March 2020Volume 108Number 3Page 10

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ISBA Elections

Get Ready to Vote

Candidate information for the 2020-2021 election.

Three of your colleagues are asking you to elect them as the ISBA’s third vice-president for 2020-2021. The winner will help lead major initiatives for the ISBA and will be appointed president in 2023-2024.

The three candidates seeking the third vice-presidency are Shawn Kasserman, Ava George Stewart, and Nora Devine. You will find detailed candidate-provided biographies, and biographies of those seeking seats on the Board of Governors, on this and the next three pages. A list of candidates for the Assembly is on page 14.

This year, the ISBA is holding elections with an online voting option. Paper and email ballots will be distributed on Wednesday, March 26. Voting will close on Thursday, April 30, at 4:30 p.m. for all voting methods (e-ballot, paper, or internet). For more information, visit our election page.

Board of Governors seats up for election are: two seats in Cook County; one seat in Area 3 (circuits 12, 13, 16, 21, and 23); one in Area 4 (circuits 10, 14, and 15); one representing outside Cook County under the age of 37; and one for under-the-age-of-37 in Cook County. There also are 23 candidates seeking 21 spots on the Assembly.

Don’t stand on the sideline. Casting your vote is easy and only takes a few minutes. Be on the lookout for your ballot and do your part to shape the ISBA’s future!


Shawn Kasserman

Shawn Kasserman, Chicago. Married 29 years to Dawn, 3 children. Graduated from DePaul College of Law (1990). Trial lawyer, Corboy & Demetrio (1990-2013). Co-founded Tomasik Kotin Kasserman, LLC in 2013, representing people catastrophically injured/killed due to the negligence of others. ISBA member since 1991. ISBA Young Lawyers Division (1991-1998, chair 1997-1998). Elected and currently serving as ISBA treasurer. Elected and currently serving on ISBA Board of Governors. Current member, ISBA Assembly. Served on the following sections/committees: Tort Law, Civil Practice and Procedure, Workers Compensation, Judicial Evaluations, and Bench and Bar. Board of Directors, Illinois Bar Foundation (2009-2017); President, Illinois Bar Foundation (2015-16). Member, Illinois Trial Lawyers Association (1991-present). ITLA Board of Managers since 2008; ITLA Executive Committee (2013-2014 and 2016-present), ITLA Seminar Planning chair (2014-2015). Member of the DuPage County Bar Association (1995-present). DCBA General Counsel 2016. Member of the Chicago Bar Association since 1990. Served on CBA Young Lawyers Section, Homeless and Runaway Youth Committee; CBA Judicial Evaluation Committee; CBA Interfaith Committee. Member, Women’s Bar Association (2009-present). Member, Justinian Society of Lawyers (2016-present). Current president of Kids in Danger, a nonprofit group dedicated to improving children’s product safety. Honored in 2013 with BEST FRIEND Award for advocacy in support of children’s product safety. Currently serves on Board of Directors for Lawndale Legal Clinic, dedicated to serving Lawndale youth involved in the criminal justice system. Current vice president of Lawyers Trust Fund of Illinois, making grants to provide legal aid throughout Illinois. Current vice president of American Board of Trial Advocates of Illinois, dedicated to preserving the right to trial by jury. Inducted into the American College of Trial Lawyers which is limited to 1% of lawyers (2013). ISSUE STATEMENT: Looking forward to helping ALL our members maximize modern technology, increase opportunity, and bolster meaningful relationships!

