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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- 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 moblie 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.
- Mike Martinez ('09) recently completed work with his firm Matushek, Nilles & Sinars, L.L.C. on a landmark case in asbestos defense law. It is the first published decision on a spoliation of evidence case in the state of Illinois. The 4th District Appellate Court's preliminary opinion was first released on December 16, 2014. The decision is available to read.
- In December 2014, Christina Mennie ('03) was sworn in as the first female state's attorney in Putnam County, Illinois.
- Hon. Martin Mengarelli ('93) was appointed associate judge in the Illinois 3rd Judicial Circuit in September 2014.
- Rich Lenkov ('95) and Scott Prestin ('95) are co-producing a documentary on the legendary Super Bowl champion 1985 Chicago Bears. Former Bear and ’85 team member Otis Wilson is also a co-producer, and the film will be narrated by Jim Belushi.
- Kathleen Zellner ('83) has been named 2014 Person of the Year by Chicago Lawyer magazine.
- Rich Lenkov ('95) is the host of Legal Face-off--a fast-paced, high-energy legal program dealing with the hottest issues of the day that is available as a podcast from WGN. Lenkov and attorney Jason Whiteside host the program and provide a legal point/counterpoint perspective on issues ranging from Hollywood celebrities to sports stars and everything in between. Dean Jennifer Rosato Perea was a guest on the show in November 2014 and talked about if there are too many lawyers and the importance of jury selection.
- George B. Huff ('79) recently achieved one of the highest distinctions possible for a public servant. According to a release, on September 30, 2014, Huff was honored in a ceremony on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. The ceremony recognized his more than 30 years of distinguished service to the Administrative Office of the United States Courts.
- Brent R. Eames ('09) recently helped represent a client on a case that was featured in the November 17, 2014 edition of the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.The case involved Robert Montegna, an employee at a car dealership in Moline, IL. Montegna was seriously injured in a crash while taking a customer for a test drive in November 2008. He was represented in the case by Whiteside & Goldberg, Ltd., and Eames was one of the attorneys who worked on the case. Montegna received a $2.25 million settlement.
- Tina L. Harris (’98) was installed on November 9, 2014 as the first African American pastor of the Grand Avenue Temple United Methodist Church in Kansas City, MO. Before she became a minister, Harris was an attorney and diversity expert with two international law firms.
- On November 3, 2014, Cherilyn Murer ('78) J.D., C.R.A, President/CEO of Murer Consultants, Inc., was a distinguished guest speaker on the topic of Higher Education and Social Policy at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL. Her presentation was on "The Form and Function in the Climate of Today's Higher Education" and took place at Annenberg Hall.
- Hon. Joseph McGraw ('85) has been named the new Chairman of the Conference of Chief Judges, effective December 11, 2014. Judge McGraw will take over leadership from current Conference Chairman Chief Judge Elizabeth Robb of the 11th Judicial Circuit, who is retiring from judicial service on December 31, 2014. Judge McGraw has served as the Conference's vice-chairman since April 2014 and has served as a member of the Conference since January 2012.
- Ryan Tyrrell Lipinski ('04) is now the Compliance Officer for Cook County Health and Hospitals System and will be focused on overseeing compliance duties for the new CountyCare program. For the last 10 years, she had worked as an attorney with the State of Illinois, most recently serving as the Chief Administrative Law Judge for the Department of Healthcare and Family Services.
- Kenya Jenkins-Wright ('03) and Heather Wier Vaught ('05) were honored as “40 under 40” attorneys by the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin in October 2014. The Law Bulletin Publishing company conducts the 40 under 40 survey annually to determine who they believe are the “up and coming” young attorneys in Illinois under the age of 40. Forty attorneys are chosen - from hundreds of nominations each year - based on professional achievements, passion, and a desire to help the community.
- The following distinguished alumni were recognized at the 2014 NIU Law Alumni Council Awards ceremony on September 17, 2014 at the University Club of Chicago:
- Richard D. Felice ('79) was honored as Alumnus of the Year.
- Lesley Irizarry-Hougan ('04) was honored as Young Alumna of the Year.
- Abel L. Smith III ('89) was honored with the Distinguished Service Award.
Christian ('00), Nina ('02) and Blake Cosentino ('03) were honored with the Outstanding Service Award.
- Romas Mockaitis (’05) was honored with the Mentor of the Year Award.
- Richard D. Felice ('79) was honored as Alumnus of the Year.
- Art Sriratana ('08) has been hired as an associate attorney at Potestivo & Associates, P.C. in Chicago, IL. Art will be practicing in the area of Creditors' Rights.
