactions, corporate/business formation, and banking law.

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  • Roxanne SosnowskiRoxanne Sosnowski (’04) made partner at Barrick Switzer in Rockford, IL. Roxanne focuses her practice in the areas of labor and employment law, estate planning and administration, municipal law and commercial real estate.

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  • Mariam HafeziMariam Hafezi (’10) won an appellate court case in the First District of Illinois (Barr v. Cunningham) which will make it more difficult for schools to be immune from prosecution for conduct that results in injuries to children.
  • Michael D. Martinez ('09) was involved in a recent Indiana Supreme Court case involving a constitutional challenge to the Indiana Product Liability Act statute of repose. Martinez represented Larry Myers, a retired electrician who had brought legal action against a number of manufacturers who he claims knowingly produced products that caused malignant pleural mesothelioma. The details of the case were presented in the Indianapolis Star on April 4, 2016.

March:

  • Nancy JoergNancy E. Joerg ('85), senior attorney and managing shareholder of the St. Charles, IL office of Wessels Sherman Joerg Liszka Laverty Seneczko, has been selected to the 2016 Illinois Super Lawyers list. No more than five percent of the lawyers in Illinois are selected by Super Lawyers.
  • Khristian Parker (’10) has recently been hired as Legal Counsel for Teamsters Local 705, where her responsibilities include representing them in National Labor Relation Board hearings, advising their leadership regarding internal governance matters, representing members in disciplinary and contractual arbitration hearings, and negotiating and enforcing collective bargaining agreements.
  • Michael Wong (’06) was made partner at SmithAmundsen, LLC. Mike practices in management side Labor & Employment Law including advising and defending companies on their HR policies and employee issues, disability accommodation issues, FMLA claims, discrimination and harassment issues, wage and hour matters, medical marijuana and concealed carry in the workplace and other labor and employment law issues arising under state, federal and administrative laws.

February:

  • Blake StoneBlake Stone ('96) was recently assigned to the Pentagon as legal advisor to the Contingency Plans Division of the Army’s Operations Directorate. He is completing work towards an M.A. in Strategic Studies at the Army War College in Carlisle Barracks, PA. Stone also serves on the Adjunct Faculty of the U.S. Army Command & General Staff College.
  • Stephen Sotelo ('12) has been named a Rising Star as part of Chicago Magazine's Top Attorneys in Illinois edition.
  • J. Matthew PfeifferJ. Matthew Pfeiffer (’00) has been recognized by Super Lawyers in the area of Business Litigation. Super Lawyers is a listing of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. Only 5% of lawyers in Illinois are nominated to Super Lawyers. Matt is the principal of Pfeiffer Law Offices, P.C. in Wheaton, IL, which practices primarily in the areas of business litigation, employment matters, corporate law, estate planning, and commercial real estate.
  • Marc Fenton (’81) has become senior counsel at the Chicago firm of Levenfeld Pearlstein, LLC. His primary area of practice is restructuring and corporate reorganization.
  • Mark Sobczak ('09) was recently named a partner in the Appellate Practice group at Clausen Miller, P.C. He was also named a 2016 Rising Star by Super Lawyers for the 3rd consecutive year.
  • Cecil PorterCecil Porter ('01) was recently listed as an Emerging Lawyer by the Leading Lawyers division of the Law Bulletin Publishing Company. This identifies attorneys as being among the top lawyers in Illinois under the age of 40 or who have been in practice for no more than ten years. Less than 2% of attorneys licensed in Illinois are listed as Emerging Lawyers.

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  • Lawrence SteinLawrence A. Stein ('93) has joined the Chicago firm of Aronberg Goldgehn Davis & Garmisa as a member.

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  • Louis G. Apostol ('78) was elected to the Associated Colleges of Illinois Board of Directors on February 1, 2016.

January:

  • Katherine Haskins Becker ('11) has been named a 2016 Rising Star by Super Lawyers, a rating service which honors attorneys who have attained a high peer recognition and professional achievement. Only 2.5 percent or fewer of all lawyers are named Rising Stars. Becker is a family and divorce attorney operating out of Wheaton, IL.
  • Kathleen T. Zellner ('81) has garnered media attention for taking on Steven Avery, subject of the Netflix series Making a Murderer, as a client. Zellner was profiled by entertainment website The Wrap in an article by Tim Kenneally on January 11, 2016.

