Jumpstart 2022 Faculty Bios

Judge Ann Claire WIlliams

Judge Ann Claire Williams (Ret.)
Jumpstart Founder
Of Counsel, Jones Day

Judge Ann Claire Williams (Ret.), a trailblazer and leader, heads Jones Day’s efforts in advancing the rule of law in Africa. Devoted to promoting the effective delivery of justice worldwide, particularly in Africa, she has partnered with judiciaries, attorneys, NGOs, and the U.S. Departments of Justice and State to lead training programs in Ghana, Indonesia, Kenya, Liberia, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda. She also has taught at the International Criminal Tribunals for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia.

President Ronald Reagan nominated her in 1985 to the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois, making her the first woman of color to serve on a district court in the three-state Seventh Circuit. In 1999, President William Clinton’s nomination made her the first and only judge of color to sit on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and the third woman of color to serve on any federal circuit court. She brings her vast experience on the bench to serve as a resource for Jones Day’s leading trial and appellate practices.

Judge Williams has served on many judicial committees and, as treasurer and president of the Federal Judges Association, was the first person of color to become an officer. Committed to public interest work, she helped found Just The Beginning — A Pipeline Organization, the Black Women Lawyers’ Association of Chicago, Minority Legal Education Resources, and the Public Interest Fellowship Program for Equal Justice Works. She serves on the boards of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, Carnegie Corporation of New York, University of Notre Dame, National Institute for Trial Advocacy (NITA), Weinstein International Foundation, iCivics, Board of Counselors for Equal Justice Works, and Museum of Science & Industry Chicago and chairs the Advisory Board of the International Law Institute-South African Centre for Excellence. She is also chair of the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary for 2021-2023.

Benjamin E. Alba
Director of Academic Success, DePaul University College of Law

Professor Ben Alba is the director of academic success at DePaul University College of Law, where he serves on the Faculty/Staff Committee on Diversity, Inclusion, and Community-building and as faculty advisor for the Asian Pacific-American Law Student Association (APALSA).  He previously taught Remedies and Legal Analysis, Research & Communication and served as Director of Bar Passage and Student Advising.  Before joining DePaul in 2002, he was a partner in the Chicago litigation firm of Sneckenberg, Thompson & Brody; areas of practice included insurance, personal injury, civil rights, and administrative review.

Emily Aleisa
Legal Research and Writing Professor, Chicago-Kent College of Law

Emily Aleisa teaches Legal Research and Writing at Chicago-Kent College of Law. Before joining the faculty in fall 2017, she served as assistant counsel for the Illinois Bankers Association. In that capacity, she researched, negotiated, and drafted a wide variety of legislation impacting the financial services industry. She also provided legal guidance to bank compliance officers on federal and Illinois financial regulation laws, as well as served as the vice chairman of the Chicago Bar Association’s Financial Institutions Committee.

Before law school, Aleisa founded and ran her own copywriting firm, where she drafted and edited website content, press releases, email marketing campaigns, search engine optimization content, journal and magazine articles, technical documents, and works of fiction.

Aleisa graduated from Chicago-Kent in 2013. During law school, she worked as a teaching assistant for Legal Research and Writing and was a member of the Chicago-Kent Law Review and the trial advocacy team.

judge jorge alonso

Honorable Jorge L. Alonso
U.S. District Judge, Northern District of Illinois

The Honorable Jorge L. Alonso has served as a United States District Court Judge for the Northern District of Illinois since 2014. Judge Alonso was nominated to his position by President Barack Obama.  Judge Alonso previously served as an Associate Judge in the Circuit Court of Cook County where he presided over felony cases in the Criminal Division.  Before taking the bench, Judge Alonso worked as an assistant public defender in the Law Office of the Cook County Public Defender for over a decade.

Judge Alonso is very active in the Illinois legal community.  While on the Circuit Court, he served on the Illinois Supreme Court Special Committee on Capital Cases, and as Faculty for both the Illinois Judicial Conference and the New Judge Seminar.  Judge Alonso remains active in the Illinois Judges Association, the Chicago Inn of Court and the Lawyers Club of Chicago.  Judge Alonso also volunteers with a number of local nonprofits, including the Daniel Murphy Scholarship Fund, Cristo Rey Jesuit High School and the Lawyers’ Assistance Program.

