WBAI Annual Reception Goes Virtual

The WBAI hosted its 106th Annual Reception on September 10, adapting one of the largest yearly legal events to a virtual format. The reception featured the installation of President Kathryn Conway, the officers and directors, as well as an awards presentation.

Lieutenant Governor, Juliana Stratton, received the Myra Bradwell Woman of Achievement Award. As the recipient of the WBAI’s highest honor, she delivered the keynote address. Senator Dick Durbin also gave remarks after receiving the Advocate for Women Award. WBAI member Diana Joseph received the Distinguished Service Award. Chief Justice of the Illinois Supreme Court, Anne Burke, also delivered remarks.

The evening commenced with a virtual networking session, where participants were put into virtual “rooms” for discussions with small groups of attendees. The hour-long reception followed the 30 minutes of networking.

Like many other organizations, this bar year the WBAI is committed to continuing to produce high-quality, engaging programming for its members, albeit virtually. For those that missed the reception or would like to revisit it, the entire program is available on our website at

“What a long way we have come since 1970 when at most a dozen of us would meet in a corner of the Chicago Bar Association’s President’s Room at lunchtime. We would walk to our table in the farthest corner of that room as the men chanted, “Here come the ladies, here come the ladies.” But we were a determined group, determined to succeed and determined to pay absolutely no attention to their chorus. Above all, we were determined to keep the Women’s Bar alive. How I wish that today’s members could have known the women whose drive and desire kept the Association on course – women such as Kay Agar, Teddy Gordon, Esther Rothstein, Jeanne Simon (Senator Simon’s wife), Dolores Hanna, Jeanne Brown Gordon, Judge Odas Nicholson, Judge Margaret O’Malley, and of course Judge Mary Heftel Hooton. They paved the way!”

Hon. Ilana D. Rovner

“Wishing the WBAI great success in the next year! Kate will be a dynamic leader for the WBAI in her 2020-2021 term!  Last night’s presentation was first class, and I was totally impressed by all of the speakers. Congratulations to Corrine on a great year despite COVID and unprecedented times. Welcome to the Past President’s Club!”

Hon. Jeanne Reynolds
WBAI Past President

“Well ladies, just an amazing job with tonight’s virtual reception! Congratulations on a truly spectacular presentation. I enjoyed every minute of it. I know that this was a tremendous amount of work, and you should all be very proud of your efforts.  Just spectacular!”

Eugena Whitson-Owen
WBAI Past President

“It was great to connect and meet new friends during the virtual networking reception. Congratulations to the WBAI event chairs who put together a fabulous interactive event followed by a meaningful program.  Looking forward to “seeing” you all again soon!”

Tiffany Gehrke
WBAI Director

“Would like to extend a HUGE CONGRATULATIONS to Kate Conway on an incredible WBAI Annual Reception virtual event last night. It was so polished with inspired speeches by all inductees and awardees! WOW, what a great event!”

Dawn M. Gonzalez
WBAI Past President

“The program was flawlessly executed and inspirational to all!”

Judge Debra B. Walker
WBAI Past President

“It is no surprise to hear how amazing Kate Conway is! We are beyond thrilled and extremely fortunate to have her be our fearless leader through these unprecedented times. The WBAI is an amazing organization with extremely strong female leaders!”

Genevieve Niemann
WBAI Director

“The WBAI Virtual Reception was proof positive that nothing can stop women on a mission! The fun and flawless WBAI Virtual Reception was a product of innovation, ingenuity and teamwork. What the world needs now is more leadership like we have in the WBAI.”

Sarah King
WBAI Director

“The event was beautiful. It was so nice to see all the incoming directors together along with hearing from Kate Conway. There was so much time, thought and effort put into the remote event, adapting to the times as the WBAI does. The speeches from Senator Durbin and Diana Joseph were inspiring and it all reminds us how important it is to vote this year!”

Erin M. Wilson
The Law Office of Erin M. Wilson LLC

“Congrats on a great (virtual) WBAI Annual Reception.  All the speeches were great, and Juliana Stratton was so impressive!  I recognize this was not easy to pull off and the WBAI nailed it! Kate, I wish you all the best for a successful bar year.”

Deane Brown
WBAI Past President

“Congratulations to Kate Conway and all of the new officers, and a job well done to all the outgoing officers. What an impressive program with Chief Justice Burke, Justice Kilbride, Senator Durbin, and Lieutenant Governor Stratton. You are all shaping the legal community, helping your clients’ needs, and moving the profession forward. By equality through opportunity, you are making a big difference. Best in this upcoming year from all of the attorneys and employees at Simmons Hanly Conroy.

You are an amazing group of attorneys who are getting big results.”

Perry J. Browder
Simmons Hanly Conroy Law Firm

“Last year, the WBAI created an unprecedented number of partnerships and alliances with other bar associations, the judiciary and government offices at the local and state levels. These partnerships allowed WBAI to launch our yearlong collaborative celebration and commemoration of a civic milestone’s centennial year:  the passage of the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution providing women the right to vote… Please join me in honoring the brave women who moved this country forward by registering to vote, making sure your children and other family members register to vote and then vote. It is the currency of our democracy.”

Corinne Heggie
WBAI Past President

About the Author

Hayley K. Graham is an attorney at Anesi, Ozmon, Rodin, Novak & Kohen, Ltd. where she represents injured workers in workers’ compensation and Social Security disability claims. She is also a Director on the WBAI board and Editor of the Newsletter.