The Northern Illinois University College of Law held its 15th Annual Minority Alumni Reception, hosted by alumnus Vincent Cornelius (’89), on February 21, 2018 at the Illinois State Bar Association’s office in Chicago. Current and prospective students, alumni, faculty, judges and political leaders from the Chicago area attended the reception, which included special presentations honoring alumna Dartesia Pitts (’05) and Judge William J. Haddad (ret).
Vincent Cornelius (’89), Immediate Past President of the Illinois State Bar Association honored Dartesia Pitts (’05) with the Excellence in Career Achievements Award for her outstanding professional accomplishments and devotion to the public good. Dartesia is President of the Cook County Bar Association, the nation’s oldest association of African-American lawyers and judges in the country. She is also an attorney working under Commissioner Larry Rogers, Jr. at the Cook County Board of Review. Recognized as an Illinois Super Lawyer Rising Star, an Emerging Lawyer of Illinois and as a Forty under 40 recipients for both Chicago Lawyer and the National Bar Association, Dartesia is an experienced Real Estate and Commercial law attorney and a proven leader within the Illinois Bar. Besides her traditional legal practice, she serves as a legal commentator on national cable and network television shows such as Fox’s, Swift Justice with Nancy Grace, and both TVOne shows, Fatal Attraction and Justice By Any Means. She also serves on the Board of Directors for Chicago Access Network TV (CAN TV).
Judge William J. Haddad (ret), who was also presented with the Excellence in Career Achievements Award by Cornelius, was honored for his exceptional leadership and distinguished record as a public servant. Judge Haddad was the first Arab-American circuit judge in the Circuit Court of Cook County and served as a civil trial judge in the Law Division’s Jury Section from 2003-2013. Before he joined the bench, he was a trial lawyer for over 30 years. In Sept 2013, Judge Haddad became a Senior Mediator and Arbitrator with ADR Systems of America.
Extremely active in the legal community, Judge Haddad is the Chair of the NIU Law Board of Visitors. He has served as President of United States Mutual Association, Inc.; Founding Director of the United Trust Bank in Bridgeview, Illinois; Founding President of the Arab-American Bar Association of Illinois; Past President of the West Suburban Bar Association; and Founding President of the Suburban Bar Coalition of Cook County. Judge Haddad has received numerous awards and honors.
Cornelius, a 1989 Northern Law alumnus, has hosted the Minority Reception since its inception and has watched it continue to grow each year. Cornelius is a sole practitioner with offices in Wheaton and Joliet, IL. He was the first African-American president of the Illinois State Bar Association from 2016-2017, and he also serves as a member of the NIU College of Law Board of Visitors.