Top Women Lawyers, Legislators, & Legal Employers in Leadership Awards

Top Women Lawyers & Legislators in Leadership Awards

The Top Women Lawyers & Legislators in Leadership Awards categories emphasize the accomplishments and diverse backgrounds of women who are making major professional contributions through their service in a leadership role. Candidates include elite women who have created growth in a given field and shown future potential or gone beyond traditional mentoring to create new pathways for women.

Top Legal Employers in Leadership Award

The Top Employers in Leadership includes the WBAI Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Award and Flexible Workplace Award (both new in 2023) recognize trailblazing firms, companies, and legal organizations committed to supporting employees in the legal profession through their proven practices.

2023 Top Women Lawyers in Leadership Award Recipients


Alfreda Bradley-Coar

Oct. 18, 2023

Executive Vice President, Chief Legal & People Officer, Obama Foundation

Alfreda Bradley-Coar serves as Executive Vice President, Chief Legal and People Officer for the Obama Foundation. In this role, Alfreda leads all aspects of the Foundation’s legal affairs including those related to the design, construction, and operations of the Obama Presidential Center. Alfreda is an accomplished C-suite executive with over 20 years with GE.  She is also a board director, and business advisor who strategizes and works with both corporate and nonprofits to create dynamic teams that build world-class structures, enabling organizations to successfully fulfill their missions. She is a strategic thought leader known for her enterprise risk and strategy expertise in healthcare, insurance, financial services, and transportation industries.

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Margaret Duval

Oct. 18, 2023

Executive Director, Ascend Justice

Margaret Duval has served as the Executive Director of Ascend Justice since 2012. The nonprofit organization’s mission is to empower individuals and families impacted by gender-based violence or the child welfare system to achieve safety and stability through holistic legal advocacy and systemic reform. During her tenure, the agency’s mission and work have expanded to better serve the holistic needs of survivors of domestic violence and to include advocacy for incarcerated survivors and families involved in the child welfare system.

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Patricia Brown Holmes

Oct. 18, 2023

Managing Partner, Riley Safer Holmes & Cancila LLP

Patricia Brown Holmes, Managing Partner of Riley Safer Holmes & Cancila LLP, focuses her practice on high-stakes, “bet-the-company” commercial disputes and litigation; class actions; investigations and white collar criminal defense; environmental, social, and governance issues (ESG) such as diversity audits; and risk, reputation, and crisis management counseling for her public and private corporate clients. She also currently serves as the Co-Chair of the National Football League Diversity Advisory Council. A former state court judge, experienced prosecutor, and defense lawyer, Patricia is renowned for impeccable judgment, brilliant strategy, and sage counsel.

Patricia is the first Black woman to manage and have her name on the door of a national law firm that is not women- or minority-owned. Often described as a force of nature for her boundless energy and powerful presence, she has received countless accolades for her professional excellence and her dedication to advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion in the legal profession. Recently, Patricia was honored with the Chambers USA 2023 Diversity & Inclusion Outstanding Contribution Award; the CBA-CBF Justice John Paul Stevens Award; the American Constitution Society Abner J. Mikva Award; the Abraham Lincoln Marovitz Philanthropic Award; the ABA Diversity Leadership Award; and was named to the CCBA Hall of Fame.

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Diana Joseph (posthumous)

Oct. 18, 2023

Senior Financial Life Advisor, Telemus

Diana Joseph served as Partner and Co-Chief Investment Officer for Telemus, where she and her team developed and oversaw the investment process and strategy for our firm. During her nearly 30 years in the business, Diana worked to promote the integrity of the wealth management industry and the betterment of her community, engaging with and supporting many civic organizations. She most loved being a tireless advocate for her clients, and she worked hard to mentor her team and staff.

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Karen Sheley

Oct. 18, 2023

Deputy General Counsel & Chief Compliance Officer, Office of the Illinois Governor

Karen Sheley is a Deputy General Counsel and the Chief Compliance Officer for the Illinois Governor, JB Pritzker. Among other things, she provides counsel on Illinois’ reproductive justice response to the Dobbs case, which ended the constitutional right to access abortion. Prior to joining the state, she was the Director of the Police Practices Project at the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, where she represented individuals and community groups challenging police misconduct, including stop and frisk and the use of excessive force against people with disabilities. She also has litigated civil rights cases in the areas of national security, free speech, and the freedom to marry.

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2023 Top Women Legislators in Leadership Award Recipients


Representative Camille Y. Lily

Oct. 18, 2023

Illinois State Representative

State Representative Camille Y. Lilly was born and raised in the 78th Illinois House District, where she has served since April 2010. Camille advocates for and works toward economic opportunity, community development, health and wellness, and educational advancement for district residents. Camille is known for her inclusive and transparent leadership style and her ability to build coalitions and develop creative, sustainable solutions to improve people’s lives and communities.

