Press Release: WBAI Leadership Institute

September 17, 2015

The Women’s Bar Association of Illinois has launched a first-of-its-kind Leadership Institute, a six-program series to help women lawyers develop their leadership skills and strengthen their professional networks. The program launch meeting will be held Tuesday, October 13th at McDermott Will & Emery LLP’s Chicago office and includes dinner and networking.

“Women lawyers throughout Illinois and at all levels are a force in our legal industry. This Institute will help them enhance their leadership skills in an environment of supportive, smart, successful women,” said Andrea Kramer, a partner at McDermott, Will & Emery, program developer and co-chair of the WBAI’s Leadership Institute. WBAI President Hon. Jessica Arong O’Brien, added, “We are encouraging women lawyers at all levels of their career to participate in our program.”

In addition to Ms. Kramer, program co-chairs include Starr Rayford; Deanna Blair/Blair Caravelli Irmen; Nidhi Srivastava/Taft Stettinius & Hollister LP; E. Lynn Grayson/Jenner & Block; Linda K. Myers/Kirland & Ellis and Sharon Nowokowski/Posinelli PC. The Institute is sponsored by the law firms of Blair Caravelli Irmen; Jenner & Block LLP; McDermott Will & Emery; Polsinelli PC; Taft LP and Kirkland & Ellis as well as the investment management firm Alliance Berstein; the ISBA Women and the Law Committee; the Coalition of Women’s Initiatives in Law; and WLMA (Women’s Leadership and Mentoring Alliance).

All programs will be held at Chicago loop locations and include:

  • Program Kick-off — Tuesday, October 13th: Cocktails and a progressive dinner to set the stage for Institute objectives and to allow participants the opportunity to express their personal goals for the Institute.
  • Overcoming Gender Bias and Developing Inclusive Workplaces – Tuesday, November 10, 2015: This workshop will help women identify the gender biases they face and provide them with techniques to overcome such biases to advance in their careers. It will also set out some simple suggestions to make workplaces more inclusive.
  • Grit, Perseverance, A Positive Mindset, and Developing as a Leader – Tuesday, December 8, 2015: This workshop will address recent social science research on the value of grit and positive mindsets for women lawyers. Participants will receive personalized suggestions as to how to strengthen and maintain positive perspectives for career success.
  • Rainmaking, Marketing and Developing Your Brand — Monday, January 11, 2016: This interactive workshop will offer advice and guidance on business development, allowing participants to develop individual marketing plans. It will also include a discussion about rainmaking by senior women lawyers.
  • Community Involvement, Board Service and Taking Control of Your Career – Monday, February 8, 2016: This workshop will address ways women lawyers can further develop their leadership skills by participating in non-profit and corporate boards as well as presenting a wide range of career possibilities for women lawyers.
  • Generational and Gender Communication Differences – Monday, March 14, 2016: This workshop will focus on generational and gender communication issues in the workplace. It will provide practical techniques to effectively work in multigenerational workplaces and to use gender communication tendencies to their advantage.

Session networking begins at 5:00 p.m. Workshops begin promptly at 5:30 p.m. and conclude at 8:30 p.m. The cost for six sessions and workshop materials is $199 for members of WBAI and its partnering organizations, ISBA Women and the Law Committee, and the Coalition of Women’s Initiatives in Law. The Institute is $299 for all other participants. Depending on space availability, individual sessions may be available for $60 per session.

Participants are chosen by application, with preference given to WBAI, ISBA and Coalition members. Applications for participation are available at For more information about the Institute, please contact Sharon Nowakowski, Co-Chair of the Institute, at 312-463-6313 or
The Women’s Bar Association of Illinois is the only statewide bar association for women in Illinois. Members include partners and associates of large, medium, and small firms, sole practitioners, law professors, judges, political icons, public servants and in-house counsel. The WBAI serves as an influential voice that promotes and lobbies for the interests of all women through its active involvement with legislative initiatives and public policy. For more information regarding the WBAI, visit or you may contact Monique Austin, WBAI Executive Director, at 312-341-8530 or

To view our Brochure, please click HERE.

To complete the WBAI Institute Application, please click HERE.