The Northern Illinois University College of Law recently held its 11th annual Minority Alumni Reception hosted by Dean Jennifer Rosato and alumnus Vincent Cornelius (’89). More than 100 students, alumni, faculty, judges and political leaders from the Chicago area attended the reception which included special presentations honoring Chicago’s 21st Ward Alderman Howard B. Brookins Jr. (‘88) and NIU Law Professor Leona Green.
Cornelius presented Brookins with the Excellence in Service and Leadership Award. He was honored for his exceptional leadership, distinguished record as a public servant, and being a fighter for justice. His background includes service as an assistant public defender, assistant state’s attorney and special assistant attorney general, and partner with the law firm of Brookins and Wilson. He also is active on numerous community boards and organizations. Brookins was elected to represent the 21st Ward in April 2003 and is serving his second term in office.
Dean Rosato honored Professor Leona Green for her commitment to students, service to the law school, and being a champion of diversity throughout her career. Green was the first, and is currently the longest-tenured, African American professor at the College of Law. Having joined the faculty in 1991, she has taught state and local government, alternative dispute resolution and employment discrimination. She was the faculty adviser for the Black Law Student Association for many years. Prior to NIU, she worked for the City of Chicago and in private practice. She has served as a pro bono organizer and volunteer at the Center for Conflict Resolution, and treasurer of an organization that fosters child adoptions. Green also received a touching tribute from one of her former students and mentee, the Honorable Carmen Goodman (’95) from Will County.
Cornelius 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. He serves as third vice president of the Illinois State Bar Association.