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A Fitting Installation! 

By Wendy M. Musielak

On June 19, 2020, I had the honor and privilege of being sworn in as the DuPage County Bar Association President. It was not the event I originally planned. Instead of the big gala in a fancy dress, a small group of us gathered outside of the DuPage County Courthouse to begin my term as President of the DCBA. While still a little disappointed that this was not taking place as I had hoped and planned, when the moment came, as I walked through the area outside the courthouse, where I had started my career, nothing could have been more fitting for me. Here I was outside the building where I served as a Staff Attorney from 2004-2006, about to become the President of the DuPage County Bar Association that has meant so much to me. While my family and many of my friends could not be there in person, Robert Rupp made sure there was a live feed to allow my mom and brother to watch. But this live feed also allowed my colleagues, friends, and family, even those who are outside of Illinois, to be a part of the moment, and I cannot be more grateful that people near and far were a part of this day. I have not had the opportunity to personally thank everyone who was a part of that day, but please know that your active participation made the day very special for me. 

Recently, I have been reflecting on my path to becoming the 2020-2021 DCBA President. Almost sixteen years ago, Sue Makovec encouraged me to start going to DCBA events. Each time an event would occur, Sue made sure to invite me; that began the road to where I am today. Less than 2 years later, after Judge Elizabeth Sexton overheard Andy Cores talking about needing a new attorney and encouraging me to apply, I was off to start my career in private practice (despite a 7:00 am interview). During my first court appearance at my new firm, I was so nervous. Opposing counsel was Terry Mullen, who could see my nerves as we appeared before Judge George Sotos. As I wrote out the order, Terry walked up to me and said jokingly “You’re doing it all wrong.” From that day forward, I had a friend in Terry. He was always smiling and kind and made me feel welcome. I knew this was the community where I belonged. Then, in 2011, Sharon Mulyk asked me to be her Chair of the Membership Committee and I was hooked. I eventually became Chair of the Family Committee and then a Director. In 2017, I decided I wanted to take on a bigger role and ran for Third Vice President. 

When I won the election in 2017, I could never have imagined the world we would be living in right now. Throughout life we all face challenges – because life is hard. Often, those challenges are personal and individual or at least limited to a more intimate group who are directly affected. When we lose a loved one, it is those closest to that person who so acutely feel the pain. While others sympathize, each person’s feelings are unique. 

Over the past few months, we have all faced new challenges since our world was introduced to COVID-19. We went from socializing and living life as we always knew it to a suddenly very different world. Our nights out with family and friends were taken away. We were told to “Shelter-In-Place.” Working from home became a norm. Walking through the courthouse hallways ceased. 

Daily interactions with colleagues stopped. Video conferences became the way we interacted with clients, colleagues, family and friends. I have felt a myriad of emotions throughout all of this. As lawyers, we are problem solvers (and maybe a little control freaks) and accustomed to fixing things and figuring out the answers. But here the answers were not to be found; and we are still searching. 

While each person’s experiences over the past few months has been different, we are all facing these challenges together. Although we may not be able to resolve all the issues, we can come together to support each other and learn how to navigate this new legal world together. As I was reflecting on everything during our time apart, I realized how much more we can do together. For a single person, a burden is often too heavy, but when we work as a team, that burden becomes so much lighter. From that thought, my theme for this year, “Together We are Stronger”, was born. 

Right now, we are not able to walk the hallways of the court the way we once did; and I will not be able to greet you the way I had intended. But whether you see me in person or reach out over the phone or email, or Facetime or Zoom, know that as your President, it is my goal to be there for the organization and our members to keep us going strong, together. I also want our organization to have the opportunity to get to know the amazing people who serve on the DCBA Board, so over the next several weeks, we will be releasing videos to help you get to know our Board better. 

Traditionally, this column would have been exclusively the speech given at the Installation of the Officers and Directors; however, with the changes we have had, I felt it was important to say a little more before sharing my speech from June 19, 2020. 

Together we are Stronger! 

This is the theme of my Presidential Year. 

Traditionally, at an installation, the incoming president gives a speech and outlines the plan for the upcoming year. However, just like everything else right now, today’s installation is NOT traditional. 

I will have the privilege of giving TWO installation speeches, one now, and one in September. This one I will use to honor our strengths, and in September, at the full installation celebration, I will honor and report on our plans for the DuPage County Bar Association. 