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Commissioner Josina Morita

Oct. 18, 2023

Cook County Commissioner

Josina Morita serves as Cook County Commissioner of the 13th District. Josina is an urban planner and non-profit leader who works toward addressing inequities and advancing sustainable solutions. She has been fighting for racial justice for the past 20 years and authored Illinois’ first ever legislative report card in racial equity. Josina is the first Asian American woman to serve on the Cook County Board. Josina’s human rights, racial equity, and water justice work has been recognized both locally and nationally.

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Representative Ann Williams

Oct. 18, 2023

Illinois State Representative

State Representative Ann Williams is currently serving her 7th term as State Representative of the 11th District on Chicago’s North Side. An Assistant Floor Whip, Ann’s legislative priorities include supporting neighborhood schools, protecting critical human services, preventing gun violence, and restoring fiscal stability to Illinois. As a member of the Reproductive Justice & Dobbs Decision Working Group, She is an advocate of reproductive rights and was a leader in bringing marriage equality to Illinois. Ann is committed to ensuring equality for all Illinois families. Ann is Chair of the House Energy & Environment Committee and is a leader on issues related to the environment and is working to address the climate crisis and has sponsored and supported numerous legislative initiatives pertaining to privacy rights and data privacy.

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2023 Top Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Employer Award Recipients


Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP

Oct. 18, 2023

Faegre Drinker is a firm designed for clients. With 1,200 experienced attorneys and consulting professionals licensed in nearly every state in the U.S., and with strategic offices in London and Shanghai, we have the strength and reach to solve our clients’ most complex transactional, litigation and regulatory challenges, wherever they may arise.

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Honigman LLP

Oct. 18, 2023

Honigman is a leading business law firm serving clients locally, nationally, and internationally from its offices across Chicago, Michigan (Ann Arbor, Bloomfield Hills, Detroit, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo and Lansing), Washington, D.C. and Israel. They counsel clients on complex legal issues in more than 60 areas of legal practice.

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Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP

Oct. 18, 2023

Kilpatrick Townsend is committed to fostering, cultivating, and preserving a culture where diversity, equity, and inclusion are not optional. We understand that our firm is at its best when everyone feels respected, valued, and has a sense of belonging. To that end, we have adopted a strategic diversity agenda built around three key principles: (1) valuing differences, (2) being inclusive, and (3) leading inclusively. Under the leadership of our Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer, Diversity & Inclusion Manager, Diversity & Inclusion Specialist, and dedicated Diversity & Inclusion Council we work diligently to ensure our diversity and inclusion strategy moves beyond words and permeates our practices and policies.

We take a holistic approach to inclusion -- recruiting attorneys from diverse backgrounds and actively working to ensure all attorneys are fully integrated into the firm, are provided with meaningful work experiences and client access, and receive opportunities to develop leadership skills. We require that all new hires complete unconscious bias training, receiving the tools to identify and combat it and offer annual augmentative trainings. In addition, we proactively develop and host a variety of programs and firm-wide conversations to raise awareness and encourage dialogue about the diverse cultures and traditions of our employees and partners and current societal issues. We sponsor and support a variety of outside organizations that offer professional development and networking opportunities to diverse attorneys. Our efforts inside and outside the firm work to increase visibility, awareness, and opportunities for our diverse attorneys and professional staff.

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Riley Safer Holmes & Cancila, LLP

Oct. 18, 2023

Riley Safer Holmes & Cancila LLP is a national law firm serving clients ranging from individuals and small privately held companies to large international corporations. Noted by the Chambers Diversity & Inclusion Awards as “a true diversity and inclusion pioneer for the profession,” RSHC fosters an inclusive work environment for all, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, religion, LGBTQ+, and disability status. The firm’s commitment to creating equal access to opportunity ensures that minority and female attorneys hold leadership roles across the firm. RSHC draws from this authentic diversity to assemble bespoke teams for each engagement, incorporating multiple perspectives to craft legal strategies and deliver business insights that create success in both the courtroom and boardroom. RSHC attorneys are united by a culture of excellence that is relentlessly client-focused, dynamically innovative, and passionately committed to winning.

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2023 Top Flexible Employer Award Recipients


Dentons

Oct. 18, 2023

Across over 80 countries, Dentons helps grow, protect, operate and finance organizations by providing uniquely global and deeply local legal solutions. The firm is polycentric, purpose-driven and committed to inclusion, diversity, equity and sustainability.