2015

December:

  • John N. Maher ('96) appeared on the cable television discussion program Fox and Friends on December 29, 2015 to discuss his defense of former U.S. Army Lieutenant Clint Lorance. Lorance was charged after he ordered troops in Afghanistan to open fire on three individuals riding motorcycles; Lorance claims he believed the motorcycles represented imminent danger as U.S. troops have often been killed by suicide bombers riding motorcycles.
  • Kaitlin (Barclay) Kerstetter ('14) received the Ace of Spades Award from the Kane County State's Attorney's office. The award was in recognition of Kaitlin doing the most trials (bench and jury) among the misdemeanor assistant state's attorneys in Kane County. She sat first chair on 75 total trials in 2015, including seven misdemeanor jury trials, and also sat second chair on two trials.
  • Shaina Kalanges ('15) has written a brief that appeared in Bar Briefs, an official publication of the Kane County (IL) Bar Association, in its Veterans Day edition on November 11, 2015. She quoted fellow alum John Joyce ('15) in the brief, and the two are also presenting CLE programs based on the case.
  • Diana M. LawGovernor Bruce Rauner has reappointed Diana M. Law ('04) as the Kane County Public Guardian and Administrator, according to a release from the Office of the Governor on December 11, 2015. She has served in the position since 2012.

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  • Hon. Robbin StuckertHon. Robbin Stuckert ('90) has been named the chief judge of the 23rd Judicial Circuit of Illinois, according to the DeKalb Daily Chronicle. Judge Stuckert has served as a circuit court judge in DeKalb County, Illinois since 2003 and as presiding judge in DeKalb County since 2012, when the 23rd Judicial Circuit was formed. She succeeds fellow NIU Law alumnus Hon. Timothy J. McCann ('88). She is the first female chief judge for the 23rd Judicial Circuit.

November:

  • Steve HegedusStephen J. Hegedus (’15) was hired as a court clerk to the Honorable Kirsten Nielsen Hartig of the 52nd District Court of Michigan, 4th Division. The district court oversees civil and criminal cases.

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  • Chris KellyChris Kelly (’09) was promoted to chief of the Executive Communications Unit at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in Washington, D.C. His unit is responsible for coordinating and completing legal reviews tasked to ICE’s Office of the Principal Legal Advisor from internal sub-components and external agencies.
  • Sam Perkins ('15) has accepted a clerkship with the Honorable James E. Shadid, Chief United States District Judge for the Central District of Illinois. Recently, Sam also passed the patent bar exam.
  • The firm of Heyl Royster has recently added three NIU Law alumni as attorneys: Wade BlumenshineWade Blumenshine (’15) is an associate at Heyl Royster in Peoria, IL. His primary area of practice is civil litigation, with a concentration on commercial litigation and toxic tort defense. Prior to joining the firm he worked as both a file clerk and a summer associate in the Peoria office.

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    Alyssa Freeman
    Alyssa Freeman (’15) is an associate at Heyl Royster in Rockford, IL. She concentrates her practice in civil defense litigation, including medical malpractice, toxic torts, workers' compensation, and civil rights litigation. Alyssa began her career at Heyl Royster in 2014 as a summer associate.

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    Meg HoganMeg Hogan (’13) has joined the firm as an associate in its Rockford, IL office, where she focuses her practice on civil litigation with a concentration in toxic tort and asbestos defense. She began her practice as an Assistant State's Attorney in the Winnebago County State's Attorney's Office. As a prosecutor, she handled matters ranging from misdemeanor criminal charges to felony cases.

October:

  • Jeffrey LenkovJeffrey Lenkov (‘91), a partner at Manning & Kass in Los Angeles, CA, recently achieved a big class action win. A disability access class action lawsuit was filed against a national retail chain/Fortune 500 company alleging that their point-of-sale devices are not accessible to disabled individuals in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The plaintiff was initially seeking eight figures including statutory penalties and attorney's fees. A team led by Lenkov won a dismissal of the lawsuit for no payment and no modifications.
  • Jeremy J. NaumanJeremy J. Nauman ('12) has joined the firm of Moss & Barnett in Minneapolis, MN. He will be part of the firm’s real estate team and work on multifamily agency lending.