Even though today is not traditional, I still want to take this opportunity to thank everyone for being here either in person or online. We are stronger because of you, our members. Thank you for your continued support of the DCBA, your active participation and your strength. We are nothing without our members.

Stacey McCullough, thank you for leading the DCBA this last year. Even when things were not easy or as planned during your Presidential year, you have ensured that we did, indeed, SOAR. 

Thank you for your leadership. And thank you for your friendship. 

Stacey, we are stronger because of your dedication. During a massive change in our members’ ability to do business, the DCBA ensured that we continued to provide educational opportunities and brought our members into an online world to keep things moving forward and to keep our members in the know.

Kiley Whitty, Angel Traub, Rick Veenstra, Jay Laraia, Jennifer Friedland, Aaron Ruswick and DeAnna Rosinski –our incoming officers, I look forward to this team continuing to lead our Association as one of the premiere bar associations in the State. 

And our Board, the Section and Committee Chairs and Vice Chairs, thank you for your commitment to the DCBA and for taking on these leadership roles. I look forward to working with all of you this year and will enjoy sharing ideas on how we can continue to work together to make and keep the DCBA strong and vibrant. 

I want to especially thank our Executive Director, Robert Rupp, and all of our staff – Deborah Kennedy, Barb Mendralla, Ann Martin, Tim Doyle, Jennifer Webber and Maria Pineiro. NOTHING we do is possible without you - thank you and I look forward to working together this year. 

To the Judiciary, your continued support of the Bar Association historically has been a visible and integral part of our Association. You have helped us navigate this new legal world together, you have made our members stronger and wiser with the development of new courthouse protocols and your willingness to keep us informed. We know you are committed to being on the forefront of delivering timely and accurate information and guidance to attorneys, courthouse personnel and the public to ensure the Eighteenth Judicial Circuit Court remains a place of justice for all. Thank you.

On a more personal note, thank you, Judge Robert Douglas for leading us in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Thank you, Judge Anne Hayes for swearing us in. 
I am grateful that you both could be part of this special day for me.

I’d like to thank my firm and especially my partner, Andy Cores for your support of me throughout the years.

To my friends and family, nothing I do would mean anything without you. Thank you for making me a better me.

To my brother, Brian, thank you for being the best brother a girl could ask for. 

To my mom, Marie, thank you for loving me unconditionally and supporting me in all that I do. And to my dad, Don, I miss you every day and thank you for all that you did to make me who I am today. I am so blessed to have you and Mom as my parents. You and Mom led by example and taught me about hard work, compassion, and love. I am who I am today because of you and I thank you.

I know I have not mentioned everyone who has had an impact on me. This list is way too long, but know that I appreciate every one of you.

As Helen Keller said, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” I take those words to heart and know that Together We are Stronger! Thank you. 


DCBA President, Wendy M. Musielak is a Partner at Esp Kreuzer Cores LLP in Wheaton, where she concentrates her practice in family law. She graduated with highest honors from DePaul University College of Commerce with her Bachelor’s Degree in Finance and Management in 1999 and earned her J.D. from DePaul University’s College of Law in 2003. In 2015, Wendy was admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court. Wendy was recognized as the DCBA Lawyer of the Year in 2013. 

 

DuPage County Bar Association

2020-2021 OFFICERS

Wendy M. Musielak, President
Kiley M. Whitty, President-Elect
Angel M. Traub, 2nd Vice President
Richard J. Veenstra, 3rd Vice President
Stacey , A. McCullough, Immediate Past President
James J. Laraia, General Counsel
Jennifer L. Friedland, Assoc. Gen’l Counsel
Aaron E. Ruswick, Secretary/Treasurer
DeAnna C. Rosinski, Assist. Treasurer
 

DIRECTORS

Mark S. Bishop
Patrick L. Edgerton
James S. Harkness
Rebecca A. Krawczykowski
Ronald D. Menna, Jr.
Karen R. Mills
John J. Pcolinski, Jr.
Jay M. Reese
Arthur W. Rummler
Alissa C. Verson
Amanda M. Zannoni

Executive Director

Robert T. Rupp

ISBA Liaison

Kent A. Gaertner

Brief Editor

Dexter J. Evans