Judge Alonso received his Bachelor of Arts from the University of Miami and his Juris Doctorate from George Washington University in Washington, D.C.  Judge Alonso has served on the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism since 2017.

Elsa Andrianifahanana
Associate, Jones Day

Elsa is a senior associate in the Labor and Employment group at Jones Day, where she focuses on complex issues including employment discrimination, trade secrets, and restrictive covenants, and also counsels clients through various phases of internal investigations, arbitrations, and litigation. Prior to joining Jones Day, Elsa was a member of the corporate restructuring and bankruptcy group of another firm, where she represented distressed companies undergoing reorganizations and debt restructurings. She went to Georgetown University for law school and is currently the President of the Black Women’s Lawyers’ Association of Greater Chicago.

Candace Bergeron Lenard
Associate Director of Student Engagement & Community, Northwestern Pritzker School of Law

Candace Bergeron Lenard is the Associate Director of Student Engagement & Community at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law. In her role, she works with both the Office of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Engagement and Student Services. Primarily, her work is focuses on collaborating with individual students, as well as student organizations, to provide support and foster community by developing inclusive and engaging activities aimed at bringing Northwestern Law’s diverse student body together. In addition to this, she focuses on law student well-being by providing students with a robust slate of wellness related programming and activities. Prior to joining Northwestern, she served as the Associate Director of Student Affairs & Programs at the University of Chicago Law School. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Illinois State University and her Master of Liberal Arts degree from the University of Chicago Graham School.

Mary Bird
Director of Public Service Programs, Loyola University Chicago School of Law

Mary Bird is the Director of Public Service Programs at Loyola University Chicago School of Law. She also coordinated and taught Loyola’s Street Law program for 30 years. Prof. Bird worked as an attorney in the child welfare arena for ten years, representing children, parents, and relative foster parents, as well as working at the Office of the Inspector General for DCFS.  Though it was some time ago, she recalls entering law school as a first-generation student, and the rather steep, yet surmountable, learning curve.

Judge Jeffrey Cummings photo

Honorable Jeffrey I. Cummings
U.S. Magistrate Judge, Northern District of Illinois

The Honorable Jeffrey I. Cummings was sworn in as a United States Magistrate Judge on February 1, 2019.  Between 1995 and 2019, Judge Cummings was a litigation partner at the law firm of Miner, Barnhill & Galland, where he had worked since 1989.  During his years at the firm, Judge Cummings represented a variety of clients – both plaintiffs and defendants – in a broad range of civil cases in state and federal trial and appellate courts.  He specialized in employment discrimination cases of all types, civil rights (including voting rights and police misconduct), and the representation of whistleblowers in cases arising under the federal and state false claims acts.  In addition, Judge Cummings served as a Hearing Officer for both the City of Chicago’s Commission on Human Relations and the City’s Police Board.

Judge Cummings received his J.D. from Northwestern University School of Law in 1987 and he graduated cum laude and Order of the Coif.  Between 1987 and 1989, Judge Cummings served as a law clerk for the Honorable Ann Claire Williams, who was then sitting as a United States District Court Judge for the Northern District of Illinois.

Jeremy Daniel
Assistant U.S. Attorney, U.S. Attorneys Office, Northern District of Illinois

Jeremy Daniel is an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois. While attending Illinois Wesleyan University, Jeremy enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corp Reserve. After graduating from Illinois Wesleyan, Jeremy served as a Combat Engineer Officer in the Marine Corps. Jeremy has since worked at Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP and with the Honorable Virginia M. Kendall.

Jesus Diaz
3L, DePaul University College of Law

Jesus Diaz is a rising 3L at DePaul University College of Law. He was raised in the Bronx, New York. Before attending DePaul, he graduated from The City College of New York where he received his B.A in Political Science. This past summer Jesus worked for Al Otro Lado, a not-for profit organization, in their litigation project. This experience solidified his desire to practice immigration law. This upcoming year Jesus will serve as Vice-President for DePaul’s Society for Asylum and Immigration Law (SAIL). Outside of law school, Jesus likes to jog and explore new restaurants in Chicago.

