Public Interest Law Initiative

Alumni Class Representatives

Meet our new Alumni Class Representatives! This special group of ambassadors for PILI’s mission and work personally connect with their Intern and Fellow classmates to strengthen the community of 4,000 PILI Alumni. One former Intern and one former Fellow represent five-year groups of PILI Intern & Fellow Alumni.

1977-1985

John Mrowiec, 1982 Intern, Conway & Mrowiec

“The PILI Internship assisted me in meeting like-minded lawyers and mentors and nurtured the spirit of life-long responsible pro bono service.”

John was a PILI Intern at the Roger Baldwin Foundation of the ACLU of Illinois in 1982. A founding partner at Conway & Mrowiec, he concentrates his practice in construction and design contracts and disputes. He currently serves on the board of directors at the Francis W. Parker School as the former Facilities Committee Chair and also volunteers with Lawyers for the Creative Arts in Chicago.

1986-1990

Charles Wintersteen, 1990 Intern, Charles Wintersteen & Associates

“My experience as a PILI Intern allowed me to gain experience representing immigrants. After my PILI Internship I knew that I wanted to focus my practice on immigration law, and that is what I have done ever since.”

Charlie was a PILI Intern in the summer of 1990 at Travelers and Immigrants Aid, now known as the National Immigrant Justice Center. Charlie works as an immigration lawyer at his own firm, representing individuals before the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and providing immigration representation to a number of institutional clients including nonprofit healthcare providers, schools, and religious organizations. He is on the board of directors of Justice For Our Neighbors, a nonprofit immigration legal services organization.  He also volunteers regularly to counsel clients at weekend naturalization workshops.

Ruth Major, 1990 Fellow, The Law Offices of Ruth I. Major

“My PILI Fellowship provided me with a unique opportunity to see the excellent work lawyers in the public sector do and learn how rewarding that kind of work can be. It was an invaluable experience that I am very glad to have had.”

Ruth was a PILI Fellow at the Office of the Cook County Public Guardian in 1990. She now works as an employment lawyer at her own firm, where she regularly represents victims of discrimination. Prior to starting her firm, Ruth was a partner at Penny Nathan Kahan & Associates and in the litigation department of Gardner Carton & Douglas, which is now Drinker Biddle & Reath.

1991-1995

Kathleen Callahan, 1992 Intern, CARPLS

Kathleen Callahan

“I learned I loved working in legal aid as a PILI Intern. I gain a tremendous amount of personal satisfaction from my work and as a result, I have spent the majority of my now 22 years as an attorney dedicated to working in legal aid.”

Kathleen was a PILI Intern at the Cook County Legal Assistance Foundation, which later became LAF, in 1992. She currently works as a staff attorney at CARPLS where she is able to use her legal education to serve those in need. She also volunteers as an editor for Illinois Legal Aid Online.

Michael Parks, 1992 Fellow, Thompson Coburn LLP

“Being a PILI Fellow was the perfect way to cap off my law school experience.  It provided me an opportunity to become immersed in public interest work, and paved the way for me to continue doing pro bono work in my private practice.”

Michael was a PILI Fellow at the Roger Baldwin Foundation of the ACLU of Illinois in 1992. Now a partner at Thompson Coburn LLP, he counsels clients on patent and trademark issues and represents them in federal courts across the United States. He also serves on the President’s Council of the Museum of Science & Industry and as a board member at Equip for Equality.

1996-2000

Theresa Duckett, 2000 Intern and 2002 Fellow, BMO Harris Bank N.A.

Theresa Duckett

As attorneys, the obligation to serve our community comes with the privilege of practicing law. PILI puts energy behind this obligation and assists us as legal professionals in matching our services with the needs of our community.”

Theresa was a PILI Intern at the Better Government Association in 2000, as well as a PILI Fellow at BGA in 2002. She’s currently Senior Counsel and Vice President at BMO Harris Bank N.A., where she is leading the charge of building a corporate pro bono program.

Angela Frye, 1997 Fellow, Verizon Wireless

“I have always been grateful for my PILI Fellowship experience. I saw first-hand the dedication and hard work that public interest attorneys put forth every day, but also learned about the huge need for lawyers in private practice to take on pro bono work as they advance in their legal careers.”

