It is with much gratitude and sadness that I bid farewell to the Women in the Law Committee (WITL) in this my last column as Chair. I have served on this committee for eight years now—I only mark this time for certain because the son of our former WITL Chair, Annemarie Kill, just celebrated his 8th birthday in April. I first met Annemarie right before she gave birth to her son, Jack—a young man who is so proud that his mom is a lawyer that he announced that fact loudly to an elevator full of ISBA members at last year’s annual meeting in St. Louis. I want to thank Annemarie for her mentorship and friendship during my tenure on this committee and for her wonderful leadership this year on the Diversity Leadership Council (DLC).
I also would like to thank Gilda Hudson-Winfield. Gilda is the person solely responsible for my involvement on this committee and on the ISBA’s Judicial Evaluation Committee. Gilda and I, both family lawyers, were working on opposite sides of a case together about 9 years ago. So collegial was our relationship that we struck up many conversations about her involvement with the ISBA and the Illinois Bar Foundation. At that time I was an ISBA member—but in name only. I was not active in committee work or in any volunteer aspects of the either organization. However, Gilda encouraged my involvement and set a wonderful example of best practices for a chair of a committee and a volunteer. It is because of Gilda I now consider myself “a Bar junkie.” It is because of Gilda that I have gone on to become an ISBA Assembly member and to have had the honor of following in her footsteps as the chair of WITL. It is because of Gilda that I will make my television debut on the Illinois Law cable show in June 2011. There have been subsequent WITL chairs from whom I have also learned a great deal on how to be a good leader. I now count several of them as friends, including Sharon Eiseman and Lynn Grayson—both celebrated women and examples to us all of what service to others truly means. To all the chairs, right back to our founding chair, Irene Bahr, I give thanks.
I would like to thank specifically WITL staff liaison, Janet Sosin, and all the folks at ISBA, including Katie Underwood, Joyce Williams and Jim Covington, who have worked with our committee over the years to make various projects come together smoothly. Without the staff’s wonderful “behind the scenes” efforts our committee would not enjoy the success it does. I would also like to give special thanks to this year’s Catalyst Newsletter editors, Emily Masalski and Shital Patel. Having been the newsletter co-editor myself of several years, I know how hard it is to enroll folks to write and submit articles and to consistently produce a quality publication. Shital and Emily have done that this year in the respective quiet and determined ways and deserve much praise for their efforts.
Special thanks also go to Melissa Olivero, Mary Petruchius, and Jan Boback for their dedication and hard work in making our committee’s community outreach to LaSalle/Peru this year such a great success. I will take with me from that event and the many other similar outreach events over the past eight years some fond memories. On these “WITL road trips” we have gone to points all around Illinois, like Bloomington, Peoria, DeKalb, Champaign, Carbondale. Through these outreach trips I have met many wonderful practitioners and made lasting connections to hardworking and successful ISBA women lawyers. Unfortunately you are too numerous to mention by name—you know who you are—and I thank each one and all of you for the memories and the mentorship and for my increased geographical knowledge of my adopted State. I believe the women of WITL are truly an outstanding group and set a great example for the next generation of women entering the profession and the ISBA.
Last, but not least, I would like to thank my Executive Committee Members this year, Nikki Carrion (incoming Chair) and Sandy Blake (incoming Vice Chair). I leave this committee in their good hands. Through their ongoing examples of professionalism and volunteerism, they have each been an inspiration to me and to the others on our committee and in their respective communities. Wishing you both and all the future Women in the Law members continued success. I will look forward to reading about WITL future successes in the pages of The Catalyst. Thanks for the memories. Good Bye. ■