- James F. McCluskey ('79), a partner in the law firm Momkus McCluskey, LLC, in Lisle, IL, has been elected to the Board of Directors of the Illinois Bar Foundation (IBF), the charitable arm of the Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA).
- Chris Kelly ('09) will be joining the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement District Court Litigation Division as an Associate Legal Advisor at ICE's Headquarters in Washington, DC. For the last four years, Chris has worked as an Assistant Chief Counsel with ICE, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, in Eloy, Arizona.
- Jerry B. Kurz ('80) was named the first-ever President of the Arena Football League on September 16, 2014. Kurz had served as Commissioner of the AFL for five years and worked as part of the league for 28 years prior to his appointment. He is credited with bringing the AFL bank from bankruptcy and expanding it considerably.
- Kenya Jenkinks-Wright ('03) received the ABA YLD Star of the Year Award at the ABA's conference in Boston, MA on August 8, 2014.
- Alice Sackett Henrikson ('91) was installed to a three-year term as director on the Kane County Bar Association Board of Managers on June 5, 2014. In addition, she will serve as co-chair of the Worker's Compensation Committee for the bar association for the upcoming year. Alice is with Turner Law Offices in Sycamore, IL.
- Kevin McHugh ('07) was named a 2014 Member of the National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 Trial Lawyers. Kevin started his own firm in 2013 and just recently moved his law office to downtown Naperville. Other notable accomplishments include Kevin earning his LL.M. in Taxation from DePaul University College of Law; receiving the Award for Excellence in Pro Bono and Public Interest Service from the U.S. District Court Northern District of Illinois in 2010; and becoming licensed in Florida in 2008.
- Rich Lenkov ('95) was named one of the "50 Most Influential People in Workers’ Compensation" by SEAK, Inc., a continuing education, publishing and consulting company. The list was assembled from those active in the workers’ compensation and occupational medicine field. Rich, a partner with Bryce, Downey & Lenkov LLC in Chicago, was named NIU Law's Alumnus of the Year in 2013.
- Hon. Joseph R. Waldeck ('79) recently retired from the bench after spending nearly 20 years as an associate judge in Lake County Circuit Court where he focused on juvenile, domestic abuse, and family law matters. He has joined Schiller, DuCanto & Fleck LLP as a partner.
- Kristen Shaffer ('11) has joined the firm of Shuttleworth & Ingersoll in Cedar Rapids, IA. Kristen will focus on family law and litigation.
- Lisa M. Nyuli ('89) was elected Treasurer of the ISBA Board of Governors.
- Bob Morgan ('05) has been named to the 3rd Annual Jewish "36 Under 36" List by the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago's Young Leadership Division (YLD) and Oy!Chicago.
- Richard D. Felice ('79) was installed as the 138th President of the Illinois State Bar Association at the ISBA Annual Meeting on June 20, 2014.
- Vincent Cornelius ('89) was inducted as the 2nd Vice President of the Illinois State Bar Association at the ISBA Annual Meeting on June 20, 2014.
- Lisa M. Nyuli (’89) was inducted as a member of the ISBA Board of Governors at the ISBA Annual Meeting on June 20, 2014.
- James F. McCluskey (’79) was inducted as a member of the ISBA Board of Governors at the ISBA Annual Meeting on June 20, 2014.
- Kenya A. Jenkins-Wright (’03) was inducted as a member of the ISBA Board of Governors at the ISBA Annual Meeting on June 20, 2014.
- Sonni C. Williams (’99) was inducted as a member of the ISBA Board of Governors at the ISBA Annual Meeting on June 20, 2014.
- Matt Pfeiffer ('00) was installed as a member of the DuPage County Bar Association Board of Directors on June 5, 2014.
- Katherine Haskins Becker ('11) was installed as secretary of the DuPage Association of Women Lawyers (DAWL) on May 29, 2014 and as a member of DuPage County Bar Association Board of Directors on June 5, 2014.
- Russ Slifer ('94) has been named the regional director for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office located in Denver, Colorado. The Denver regional office will be opening on June 30.
- Emmet C. Fairfield ('13) has a new position as a judicial law clerk for Justice Lisa Holder White of the Illinois Appellate Court, Fourth District.
- Keith Grant ('87) was installed as President of the Lake County Bar Association earlier this month - the first active Public Defender so honored in the LCBA's 102 year history. In 2013, Keith was elected to a two-year term as President of the Illinois Public Defender Association (representing nearly 2000 defenders state-wide).
- Amanda Reese ('05) became a partner at Michael, Best & Friedrich in Madison, Wisconsin. Amanda is a member of the Transactional Practice Group, focusing on health law and privacy matters.
- Lisa Schultz ('95) became a partner at Collins & Henderson in Beloit, Wisconsin. Lisa's practice areas include Family Law, Divorce, Probate, Guardianship, Wills and Trusts, Real Estate Transactions, Small Claims, Criminal and Juvenile Defense.
- Edward J. Kus ('78) was recognized as one of the “Leaders in their Field” in the recently released 2014 edition of Chambers USA. Kus, a partner with Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP in Chicago, was designated as a leader in Illinois in the area of Real Estate: Zoning/Land Use. Chambers ranks both lawyers and law firms based on the research of more than 150 full-time editors and researchers.
- Brian A. Schroeder ('92) recently joined Schiller DuCanto & Fleck LLP as a new partner. Schroeder brings more than 20 years of experience in appellate law, having argued cases before the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, the Illinois Supreme Court, and all five Districts of the Illinois Appellate Court.
- Stephanie Hilton ('10) was appointed and sworn in as the State's Attorney for Hancock County (Illinois) earlier this year. Stephanie began her career in private practice in Warren County and in 2012 became an assistant state's attorney in McDonough County. She was appointed as the new Hancock County State's Attorney by the Hancock County Board in January 2014.
- Joseph Hylak-Reinholtz ('09) recently joined the health care law practice group at Much Shelist in Chicago. Joe represents health care providers and suppliers in connection with transactional and regulatory compliance matters, including joint venture agreements, mergers, sales and acquisitions of health care-related businesses.
- David Olson ('85) was once again ranked in the 2014 edition of the Chambers USA directory for excellence in the practice area of Labor & Employment: Employee Benefits & Compensation. He practices at the Milwaukee, WI office of Quarles & Brady.
- Chris Nickels ('88) recently completed the Leadership South Carolina program. The program, which is the oldest of its kind in South Carolina, fosters an understanding of the state's most pressing issues. Each year, just 50 participants are selected to take part in the highly competitive program. Nickels and his classmates in this year's program focused on improving literacy.
- The Honorable Melissa M. Olivero ('97), an Administrative Law Judge for the National Labor Relations Board, was presented with the College of Law Outstanding Alumni Award by the NIU Alumni Association at an awards ceremony held at NIU on Friday, April 25, 2014.
- Kathleen Zellner ('83) was featured as "A champion of exonerations" in an interview with John Flynn Rooney in the April 22, 2014 edition of the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.
- Robin Belleau ('95) became the Executive Director of the Illinois Lawyers' Assistance Program in January 2014. LAP is a commission of the Illinois Supreme Court and assists the legal community with addiction and mental health issues.
- Rocio S. Becerril's ('09) Chicago-based immigration law firm, The Law Office of RSB, will expand their services into the western suburbs starting on May 1, 2014. The new office will be located at 29W522 Batavia Rd, Suite 2, in Warrenville, Illinois. The firm focuses on family based petitions and deportation defense.
- Jonathon Hoag ('06) made partner with the law firm of SmithAmundsen LLC (St. Charles, IL). A member of the Labor & Employment Practice Group, he focuses his practice on representing employers in labor & employment matters before state, federal, and administrative courts. His practice involves matters including wage and hour claims, employment contract issues, disability claims, discrimination and retaliation claims, harassment claims, prevailing wage issues, union issues, and safety and health matters. He is a contributing author to the Labor & Employment Law Update blog.
- Carmen (Mosier) McCormick (’94) joined MicroVention, Inc., a Terumo Corporation, as their Corporate and Compliance Counsel. Carmen is looking forward to getting back into international law after being only one of a handful of attorneys in the country who has, as in house counsel, defended five separate companies against Department of Justice health care fraud investigations.
- Cherilyn Murer ('78) was appointed to the National Readmission Prevention Collaborative (NRPC). NRPC is a volunteer organization that showcases case studies of 'Best Practice' readmission prevention programs for hospitals and provides readmission prevention tool kits.
- Francis M. Martinez ('83) has been selected to fill the Illinois 17th Judicial Circuit associate judge seat vacated by the retiring Associate Judge Steven G. Vecchio. Martinez is expected to take his oath of office February 3, 2014.
- Phil Nicolosi ('85) has been selected to fill the Illinois 17th Judicial Circuit associate judge seat vacated by the retiring Associate Judge Gary Pumilia. He began his term as judge on January 6, 2014.
- Karl Kelz ('99) opened the Kelz Law Office, LLC in Medford, Wisconsin after serving 10 years as Taylor County District Attorney. Kelz Law Office, LLC provides legal services in Criminal, Family, Business, Estate Planing and Real Estate areas of the law. Karl is an experienced litigator with over 100 jury trials completed.
