Women in Leadership Award Recipients | School of Law | SIU

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Women in Leadership Award Recipients | School of Law | SIU

Women in Leadership Award Recipients

The Honorable Kimberly Dahlen - Women in Leadership Lifetime Achievement Award

Hon. Kimberly Dahlen

Judge Kimberly Dahlen is a recently retired Illinois trial court judge. She served as a judge for almost 27 years in the First Judicial Circuit Court of Jackson County. 

Judge Dahlen graduated from Southern Illinois University School of Law in 1979. Prior to being appointed to the bench, Judge Dahlen served as an assistant state’s attorney in Williamson, Marion, DuPage and Jackson counties.  She was also the director for the Illinois Attorney General’s Office in Carbondale, Illinois.

Judge Dahlen has spoken at various legal programs and has authored case notes for several committees of the Illinois State Bar Association as well as co-authoring two articles for the Southern Illinois School of Law Journal. She has also been a guest lecturer and volunteered as a judge for moot court competitions at the law school.  For several years, Judge Dahlen was a presenter at the Carbondale Citizens Police Academy.   

At this time, she serves as a member of the Illinois Judicial Ethics Committee and belongs to the Illinois State Bar Association, Illinois Judges Association, Jackson County Bar Association and Southern Illinois Inn of Court. 

Judge Dahlen has also mentored many law students as clerks at the court over the years.

She enjoys spending time with her family and friends, exercise and weight lifting classes at the recreational center, volunteering for church activities and travelling.


Kelly Giraudo - Trailblazer Award

 Kelly Giraudo

Kelly received her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (Cum Laude) in 2005 from Mid-Continent University.  She then received her JD from SIU Law in 2009.  While attending law school, Kelly was a legal extern for Land of Lincoln and both participated in and then worked for the Civil Practice/Elder Clinic under a 711 license.  She was a member and dean of the Delta Theta Phi legal fraternity.  She also was a student member of the American Bar Association and Jackson County Bar Association, as well as the SIU Law School Democrats. She participated in the 2008 Moot Court Intramural Competition and won Second Best Brief.  She also was a Research Assistant for Professor Mark Lee.

After graduating, Kelly began practicing family law at the Law Office of Susan H. Butler in Morton, Illinois.  She continued her membership with the ABA and joined the ISBA. She is a member of the Family Law section of the Peoria County Bar Association and served as the President of the Tazewell County Bar Association for two years. She has authored written materials and given oral presentations at four CLE courses within Tazewell, Peoria, and McLean counties covering various topics within family law.  She also serves as a court-appointed Guardian ad Litem for the Tenth Judicial Circuit of Illinois.  

In April 2013, Kelly became a partner in her firm. The firm has since added another partner, so Butler, Giraudo & Meister, P.C. is now a three attorney all female family law firm with five staff members.  They have two offices: one in Morton, Illinois and one in Peoria.  The firm handles divorces, dissolution of civil unions, custody matters, related and same-sex adoptions, guardianships, surrogacy matters, Orders of Protection and appellate cases. Kelly personally enjoys representing fathers, as she sees it as a challenge and uphill battle, fighting the historic presumption that mothers should have custody of children.  Kelly truly feels she was born to practice family law.  She loves it and cannot imagine doing anything else.

She is an active member and the 2nd Vice President/Fundraising Chair of the Kiwanis Club of Pekin, helping to support children throughout the community.  Her firm also sponsors and supports Crittenton Centers in Peoria, whose mission is to protect and nurture children and families. 

In her spare time, Kelly loves to spend time with her husband, Jon, who is an Assistant State's Attorney in Tazewell County.  They have two very active sons, who keep them busy.  She also enjoys traveling and competing in CrossFit. 


Sandberg Phoenix & von Gontard – Carbondale Office

Represented by the Managing Partner, Kathy Pine - Organizational Award

 Kathy Pine

Sandberg, Phoenix and Von Gontard is a St. Louis-based law firm that was founded in 1979. It has now grown to over 100 attorneys and has offices in eight different locations. It is particularly well known for its expertise in health care law, medical malpractice and professional malpractice.

Sandberg Phoenix’s Carbondale office was established in 2003 by Kathy Pine. Kathy graduated from the SIU School of Law in 1982.  She worked in the St. Louis office of Sandberg Phoenix & von Gontard for almost 20 years before opening that firm’s office in Carbondale, Illinois in 2003.  Located close to her alma mater, Kathy has regularly offered her time to assist various law school projects including judging moot court and trial advocacy, sitting on various discussion panels and participating in the Women in Leadership program.  I can personally attest to all the support Kathy has given to the law school over the years.

Sandberg Phoenix has hired numerous law clerks over the years, many of whom have worked with Kathy in the Carbondale office. Some of those law clerks are now her partners, including Natalie Kussart and Sara Obermark.


For more information about the program contact Cindy Buys at cbuys@siu.edu or Angela Upchurch at aupchurch@siu.edu.

To view photographs from past events click here