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  • Daniel PorterJason DoranJason Doran ('01) and Daniel Porter ('13) have joined the firm of Momkus McCluskey, LLC. Doran will be a senior attorney and will focus his practice in estate planning, estate administration, commercial and residential real estate. Porter will join as an associate attorney with the firm's commercial litigation team.
  • Michael Coppedge (’87) was appointed an Associate Judge in the 22nd Circuit of Illinois (McHenry County). He currently practices in Crystal Lake.

September:

  • Cynthia PietruchaCynthia N. Pietrucha ('09) served as a sports law judge at the annual National Sports Law Negotiation Competition (NSLNC) at Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego, CA. Negotiation topics included a sponsorship agreement between the energy drink company Red Bull and the Los Angeles Derby Dolls roller derby team and a discipline action between professional soccer player Hope Solo and the Women’s Sports Foundation. 40 law student teams participated in the competition.
  • Cherilyn G. Murer ('78) has written a new book, published by CRC Press, Taylor & Francis Group, called “Clinical Co-Management: A Bridge to Clinical Integration and Pathway to Bundled Payments.” The book provides a comprehensive view of the Clinical Co-Management Agreement (CCMA) framework. 
  • James F. McCluskey ('79) has joined the Board of Directors of Naperville CARES. Naperville CARES is a charitable organization that assists families in financial crisis with meeting their essential needs by providing emergency financial support and resources.
  • Anthony Gough ('14) has accepted a clerkship with Justice James A. Knecht of the Illinois Appellate Court, Fourth District. Anthony will be starting November 2, 2015. His office is located in Bloomington, IL.
  • Jim Pretlow ('08) has been named Volunteer of the Month for September 2015 by the organization Coordinated Advice & Referral Program for Legal Services (CARPLS). CARPLS is a legal aid service that offers an immediate response to the every day legal problems confronting low-income residents of Cook County, IL.

August:

  • Melinda Rowe-Sullivan ('03) has been named as an arbitrator for the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission by Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner. 
  • From left to right: Attorney Ronald Wittmeyer with outgoing NWSBA President William Kelley.The Northwest Suburban Bar Association (NWSBA) recently inducted Ronald Wittmeyer ('82) as its new president. The installation banquet was held on June 16, 2015 at the Rolling Green Country Club in Arlington Heights, IL. Wittmeyer (left) is pictured with outgoing NWSBA President William Kelley.
  • Dexter J. Evans ('05) has been named partner at Woodruff Johnson & Palermo in Aurora, IL. He represents victims of serious personal injury.

July:

  • Sonni Choi Williams ('99) has been elected to the Board of Directors of the Illinois Bar Foundation, the charitable arm of the Illinois State Bar Association.
  • Ron Sykstus ('87) was recently named a 2015 Alabama Super Lawyer by Thomson Reuters and the publishers of Business Alabama in the areas of consumer bankruptcy, consumer law and military law. He also recently published “Bankruptcy – We Wrote the Book on It,” available at Amazon. His offices are located in Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee.
  • Sarah Vahey ('08) has made partner at Castle Law in Joliet, IL. Sarah's practice focuses on family law, including divorce, paternity, child custody, visitation, removal, child support, maintenance, adoption, and appeals.
  • Michelle Hawthorne ('11) is working as a clinic staff attorney at Florida Coastal School of Law. She is teaching trial skills, persuasive writing skills, and evidence. Michelle also coordinates the law school's criminal defense clinic and assists the director of their immigration law clinic.
  • Jeffrey Lenkov (left) with Hillary Clinton.Jeffrey Lenkov in Pamplona, Spain for the running of the bulls.Jeffrey Lenkov ('91) went running with the bulls on July 7th in Pamplona, Spain. In addition, Jeffrey is pictured with former first lady and presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton at an event hosted at the home of movie producer Tobey Maguire in Los Angeles, CA.
  • Hon. Divya K. Sarang (’90) was sworn in as a judge for the 16th Judicial Circuit on July 16, 2015. Judge Sarang had been with the Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office for over twenty years.
  • Hon. Duane Jorgenson (’91) was elected Circuit Court judge of Lafayette County, Wisconsin on April 7, 2015. Judge Jorgenson has been a solo-practitioner in Darlington, Wisconsin since graduating from NIU Law, and has been Lafayette County Corporation Counsel for the past 20 years.

June:

  • Gary PinterGary Pinter (’07) made partner at Heyl Royster in Edwardsville, IL. He practices in a variety of areas of civil tort litigation including the defense of matters involving product liability, premises liability, trucking and transportation claims and professional liability.

May:

  • Eric J. Ryan ('01) opened a solo law firm on April 2, 2015. He is currently practicing in Geneva, IL, handling general civil litigation with a strong business focus and developing his appellate practice.
  • Richard D. Felice receives the Executive Director's Award from Robin Belleau of the Illinois Lawyers' Assistance Program.ISBA President Richard Felice (’79) received the Executive Director’s Award from Robin (Zalewski) Belleau (’95) at the Illinois Lawyers’ Assistance Program’s (LAP) Joseph R. Bartylak Dinner in Springfield on April 17, 2015 for his outstanding support of LAP.

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  • Senator Toi HutchinsonSen. Toi Hutchinson (‘14) was the 2015 commencement speaker for Prairie State College in Chicago Heights, IL. Sen. Hutchinson's address, “You Made it Here,” was delivered to more than 300 students along with their families and friends on May 16, 2015.

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  • Matt PfeifferMatt Pfeiffer ('00) has been elected third vice president of the DuPage County Bar Association. He will be sworn in on June 4th and is in succession to lead the organization in June 2018. Matt is a current member and past president of the NIU Law Alumni Council.
  • Lindsay Hatzis ('09) has been elected to the Kane County Bar Association Board of Managers for a three-year term and appointed associate editor of the Kane County Bar Briefs for a one-year term.
  • Sarmistha "Buri" Banerjee ('14) has been elected to the Board of Directors for the DuPage Association of Women Lawyers. She will serve a two-year term.
  • James F. McCluskeyJames F. McCluskey ('79) has been elected third vice president of the Illinois State Bar Association. McCluskey is now in succession to lead the largest bar organization in the state with over 33,000 members in June 2018.

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  • Sonni WilliamsSonni Choi Williams (‘99), Deputy Corporation Counsel for the city of Peoria, Ill., was elected to serve a second term on the Board of Governors of the Illinois State Bar Association. The 27-member board oversees the operations and activities of the statewide organization. Williams was first elected to the Board of Governors in 2012.

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  • Robert MorganChicago-based law firm Much Shelist announced on May 13, 2015 that Robert M. Morgan ('05) has been named Special Counsel in the firm’s Health Care Law practice group. Previously, Bob served as general counsel for the Illinois Department of Public Health, and as associate general counsel in the Office of the Governor of the State of Illinois.

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  • Patrick EdgertonPatrick Edgerton (’96) was re-elected to the Board of Directors of the DuPage County Bar Association. Patrick is a partner with Edgerton & Edgerton in West Chicago where he practices in a number of areas including commercial litigation, construction law, contracts, real estate and family law.

April:

  • Daniel Nunez receiving the 2015 Alumnus of the Year award from the NIU Law Latina/o Law Students Association.Daniel Nunez ('11) received the Alumnus of the Year Award from the NIU Law Latina/o Law Students Association.
  • Cynthia Pietrucha ('09) recently represented the DuPage County Bar Association's Lawyer Outreach Program by providing a "Law Day" for sixth-grade students at Whittier Grade School in Downers Grove, IL.
  • Margaret Gaynor Auger ('83) was elected to serve on the Kane County Board for a third consecutive term in November 2014. She represents District 23, which is at the north end of Kane County.
  • Scott Smith ('97) recently transferred to Deloitte China for a three-year assignment to assist with the opening and start-up of its Global Delivery Center in the city of Chongqing as Managing Director, Global and Transition.