- Mickel-Ange Eveillard (’12) is an attorney with the New York City Administration for Children Services - Family Court Legal Services Division.
- Bettie Lewis (’02) was elected to the Brownfield Remediation and Intermodal Promotion Act Advisory Council. She is a partner at SmithAmundsen LLC in Chicago.
- Brad Fuller (’10) (second from left, with his family) received the 2013 Outstanding Young Attorney Award from the Illinois Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.
- Joanna Panici ('13) was recently sworn in as a newly appointed Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney by Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez.
- Louis G. Apostol ('78) was inducted into the United Hellenic Voters of America's prestigious "Hall of Fame" for his many contributions to the practice of law and government service. He was honored at the UHVA's 39th Annual Awards Dinner in October and by the City of Chicago with a resolution sponsored by Alderman Burke in November. Louis is Executive Director and counsel for the Illinois Property Tax Appeal Board and a member of the NIU Law Board of Visitors.
- Blake Stone ('96) was named Staff Judge Advocate for the US Army Medical Readiness & Training Command at Ft. Sam Houston, TX. He formerly served (2010-2012) as Military Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Manpower & Reserve Affairs) at the Pentagon.
- Ingrid Lehnert ('85) was named Vice President & General Counsel, NAM Region, for Alstom Grid, Inc. in Philadelphia, PA.
- Emmet Fairfield ('13) was appointed staff attorney at the Illinois Appellate Court for the Fourth District in Springfield, IL.
- Mike Denning ('02) was named to the Law Bulletin Publishing Company's list of the 40 Illinois Attorneys Under Forty who are "up and comers" in Illinois. Mike is a partner in Heyl Royster's Rockford office where he concentrates his practice in civil defense litigation, including medical malpractice and nursing home litigation; auto, premises and trucking litigation; and the defense of toxic tort and asbestos claims.
- Julie Proscia ('03) has been named to Chicago's Daily Herald Business Ledger list of Influential Women in Business for 2013. Julie is a partner at SmithAmundsen in St. Charles, IL.
- Clay Kawski ('07) was named as a 2013 Up and Coming Lawyer by the Wisconsin Law Journal on September 26, 2013 in Milwaukee. Clay is an Assistant Attorney General for the Wisconsin Department of Justice.
- Ian Linnabary (’02) was named to the Top Lists of Leading Lawyers magazine in the areas of Closely & Privately Held Business Law; Election, Political & Campaign Law; Governmental, Municipal, Lobbying & Administrative Law; and Land Use, Zoning & Condemnation Law. With this honor, Ian, who is a partner at Reno & Zahm in Rockford, IL, holds the unique distinction of being the youngest Leading Lawyer in Winnebago County.
- Rich Lenkov ('95) was honored as Alumnus of the Year for outstanding career achievements and dedication to the College of Law.
- Adam Vaught ('05) was honored as Young Alumnus of the Year for outstanding achievements early in their careers and devotion to the public good.
- Hon. Mark Lopez ('83) was honored with the Outstanding Service Award for outstanding service to the College of Law.
- Alice Johnson ('02) was honored with the Distinguished Service Award for outstanding career achievements and devotion to the public good.
- Hon. Joseph McGraw ('85) was honored with the Distinguished Service Award for outstanding career achievements and devotion to the public good.
- Kate McCabe ('01) was honored with the Mentor of the Year Award for extraordinary dedication as a mentor.
- Former NIU Law Dean Jim Alfini was honored as an Honorary Alumnus for extraordinary commitment to the College of Law and the communities it serves.
- Julie Angelakos (‘01) joined the Addison,IL-based Stewart Legal Services team as State Counsel for Illinois.
- Rick Guzman ('09) was featured on the cover of the Beacon-News of Aurora, IL on September 17. Guzman was interviewd for an article discussing new properties on LaSalle Street in Aurora, including Emmanuel House, the non-profit organization that he co-founded and for which he serves as chairman of the board.
- Vincent Cornelius ('89) was featured in the September 2013 edition of Chicago Lawyer magazine.
- Cynthia Edwards ('09) was hired as Senior Contract Buyer at Pace Suburban Bus. She is responsible for conducting complex public procurements, negotiating contract terms and leading public bid openings.
- It was announced that Hon. Patricia Martin ('85) would be appointed by President Barack Obama as a member of the Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities.
- David Olson ('85) was ranked in the 2013 edition of Chambers USA directory for excellence in the practice area of Labor & Employment: Employee Benefits & Compensation. He is at the Milwaukee, WI office of Quarles & Brady.
