2019 Alumni Awards Honorees

 

Professional Achievement Award

Hon. Eileen M. O' Neill Burke ’90

Justice Eileen O’Neill Burke '90 has served on the 1st District Appellate Court since March of 2016. Justice Burke previously served in the Circuit Court of Cook County in Law Division, overseeing complex commercial litigation matters. Prior to becoming a judge, Justice Burke was a Cook County State's Attorney and a criminal defense attorney.

Justice Burke has been a Judicial Education Conference faculty member teaching DUI Nuts and Bolts, Advanced DUI Sentencing, Civil Law Boot Camp, Judicial Discretion and Decision Making. Justice Burke has taught every new judge in Illinois Civil Procedure since 2013. Justice Burke was a contributing author of the Commercial Law Bench Book and the DUI Bench Book.

Justice Burke has been a member of the Chicago-Kent Alumni Board of Directors since 2013. Shortly after graduation from Chicago Kent, Justice Burke married her law school classmate John (JD) Burke, a partner at Ice Miller, LLC. They have four children, none of whom want to be a lawyer. Justice Burke regularly gives of her time to Chicago-Kent through the Women in Law Mentoring program, ConneKtions @ Dinner Week, and Alumni-Student ConneKtions Week.

Mark T. Cumba ’98

Mark T. Cumba began his legal career immediately after graduating from Chicago-Kent College of Law as an Assistant State’s Attorney with the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office. Mark then joined Johnson & Bell, Ltd. in its product liability and toxic torts practice groups before relocating to San Diego, CA in 2003.
Mark was appointed a Deputy Attorney General with the California Department of Justice in 2012. He is assigned to the Bureau of Medi-Cal Fraud and Elder Abuse where he investigates and prosecutes companies and individuals for illegally abusing the Medicare/Medi-Cal programs as well as residential care facilities, skilled nursing facilities, caregivers, and other individuals for abusing or neglecting California's elderly and dependent adult citizens.

Mark has been recognized as a Top Attorney in San Diego in the area of Municipal and Government law, and was the 2017 recipient of the Edward D. Ohlbaum Professionalism Award, given by the Stetson University College of Law, Center for Excellence in Advocacy. Earlier this year, the San Diego County Bar Association recognized his professional contributions and presented him with the 2019 Service to the Legal Community Award. He was also the recipient of the Chicago-Kent College of Law Young Alumni Award in 2008.

Mark is married to Deborah Cumba, a trial attorney with the California Department of Transportation. Together, they have two daughters: 11-year old Bella, a surgical striking cross-examiner; and 9-year old Lily, a powerful, passionate, and persuasive closer.

Distinguished Service Award

Ann M. Cresce '94

Ann Cresce's success story is no surprise to those who witnessed her ability to balance the demands of law school, a young family, and a challenging day job at the Chicago Board of Trade. Ann applied that same versatility and talent to a succession of challenging professional responsibilities as she built a strong portfolio in commodities law and regulation around the world. Ann was most recently General Counsel for Bcause LLC, a cryptocurrency ecosystem.

Before attending Chicago-Kent, Ann worked at the Chicago Board of Trade in Investigations and Audits and worked her way up to director of investigations and market surveillance. "I learned about trading and how markets operate," she recalls, "and about regulatory compliance." Work drew her toward law - she was writing up investigative reports, prosecuting cases before the disciplinary panel, and working on settlement agreements. After 13 years, she says, "I wanted to expand my knowledge base, and I couldn't advance much further without a law degree." 

"I was told by many people that IIT Chicago-Kent had the best evening program in the city," she says. Having worked with attorneys who were adjunct professors at Chicago-Kent, she also knew they had a lot to offer in corporate and financial services law. Two years into law school, Ann began working at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. After graduation, she became vice president for compliance at Carr Futures, where she did U.S. and international regulatory work.

Ann was named to the 2011 DirectWomen Board Institute, a program that positions exceptional senior women attorneys for corporate governance and board work. She is a past president of the Chicago-Kent Alumni Board of Directors and repeat volunteer for the Women in Law Mentoring program, ConneKtions @ Dinner Week, Alumni-Student ConneKtions Week and Alumni Ambassador.

Michael K. Demetrio '79

Michael K. Demetrio, a partner at the Chicago law firm of Corboy & Demetrio, represents plaintiffs in personal injury and wrongful death cases, including aviation disasters, railroad cases, product liability, construction liability and motor vehicle liability. He has tried more than 100 cases to verdict. Throughout his accomplished career as a trial lawyer, Mike has shown a deep committment to civic involvement.