Annie Garau
Clerk for the Honorable Jeffrey I. Cummings

Annie Garau is a term law clerk for the Honorable Jeffrey I. Cummings, U.S. Magistrate Judge for the Northern District of Illinois. She graduated from Indiana University’s Maurer School of Law in 2021. As a law student, Annie clerked for four public defender agencies: Brooklyn Defender Services, Marion County Public Defenders, the Illinois Office of the State Appellate Defenders, and the Indiana Federal Community Defenders. She also served as an associate in the school’s federal habeas corpus clinic and as the Executive Fellow of the Indiana Journal of Constitutional Design.

Honorable Sunil R. Harjani
U.S. Magistrate Judge, Northern District of Illinois

The Honorable Sunil R. Harjani was selected to serve as a United States Magistrate Judge on September 27, 2018 and took his oath of office on January 10, 2019. Prior to assuming the bench, from September 2008 through January 2019, he was an Assistant United States Attorney and Deputy Chief of the Securities and Commodities Fraud Section for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago, where he investigated and prosecuted complex white-collar crimes. During his time as a federal prosecutor, Judge Harjani tried numerous securities and commodities matters, and other complex fraud cases to verdict in this district, as well as argued multiple appeals on behalf of the United States before the Seventh Circuit. Prior to that, Judge Harjani practiced federal civil litigation as a Senior Counsel at the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission, as an associate at Jenner & Block, and as a federal judicial law clerk.

Judge Harjani holds a Bachelor of Arts and a Juris Doctor degree from Northwestern University. He is currently an Adjunct Professor at Northwestern Law School where he teaches White Collar Crime and Civil Discovery Courses. Judge Harjani is also a trained and certified mediator, and previously conducted settlement conferences for the Cook County courts. Judge Harjani is a fellow of Leadership Greater Chicago, a board member of the Federal Bar Association (Chicago Chapter), and active in leadership at the Northwestern Law School Alumni Board, the South Asian Bar Association, and other civic and bar organizations.

Erika Harold

Erika Harold
Executive Director, Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism

Erika N. L. Harold is the Executive Director of the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism. A dedicated advocate for civility, empathy, and inclusion, Erika leads the Commission’s extensive educational programming focused on advancing professionalism among the state’s lawyers and judges to build trust and confidence in the justice system.

Prior to joining the Commission, Erika was an attorney in Champaign and Chicago.

Erika is a frequent speaker and panelist on topics including professionalism, civility, leadership, and diversity, equity, and inclusion, and was a featured panelist at Fortune Magazine’s “Most Powerful Women, Next Gen” conference.

Jeanna Hunter
Director of Academic Success, Northern Illinois University College of Law

Jeanna Hunter is the Director of Academic Success at Northern Illinois University College of Law.  She supports 1L, 2L, and 3L students as they work toward their law degrees and toward passing the bar exam.  She teaches Legal Methods, Legal Writing I, Advanced Legal Analysis: Skills and Strategies, and the Bar Fundamentals Course. She also teaches a second-year Academic Success course and a first-year exam-writing seminar. Before joining the faculty at NIU, she was a law clerk for the Honorable Charles W. Chapman, Illinois Appellate Court, Fifth District.  She has also clerked for the Illinois Appellate Court, Second District.

Amanda Johnson
Associate, Jones Day

Amanda is a mid-level associate in the business restructuring and reorganization group at Jones Day, where she assists corporate clients with all phases of chapter 11 proceedings and out of court restructurings, including clients with legacy liabilities.  Prior to law school, Amanda worked as a public school teacher in Atlanta, Georgia for two years.  She went to the University of Chicago for law school, where she served as president of the Black Law Students Association.

Lindsey Johnson
Director of Continuing Legal Education & Online Communications, Loyola University Chicago School of Law

Lindsey Johnson is a graduate of Loyola University Chicago School of Law.  Prior to joining the law school administration, she worked as a fellow in Loyola’s Community Law Center, as a judicial law clerk in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Chancery Division, and as an Assistant Attorney General in the Public Access Bureau of the Illinois Attorney General’s Office.  In her current role, she works with faculty, staff, and students in the accreditation of Continuing Legal Education programming. Lindsey is also an adjunct faculty member teaching weekend seminars in Client Counseling and Negotiation.