Ava George Stewart

Ava George Stewart, Chicago. Criminal defense attorney. Education: B.A. and M.S.C., Northwestern University; J.D., University of Illinois. ISBA activities: Board of Governors (2016-present). Assembly (2007-2010; 2014-2016). Standing committees on Illinois Bar Journal Editorial Board (2010-2018), and Marketing and Communications (2015-2018). Section councils on Criminal Justice (chair, 2015-2016), Traffic Laws and Courts (chair, 2011-2012). Special Committee on Member Services (2017-2019). Board Liaison to the section councils on Criminal Justice, and Human Rights, the Illinois Bar Journal Editorial Board, Standing Committee on Member Services, Standing Committee on Corrections and Sentencing, Standing Committee on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, Standing Committee on Women and the Law. Illinois Bar Foundation: Silver Fellow and board member (2015-present). ISBA Mutual (2005-present). Other activities: IICLE Board of Directors (2016-present) BWLA Board of Directors Member-At-Large (2016-2018), Women Everywhere, Board (2011-present). Served multiple terms as co-chair of the WBAI’s Criminal Litigation Committee (2010-2016), DUI Committee of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (2013-2016), Illinois Delegate for the National College of DUI Defense (2010-2015), Cook County Bar Association, WBAI, and Women’s Criminal Defense Bar Association (current). Former board member, Minority Legal Education Resources (2005). Frequent state and national presenter, panelist, and author on criminal law, cross-examination, sentencing, mitigation, legalization of cannabis, medical cannabis, DUI law, Secretary of State-related issues, specialty courts including Drug Courts and Veterans’ Courts, intersectionality of criminal and family law, immigration law, and unconscious bias. She teaches Appellate Advocacy at The UIC John Marshall Law School. Prior to becoming an attorney, she served as the Executive Director at several not-for-profit organizations serving homeless and disenfranchised women and children. ISSUE STATEMENT: The ISBA must be strengthened to better serve its members throughout their careers by improving member engagement and satisfaction. As President, I will continue to grow and strengthen the ISBA through outreach, listening, and innovation.

Nora Devine

Nora Devine, Chicago. Known as a “get it done” attorney and a forward-thinking leader in her two terms on the Illinois State Bar Association’s Board of Governors, Nora represents businesses and individuals for Steven B. Pearlman & Associates in property tax appeals spanning Illinois. At the ISBA, Nora is past chair of the State and Local Taxation Section Council and led the ISBA’s fight against the unlicensed practice of law, including ISBA’s successful lawsuit against the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation for illegally regulating attorneys. Nora is the founding president of the Women’s Property Tax Association, a group organized to promote the success of women, including attorneys and appraisers, in the property tax field. She co-authors a chapter on Specific Objection Lawsuits for the Illinois Institute of Continuing Legal Education, and lectures nationally. She teaches for the Illinois Property Assessment Institute, educating assessing officials in Illinois. A native of Elgin, Nora put herself through Loyola University Chicago, earning a B.A. and J.D. Nora resides in Chicago with her husband and children, ages 2-16. ISSUE STATEMENT: As Third Vice President, I will have four priorities: (1) grow membership, particularly among mid-size and large law firms, government lawyers, and women by ensuring that the ISBA provides valuable offerings at appropriate pricing to all of its constituencies; (2) continuing the fight against the unlicensed practice of law; and (3) “one card, every courthouse” – seeking approval of a single card that can be used by attorneys to access each of the 102 county courthouses in Illinois and bypass security lines. In particular, I propose to study and enact a new ISBA dues structure that would make the ISBA more cost-effective for government lawyers while making membership even more valuable to lawyers in private practice.


Julie Johnson

Julie Johnson, Chicago. Incumbent. Since graduating cum laude from Northern Illinois University College of Law, Julie has dedicated her 13-year practice to all aspects of matrimonial and family law, including pre-nuptial agreements, dispute resolution, litigation and appeals. Her career began in the law office of Robert K. Downs, who first introduced her to the ISBA. For over 10 years, Julie has been a member of the Family Law Group at the law firm of Aronberg Goldgehn Davis & Garmisa. As a law student, Julie was recognized for her contributions to the adoption by the Supreme Court of the pro-bono reporting requirement with an Illinois State Bar Association Presidential Commendation Award in 2005. Julie has dedicated her service to the ISBA since law school. She has been a member of the Young Lawyers Division, Family Law Section Council and Standing Committee on Women and the Law (chair 2016-17) and the Diversity Leadership Council. She was elected to the Board of Governors in 2017. Julie’s ISBA exposure has been broadened significantly through her services as board liaison for the Environmental Law, ADR, Family Law, Military Affairs and Disability Law Sections. Over the years, Julie has presented at numerous CLE programs, written articles, sponsored programs, engaged in legislative affairs and helped evolve ISBA policy. ISSUES STATEMENT: Julie looks forward to the opportunity to continue her Board work-in-progress on strategic planning and to continued engagement in all things ISBA.