March:

  • Russell Slifer ('94) has been appointed the next Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Slifer currently serves as the Director of the USPTO's Rocky Mountain Regional Office in Denver and will begin his new role at USPTO headquarters in Alexandria, VA, on March 25, 2015.
  • Kenya Jenkins-WrightKenya A. Jenkins-Wright (’03) is the new General Counsel at the Illinois Guardianship & Advocacy Commission. The Commission protects the rights and promotes the welfare of the persons with disabilities.

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  • Lori McGirkLori McGirk (’03) recently became a shareholder at Guyer & Enichen, P.C. in Rockford, IL. Her practice is focused mainly on insurance defense matters and municipal law.

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  • Lawrence A. SteinLawrence A. Stein (’93) was elected to the Board of Directors of the Appellate Lawyers Association, appointed President of the Du Page County Bar Foundation, and was named an “Illinois Super Lawyer” for 2015, a distinction he’s held since 2012.

February:

  • Joann Fratianni-Atsaves ('79) has been selected by Governor Bruce Rauner as the chairman of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission (IWCC). She has 34 years of experience in workers’ compensation law and is currently an arbitrator on the IWCC. Fratianni-Atsaves has worked for the IWCC for the past 27 years. She began her career as an arbitrator in 1987 and was appointed to be a commissioner from 1990 to 1993. She continued her work as an arbitrator after her term as a commissioner was complete. She currently hears workers’ compensation matters by trial or settlement, and renders written decisions and approves settlement contracts. Prior to her work for the IWCC, Fratianni-Atsaves worked in private practice at the law offices of Anthony V. Fanone where she handled insurance defense litigation for workers’ compensation matters, often trying cases within the IWCC. She began her legal career at Osterkamp, Jackson & Hollywood. Fratianni-Atsaves is a graduate of the University of Illinois.
  • Wes BlumenshineWes Blumenshine ('86) has been named Group General Counsel and Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer for Caterpillar Inc. in Peoria, Illinois. Wes has been with Caterpillar for 27 years in positions of increasing responsibility in the practice areas of international, commercial, finance, litigation, intellectual property, regulatory, governance, and compliance law in Peoria, Nashville, TN and Singapore. Wes also serves on the Board of Directors of Easter Seals of Central Illinois and the Advisory Board of the Bradley University College of Civil Engineering and Construction, and was recently the Chairman of the BOD of the State of Tennessee Chamber of Commerce.
  • Sun PaeSun Pae ('07) made partner at Levenfeld Pearlstein LLC in Chicago. Sun is a member of the Intellectual Property Group, where she helps clients establish and protect their intellectual property rights in the United States and abroad.

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  • Jeff PowellJeff Powell ('08) made partner at Reno & Zahm in Rockford, IL where he focuses on civil litigation, business law, and employment law.

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January:

  • Desi Matel-Anderson ('09) was the subject of a feature article by Devin Thorpe in the January 28, 2015 edition of Forbes. Matel-Anderson works with Field Innovation Team (FIT) and is CEO of the Global Disaster Innovation Group, LLC and formerly served as Chief Innovation Advisor at FEMA. Her current firms train first responders to natural disasters how to use innovative recovery technology such as mobile apps, heat mapping systems and support drones. Thorpe's profile also includes a video interview done on January 29th at 7:00 p.m Eastern time, available at the link to the article.
  • Evan Bonnett ('08) joined Hinshaw & Culbertson in Rockford, IL. Evan focuses his practice on representing employers in labor and employment matters.
  • Kerry Bute (’05) made partner at Montgomery Rennie & Jonson in Cincinnati, OH, where she specializes in aviation defense litigation.
  • Michael Trybalski (’13) became an associate at Quintairos, Prieto, Wood & Boyer in Chicago, IL. His practice involves advocating for employers and insurance carriers in workers’ compensation and general liability claims.
  • Marc Fenton (’81) became Senior Counsel at Brown Udell Pomerantz & Delrahim in Chicago, where he practices in the areas of corporate restructurings, liquidations, and real estate workouts.
  • Jody Booher (’07) made partner at Barrick Switzer Long Balsley & VanEavera in Rockford, IL, where she practices in General Practice, Equine Law, and Appellate Practice.

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