For the last 12 years, Michael has served as Adjunct Professor of Law at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, teaching Evidence. Mike currently serves on the Board of Directors of Big Shoulders Fund. He served as president of the Chicago Bar Association in 2003-2004 and has served on the Board of Directors of the Chicago Bar Foundation. Mike is an elected Fellow of the elite International Academy of Trial Lawyers. In 2019, he was named to the prestigious Lawdragon 500 Leading Lawyers in America. He is also a certified faculty member of the National Institute for Trial Advocacy and a Certified Arbitrator for the Cook County Mandatory Arbitration Program and the American Arbitration Association.

Mike was selected for 2020 Best Lawyers in America, a designation he has attained for 13 consecutive years. Since 2005, Mike has been named an Illinois Super Lawyer. He has received an AV rating - the highest possible for any attorney - from the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory.

Outstanding Young Alumnus/a Award

C. Matt Alva '11 

Matt Alva is an associate in the Chicago office of Swanson, Martin & Bell, LLP. He focuses his practice in defending businesses in product and premise liability matters and commercial disputes. Matt also co-chairs both SMB’s summer associate program and its Diversity Committee. He also serves on the Recruiting Committee. While at Chicago-Kent, Matt gained invaluable experience working with organizations like Equip for Equality, the Illinois Attorney General’s Office and through an externship with Judge Ruben Castillo. He was the president of Chicago-Kent’s Hispanic-Latino Law Student Association.

Prior to law school, Matt worked as a public school history teacher for three years in Springfield and Chicago and took great pleasure in coaching baseball. Matt is a first generation college and law school graduate who learned the value of hard work and service from his parents who were both members of the military. Matt lives in Highland Park with his wife Ricki and their two daughters. Matt has been volunteering for Alumni-Student ConneKtions Week since 2012.

Sulema Medrano Novak '09

Sulema Medrano Novak is a trial lawyer whose practice focuses on resolving complex commercial and insurance coverage disputes through litigation, arbitration, and alternative dispute resolution. Sulema’s professional experience includes defending clients in various litigation matters including wrongful death, products liability, professional liability, complex breach of contract disputes, breach of fiduciary duty, insurance coverage, consumer fraud and negligent spoliation of evidence. She has first chaired four jury trials and has successfully tried more than 25 bench trials. She has also authored and won more than 19 appellate briefs involving both criminal and civil disputes.

Sulema is also a civic leader. She currently serves as the Chair of the Hispanic National Bar Association’s Commission on Women and is a Board Member for the Latino Leadership Council. She is the former Regional President for the Hispanic National Bar Association and former Board of Director for the Hispanic Lawyers Association of Illinois. Sulema has served as a volunteer coach for the Chicago Kent Trial Advocacy Team and Chicago Kent’s Hispanic Law Student Association. She has dedicated extensive time towards strengthening the pipeline for diverse law students by hosting networking, educational and leadership training programs.

Sulema has been recognized as a top lawyer under 40 by the Chicago Law Bulletin and the Hispanic National Bar Association. She has also been recognized as one of the Lawyers of Color’s Nations Best for 2019; a Rising Star by Illinois Super Lawyers; and Who’s Who in Hispanic Chicago by Negocios Now. Sulema received the 2018 Latina Lawyer of the Year Award from the Hispanic Lawyers of Illinois.
Sulema graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelors of Art from James Madison Honors College at Michigan State University. Sulema consistently volunteers with the Chicago-Kent Trial Advocacy program, Women in Law Mentoring program and Alumni-Student ConneKtions Week.

 

Institutional Partner Award

Katten Muchin Rosenman

Katten Muchin Rosenman is the full-service law firm our founding partners envisioned, with more than 700 attorneys in locations across the United States and in London and Shanghai.

Katten attorneys understand your business and approach the law with a commercial sense —to get the deal done or the case resolved. They provide strategic and creative solutions, but offer pragmatic advice that keeps your business objectives top-of-mind. And they forge collegial and collaborative partnerships with our clients to help their businesses succeed. 

The firm's philosophy remains centered around the same principles that guided the firm’s founding: A desire to be nimble, strategic, creative and client-centric. Most importantly, a desire to be different. There are currently 12 Chicago-Kent alumni who are employed at Katten Muchin Rosenman, many whom regularly give of their time to support current students. Katten Muchin Rosenman repeatedly participates in On-Campus Interviews and has recently began employing a student to the Institute for the Future of Law Practice.

 

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