Arlette Porter

Arlette Porter, Chicago. Sole Practitioner: family law, real estate closings only. Practice: divorce, child support, allocation of parental responsibilities (custody), guardianship of minors, real estate closings only. Education: B.A., Lake Forest College, Lake Forest, Illinois (1976); M.A., Chicago State University (1984); John Marshall Law School (2004). Admitted: 2005, Northern District of Illinois (2005), United States Supreme Court (2009), Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals (2014). Certified Mediator/Arbitrator. ISBA: Assembly, Family Law Section Council. Standing committees on Assembly Agenda and Program; Assembly Finance; Assembly Governance; Continuing Legal Education; Judicial Evaluations Cook County; Racial and Ethnic Minorities and the Law; and Law Related Education for the Public. Young Lawyers Division. Illinois Bar Foundation Silver Fellow, volunteer for Illinois Bar Foundation Gala, Young Lawyers’ Division Council, Solo/Small Firm Committee. Other activities: Domestic Relations Courtroom Facilitator; Cook Country Guardian Ad Litem/Child Representative; ARDC Hearing Board Member (2006-2010); ARDC Oversight Committee (2008-2010); CBA Christmas Spirits cast member (2005-2014); CIVIC: WTTW Community Advisory Board (2006-2008); Lake Region Conference of Seventh-day Adventists Constitution and By-Laws Committee and delegate to Convention; Christian Fellowship Volleyball and  Basketball League, player, coach and commissioner (1997-Present); Chicago Bears Organization, Cheerleader (1975-1976); Bars: ISBA, CBA. Mother to two adult sons, Gerod (BNSF Railroad) and Daniel (Cook County Dept. of Corrections). ISSUE STATEMENT: Provide innovative and fresh ideas to the Board and membership; encourage retention of members and explore ways to attract new members with special emphasis on diversity; join with other Board Members in researching and implementing programs and procedures to enhance the legal profession; and explore the necessity of providing assistance to lawyers dealing with mental health issues. 

Stephen Komie

Stephen Komie, Chicago. Principal, Komie and Associates, Chicago. Trial and Appellate practice. DePaul College of Law, J.D. (1976). Admitted: Illinois Supreme Court 1976; U.S. Supreme Court; U.S. Court of Appeals, 6th, 7th, and 8th Circuits; U.S. District Court for Central, Northern, and Southern Illinois. ISBA member since 1976; secretary, treasurer, Board of Governors (1992-1997, 1999-2004, 2011-2016); Assembly (1985-1990, 1992-1997, 1999-2018). Special committees: Credentials (past chair), GATS (past chair), Mandatory CLE, Judicial Compensation, and By-Laws. Standing committees on Professionalism (chair) and ARDC. Section councils on Criminal Justice (past chair); Traffic Laws and Courts; Civil Practice; General Practice, Solo, and Small Firm; and Family Law. Director, Illinois Bar Foundation. Speaker, ISBA CLE Seminars. CBA: past chairman, Criminal Law Committee (1983-84); and Defense of Prisoners Committee (1986-87); member, Matrimonial Law Committee. ABA: Task Force, Small Firm & Solo Practitioners; Justice Section Council. American Association for Justice, Illinois Trial Lawyers. Associations: North Suburban Bar, Northwest Suburban Bar, West Suburban Bar. Past Director & Parliamentarian, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. Articles: “Magna Carta: 800 Years of the Rule of Law,” Illinois Bar Journal Vol. 103 No. 6; IICLE Illinois Family Law, 1998, 2008, 2012. Awards: 1994 American Trial Lawyers Association National Public Service Award for Pro Bono Legal Representation; 1991 Recipient ISBA Board of Governors Award for Service to the Bar; ISBA Certificates of Appreciation, 1986, 1990, 1991; CBA Certificates of Appreciation, 1984 and 1987. ISSUE STATEMENT: Leader in Advocating individual rights of lawyers through “Attorney’s Bill of Rights,” 1989, providing expungement of ARDC complaints made against attorneys and other procedural safeguards. Published; “ISBA Legislation Proposed to Protect Attorney/Client Relationship,” Chicago Law Bulletin, 1987. I am dedicated to keeping the Assembly and reaffirming THE ASSEMBLY as the ISBA chief policymaker. My agenda will always be to assist and promote the interest of members of the legal profession.

