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Shelley B. Ballard is the owner and attorney of Shelley B. Ballard PC, in Chicago and Evanston, where she focuses her practice in adoption law. Ms. Ballard was recognized by Leading Lawyers Network as a Top Lawyer in Adoption and Reproductive Technology. She has also been selected as an Illinois Super Lawyer and received the Lead Counsel Rating. Ms. Ballard is a Fellow of the Academy of Adoption & Assisted Reproduction Attorneys. She graduated magna cum laude from the Vanderbilt University School of Engineering and cum laude from Northwestern University School of Law, where she was elected to the Order of the Coif.
Kirsten Crouse Bays, an attorney with Crouse Cobb & Bays, in Charleston, devotes her practice to adoption law. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys, a member of the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences, and a member of the Illinois State Bar Association. Ms. Bays is also an adjunct professor of family law for Eastern Illinois University. She received her B.S. from Eastern Illinois University, her M.S. from Eastern Illinois University, and her J.D. from Washington University.
Deborah Crouse Cobb is a Partner with Crouse Cobb & Bays, in Collinsville, where she concentrates her practice in adoption and assisted reproduction issues. In addition to agency and private adoptions in the United States, she has significant experience with intercountry adoptions, adoptions involving the Indian Child Welfare Act, and contested adoptions. Ms. Cobb also teaches family law courses for Eastern Illinois University. She is a member the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys, the North American Council on Adoptable Children, and the National Indian Child Welfare Association. Ms. Cobb has spoken on adoption-related issues at several Illinois Bar Association family law seminars. She is a member of the Illinois State and Madison County Bar Associations. She received her B.A. from Eastern Illinois University, her M.S. from Sangamon State University (now the University of Illinois Springfield), and her J.D. from Washington University School of Law.
Linda S. Coon is a sole practitioner, in Chicago, and retired Executive Director of the federally funded Families’ and Children’s AIDS Network (FCAN). She is a member of the National Board of Foster Care Alumni of America, a Past Chair of the Chicago Bar Association’s Adoption Law Committee, and current Cochair of the CBA’s Adoption Law Legislation Subcommittee. Ms. Coon was the recipient of the Chicago Volunteer Legal Services, Advocate of the Year Award (2005). She earned her B.A. from MacMurray College and her J.D. from Loyola University Chicago School of Law.
Nidhi Desai of Desai & Miller, in Chicago, practices both in adoption and in the areas of gamete donation, embryo donation, and surrogacy. Ms. Desai is a member of the Board of Directors for the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys and is on the Board of Directors for the Kevin J. Lederer Life Foundation. She is also a member of the American Bar Association’s Assisted Reproductive Technology Committee, the Illinois State Bar Association, and the Chicago Bar Association. Ms. Desai received her law degree from Loyola University Chicago and her undergraduate degree from Washington University in St. Louis.
Genie Miller Gillespie has her own practice in Chicago concentrating exclusively in adoption, guardianship, and issues relating to children and families. She serves as President of the Academy of Adoption & Assisted Reproduction Attorneys, has been recognized as an Illinois Leading Lawyer and Super Lawyer, and was recognized as a CCAI Angel in Adoption (2016). She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys and a member of the Chicago and American Bar Associations. Ms. Gillespie earned her A.B. from Washington University and her J.D. from the Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law.
Susan Fox Gillis is an associate judge for the County Division of the Circuit Court of Cook County in Chicago. She is a member of the Special Supreme Court Advisory Committee for Justice and Mental Health Planning. Judge Gillis received the Lawyer’s Assistance Program John Powers Crowley Award, the CARPLS Golden Gavel Award, and the IIT Chicago-Kent Young Alumni Award. She received her J.D. from IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law.
Chris S. Haaff is the owner of the Law Office of Christopher Haaff, in Crystal Lake, where he focuses his practice on family law. He is a member of the Illinois State Bar Association and has spoken and written about family law for IICLE®, the Illinois State Bar Association, and other groups and publications. Mr. Haaff earned his B.A. cum laude from Greenville College and his J.D. from the University of Illinois College of Law.
Judith Hannah of the Law Office of Judith Hannah, in Chicago, focuses her practice on adoption, child protection, and family law. Ms. Hannah is a member of the Chicago, Cook County, Illinois State, and American Bar Associations. She earned her B.A. from Oberlin College, her M.S. from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, and her J.D. from Columbia University School of Law as a Charles Evans Hughes Fellow and recipient of the Best Written Brief Award in First Year Moot Court Argument. Ms. Hannah also was certified by The Hague Academy of International Law.
Michelle M. Hughes is a Partner in the Law Offices of Michelle M. Hughes, P.C., in Chicago, where she focuses her practice on adoption. She is a member of the American Academy of Adoption & Assisted Reproduction Attorneys and a member of the Chicago Bar Association, where she served on the Adoption Law Committee (Vice Chair 2010, Chair 2011) and was Cochair of the Confidential Intermediary Advisory Committee. Ms. Hughes earned her B.A. from the University of Illinois and her J.D. from the University of Chicago School of Law.