Alicia Jones
Associate Dean, Technical Services Librarian and Associate Professor of Law, Southern Illinois University School of Law 

Alicia Jones is the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and an Associate Professor at the Southern Illinois University (SIU) School of Law in Carbondale, Illinois, where she teaches in the Lawyering Skills program. Dean Jones also teaches Advanced Electronic Legal Research, where students learn to find and evaluate information and resources using proprietary databases, various online resources, and government resources.

As the Associate Dean, she works closely with the administration and faculty on the law school curriculum. She also works with the Student Bar Association and other student organizations to ensure students have the academic resources they need as they matriculate through law school.

Dean Jones also serves as the Head of Technical Services for the SIU Law Library. In her role as Head of Technical Services, Dean Jones focuses on interacting with law students, providing greater accessibility to library resources and materials, and helping them understand the impact of these materials on their law school careers. Her research interests include customer service in academic law libraries, and the intersection between technical service processing and its effects on teaching legal research. Dean Jones is the co-author of Illinois State Documents and The Constitutional Conventions of Illinois. In addition, she is the faculty advisor for the Black Law Students Association, Women’s Law Forum, and the Women of Diversity.

Dean Jones’ previous positions include: Reference Librarian at SIU School of Law, Reference Associate at the Pritzker Legal Research Center of Northwestern University School of Law, and Cataloging Librarian at the Moraine Valley Community College in Chicago. Among her many responsibilities, she trained other technical services librarians, drafted a cataloging manual, and worked with reference librarians on making the catalog more accessible to students. She received her Master of Science in Library and Information Science from the University of Illinois, her J.D. from Howard University, and her B.A. in Political Science from North Carolina Central University.

Adria Kimbrough
Student Recruiting Manager, NAACP Legal Defense Fund’s (LDF) Marshall-Motley Scholars Program

Adria Kimbrough serves as Student Recruiting Manager for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund’s (LDF) Marshall-Motley Scholars Program. Named in honor of civil rights legends Thurgood Marshall — LDF’s founder and the nation’s first Black Supreme Court Justice — and Constance Baker Motley, former LDF attorney and the first Black woman to become a federal judge, the Marshall-Motley Scholars Program (MMSP) is an innovative educational and training opportunity that will produce the next generation of civil rights attorneys to serve Black communities in the South.

In this critical role, Ms. Kimbrough leads strategic outreach, marketing, and recruitment efforts for the MMSP designed to identify and attract students that align with the mission and goals of the program. A former litigator and higher education administrator, Ms. Kimbrough most recently served as Pre-Law Advisor, Director of the LEAD Program, and Mock Trial Team Coach at Dillard University.  She previously served as Assistant Dean of Students at Cornell University, University Attorney at Albany State University, Associate General Counsel for the University of Arkansas System, and as Associate and Of Counsel for two labor and employment boutique firms. Ms. Kimbrough received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Talladega College and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Cincinnati College of Law.

Yolanda King
Associate Dean for Academic Affairs & Associate Professor of Law, Northern Illinois University College of Law

Yolanda M. King is the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and an Associate Professor of Law at Northern Illinois University College of Law in DeKalb, Illinois.  She teaches Property and various intellectual property law-related courses, such as Copyright Law, Entertainment Law, Intellectual Property Law, and Trademark Law.  Her scholarly interests include the copyrightability of tattoos, the enforcement of tattoo copyrights, right of publicity protection for celebrities’ tattoos and choreography, and music licensing.

