alumni awards

Southern Illinois University



alumni awards

alumni awards

The School of Law is proud to announce the winners of the 2020 School of Law Alumni Awards. 

Distinguished Alumni Award

The Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes an alum who has made a profound and lasting impact in the legal profession, their vocation, or their community. 

Distinguished Alumni Award Winner

Dennis Orsey ‘79

 Dennis OrseyMr. Orsey graduated from University of Illinois with a B.A. degree with high honors in 1976. He received his law degree in 1979 from Southern Illinois University School of Law where he received the John S. Rendelman Award as Outstanding Senior Law Student and served as Student Bar Association President. After graduating from law school, he spent 5 years in general private practice with an Alton law firm and with his own practice in Granite City. In 1984, he was recruited by former Illinois Attorney General, Neil F. Hartigan, as Assistant Illinois Attorney General to establish and maintain the attorney General's Granite City Regional Office, which serviced an eight county area, including Madison County and seven surrounding counties.  From 1990 to 2006, Mr. Orsey served as a member of the adjunct faculty at Southwestern Illinois College as an instructor of Business Law. After serving eleven years as an attorney representing the people of the State of Illinois, Mr. Orsey returned to private practice in 1995, establishing his own general practice law firm, now located at 3388 Maryville Road, Granite City, Illinois. He served as an Assistant Madison County State's Attorney from 1996 through 2000. Since 1997, Mr. Orsey has served as Deputy General Counsel for the Illinois Public Pension Fund Association and represents over 50 police and firefighter Pension Boards.  Mr. Orsey served as President of the Madison County Bar Association (1992-93) and has been a member of the Illinois State Bar Association General Assembly for over 20 years. He served as an elected member of the Illinois State Bar Association, Board of Governors (2003 - 2009) (2015 - present) and served as ISBA Treasurer (2008 - 2009). In June, 2013 Mr. Orsey received the prestigious Board of Governor’s Award from the Illinois State Bar Association. Mr. Orsey currently serves as the 144th President of the Illinois State Bar Association. In this capacity he serves as a member of the Illinois Delegation to the American Bar Association. He also serves as a member of the 21st Century Lawyer Committee of the National Conference of Bar Presidents.

Young Alumni Leadership Award

The Young Alumni Leadership award recognizes an alum under 40 for noted achievements or exemplary service in the legal profession, their vocation, or their community. 

Young Alumni Leadership Award Winner

Luis Hizo ’19 

 Luis HizoLuis E. Hizo graduated from SIU School of Law in the Spring of 2018 and was admitted to the Illinois Bar in the Fall of 2018. Prior to going to Law School, Luis attended SIUE and graduated in the Spring of 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.  Luis dedicates his practice to family law as an associate at Villalobos and Associates. He primarily handles divorce and parenting time cases in Will, DuPage, and Cook County. Additionally, he assists in handling the firm’s traffic and misdemeanor cases in Cook County. Luis is currently serving the Illinois Army National Guard as the Executive Officer of the 1970th Quartermaster Company based out of North Riverside, Illinois and is currently deployed with the unit.

The Volunteer Excellence Award

The Volunteer Excellence Award recognizes an alum who has provided exemplary voluntary service to the School of Law, the legal profession, their vocation, or their community. 

The Volunteer Excellence Award Winner

Beth Boggs ‘91

 Beth Boggs“Beth Boggs, ‘91 SIU School of Law alumna, and a partner of Boggs, Avellino, Lach & Boggs, has committed to … making sure students in North County School District in St. Louis receive free lunches and facemasks each week. Boggs says she has sponsored and helped a food pantry in St. Louis, Ritenour Co-Care, for several years. One of her colleagues, Angela Gabel, serves on the pantry’s board of directors. ... Through her connections in St. Louis business and civic affairs, Boggs encouraged others to join their efforts. Wallis Oil Company agreed to put their commissary employees to work making lunches. Wallis also agreed to transport donated meals to area drop-offs each week. Boggs soon got The Orchards Golf Course kitchen staff to make lunches. The owners of JJ Twigs Pizza were able to bring back some of their employees to pitch in and make lunches for students. “Through a charity that my husband, Darin (SIU School of Law ’90) and I formed in 2005 called Step It Up, we give these businesses the food to make the meals and the wages to pay their staff,” she said. Boggs was also impressed by the generosity of her fellow alumni from SIU Carbondale. “Each spring, we host a charity golf tournament to raise funds for SIU. While several of my participants and sponsors had already paid their entry fees, not one of them asked for a return of their money when the tournament had to be cancelled. When they heard of our efforts, they collectively donated the $13,500 in fees to the University Scholarship fund. That’s the Saluki spirit that makes SIU so strong,”  May 06, 2020, by Rebecca Renshaw. Read entire story here.

Diversity and Inclusion Award

The Diversity and Inclusion award recognizes an alum who has made a contribution that fosters diversity and inclusion in the legal profession, their vocation, or their community. 

Diversity and Inclusion Award Winner

Ericka Gibson ’98 

 Erika GibsonEricka started a Non-profit known as A Girl’s Gift, Inc., where she serves as the Executive Director focused on developing a copyrighted entrepreneurship curriculum for young girls to help empower them with the knowledge and tools they need to thrive in the workplace and ultimately, live a successful life. For the last decade, she has dedicated her time and efforts to helping thousands of girls start and run their own businesses. These experiences have strengthened her desire for developing programs that connect with youth on a whole new level. She continues to use her professional development program to build strong, educated, and ambitious female leaders. She also founded and currently run the non-profit organization Vision 2 Rise, Inc. Founded after the death of George Floyd, Vision 2 Rise focuses on improving the quality of life for Black people in America.