Jenny R. Jeltes is the owner and Principal Attorney at the Law Offices of J. Jeltes, Ltd., in Chicago, where she concentrates her practice on guardianship and estate planning, adoption, and family law. Ms. Jeltes has been a member of the Justice Entrepreneurs Project Advisory Board (Chicago Bar Foundation), a participant in the Chicago Bar Association “Bar Show,” and recognized as a Super Lawyers (2018 – 2019). She is a member of the Illinois State and Chicago Bar Associations. Ms. Jeltes earned her B.A. with distinction from the University of Michigan and her J.D. from Wayne State Law School.
Richard A. Lifshitz is the Principal of the law firm of Richard A. Lifshitz LLC, in Chicago, where he practices primarily in adoption. From 1976 through 1978, he was an Assistant State’s Attorney in the Child Abuse Unit of the Juvenile Court. He has been in private practice since 1978. In adoption matters, in addition to representing traditional families, he has represented single parents and gay and lesbian couples. Mr. Lifshitz has been involved in every type of adoption and is a member of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys. He has completed approximately 3,000 adoptions during his career. He represented the former adoptive parents in the “Baby Richard” case from 1991 through 1995. Mr. Lifshitz has been selected as an Illinois Super Lawyer repeatedly. He graduated from Washington University School of Law in St. Louis, Missouri.
Diana E. López has been the Owner/President of López Law Group, P.C., in Chicago, since its inception in 2010. She focuses her practice on adoption law and matrimonial law. As an Assistant State’s Attorney in the Office of Cook County State’s Attorney, Ms. López prosecuted complex cases in juvenile court and complex child support enforcement cases. She is a member of the Board of Greenlight Family Services and a member of the Chicago Bar Association Adoption Law Committee. Ms. López earned her J.D. from Loyola University College of Law with a Certificate in Child and Family Law.
Sheila A. Maloney is a sole practitioner, in Downers Grove, concentrating her practice on adoption and assisted reproductive technology cases. In addition to her adoption practice, she handles residential real estate, probate, and guardianships matters. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys and a Fellow of the American Academy of Assisted Reproductive Technology Attorneys. Ms. Maloney is a member of the Chicago and DuPage County Bar Associations. She earned her B.A. summa cum laude from DePaul University and her J.D. from The John Marshall School of Law.
Kathleen Hogan Morrison is a Chicago attorney, concentrating in adoption, assisted reproduction technology law, and parentage matters. She is a Past President of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys and has served on its Board of Trustees. She has been selected by her peers to be a member of the Leading Lawyers Network and its advisory board, as well as a member of Illinois Super Lawyers. Ms. Morrison was selected as one of the Top 50 Women Lawyers in Illinois and she was designated an Angel in Adoption by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute. She has served as Chair of the Chicago Bar Association’s Adoption Law Committee, was chosen as an expert witness for the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission for the Illinois Supreme Court, and served on the Review Committee for the Joint Council on International Children’s Services. In addition, she has represented parties in contested adoption matters, which were referred to her by lawyers, agencies, judges, and former clients. She is has been a frequent speaker and author on issues of adoption, foster parenting, permanency planning, and termination of parental rights. She is admitted to practice before the Illinois Supreme Court and all other Illinois courts, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, and the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division.
Todd J. Ochs, M.D. is a general pediatrician in Chicago. He is an adoptive parent of both intercountry and special needs children. He has seen over a thousand internationally adopted children in his practice and adoption clinic, has done thousands more referral reviews, and has spoken to thousands of adoptive parents. He is a Founding Member of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Section on Adoption and Foster Care and served on its Executive Committee for six years. He also has served as a member of the Advisory Board of Illinois NOFAS and as the Treasurer for the Illinois Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (2014 – 2018). He graduated from the University of New Orleans, attended medical school at Loyola University Chicago, and completed his residencies at the University of Illinois (Chicago) and Cook County Hospital.
Denise J. Patton is the sole practitioner at the Law Office of Denise J. Patton, in Palatine, where she devotes her practice to adoption law, surrogacy, and egg donation. Ms. Patton is a member and Vice Chair (2015 – 2016) and Chair (2016 – 2017) of the Chicago Bar Association’s Adoption Law Committee and a Fellow of the Academy of Adoption & Assisted Reproductive Technology Attorneys. Ms. Patton earned her J.D. from DePaul Law School.
Christina M. Schneider is Special Assistant General Counsel for the Illinois Department of Children & Family Services, Office of Legal Services, in Chicago. Her work focuses on adoption and guardianship. She is a Past Chair of the Child Law Section Council of the Illinois State Bar Association, former Vice Chair of the Chicago Bar Association Adoption Law Committee, and former Vice President of Friends of Franklin Fine Arts Center. Ms. Schneider received her B.A. from Columbia College and her J.D. from The John Marshall Law School.
Jane Turner is the Executive Director of the Adoption Center of Illinois, in Chicago. She has been with the Family Resource Center since January 1990, when she began as one of the agency’s first home study workers. She earned her M.A. from the University of Chicago School of Social Services Administration.
Kathleen M. Vannucci is a Shareholder at the Law Office of Robert D. Ahlgren and Associates, P.C., in Chicago, where she focuses her practice on immigration. She serves on the Board of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) – Chicago Chapter and was recognized by AILA as a Michael Maggio Pro Bono Honoree (2015) and as an Advocacy Honoree (2016). Ms. Vannucci also serves on the Loyola University Chicago School of Law Board of Governors. She earned her B.A. summa cum laude from Loyola College and her J.D. cum laude from Loyola University Chicago School of Law.
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