Alumni Class Representatives
Meet our 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.
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.
Vanessa Weathersby, 1988 Intern, Retired
“My favorite thing about being a PILI Intern was working with brilliant, like-minded individuals who had a similar passion about service to others, supporting others, fighting the good fight, challenging the status quo, and the courage to do so. It was such a rich period in my career, and in my development as a person.”
Vanessa was a 1988 PILI Intern at the Leadership Council for Metropolitan Open Communities in Chicago. The Leadership Council was a prestigious fair housing organization that worked closely with Martin Luther King Jr. and other Civil Rights Movement leaders to defend tenants’ rights under the Fair Housing Act in Chicago. Vanessa had an impactful legal career and retired as a Senior Operational Risk Manager at BMO in 2019. Since retiring, Vanessa is very involved in her church, her sorority Delta Sigma Theta, and The Links organization. Most recently, Vanessa was appointed by the Fourth Ward Alderman to the newly created role of Chair, Community Safety Committee of the Grand Boulevard Advisory Council.
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.
Kathleen Callahan, 1992 Intern, CARPLS
“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 25 years as an attorney dedicated to working in the public interest.”
Kathleen was a PILI Intern at the Cook County Legal Assistance Foundation, which later became Legal Aid Chicago, in 1992. Kathleen spent the majority of the 25 years she has been an attorney working as a legal aid lawyer. She currently works as Senior Program Manager, Forms for the Access to Justice Commission of the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts where she is able to use her background in legal aid to enhance access to justice to those most in need. Kathleen also serves on the adjunct faculty of Loyola University Chicago's Institute for Paralegal Studies.
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.
Theresa Duckett, 2000 Intern and 2002 Fellow, BMO Harris Bank N.A.
“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.
Matt Jenkins, 2005 Intern, LFG Capital Partners
"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.
Katie Deibert, 2004 Fellow, GATX Corporation
“My PILI Fellowship showed me the need for legal services in all Chicago communities. PILI in turn creates its own community of service through supporting both public interest lawyers and private practice lawyers engaged in pro bono work.”
Katie was a PILI Fellow at the Chicago Legal Clinic in 2004. She is currently Assistant General Counsel at GATX Corporation, a rail car leasing company based in Chicago. She is a founding member of PILI’s Alumni Network Leadership Council and serves on the Chicago Leadership Council for Upwardly Global.
Colleen Bisher-Fry, 2009 Intern, The Toney Law Firm
"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.
Sarah Hess, 2013 Intern, Legal Council for Health Justice
"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 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.
Paul Vaglica, 2012 Fellow, Antares Capital LP
"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 Senior Counsel at Antares Capital LP. He volunteers with the Domestic Violence Legal Clinic and PILI's Legal Prep Community Law Clinic.
Nicole Joseph, 2016 & 2017 Intern, Prairie State legal Services
"I absolutely loved my summers as a PILI Intern. The Internships gave me the opportunity to dive into the work I wanted to do without having to worry about how to make it financially feasible."
Nicole was a PILI Intern in 2016 at LAF and in 2017 at the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law. She is now a Domestic Violence Staff Attorney at Prairie State Legal Services in St. Charles, Illinois. She works to help victims of domestic violence obtain orders of protection as well as other holistic services such as divorce and family law services.
Priya Desai, 2016 Fellow, Mayer Brown LLP
"I am forever grateful to PILI for an experience that showed me how much I could do with my law degree to give back to the Chicago community."
Priya was a school-year PILI Intern and a summer PILI Fellow at CARPLS in 2016. She is currently a litigation associate in Mayer Brown's Chicago office. She is a member of the CARPLS associate board. She was also a founding member of PILI’s Young Professionals Board.