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Cailee Alderman is a long-serving advocate for children and families involved in life’s difficult phases, and she represents clients in all aspects of family and matrimonial law, with a focus on divorce, child custody, child support, adoption, guardianship and special immigrant juvenile status.  She understands that family law cases require compassion and commitment and is determined to provide solutions that work for each individual case. As a child, Alderman witnessed first-hand the challenges children face when navigating their parent’s divorce. From that experience, she knows how important it is to keep a child’s best interests top of mind.  
Alderman authored a chapter for the 2020 edition of the Adoption Law Handbook published by the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education. In addition, she has been both a host and speaker for the Chicago Bar Association (CBA) Adoption Law Seminar, and she also served as the chair of the CBA’s Adoption Law Committee from 2018-2019. Prior to this position, she served as committee vice-chair from 2017-2018.  
Alderman graduated from DePaul College of Law where she also earned a Certificate in Family Law. After completing over 200 hours of volunteer work while attending law school, she was awarded the Benjamin Hook Distinguished Service Award. While pursuing her JD, Alderman gained valuable experience interning with at the Department of Children and Family Services, the Domestic Violence Legal Clinic, the Chicago Legal Clinic and for private attorneys in the areas of adoption and guardianship, where she provided guidance and advocacy for families.  

The Honorable Robert Balanoff has been a judge in the Child Protection Division for 18 years and the presiding judge for the past three years. He also volunteers to monitor elections in eastern Europe under the auspices of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and he has done so in Ukraine, Macedonia, Azerbaijan, Republic of Georgia, Moldova, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Bosnia Herzegovina and Montenegro.  

In his 18 years on the bench, Presiding Judge Balanoff has been praised for his fairness, compassion and his handling of difficult cases.  He received his JD and MBA from DePaul University in 1982.   

Emily Buss is the Mark and Barbara Fried Professor of Law at the University of Chicago Law School.  Her research interests include children's and parents' rights and the legal system's allocation of responsibility for children’s development among parent, child and state. Professor Buss currently serves as an associate reporter for the American Law Institute’s First Restatement on the Law of Children and the Law.  Some of her recent research, including a pilot study in Milwaukee Juvenile Court, has focused on the juvenile justice system and the impact of systems involvement on young people’s development.  In addition to courses focused on the subjects of her research, Professor Buss teaches Civil Procedure, Evidence and Family Law. Professor Buss received her BA, summa cum laude, and her JD from Yale University. After graduating from law school, she clerked for Judge Louis H. Pollak of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and Justice Harry A. Blackmun of the U.S. Supreme Court. Prior to joining the University of Chicago Law School faculty in 1996, Professor Buss worked as a staff attorney in the Child Advocacy Unit of the Maryland Legal Aid Bureau and joined the Juvenile Law Center in Philadelphia, where she served as the Center's deputy director from 1993 to 1996.  

Jay Dahlin is an experienced trial attorney who has successfully handled numerous financial and custodial cases throughout northern Illinois’ domestic relations courts. On several occasions, he has received trial verdicts in favor of business owners and executives, as well as successfully securing custody for both fathers and mothers.  

Dahlin also specializes in international family law litigation. He has successfully litigated cases involving multi-jurisdictional and international support and custody disputes, property division, business valuations, child recovery and removal, and enforcement issues. He has litigated and consulted on matters involving parties’ interests throughout the world and is a member of the American Society of International Law, as well as a speaker and author on issues relating to the application of international treaties to domestic relations cases. 

The legal community has recognized Dahlin as an effective advocate for his clients. In 2008, the Law Bulletin Publishing Company named him one of Illinois’ “40 Under 40 Attorneys to Watch.” Since 2009, Super Lawyers has named him an Illinois Rising Star. Since 2012, he has been recognized as a “Leading Lawyer.” 

Dahlin earned his BA and JD degrees from the University of Illinois. He also is a graduate of the American Bar Association Trial Advocacy Institute and is on Cook County's approved list of attorneys who may represent minor children as a guardian ad litem/attorney for minor child/child representative in the Domestic Relations Division. He joined Schiller DuCanto & Fleck LLP in 2003, after clerking for the United States Attorney, the Illinois Attorney General and working for a large international litigation firm. Dahlin also has served as an adjunct professor of law at DePaul University and, an avid philanthropist, he has served on the Board of Directors of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago.

