Women in Leadership Program | School of Law | SIU

Southern Illinois University



Women in Leadership Program | School of Law | SIU

Women in Leadership Program

The Women in Leadership program seeks to help students build their own leadership skills while learning about the challenges that women face as leaders with the legal profession.

Women in Leadership Workshop (1 credit)

This two-day workshop, held during the January inter-session, explores the key attributes of leadership and the challenges that women face in the legal profession because of gender differences (both real and perceived). The course is team-taught by a well-respected faculty of lawyers, judges, and law professors, who encourage students to actively participate through small group discussions, mock negotiations, simulated interviews, and one or more short writing assignments. Some of the topics discussed during the workshop include:

  • Leadership attributes and skills
  • Gender and communication
  • Gender and negotiation
  • Gender in the workplace
  • Interviewing
  • Networking
  • Developing a personal/professional brand
  • Balancing career and family
  • Seeking election to leadership positions

The program concludes with a networking dinner with practicing attorneys and judges from the southern Illinois region. 

2019 Women in Leadership Award Recipients

Last year started a new tradition of honoring women and their supporters who demonstrate the best of our profession. There will be three awards presented at the Women in Leadership Dinner.

Marsha RyanWomen in Leadership Lifetime Achievement Award. This award recognizes an individual 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 for future lawyers. This year's recipient is Marsha Ryan.


Kimberly Kuhlengel-JonesTrailblazer Award. This award recognizes an individual 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. This year's recipient is Kimberly Kuhlengel-Jones.



Organizational Award recognizes a firm or organization that demonstrated a commitment to creating pathways to success for women attorneys. This year's recipient is Keuler, Kelly, Hutchins, Blankenship & Sigler, LLP.

Read more about last year's Award Recipients here

2019 Women in Leadership Dinner 

Lois WoodKeynote speaker Aurora Abella-Austriaco is a shareholder at Valentine Austriaco and Bueschel P.C., an all-women-owned law firm, and she concentrates her practice on: business transactions, commercial litigation, real estate litigation, construction litigation, mechanic’s liens, defense of mortgage foreclosure, mortgage fraud (plaintiff), title insurance claims litigation, declaratory judgment actions, partition actions, and other special chancery remedy cases.

She has served as past President of the Chicago Bar Association and was on the board of the Chicago Bar Foundation, and she was recently elected President of the Lawyer’s Trust Fund of Illinois, Secretary of the National Conference of Bar Presidents, and Illinois State Delegate to the ABA House of Delegates. Ms. Austriaco has been recognized as a “Leading Lawyer” in Real Estate Law and Consumer Law, and been named among the “Top 10 Women Consumer Law” Attorneys by Leading Lawyers and “Top 100 under 50 Diverse Executive Leaders” by Diversity MBA Magazine. She is a contributing author to Dear Sisters, Dear Daughters: Strategies for Success from Multicultural Women Attorneys (2009) and DISRUPT 2.0. Filipina Women: Daring to Lead (2016).

Ms. Austriaco is also very active in the community, holding many positions related to diversity, justice, human rights, and the arts, and she has received numerous prestigious awards and recognitions for her work. She earned her B.A. from DePaul University and her J.D. from DePaul University College of Law

Celebrating Diversity in Leadership

Friday, January 11, 2019

6:00 P.M.

SIU Student Center Ballroom B

Carbondale, IL

RSVP by Friday, Jan. 4, pay online here

Previous Keynote Speakers

Read about last year's Award Recipients here

To view photographs from past events click here