(Circuits 12, 13, 16, 21, and 23) | (1 TO BE ELECTED)

Nicholas Feda

Nicholas Feda, St. Charles. Incumbent. Assistant Public Defender in The Kane County Public Defender’s Office. B.S., DePaul University (2005); J.D., Barry University Dwayne O. Andreas School of Law (2010). Admitted Illinois (2011), Florida (2014). ISBA activities: Member, Board of Governors (Incumbent); Assembly Agenda and Program Committee (2017-2019); Assembly (2016-present). Vice-chair Standing Committee on the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission (2018-2019), chairperson Standing Committee on the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission (2019-present); member, Standing Committee on the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission (2016-present). Secretary, Standing Committee on Judicial Advisory Polls (2019-present); member, Standing Committee on Judicial Advisory Polls (2015-present). Other Activities: Oversight Committee member, Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission of the Supreme Court of Illinois (2016-present). Director of the Kane County Bar Association (2019-present); co-chair, Kane County Bar Association Criminal Law Committee (2017-present); member, Kane County Bar Association (2012-present). Board of Directors, Illinois Public Defender Association (2019-present). Volunteer, Kane County Drug Rehabilitation Court Book Club (2018-present); volunteer, Elgin Youth Basketball League (2015-present); volunteer, Northern Illinois University College of Law Mentorship Program (2014-present).

(Circuits 10, 14, and 15) | (1 TO BE ELECTED)

Heather McPherson

Heather McPherson, Freeport. Incumbent. Principal, McPherson Law Office. Practice concentrated in estate planning, estate and trust administration and litigation, and agricultural real estate. J.D., Marquette University Law School; B.A., Beloit College. Admitted in Illinois 2001. Also admitted in Florida and Wisconsin. ISBA activities: Board of Governors (2019-present), LAWPAC (2016-present), Assembly (2010-2016), Trusts & Estates Section Council (2014-present), Elder Law Section Council (2004-2014, chair 2009-2010), Standing Committee on CLE (2014-Present). Bronze Fellow. Other activities: ARDC Hearing Board Panel chair (2014-Present), Stephenson County Bar Association, president (2018-present), Board of Directors for local hospital (2014-present), Board of Directors for local art museum (2005-2017). Resides in Freeport and enjoys golfing, traveling, and skiing.

(Circuits 1 – 23) | (1 TO BE ELECTED)

David J. Sanders

David J. Sanders, Carbondale. Law clerk to Justice Lloyd A. Karmeier of the Illinois Supreme Court and Judge Advocate (trial counsel) in the U.S. Army Illinois National Guard for the 404th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade in Normal, Illinois. Received his B.S. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (2009) and a J.D. from the Southern Illinois University School of Law (2014). ISBA activities: Current chair of the Standing Committee on Legal Education, Admission and Competence; member of the Young Lawyers Division; member of the Civil Practice Section Council. Illinois Bar Foundation Bronze Fellow. Panelist member on ISBA’s CLE program “Interns, Externs and Clerks: Training, Supervision and Professionalism Issues” (2018). Publications: “An Expedited Rejection of Redistricting Ballot Initiatives: Hooker v. Illinois State Board of Elections, 2016 IL 121077” (2017); “Survey of Illinois Law: Criminal Law” (2016), “Shared Responsibility: Time for Illinois to Adopt the Income Shares Model of Child Support” (2014); law school casebook contributor “Firearms Law And The Second Amendment: Regulation, Rights, and Policy” (2017). Other activities: Frequent guest lecturer on Illinois Second Amendment cases; Editor-in-Chief of the Illinois Survey (2012-14); Domestic and international (Nicaragua) volunteer for Habitat for Humanity Guardian for the Veterans Honor Flight of Southern Illinois (2018). Currently resides in Carbondale with his wife Elisha (ISBA member) and their dog, Chief. ISSUE STATEMENT: Increasing and retaining young lawyer membership is imperative in keeping the ISBA strong. To do so, I will work hard to bring a new and focused perspective to ensure that the ISBA provides services that are both valuable and relevant for all members throughout Illinois.  I will also advocate for the creation of additional opportunities and events for younger attorneys and downstate members so that every member can receive a greater return on their investment in the organization.


Alexandar Azar

Alexandar Azar, Chicago. I am an Illinois and Chicago native, currently practicing commercial litigation and class action defense at Riley Safer Holmes & Cancila LLP. I earned my J.D. from Seattle University School of Law, my B.S. from University of Washington in Seattle, and my post-baccalaureate degree from Loyola University Chicago, and was admitted to Illinois practice in 2017. Upon graduation from law school, I had the honor of working as a law clerk for Ret. Honorable Diane J. Larsen in the Chancery Division of the Circuit Court of Cook County. I also had the honor of clerking for the late Honorable Damon J. Keith and subsequently for the Honorable Eric L. Clay, both from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. I began my ISBA journey during law school, and currently am active in the Young Lawyer’s Division as the co-chair of the Law Student Division, working directly with the future of our Association. Within the ISBA, I also call SOGI home. I am involved and have received accolades from other bar associations, such as LAGBAC and the Cook County Bar Association. I also volunteer my time mentoring students preparing to take the bar exam. ISSUE STATEMENT: Support a pipeline of membership, development, and support of every ISBA member from entry to exit of the legal profession. If granted this high honor, I would be humbled to represent the Illinois State Bar Association’s young lawyers on its Board of Governors.

Jennifer Haase

Jennifer Haase, Chicago. Employer: Pirok & Haase, Partner. Education: J.D., IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, 2011; CALI Excellence for the Future Awards for Legal Writing and for Trial Advocacy; B.S., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (2008). Admitted: Illinois (2011); U.S. District Court for Northern District, Illinois (2011); U.S. Bankruptcy Court (2011). Principle areas of practice: Commercial litigation, business, and professional liability. ISBA activities: Chair of the Young Lawyers Division, vice-chair (2018-2019), secretary (2017-2018), member 2012-present. Current ISBA Assembly member (previous consecutive terms 2012-2018); Special Committee on Transition Planning (2018-2019). Moderator and panelist for CLE “ISBA Basic Skills Live-For Newly Admitted Attorneys” (2018). Currently resides in Huntley with her husband Ken and three children Kenny (7), Luke (4), and Cecilia (2). ISSUE STATEMENT: Establish and sustain relationships with young attorneys, including law students, to facilitate communication and ensure all perspectives are adequately represented in ISBA matters

(21 TO BE ELECTED) | Denotes incumbent*

  • Michael Alkaraki
  • Patrice Ball-Reed*
  • Joel Chupack*
  • Chris Cohen
  • Sandra Crawford
  • Umberto Davi*
  • Jessica Durkin
  • Sharon L. Eiseman
  • Gail Tuler Friedman
  • Jesse Gonzalez
  • David P. Huber*
  • Stephen M. Komie*
  • Lori G. Levin
  • Jeffrey G. Liss
  • Ashanti Madlock Henderson*
  • Bruno Ronald Marasso*
  • Emily N. Masalski
  • Erica Chron Minchella*
  • Megan Fahey Monty
  • J. Damian Ortiz*
  • Alan Pearlman
  • Chloé G. Pedersen*
  • Benjamin Sweeney

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