Sara Gilloon has represented and advised hundreds of parents and caregivers in all aspects of child welfare investigations and litigation. Through federal civil rights and class action litigation, Gilloon has played a lead role in obtaining and enforcing significant improvements to rules, policies and practices of the Illinois Department of Children & Family Services, particularly relating to safety plans, mental health practices, families experiencing domestic violence, and the previously overbroad category of alleged neglect known as Allegation 74, “inadequate supervision.” Prior to joining Ascend Justice, Gilloon was the director of legal services at the Family Defense Center, where she also coordinated the pro bono program. Previously, she practiced general litigation at Winston & Strawn, where her extensive pro bono work included successfully obtaining political asylum for a young mother from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
In 2021, Gilloon received the Kathryn Smith Matkov Award from the Chicago Chapter of the Federal Bar Association. This award is bestowed annually on an attorney or judge who has demonstrated a lifetime commitment to excellence and accuracy in defining, illuminating and informing the public on critical issues to American society, particularly in the areas of children, the aged and minorities. 
Gilloon received her JD, with high distinction, from the University of Iowa College of Law, where she also earned membership in the Order of the Coif and served on the Journal of Transnational Law & Contemporary Problems. Gilloon received her BA, summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, from the University of Notre Dame.

William Gomez is an administrative hearing’s attorney with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.  He began his career with the Cook County Office of the Public Guardian in 1989 as a 711 law student in the Juvenile Division.  He remained with the office until 1994, when he was appointed by the chief judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County to be a hearing officer in the Child Protection Division to assist in conducting permanency hearing for the cases. He left the position in 1996, returning to the Cook County Public Guardian as supervisory attorney in the Child Protection Division. He retired from the Office of the Public Guardian in 2018 and was hired as an administrative hearing’s attorney with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services in 2020. He also served as an adjunct professor of law at DePaul University in 2006.  Gomez received his BSW from Loyola University Chicago and his JD from DePaul University.  


Alyease Jones is the attorney and founder of The Law Office of Alyease Jones.  An experienced professional raised to understand the importance of community involvement and education, her mission is to help bridge the gap between the law and the community.  She provides legal services to those in need of counsel related to domestic relationships, including family law, Department of Children and Family Services defense, and orders of protection.  Her quest is to promote justice and guarantee equality to all clients while maintaining a high degree of integrity and working zealously to protect her client’s legal and constitutional rights.  She earned her JD, cum laude, from Western Michigan University-Cooley Law School and her BS from Northern Illinois University. 

Rachel Koch is an assistant public defender for Cook County, Illinois. She currently works in the Child Protection Conflicts Division where she represents parents when the state petitions to take their children from their care. Her work utilizes all the tools in the civil toolbox to get parents reunited with their children, including a trial win for a former Roma refugee who lived in Baltimore and was in Chicago on vacation when his baby rolled off the motel bed, broke her leg and was treated by a biased doctor. Because of her work on the case, he was reunited with his children.  
Koch also is an adjunct professor of law at DePaul University where she has taught Education Law & Policy, a course she also taught at Northwestern University Law School, and Criminal Evidence. Additionally, she has recorded several Continuing Legal Education videos for ApexCLE, a private CLE company. Prior to her work for Cook County, Koch had a solo practice where she represented clients in all stages of litigation including criminal defense, family law, civil forfeiture, family law, civil and administrative cases; she also worked in private practice. 
Koch graduated from DePaul College of Law, where she was a Sullivan Fellow at the International Human Rights Law Institute and an assistant to the late Emeritus Professor of Law M. Cherif Bassiouni. She also attended programs abroad in Costa Rica and Italy, focusing on International Law.  She came to the law after 20 years of experience teaching both young people and adults in New Mexico, Chicago, and Ecuador.   
Lori G. Levin is an experienced litigator handling criminal, juvenile justice and Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) matters. After a long career in public service, Levin opened her private practice in 2009 and has successfully defended persons in criminal and juvenile matters not only in the Circuit Court of Cook County but also in the collar counties. She also has successfully represented parents and childcare workers during DCFS investigations and administrative appeals. 
From 2003 through 2009, Levin was executive director of the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority, a state agency with an annual budget of over $100 million dedicated to improving the administration of criminal justice by bringing together key leaders from the justice system in Illinois and to propose and evaluate policies, programs and legislation that address those issues. Previously, she was supervisor of the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office’s Seniors and Persons with Disabilities Division, where she oversaw the prosecution of felonies against the elderly and disabled in the Criminal Division and the handling of involuntary commitment and treatment cases in the County Division’s Mental Health Courts. Before that, she was assigned to the Felony Trial Division, where for 10 years, she first-chaired jury and bench trials for primarily violent crime cases. 
In 2017, Levin received the Laureate Award by the Illinois Academy of Lawyers. The Academy honors lawyers who have established and maintained the highest principles of the profession as demonstrated by their pervasive record of service to the law and the public. In 2014, the Illinois State Bar Association awarded her the Matthew Maloney Tradition of Excellence Award. 
Levin has been very active in national, state and local bar associations. She is a past president of the Women’s Bar Association of Illinois and a past chair of the Illinois State Bar Association’s Women and the Law Committee, Mental Health Law Committee, as well as its Standing Committee on Continuing Legal Education. She is a past vice-chair for Professional Development/CLE of the ABA’s Criminal Justice Section Council and a past liaison to the American Bar Association’s Commission on Women in the Profession. 