Dean King is Of Counsel at Chicago-based intellectual property law firm Advitam IP, where she advises clients on trademark protection and prosecutes federal trademark applications before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

She graduated from Harvard Law School and Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

Jamie Kleppetsch
Director of Bar Passage, DePaul University College of Law

Jamie A. Kleppetsch is the Director of Bar Passage and has been working in the bar passage field since 2008. Professor Kleppetsch teaches three courses that address analytical skills, practical legal writing skills and substantive review of subjects frequently tested on the bar examination. She has presented nationally on how to integrate academic support concepts into the doctrinal classroom, how to develop strong bar examination preparation programs, and identifying students “at-risk” of failing the bar examination and addressing their needs as they prepare for the bar examination. Professor Kleppetsch served on the Association of Academic Support Educators Executive Board from 2014 – 2018 and hosted their 2015 National Conference and 2019 Diversity Conference. Professor Kleppetsch serves as the Chair-Elect of the Association of American Law Schools Academic Support Section and will serve as Chair in 2020.​

Sandra Kupelian
Coordinator of the Lawyering Skills Program, Northern Illinois University College of Law

Sandra Kupelian is the Coordinator of the Lawyering Skills Program at Northern Illinois University College of Law. She teaches Introduction to Lawyering Skills, Legal Writing & Advocacy I and II, and in the Academic Success Program. She also serves as Moot Court Faculty Advisor and directs the production of the Lenny B. Mandell Moot Court Competition for 2Ls, now in its forty-first year. Prior to joining the NIU law faculty in 2016, Ms. Kupelian was on the faculty of DePaul University College of Law where she taught legal analysis, research, and communication.

Before that Ms. Kupelian practiced complex commercial litigation for the Gloor Law Group for seven years after the firm spun off from Cassiday, Schade & Gloor, LLP, where she previously practiced as a partner working on trial, appellate and insurance coverage matters. Before she joined private practice, Ms. Kupelian was an appellate law clerk, first for Justice Marvin D. Dunn and then for Justice James F. Quetsch of the Illinois Appellate Court, Second District. She is a member of the bar of the United States Supreme Court, the Supreme Court of Illinois, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, and the United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois, Central District of Illinois, and Western District of Michigan. Ms. Kupelian is a graduate cum laude of the University of Illinois College of Law at Urbana-Champaign. She has one daughter and lives in Oak Park with her cat and two dogs.

Tania Luma
Assistant Dean, Inclusion, Diversity & Equity, Loyola Chicago School of Law

Tania Luma is the Assistant Dean for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at Loyola Law School. Dean Luma works to promote a culture that values and supports DEI through work in five main areas: institutional strategic planning, diversity programming and training, current student support, recruitment, and community partnerships. She practiced child and family law for 7 years prior to her career in higher education. In addition to practicing law, Assistant Dean Luma has taught at the undergraduate and graduate level and consulted with organizations on leadership and how to create high-performing employee cultures. She is Harvard University-trained in adaptive leadership and public leadership.

Jody Marcucci
Senior Professional Lecturer; Associate Director, Legal Analysis, Research & Communication, DePaul University College of Law

Prior to joining the College of Law, Professor Jody Marcucci served as a law clerk to Illinois Appellate Court justices David A. Erickson and Rodolfo Garcia, where she drafted judicial decisions encompassing several areas of criminal and civil law including post-conviction, medical malpractice and contract cases. She also taught at DePaul as an adjunct legal writing instructor. Professor Marcucci received her BA in political science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and earned her JD, magna cum laude, from DePaul, where she served as an associate editor of DePaul Law Review and as a legal writing teaching assistant. Professor Marcucci also served as a law clerk at the Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago and the Chicago Legal Clinic.

Carrie Montgomery
Clerk for the Honorable Candace Jackson-Akiwumi

Carrie Montgomery is a term law clerk for the Honorable Candace Jackson-Akiwumi, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. She graduated from Cornell Law School in 2018 where she was a teaching fellow for the first-year legal writing course, moot court board member, and academic chair of the Black Law Students Association. She previously clerked on the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia and worked as a litigation associate at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP. She is originally from New York.

photo of Juan Morado Jr.

Juan Morado Jr.
Partner, Benesch Friedlander Coplan & Aronoff LLP

Juan Morado Jr. is a seasoned health care regulatory and transaction attorney and has extensive experience working with state and federal agencies, and providing strategic counsel to private and public corporations, organizations, and individuals. He is a trusted advisor to hospitals, health systems, physician groups and business owners, helping them achieve their business goals while navigating complex regulatory requirements to implement industry best practices. Juan is one of the leading Certificate of Need (CON) attorneys in Illinois, and provides guidance to General Counsels on all aspects of their business needs.