- Hon. David Carlson ('01) was appointed associate judge in the 12th Judicial Circuit.
- Diane Romza-Kutz ('81) joined Husch Blackwell in Chicago, IL.
- Thomas Sewall ('96) joined De Renzo & Bomier LLC and practices bankruptcy law in the firm's Oshkosh and Neenah offices in Wisconsin.
- James McCluskey ('79) was elected as Secretary of the Illinois State Bar Association Board of Governors.
- Cecil E. Porter III ('01) received a Meritorious Service Award from the Illinois Association of Defense Trial Counsel.
- Hon. Diann K. Marsalek ('89) was elected to the Illinois Judges Association Board of Directors.
- Gary Scott Pyles ('91) was installed as the new President of the Will County Bar Association on June 28, 2013.
- James Glasgow (’78) received an award from the Chicago Metropolitan Battered Women’s Network for his work to protect victims of domestic violence.
- Dean Maragos (’78) was elected to the Board of Directors of the Hellenic Bar Association of Illinois.
- Michael Steelman (’79) was honored as the 2013 Illinois Banker of the Year by the Illinois Bankers Association.
- Ron Wittmeyer (’82) was elected 1st Vice President of the Northwest Suburban Bar Association.
- Greg Madden (’99) was promoted to Chief, Contracting with the Federal Supply Schedule Service of the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs National Acquisition Center in Hines, IL.
- Jamie Resch (’99), Senior Deputy Attorney General at the Nevada Attorney General’s office, won a case before the United States Supreme Court - NEVADA, ET AL., PETITIONERS v. CALVIN O’NEIL JACKSON.
- Ryan Armour (’05) made partner at Cassiday, Schade LLP in Rockford, IL.
- Shannon Stoker (Wapole) (’10) released her first book, The Registry.
- Chris Nickels ('88) was named as a Top 100 Litigator in the state of South Carolina by the American Society of Legal Advocates (ASLA).
- Vincent Cornelius ('89) was elected Third Vice-President of the Illinois State Bar Association.
- Richard D. Felice (‘79) will succeed to the office President-Elect of the ISBA.
- Steven A. Andersson (’92) was elected to the ISBA Assembly for the 16th Circuit.
- Susan W. Rogaliner (’91) was elected to the ISBA Assembly for the 16th Circuit.
- Colleen G. Thomas (’94) was elected to the ISBA Assembly for the 16th Circuit.
- Dick B. Williams (’96) was elected to the ISBA Assembly for the 10th Circuit.
- Robert Handley (’78) was elected to the ISBA Assembly for the 18th Circuit.
- Rhonda L. Rosenthal (’95) was elected to the ISBA Assembly for the 22nd Circuit.
- Kenya A. Jenkins-Wright (’03) was elected to the ISBA Assembly for Cook County.
- Julie A. Neubauer (’07) was elected to the ISBA Assembly for Cook County.
- Hon. John A. Wasilewski, ret. (’78) was elected to the ISBA Assembly for Cook County.
- The DeKalb (IL) County Board voted to appoint Riley Oncken ('04) to its open District 3 seat on March 20.
- Alumnus and Board of Visitors member Rich Lenkov ('95) was named to the Advisory Board of Legal Prep Charter Academy, Chicago's first and only legal-themed charter high school.
- Melissa Olivero ('97) was appointed as an Administrative Law Judge by the National Labor Relations Board.
- Hon. Mary Beth Bonaventura ('81) was appointed Director of the Indiana Department of Child Services.
- Brad Antonacci ('02)--Rockford, IL office--and Andrew Keyt ('02)--Peoria, IL office--made partner at the firm of Heyl Royster Voelker & Allen.
- Hon. Charles Weech ('88) was appointed by the Illinois Supreme Court to the Special Supreme Court Advisory Committee for Justice and Mental Health Planning.
- Rich Lenkov ('95) became the first President of the newly-formed Greater Chicago Chapter of the Claims and Litigation Management Alliance (CLM), a trade group including risk and litigation managers, insurance and claims professionals, corporate counsel, outside counsel and vendors to those occupations. CLM features 20,000 members nationally, and 1,345 in the Chicago area chapter.
- Timothy Cusack ('88) and Bradley J. Waller ('88) were appointed judges. Waller joined the bench as an Associate Judge in the 23rd Judicial Circuit in DeKalb County, IL, while Cusack was appointed an Associate Judge to the 10th Judicial Circuit in Peoria, IL.
- Tim Conklin ('04) and Tait Lundgren ('04) made partner with The Foster and Buick Law Group in Sycamore, IL effective January 1, 2013.