The Honorable René Cruz (’95) is the 2021 recipient of the Kane County Bar Association Community Service Award. The Award is bestowed annually upon a “well-rounded individual who, through actions, has shown a true understanding of and a caring attitude toward the community in which they reside.”
Judge Cruz, Kane County’s first Latino judge, sits in the Sixteenth Circuit Court of Illinois and is currently the Presiding Judge of the Family Division. He was first appointed an associate judge in 2012. He was then appointed circuit judge in 2016 and was elected in 2018. Prior to the bench, Judge Cruz had an extensive criminal law practice in Illinois for 17 years with Ed Gil (’90), his former law partner at Gil & Cruz.
As an active member of his community, Judge Cruz served as president of the Aurora Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and was awarded the Champions Against Hunger along with his wife, Silvia, by the Aurora Area Interfaith Food Pantry. He was also named a “Trendsetter in Action” by Boys II Men Inc. for “being a consistent voice for the community and showing the youth that excellence can be achieved.” He also donates his time to read to children at local area schools and speaks to middle school classes in addition to volunteering for other community events.
In 2010, Judge Cruz was recognized as Alumnus of the Year by the Northern Illinois University College of Law Alumni Council for his career accomplishments, devotion to the public good, and continued service to the law school. As a supporter of the law school, Judge Cruz is a mentor to law students, attends law school functions, and serves as a guest speaker or panelist for programs.