Before joining Benesch in 2017, Juan served as General Counsel to the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board, and he began his career in public service with the office of Chicago’s Corporation Counsel and later became Deputy Chief of Staff and Assistant GC in then-Gov. Pat Quinn’s office.

Juan serves as a mayoral appointee on MPEA Board, and previously served as Commissioner on the Illinois Medical District Commission. Juan is a Past President of the Hispanic Lawyer Association of Illinois, and also serves on the Board of the Chicago Bar Association, the Public Interest Law Initiative, La Casa Norte, and is the Chair of the Latino Leadership Council.

Ryan Ortiz
2L, University of Illinois Chicago School of Law

Ryan Ortiz is a rising 2L at University of Illinois Chicago School of Law. She was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. She attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for undergrad where she majored in Clinical and Community Psychology. During her first year of law school, she served as the 1L Representative for UIC’s Black Law Students Association and will serve as their treasurer for this upcoming academic year. This summer, Ryan had the opportunity to serve as a Public Interest Law Initiative (PILI) / Justice Thomas L. Kilbride Honorary Intern for Greater Chicago Legal Clinic where she assisted in their Family Law and Domestic Violence Programs.

Honorable Martha M. Pacold
U.S. District Judge, Northern District of Illinois

The Honorable Martha M. Pacold serves as a U.S. District Judge for the Northern District of Illinois.  She previously served as Deputy General Counsel of the U.S. Department of the Treasury and, before that, Executive Secretary at the agency.  Before that, she was an associate and then a partner in the Chicago office of Bartlit Beck Herman Palenchar & Scott, LLP.  She also was a Lecturer in Law at the University of Chicago Law School.

Earlier in her career, she served as a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia and as a Counsel to the Attorney General at the U.S. Department of Justice.  She served as a law clerk to Justice Clarence Thomas of the Supreme Court of the United States, to Judge Jay S. Bybee of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and to Judge A. Raymond Randolph of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Judge Pacold earned her B.A. from Indiana University and her J.D. from the University of Chicago Law School.

Pallmeyer photo

Honorable Rebecca R. Pallmeyer
Chief Judge, Northern District of Illinois

The Honorable Rebecca R. Pallmeyer was sworn in as Chief Judge for the Northern District of Illinois on July 1, 2019. She has served as a U.S. District Judge since 1998. From October 1, 1991, until 1998, Chief Judge Pallmeyer served as a U.S. Magistrate Judge. She previously served as an Administrative Law Judge with the Illinois Human Rights Commission from 1985 until 1991.

Christian Price
Associate, Jones Day 

Christian is a junior associate in the real estate group at Jones Day, where he advises domestic and international clients on complex transactions, including real estate finance and acquisition, along with the leasing and management of real estate assets across various sectors.  He went to the University of Chicago for law school, where he served as secretary of the Black Law Students Association.

diona-rogers headshot

Diona E. Rogers
Associate, Thompson Coburn LLP 

Diona E. Rogers currently works at Thompson Coburn LLP in Chicago. Diona assists in the documentation and closing of syndicated and single-lender secured and unsecured credit facilities. Prior to joining Thompson Coburn, Diona served as a compliance associate in a Chicago trading firm and worked as a corporate attorney. Diona holds both a J.D. and an MBA, enabling her to apply a strong business-minded perspective to legal matters.

She is president of the Minority Legal Educational Resources, Inc. (“MLER”).

Marsha L. Ross-Jackson, Chicago-Kent College of Law, headshot

Marsha Ross-Jackson
Assistant Dean, Chicago-Kent College of Law
Executive Director, Institute for Law and the Workplace

Marsha Ross-Jackson has served as an HR/legal business partner and adviser to senior leaders, boards of directors and operational leaders in the areas of labor and employee relations, leadership and Diversity, Equity, Inclusion  Belonging. She currently designs and facilitates workplace training in these areas as well.  Marsha has a B.A. in Biology from Hampton University, a MPA from Roosevelt University and a J.D. from DePaul University College of Law. She is currently a senior lecturer and associate dean for the Office of DEI at the Chicago-Kent College of Law. Marsha is also the executive director of its Institute for Law and the Workplace and works as an arbitrator in labor and employment law matters.

