Member Groups

The Catalyst
The newsletter of the ISBA’s Standing Committee on Women and the Law

June 2006, vol. 11, no. 4

Women in the news

Congratulations to the new women members of the ISBA Board of Governors: ANITA M. DE CARLO, Chicago (Under 37 – Cook County); and ELIZABETH L. JENSEN, Peoria (Area IV – 10th, 14th & 15th Circuits). They will join CELIA G. GAMRATH, MICHELE JOCHNER, ANDREA M. SCHLEIFER, and NAOMI H. SCHUSTER (all from Cook County). Women have now been elected to seven (including President-Elect Irene F. Bahr) of the 25 seats comprising the ISBA Board of Governors.

MEREDITH RITCHIE, Chair of the Woman and the Law Committee, was sworn in to the Board of Directors of the West Suburban Bar Association.

SANDRA CRAWFORD, a member of the Women and the Law Committee, has been elected to the Executive Board of The Collaborative Law Institute of Illinois, the newest dispute-resolution model in Illinois. In a collaborative law model, both clients retain separate, specially trained attorneys whose only job is to help them settle the case. All participants agree to work together respectfully, honestly, and in good faith to try to find win-win solutions to the legitimate needs of both clients. For more information, visit

KAREN L. JOHNSON has been appointed the first Director of the Minimum Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) Board. She will serve as the principal executive officer of the Illinois MCLE program established by the Illinois Supreme Court. In that position, Ms. Johnson will interpret and implement directives of the nine-member board, direct the office operations supporting the activities of the board, and represent the board and office in liaison with other offices of the Illinois Supreme Court.

CHERYL NIRO, an ISBA past president, has been appointed the first executive director of the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism. The Commission was established by Chief Justice Robert R. Thomas, pursuant to Rule 799, to improve civility among lawyers, judges and clients in Illinois courts. The commission will be a resource for information and statements on principles of ethical and professional responsibility.

MARIA TOLVA MACK will be installed on June 1, 2006, as the President of the DuPage Association of Women Lawyers. She prosecutes expungement appeals for DCFS and represents clients in personal injury, traffic and real estate matters. Prior to opening her own law practice, she was a partner at Querrey & Harrow, Ltd., in Chicago, and an attorney with Chilton, Yambert, Porter & Young, LLP, in Chicago. Ms. Mack has tried more than 80 cases to verdict. Ms. Mack received her J.D. from DePaul University, College of Law.

COLLEEN MCLAUGHLIN and SUSAN O’NEIL ALVARADO, were elected to the Board of Directors of the DuPage County Bar Association. In a field of six candidates vying for three seats, they were the only two women candidates. Ms. McLaughlin is a past president of the DuPage Association of Women Lawyers and an active member of the ISBA, serving on the Assembly and the Labor and Employment Law Section Council. Ms. Alvarado serves on the Board of Directors of IICLE, teaches at DePaul University, and received the DCBA Board of Directors Award for Outstanding Service in 2004.

PATRICIA WOERTZ is the new president and chief executive of Decatur-based Archer Daniels Midland Co, thereby becoming the most highly placed female executive in the USA. With $36 billion in revenue, ADM is among the country’s biggest and most powerful companies and the largest to be run by a woman.

MICHELLE BACHELET, elected as Chile’s first woman president, kept her campaign promise by appointing women to half of the 20 Cabinet posts in her government. She stated, “This Cabinet is a historic step for equality between men and women.” On International Women’s Day, Ms. Bachelet said, “Chile is going to be the first country that will have, in public sector decision-making positions, total parity between men and women.” She is the first woman elected president in Latin America who is not the widow of a political strongman. She is the daughter of an air force general who died in prison after months of torture during Gen. Augusto Pinochet’s rule, and she herself was imprisoned and tortured. Ms. Bachelet was inaugurated on March 11, 2006, and the United States was represented by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

ELLEN JOHNSON SIRLEF, a Harvard-trained banker, was inaugurated in January 2006 as president of war-torn Liberia, becoming Africa’s first woman to be elected a head of state. She is known as Liberia’s iron lady from her years in opposition politics, which included two stints in prison. It is a combination of tough and tender that has won women new respect in the political scene in Africa, once dominated by male autocrats.

ANGELA MERKEL was the first woman elected Chancellor of German, leading Western Europe’s most populous nation.

These three women leaders are not the first women to lead major democracies. Margaret Thatcher, Indira Gandhi, and Golda Meir were powerful politicians and inspirational leaders. But their election is significant, because this achievement is still rare and therefore noteworthy.

Remember when? VALENTINA TERESHKOVA was the first woman to shoot into space in 1963. She has since obtained a doctorate in aerospace engineering and became a central political figure in the Soviet Union. She was a member of parliament, served on the Soviet Committee of Women and was a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party. An article appearing in The Washington Post in March 2006 states that she also took on the cause of abused women in the Soviet Union and brought their plight to the attention of the Kremlin. She stated that she has a message for young women and girls today: “I would wish for them to have a goal and to pursue it with all the might, force and determination they have, regardless of the difficulties and obstacles.

EILEEN COLLINS is the first and only female space shuttle commander. On four shuttle flights, she was the pilot twice and commander twice, the most recent flight, last summer. She’s a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School and was selected for NASA’s astronaut program in 1990, being the first female Space Shuttle pilot and recipient of the Harmon Trophy in 1995.