The Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism is pleased to announce that Deputy Director Stephanie Villinski has been re-appointed to the American Bar Association’s Cornerstones of Democracy: Civics, Civility and Collaboration Commission (Commission).
Villinski was appointed to a one-year term by ABA President Mary Smith. Villinski was initially appointed by Immediate Past President Deborah Enix-Ross to a one-year term beginning in 2022.
The Cornerstones of Democracy initiative was created by Enix-Ross to encourage lawyers to take the lead in promoting civics, civility, and collaboration, to restore confidence in America’s democratic institutions and the judicial system, and to protect the rule of law, the ABA’s website says.
According to the ABA’s 2023 Civic Literacy Survey, which surveyed 1,000 Americans, 85% of respondents said that civility is worse than 10 years ago and more than half didn’t think highly of the general public’s civic knowledge. Moreover, the survey found mixed results when it came to the respondents’ knowledge of the branches of government, the Constitution, and the Supreme Court.
“I am honored to once again be included in this important initiative promoting civics education and civil collaboration, which are essential to building confidence in the rule of law and needed now more than ever,” Villinski said. “As community leaders and officers of the legal system, lawyers can set the tone for civil and well-informed public discourse. This initiative complements our work at the Commission on Professionalism well, where we use education to promote professionalism in the legal and judicial systems.”
One of the notable achievements of the Commission in 2022 is the Cornerstones of Democracy Conversation Guide. The guide includes resources for having civil discussions in a variety of venues and formats and ways to be civically engaged in everyday life.
The Commission also contributed to the 2023 Law Day theme, which shared its name. The theme invited legal professionals to discuss how to rebuild trust in our institutions, respect one another, and collaborate to address the divisiveness and challenges that face our nation.
“Stephanie demonstrates civility, integrity, and a desire to find common ground in all that she does, which makes her an apt steward for this valuable work,” said Commission on Professionalism Executive Director Erika Harold. “I am thrilled for this continued collaboration between the ABA and the Commission on Professionalism.”
In addition to her role on the Cornerstones Commission, Villinski serves as Chair of the ABA Standing Committee on Professionalism, assisting ABA entities, bar associations, the judiciary, law schools, and the legal community in the development and coordination of professionalism programs, resources, and changes to the Model Rules of Professional Conduct .
She has served as Deputy Director of the Commission on Professionalism since October 2017. At the Commission, she oversees operations and supports the development of professionalism programming, including the Commission’s mentoring, CLE, and law school programs. She is particularly interested in promoting and improving the well-being of the legal profession.
Before joining the Commission, Villinski was Content Director at Illinois Legal Aid Online (ILAO), where she oversaw the publication of user-centered content for those in need of legal assistance, and an attorney at LAF (now Legal Aid Chicago), where she specialized in public housing issues throughout Chicago.
Villinski is a member of the ABA, the Illinois State Bar Association, the Chicago Bar Association, and the Women’s Bar Association of Illinois.
She received a J.D. with Order of Coif distinction from DePaul University College of Law and graduated summa cum laude from Saint Mary’s College in Indiana.
About the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism
The Illinois Supreme Court established the Commission on Professionalism under Supreme Court Rule 799 to promote integrity, professionalism, and civility among the lawyers and judges of Illinois, to foster a commitment to the elimination of bias and divisiveness within the legal and judicial systems, and to ensure those systems provide equitable, effective, and efficient resolution of problems for the people of Illinois.
The Commission achieves this mission through professional responsibility CLE, lawyer-to-lawyer mentoring, legal professionalism programming, educational resources, and more. To learn more, visit 2Civility.org and follow us on social media.
Laura Bagby, Communications Director