Moniel Sanders
2L, University of Illinois Chicago School of Law

Moniel Sanders is a rising 2L at University of Illinois Chicago School of Law. In high school, she was inspired by RBG and their shared birthdays. She attended Indiana University where her interests in politics and law grew, it was then she decided to attend law school. Between college and law school, she worked with Americorp serving kids and under resourced schools in Chicago’s Back of the Yards neighborhood. Her passion for public service is what motivates her. She continues that work in law school volunteering as a Court Appointed Special Advocate and interning with Cabrini Green Legal Aid.

Dania Saleh
2L, Chicago-Kent College of Law

Dania Saleh and is a rising 2L at Chicago-Kent College of Law. She is originally from Florida and moved to Chicago for law school. She received my Bachelor’s in Pre-Law studies from the Florida Institute of Technology in May of 2021. She is a member of numerous campus organizations such as the National Lawyers Guild, the First Generation Law Student Association, Women in Law, and the Muslim Law Student Association.

This past summer, Dania became a certified court mediator and worked one-on-one with parties to help settle cases. Her role was to facilitate negotiations and write out agreements that were sent to judges to for review and published as final decisions in cases. She also served as a teaching assistant for Contracts, Legal Writing, and Trial Advocacy courses.

Antonette Smith headshot

Antonette Smith
Executive Director, Just The Beginning

Antonette N. Smith was appointed Executive Director of Just The Beginning – A Pipeline Organization in September 2017. Previously, she served as the Associate Director of Educational Programs for the American Bar Association Section of Real Property Trust & Estate Law. She has also served as a diversity and inclusion consultant to incoming law students at New York Law

Jennifer Spreng
Assistant Professor of Law, Southern Illinois University School of Law

Jennifer Spreng joined the faculty of Southern Illinois School of Law in 2022.  She has designed and taught numerous innovative doctrinal, writing, simulation, academic support, bar preparation, and integrated courses, often in experimental formats and notable for their authentic anchoring scenarios and extensive formative assessment.  Spreng regularly publishes and lectures both here and abroad about authentic learning, integrated course design, legal writing, and other law teaching and curriculum issues.

Professor Spreng was previously Associate Professor of Law and taught Bankruptcy, Civil Procedure, and Constitutional Law for nine years at Arizona Summit Law School, where she led cutting-edge curriculum development efforts, designed and delivered integrated courses, and regularly created innovative classroom activities and teaching materials, such as The Great Civil Procedure Shootout.  She also designed and taught first-year and upper-class writing courses as one of the original faculty of the Law Success program at Saint Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas for more than five years.

Professor Spreng earned her Bachelor of Arts with honors in American history from Washington and Lee University (magna cum laude) in 1990; her J.D. from Saint Louis University (magna cum laude) in 1995, where she was Lead Articles Editor of Saint Louis University Law Journal, which published her comment, Failing Honorably:  Balancing Tests, Justice O’Connor, and the Free Exercise of Religion; and her LL.M in Biotechnology and Genomics from Arizona State University Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law in 2014.

Professor Spreng is the author of the book, Abortion and Divorce Law in Ireland, and her articles about school desegregation in Prince Edward County, Virginia, and possible Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reorganization are leaders in their fields.  She won Arizona Summit’s 2013-14 Faculty Scholarship Award, and along with law teaching, her current scholarly interests include religious and other individual liberties, and food, drug, and pharmacy law.

Professor Spreng is a former clerk to Judges Andrew J. Kleinfeld of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and F. A. Little Jr. of the United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana.  She practiced bankruptcy and civil litigation in Owensboro, Kentucky for nine years, and before law school, she served as a United States Congressional staff member providing research support for a welfare reform project that formed the foundation for the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act of 1996.