Nicole Onorato graduated from DePaul College of Law in 2004 with a Certificate in Family Law and has since concentrated her practice exclusively on family law matters, including negotiating and litigating complex divorce and custody matters; drafting prenuptial and postnuptial agreements; and appellate work involving complicated child and spousal support issues, civil unions, child custody and removal (relocation) and distribution of marital assets. She also received a Certificate in Divorce Mediation from Northwestern University, and she is a frequent author and lecturer on family law subjects. She serves on the DePaul University’s Schiller DuCanto & Fleck Family Law Advisory Board and volunteers with the Domestic Violence Legal Clinic (Ascend Justice). 

Ashley Reed concentrates her practice in adoption, guardianship and probate matters, child welfare and juvenile law. She regularly appears before the adoption court and probate court of the Circuit Court of Cook County and surrounding counties. 
Reed is routinely appointed by the Cook County court to serve as guardian ad litem in adoption proceedings, where she represents the best interest of the minors. Her knowledge of probate, adoption and juvenile law make her uniquely qualified to work with clients in both adoption and guardianship matters. 
Prior to joining Monahan Law Group, Reed worked as an attorney at Greenlight Family Services, a nonprofit organization focusing on adoption and guardianship cases. There, she handled adoption and guardianship matters across the state of Illinois. Prior to her work at Greenlight, she was an assistant public guardian (guardian ad litem) in the Cook County Child Protection Division. While in Child Protection, she skillfully litigated contested abuse and neglect trials, Department of Children administrative appeals and mediations. 
In addition to her litigation skills, Reed has volunteered her time serving both the legal community and community at large. She served as the chair of the Chicago Bar Association Adoption Law Committee, having previously served as the vice-chair of the committee. She has previously volunteered through Chicago Volunteer Legal Services as a guardian ad litem, and she continues to volunteer her time in the community as a CASA advocate in the Cook County Juvenile Court and at Cradles for Crayons. 
Cary Martin Shelby is a professor of law and the Ralph Brill Endowed Chair at Chicago-Kent College of Law.  Previously, she was a professor of law at Washington and Lee University School of Law and taught a variety of business law courses including Business Organizations, Securities Regulation and a seminar on investment funds at DePaul College of Law. She received the DePaul College of Law Excellence in Teaching Award in 2016 and the DePaul University Excellence in Teaching Award in 2018. 
Professor Shelby’s research generally encompasses regulatory issues related to hedge funds and other pooled investment vehicles. It has utilized a range of theoretical frameworks to scrutinize the blurred distinctions between public and private investment funds resulting from financial innovation, systemic risk and retailization. It further examines the extent to which the regulatory apparatus provided under corporate and securities laws, filtered through a critical race theory lens, could better protect against more expansive notions of systemic risk generated by racist practices and policies. She has published articles in Northwestern University Law Review (forthcoming), California Law Review, The Business Lawyer, Boston College Law Review, among other journals and periodicals. She is currently under contract with Cambridge University Press for her forthcoming book, MARKETS FOR BLACK PAIN: LAW AND MARGINALIZATION AS A COMMODITY.
Professor Shelby received her BS in finance from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and her JD from Northwestern University. She then practiced law in the Investment Funds, Advisers and Derivatives Group with Sidley Austin LLP for close to four years. As an associate in this group, Professor Shelby represented clients in regulatory and corporate matters involving hedge funds, commodity pools and derivatives trading. After leaving Sidley, she completed the William H. Hastie Fellowship at the University of Wisconsin Law School, which is a competitive two-year LLM program designed to prepare candidates for a career in law academia. 
The Honorable Levander Smith, Jr., was a licensed, practicing attorney for 26 years. Most of that time was dedicated to public service through state and county governments in both civil defense and criminal prosecution in child protection and juvenile justice, domestic relations, probate and worker's compensation. Although Judge Smith began his legal career in child welfare law in the early 1990s in Cook County, he later moved to southern Illinois to assume several familial obligations and work for a family law firm. He became licensed in Missouri, where he worked as a prosecutor and assistant attorney general for eight years.  
Judge Smith continued his legal career in six southern Illinois county courthouses by returning to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) as a supervisory regional counsel for over four years, until DCFS returned him to Cook County where he was litigation counsel and later promoted to assistant deputy general counsel. Judge Smith's legal career as an attorney includes numerous bench trials, appellate practice, administrative hearings, heavy deposition practice and extensive motion practice, as well as legal research and writing. 
Judge Smith was in Cook County's first-ever run-off for associate judge in 2018. In 2019, he was appointed to a county-wide vacancy as circuit court judge. He spent approximately one and a half months in First Municipal's Traffic Division before being transferred to the County Division's Domestic Violence Court where he presides over a civil courtroom. 
Judge Smith is a member of the Board of Directors of the Cook County Bar Association (CCBA), and in 2016, he was the first-ever chair of the CCBA's newly established LGBTQ Section to which he remains a member. Additionally, in 2018, Judge Smith was appointed to the Lesbian & Gay Bar Association of Chicago Board of Directors and is a member of the International Association of LGBTQ Judges. He also is a member of the Illinois Judicial Council, Alliance of Illinois Judges and Illinois Judicial Association. 
Helena Trachtenberg joined Cooper Trachtenberg Law Group in 2019 as a partner and represents clients in family law cases ranging from dissolution of marriage, property division, maintenance and alimony, child support, parenting time and visitation, allocation of parental responsibilities and child custody, mediation and collaborative law. She also handles orders of protection and administrative matters involving the Department of Children and Family Services and the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services in Cook and Lake counties, where she also is able to serve as a child’s representative and guardian ad litem. Whether litigating in the courtroom or negotiating settlement, Trachtenberg enjoys working with clients to develop strategies tailored towards achieving client goals. Prior to joining Cooper Trachtenberg Law Group, she worked for a prestigious family law firm in the Chicago area. 
Trachtenberg graduated with high honors from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and attended law school at the University of Miami. During law school, she was a judicial intern for the Eleventh Judicial Circuit Court in Miami, where she observed a wide range of family court proceedings, trials and assisted the court in research and preparation of documents. She also was a law clerk for Daley, DeBofsky & Bryant during the summer of 2009, working on Social Security and ERISA cases. During her third year, she worked as a certified legal intern with the Miami-Dade School Board Attorney’s Office, working primarily on special education litigation. After graduating from law school, Trachtenberg was awarded a Legal Corps Fellowship to practice law with the Center for Disability and Elder Law where she represented low-income elderly and disabled persons in Cook County in the areas of landlord-tenant, estate planning, adult guardianship, collections, consumer fraud and family law. 

