10th Annual “Women in Leadership Workshop” begins January 9 -10

January 08, 2020 , by Pete Rosenbery

About 30 female and male SIU School of Law students will participate in the 10th annual “Women in Leadership Workshop” Thursday and Friday at SIU Carbondale’s Hiram H. Lesar Law Building. 

The workshop will focus on the importance of diversity in leadership and feature programs that highlight the benefits diverse leadership brings to the public and private sectors. It will teach knowledge and skills necessary to prepare students for leadership positions in the legal profession. The workshop runs from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. both days. Lawyers, judges and law professors teach different segments of the workshop, and students earn one hour of academic credit. 

Reporters, photographers and news crews are welcome to attend the workshops and interview participants. For more information or to arrange interviews, contact Mike Ruiz, assistant dean for career services and special projects, at mikeruiz@siu.edu or 618/453-8763. 

Federal judge, alumna is keynote speaker

As a part of the workshop, Nancy J. Rosenstengel, the U.S. District Court Chief Judge for the Southern District of Illinois and an SIU School of Law alumna, is the keynote speaker at the “Women in Leadership” networking dinner that begins at 6 p.m. Friday in the Student Center, Ballroom B. 

Rosenstengel, who became chief judge in April, has been on the federal bench since May 2014 and is the first female district judge to serve in the Southern District of Illinois. A 1993 SIU School of Law graduate, Rosenstengel previously was an attorney with Sandberg, Phoenix & von Gontard in St. Louis, Missouri. She later served as a law clerk to U.S. District Judge G. Patrick Murphy and as Clerk of the Court in the Southern District of Illinois. 

Leadership Award recipients will be honored

For a third year, the law school will honor women and supporters who represent the legal profession’s best. This year’s honorees, with their respective awards, are: 

Women in Leadership Lifetime Achievement Award: Carolyn B. Smoot. The award recognizes a person who has “distinguished herself as a pillar of the legal community and whose career, accomplishments and contributions to law and society serve as an inspiration to future lawyers.” Smoot’s legal career included serving six years as First Judicial Circuit judge before she retired in November 2016. A 1983 graduate SIU law school graduate, Smoot was an attorney for 27 years prior to her judicial appointment in December 2010, where she was the first female circuit judge in Williamson County and second female judge in the First Judicial Circuit. 

Trailblazer Award: Renee Snow. The award recognizes a person who has “made outstanding contributions to the legal community, shown a commitment to women’s issues and is emerging as a leader early in her career.” Snow is general counsel and chief legal counsel with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources in Springfield. Prior to working IDNR, Snow worked as an assistant attorney general with the Illinois Attorney General’s Office; and was an assistant state’s attorney in Effingham and Sangamon counties. She earned her law degree from SIU in 2004. 

Pathways Award: Diane Goffinet. The award recognizes a leader in an organization who demonstrates a “commitment to creating pathways to success for women attorneys” and who addresses issues for women in the legal system.  Goffinet, the managing attorney for Land of Lincoln Legal Aid, manages offices in both Carbondale and Mount Vernon, overseeing a staff of nine other attorneys who help provide legal assistance to low-income individuals in the lower 23 counties in Southern Illinois. A 1994 SIU School of Law graduate, Goffinet has worked with Land of Lincoln for more than 25 years. Prior to that, she was a judicial clerk for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois.