Inspirational Woman Award

Inspirational Woman Award

2020 Inspirational Woman of the Year: Hon. Ann Celine O. Walsh

Ann Celine O’Hallaren Walsh is a lifelong resident of DuPage County. She grew up in Willowbrook in a large family as one of six children. She attended St. Isaac Jogues school where she graduated in 1986. She enjoys many friendships to this day from her years at St. Isaac Jogues. Ann Celine attended Hinsdale Central High School from 1986-1990. Her interest in law began in high school after she became a member of a state championship mock trial team, competing for three years. After high school, Ann Celine graduated cum laude from Miami University, Oxford, Ohio with a B.A. in English Literature and Speech Communication. After college, she worked as a legal assistant at Jones, Day, Reavis and Pogue in Chicago for a year before heading to law school in the fall of 1995.

Ann Celine attended law school at Chicago-Kent College of Law from 1995-1998. She was active in her law school community and served as the chairperson for the Kent Justice Foundation. She received the Bar and Gavel Award for her distinguished service. Ann Celine was named on the Dean’s List from 1995-98, and in addition to her J.D., she received a Certificate in Litigation and Alternative Dispute Resolution.

In 1999, Ann Celine married Frank Walsh at St. Isaac Jogues. They have lived in Downers Grove for 21 years, raising their three boys, Cole (18), Pierce (15) and Declan (13). Ann Celine and Frank are active in their parish and community. Ann Celine has served as president of the School Advisory Board at St. Mary of Gostyn School and Frank has served on the board and coached for Downers Grove Panther Football. Ann Celine enjoys spending time with her family and friends, and giving back to her community.

Ann Celine O. Walsh - Circuit Court Judge

The Hon. Ann Celine Walsh was unanimously appointed as a Circuit Judge of the 18th Judicial Circuit Court, DuPage County, by the Illinois Supreme Court in 2019. She currently serves as the Presiding Judge of the Specialty and Juvenile Courts Division and hears felony cases in the criminal division. She is the chairperson of the DuPage Family Violence Coordinating Council for the circuit.

Following her appointment as an Associate Judge in 2014, Judge Walsh heard cases in Traffic Court, Domestic Violence Court and she served as the Supervising Judge of Arbitration in the Law Division. She was also named Presiding Judge of the Traffic and Misdemeanor Division and adjudicated over driving under the influence cases.

Judge Walsh began her legal career as an Assistant State’s Attorney in DuPage County where she was the Supervisor of the Sex Crimes/Domestic Violence and Child Abuse Unit. While at the State’s Attorney’s Office, she successfully prosecuted hundreds of cases, including murder, domestic abuse and violent offenses.

Judge Walsh is a member of the Illinois Judges Association, the Illinois State Bar Association, The DuPage County Bar Association and the DuPage Association of Women Lawyers.

About the Award

The Inspirational Woman Award evolved from The Glass-Ceiling Buster Award. Thanks in large measure to the hard-work and distinguished service of many of the women who have come before us, today’s women lawyers can take pride in the fact that the glass ceiling has been not just busted by a few, but shattered by many. As a result of the hard-work and dedication of our predecessors, our options and opportunities as today’s women lawyers are limitless.

The Inspirational Woman is one who has achieved success not only in the courtroom or in the office, but in her life – whether she be a fierce litigator, with a secretly soft heart, or a tenacious practitioner, with a fondness for simple indulgences that nourish her soul. She approaches her practice with civility and professionalism in a manner that enhances, not compromises, her standing in the courtroom and the community.

The Inspirational Woman is one who embraces all aspects of her womanhood and has managed to successfully balance the demands of family, friends, and her colleagues and clients in the workplace. The Inspirational Woman is one who sees her legal career as a vocation, rather than merely a job or work to be done. She sees the people around her – whether they are family-members, friends, colleagues, or clients – as the most meaningful and valuable parts of a life that is not always neatly compartmentalized by family needs versus career needs. Hers is a life of artful balance.

She tends to the needs of those entrusted to her care – whether they are family-members, friends, colleagues or clients – with courage, strength, dignity and compassion. She leads by example. She teaches. She encourages. She does not hesitate to sing the high praises of other worthy women. She delivers meaningful reproach when necessary, and offers good advice when asked. She mentors those fortunate enough to follow in her footsteps. She is buoyed by their strength and capacity to surpass her own example or others’ expectations. She rejoices in the accomplishments of her peers, for the betterment of the profession and the benefit of the community.

She embraces the world through all of her roles – whether as daughter, sister, mother, friend, litigator, colleague or counselor. She epitomizes the valor of the profession and the grace of womanhood.

Past Winners

  • Judge Helen C Kinney (Year Unknown)
  • Tom Leahy (Year Unknown)
  • Irene Bahr – 1999
  • Professor Dawn Clark Netsch – 2001
  • Justice Ann Jorgensen – 2003
  • Haydee Olinger – 2004
  • Irene Bahr – 2006
  • Judge Bonnie Wheaton – 2007
  • Jane Radostits – 2008
  • Susan Alvarado – 2009
  • Brenda Carroll – 2010
  • Brigid Duffield – 2011
  • Michelle Moore – 2012
  • Judge Dorothy French – 2013
  • Margaret O’Connell – 2014
  • Lynn M. Mirabella – 2015
  • Judge Linda Davenport - 2016
  • Kimberly Davis - 2017
  • Rebecca Laho - 2018
  • Deborah A. Carder - 2019
  • Judge Ann Celine O. Walsh - 2020