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Legal Aid Society of Metropolitan Family Services

Oct. 18, 2023

Metropolitan Family Services reaches 117,000 families and individuals annually through 10 community centers and multiple sites throughout Chicago, Cook and DuPage Counties. MFS meets those in its communities where they are, supporting and adapting to their consistently evolving needs with a range of holistic social and legal services. MFS’ services promote education, economic stability, emotional wellness and empowerment. In FY 2023, LAS served 15,727 clients with quality legal representation to victims of human trafficking and other crimes, including domestic violence, abused and exploited seniors or disabled adults, tenants faced with unlawful eviction and victims of financial exploitation and consumer fraud.

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The Law Office of Erin M. Wilson LLC

Oct. 18, 2023

The Chicago-based The Law Office of Erin M. Wilson LLC offers family law services in litigation, mediation parenting coordination, and appointments as Guardian ad Litem and Child Representative, for clients of diverse backgrounds with a range of issues including uncontested divorce, trials involving complex financial and parenting disputes, child support and maintenance, domestic violence and prenuptial agreements.

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Zurich North America

Oct. 18, 2023

Zurich North America is one of the largest providers of insurance solutions and services to businesses and individuals. Our customers represent industries ranging from agriculture to technology. Zurich North America is part of Zurich Insurance Group (Zurich), a leading multi-line insurer serving people and businesses in more than 200 countries and territories. Founded 150 years ago, Zurich is transforming insurance. In addition to providing insurance protection, Zurich is increasingly offering prevention services such as those that promote wellbeing and enhance climate resilience.

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2022 Top Women Lawyers in Leadership Award Recipients


Michele Anderson

Oct. 27, 2022

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Erica Kirkwood

Oct. 27, 2022

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Kathryn C. Liss

Oct. 27, 2022

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Ruchi Verma

Oct. 27, 2022

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2022 Top Women Legislators in Leadership Award Recipients


Sen. Cristina Castro

Oct. 27, 2022

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Rep. Eva-Dina Delgado

Oct. 27, 2022

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Rep. Jennifer Gong-Gershowitz

Oct. 27, 2022

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2021 Top Women Lawyers in Leadership Award Recipients


Sandra Yamate

Dec. 9, 2021

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Zelda B. Harris

Dec. 9, 2021

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Sarah Toney

Dec. 9, 2021

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Megan Lopp Mathias

Dec. 9, 2021

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Christina (Tina) L. Martini

Dec. 9, 2021

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Kristi S. Nolley

Dec. 9, 2021

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Hon. Shelly Sutker Dermer

Dec. 9, 2021

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2020 Top Women Lawyers in Leadership Award Recipients


Bridget Duignan

Dec. 1, 2020


Barbara Flores

Dec. 1, 2020


Josie Gough

Dec. 1, 2020


Hon. Mary Cay Marubio

Dec. 1, 2020


Fiona McEntee

Dec. 1, 2020


Ngozi Okorafor

Dec. 1, 2020


2018 Top Women Lawyers in Leadership Award Recipients


Felicia Frazier

Nov. 14, 2018


Debra Nahrstadt

Nov. 14, 2018


Nancy Paridy

Nov. 14,2018


Catherine Reiter

Nov. 14, 2018


2017 Top Women Lawyers in Leadership Award Recipients


Tiffany Harper

Nov. 2, 2017


Tina Tabacchi

Nov. 2, 2017


Camilla B. Taylor

Nov. 2, 2017


Jessica M. Scheller

Nov. 2, 2017


Jill M. Webb

Nov. 2, 2017


2016 Top Women Lawyers in Leadership Award Recipients


Chasity Boyce

Oct. 20, 2016


Kathy Byrne

Oct. 20, 2016


Katherine Minarik

Oct. 20, 2016


Meredith Ritchie

Oct. 20, 2016


Geri Pinzur Rosenberg

Oct. 20, 2016


2015 Top Women Lawyers in Leadership Award Recipients


Karina Ayala-Bermeojo

Nov. 5, 2015


Deane B. Brown

Nov. 5, 2015


Michele M. Jochner

Nov. 5, 2015


Andrea S. Kramer

Nov. 5, 2015


Susan L. Novosad

Nov. 5, 2015


Ann M. Spillane

Nov. 5, 2015


Monica M. Weed

Nov. 5, 2015


2014 Top Women Lawyers in Leadership Award Recipients


Maria C. Green

Oct. 23, 2014


Elizabeth Kaveny

Oct. 23, 2014


Amy Manning

Oct. 23, 2014


Virginia Martinez

Oct. 23, 2014


Jennifer Mikulina

Oct. 23, 2014


Kay Schichtel

Oct. 23, 2014