Caidi Mammas Vanderporten is a partner at the boutique family law firm Mammas Goldberg Vanderporten in Chicago.  Vanderporten specializes in all aspects of domestic relations law, including divorce, allocation of parental responsibilities, pre and postnuptial agreements, orders of protection, child support modification and enforcement, appellate review, and Department of Children and Family Services administrative appeals/child protection issues.  Prior to joining Mammas Goldberg Vanderporten, she was an assistant state’s attorney in Cook County, where her practice focused on working within the Juvenile Justice and Child Support Enforcement Bureaus, as well as on the Felony Review Unit.  Vanderporten graduated from Chicago-Kent College of Law and did her undergraduate studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has been selected for inclusion in the Illinois Rising Stars list (2020-2023) and The Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch list (2021-2024).  Her firm also was selected as a Best Law Firm in Chicago for Family Law for 2023 and 2024.   

Erin Wilson has been a licensed attorney since 2008, always focusing on family law. In 2019, she opened her own practice, The Law Office of Erin M. Wilson LLC, providing services in family law litigation, mediation, parenting coordination, and representation as a child representative and guardian ad litem. Wilson’s talent lies in focusing on the bigger picture and creating a strategy that helps her clients achieve their goals. She strives for amicable settlements by crafting creative solutions while aggressively protecting her clients’ rights and interests in the courtroom. Her true passion lies in representing children and advocating for their best interests, and she has been on the Cook County child representative/guardian ad litem list since 2018.   
In addition to her work advocating for her clients, Wilson is an active member of the legal community. She is a member of the Women’s Bar Association of Illinois and sits on the boards of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts, Decalogue Society, the Force of Lawyers Against Sexual Harassment and the DePaul University Schiller DuCanto & Fleck Family Law Center.  Wilson has been involved with the Illinois State Bar Association Young Lawyers Division, Child Law and Assembly committees, and she is the chair of the Women and the Law Committee. Wilson also is a founding member of the Illinois Association of Independent Attorneys and the Lady Lawyers who Lunch.  
Wilson earned her JD from DePaul University with a Certificate in Family Law, and her BA from Michigan State University.  She has received numerous accolades throughout her career, including being named a Rising Star, Emerging Leader by Leading Lawyers and an Illinois Super Lawyers for multiple years. She also received the ISBA Young Lawyer of the Year in 2016 and Decalogue Society’s Intra Society Award in 2023.