Dr. Ana Vázquez-Rivera has over 20 years of professional experience in the field of education, specializing in diversity initiatives, student affairs, and teaching. In her current role, she is responsible for diversity, wellness and student leadership programming. Dr. Vazquez-Rivera holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees, as well as a Ph.D. from Loyola University-Chicago. Her dissertation documented the college experiences of Latinx students at predominantly White higher education institutions. Dr. Vazquez-Rivera has committed much of her research and education advocacy to fostering positive educational experiences for students, particularly diverse students and helping them achieve their educational goals.

virginia vermillion

Virginia Vermillion
Dean of Students & Assistant Dean for Academic Administration, University of Illinois College of Law 

Virginia Vermillion is Dean of Students, Assistant Dean for Academic Administration, as well as an Adjunct Professor. With the assistance of those in Student Services, she serves as an advocate for students and student organizations, manages the many student awards, implements the College’s academic policies, facilitates course and examination schedules, hosts Orientation and Convocation, serves on various unit and campus committees, and, most importantly, counsels with the College of Law students. Most recently, the Dean V Oral Advocacy Award was established in her honor, which recognizes those who have engaged and excelled in the College’s Appellate Advocacy/Moot Court curriculum.

She earned her B.S.W. with honors from the University of Illinois College of Social work in 1982 and her J.D. from the College of Law in 1986. As a College of Law student, she was a Harno Scholarship recipient, a Rickert Scholar for Oral Advocacy, a finalist in the Frederick Green Moot Court Competition and in the Thomas Competition for Oral Advocacy, a third place recipient in the Client Counseling Competition, a member of the Moot Court Board of Editors, a tribune for the Delta Theta Phi Legal Fraternity, and the recipient of the American Jurisprudence Award for Remedies.

Dean Vermillion practiced law in Chicago from 1987 to 1999, serving as an associate and then partner with firms involved in national and international litigation. She returned to Illinois in 1999, serving as the College’s director and assistant dean for career services before moving to her present position in 2003.

Karen Villagomez
Clerk for the Honorable Sunil R. Harjani

Karen Villagomez is a term law clerk for the Honorable Sunil R. Harjani, U.S. Magistrate Judge for the Northern District of Illinois. She graduated from Northwestern Pritzker School of Law School in 2018. Prior to clerking, she worked for two and a half years as an Assistant Corporation Counsel at the City of Chicago Law Department and briefly as an associate at Hughes Socol Piers Resnick and Dym in the civil rights and employment practice, where she will be returning after her clerkship. She was originally born in Mexico and grew up in Chicago.

Julia White
Clerk for the Honorable M. David Weisman

Julia White is a term law clerk for the Honorable M. David Weisman, U.S. Magistrate Judge for the Northern District of Illinois. She graduated from Georgetown University Law Center in 2021 where she was President of the Women’s Legal Alliance. Prior to law school, she served over four years as an Intelligence Analyst for the FBI and received a master’s degree in conflict analysis and resolution. She is originally from the Chicagoland area.

Dawn Young
Professor, University of Idaho College of Law

Dawn Young will be joining the University of Idaho College of Law faculty in the fall of 2022 where she will teach Academic Skills Lab I and Academic Skills Lab II.  Professor Young received her B.A. from Boston University, J.D. from Syracuse University College of Law, and LL.M. from Boston University School of Law.

For twelve years, Professor Young gained extensive experience working with students at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law in various capacities.  From 2020 to 2022, she served as Director of Academic Skills where she oversaw the law school’s academic success program—working closely with students in maximizing their learning and achievement in law school.  In her role, Professor Young developed and implemented academic skills workshops and provided academic counseling to students.  She also directed the law school’s teaching assistant program and served as its writing specialist.  Since 2018, Professor Young has taught an upper-level legal writing course focused on contract drafting as an adjunct professor.

From 2010 to 2020, Professor Young served as Director of Institutional Projects at Chicago-Kent where she planned, executed, and directed projects related to the institutional progress of the law school, including acquiring and managing grants, assisting with strategic planning and accreditation, and directing the law school’s solo and small practice incubator program.

Prior to her time at Chicago-Kent, Professor Young has worked as an attorney in private practice and in the legal department of a real estate development and marketing company in Chicago.