October 2010Volume 16Number 2PDF icon PDF version (for best printing)

Chair’s column

I am honored to have been appointed by President Hassakis to serve as this year’s chair of the Women and the Law Committee (WATL). I follow a long line of chairs who have served the ISBA in many capacities and for many years. I want to pause to acknowledge and thank those women upon whose shoulders we now stand:

2009-2010-Annmarie Kill (Ex Officio and current Chair of the Diversity Leadership Council)

2008-2009—E. Lynn Grayson, Chicago

2007-2008—Sharon L. Eiseman, Chicago

2006-2007—Claire A. Manning, Springfield

2005-2006—Meredith E. Ritchie, Chicago

2004-2005—Ellen Schanzle-Haskins, Springfield

2003-2004—Celia G. Gamrath, Chicago

2002-2003—Gilda Hudson-Winfield, Chicago

2001-2002—Kathryn A. Kelly, Chicago

2000-2001—Susan M. Brazas, Rockford

1999-2000—Paula Hudson Holderman, Chicago (Third Vice President of the ISBA)

1998-1999—Christine G. Zeman, Springfield

1997-1998—Frances Skinner, Chicago

1996-1997—Peggy Raddatz, La Grange

1995-1996—Irene Bahr, Wheaton (Past President of the ISBA)

I join my Vice-Chair, Nikki Carrion (Alton) and this year’s Secretary, Sandy Blake (Oak Park) in honoring their legacy of service by our commitment to continue the advancement of causes and concerns unique to women in the profession and to women at large.

Because WATL is not a “practice-area specific” committee it attracts members with a wide range of experience. That ranges from elder law to juvenile justice, from criminal, family, civil litigation to alternative dispute resolution. Our members include solo, small and large firm practitioners. This year we are honored to be joined by two men: Ryan Robertson (Granite City) and Gregg Garofalo (Chicago). This diversity of knowledge and of experiences gives our committee the advantage of access to a broad range of perspectives on many topics. Truly we are a melting pot for ideas and innovations. For a complete list of all of the 2010-11 WATL members, their location and their practice areas, please go to the Member Groups/Committees/Women and the Law section at <www.isba.org>.

We are also delighted to welcome to WATL our very first Diversity Leadership Fellow, Shira Truitt (St. Louis, MO). Shira is one of ten new Leadership Fellows selected by the ISBA’s Diversity Leadership Institute. The Diversity Leadership Institute was established by the Board of Governors on March 12, 2010. Its goal is to increase diversity in the ISBA and its leadership, including membership of ISBA section councils, committees and other leadership positions; to educate new members (especially young lawyers) about the work, structure, and policies of the ISBA; to continue ongoing efforts to raise awareness of the importance of diversity to the ISBA; and ultimately to develop a diverse group of future leaders of the organization. WATL is a participating member of the Diversity Leadership Council along with the standing committees for Racial and Ethnic Minorities and the Law, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, Disability Law, the Diversity Pipeline Program, the Human Rights Section Council and the International Law and Immigration Section Council. Look for updates regarding the work of the Institute and the new Leadership Fellows in this newsletter and in the annual Diversity Newsletter, whose editor is former WATL Chair, E. Lynn Grayson.

WATL’s agenda this year includes: (1) continuing the tradition of innovative MCLE Programs (Mary Petruchius, chair); (2) developing and hosting additional cable TV programs (Letitia “Tish” Spunar-Sheats, chair); (3) continuing our yearly outreach to women professionals and law students around the state (Jan Boback, chair); (4) partnering with the Women Everywhere: Partners in Service project <www.wechicago.org> (Shital Patel, chair).

I look forward to reporting on the progress of these and other items in upcoming issues of this newsletter. On behalf of this year’s Catalyst Newsletter co-editors (Emily Masalski and Shital Patel) I invite you, our readers, to submit articles, provide feedback or share concerns on all topics of interest which impact “women and the law.” ■


Sandra Crawford is a solo practitioner in Chicago. She can be reached directly at lawcrawford@comcast.net. She practices in the areas of family, real estate, and mechanic lien foreclosure law. She is an ISBA Assembly member and the immediate past president of the Collaborative Law Institute of Illinois www.collablawil.org. Ms. Crawford frequently writes and teaches on the topics of mediation and Collaborative Practice (for more information about Collaborative Practice model of dispute resolution visit www.collaborativepractice.com).

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