Angela was a PILI Fellow at the Cook County Public Guardian’s Office in 1997. She now works as Assistant General Counsel at Verizon Wireless, where she is a pro bono leader. She dedicates her own time to pro bono clients and volunteers with organizations such as the Domestic Violence Legal Clinic. She also encourages her colleagues to get involved in pro bono service as well.

2001-2005

Matt Jenkins, 2005 Intern, Corboy & Demetrio

Matt Jenkins

“My work at PILI instilled a lifelong drive to contribute pro bono work regardless of where my practice takes me.  It also instilled in me the notion that it’s our responsibility as lawyers to give back through pro bono work.”

Matthew was a PILI Intern at LAF in 2005. He currently practices personal injury law at Corboy & Demetrio and also heads their Pro Bono Department. Matt has handled numerous pro bono cases on behalf of people with disabilities. He received PILI’s 2014 Distinguished Intern Alumni Award, and in 2013, was named to the list of “40 Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch” by the Law Bulletin Publishing Company.  He currently serves on boards and committees with the Chicago Bar Association, the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association, the Illinois State Bar Association and the Center for Disability & Elder Law.

Louis Fogel, 2003 Fellow, Jenner & Block LLP

Louis Fogel

“My Fellowship provided me a solid foundation of helping those in need and the positive results that can be achieved for those who typically would not have access to a lawyer.”

Louis was a PILI Fellow at the Illinois Institute of Technology in 2003. He is now a partner at Jenner & Block and is an active volunteer in the community. His recent pro bono work includes representing individuals who have been wrongly accused of child abuse or neglect in administrative expungement appeal hearings and taking civil cases to trial in the Cook County State Court. He serves on numerous non-profit boards in the Chicago area, including Chandler Newberger Hillel at the University of Chicago, the Chicago Chess Foundation and the Family Defense Center.

2006-2010

Colleen Bisher, 2009 Intern, Cook County Public Defender

Colleen Bisher-FRy

“After my Internship, I knew that I wanted to do public interest work for the rest of my career, and I would have never had the opportunity had my position not been funded by PILI.”

Colleen was a PILI Intern at Cabrini Green Legal Aid in their Housing Law program in 2009. She is currently an Assistant Public Defender, specializing in domestic related cases, at the Cook County Public Defender’s Office. She has spoken at Chicago-Kent College of Law about a variety of issues including being a public defender, how to make yourself a marketable candidate after law school, and diversity in the legal profession.

Patrick Spangler, 2006 Fellow, Vedder Price

“I continue to support PILI because it allows those exiting law school to create a bond with the organization and the pro bono field early in the attorney’s practicing career.”

Patrick was a PILI Fellow at CVLS in 2006. He is now a shareholder in the firm’s Labor & Employment and Executive Compensation & Employee Benefits groups. He has handled a variety of pro bono matters over the years, including immigration asylum, landlord tenant, and currently Section 1983 cases.

2011-2017

Sarah Hess, 2013 Intern, Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights

“My time as a PILI Intern helped shape the goals of my work, which focuses on poverty, health, housing and access to legal assistance.​”

Sarah HessSarah was a PILI Intern in 2013 at the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law. She is now a Skadden Fellow at the Chicago Medical-Legal Partnership for Children, a program of the Legal Council for Health Justice. She provides civil legal aid to children, adolescents, and their families to address health-harming legal needs. Previously, she ran the Health Disparities Project at the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, in a Medical-Legal Partnership with Erie Family Health Center and Loyola University Chicago School of Law’s Health Justice Project. She is a graduate of The John Marshall Law School.

Paul Vaglica, 2012 Fellow, Latham & Watkins

Paul Vaglica

“I support PILI because I truly believe in the organization’s ability to connect resources with needs and volunteers with opportunities.”

Paul was a PILI Fellow at the MacArthur Justice Center at Northwestern during the summer of 2012. He is currently a finance associate at Latham & Watkins. He volunteers with the Domestic Violence Legal Clinic and will volunteer at PILI’s Legal Prep Community Law Clinic.

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