SPRINGFIELD — Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne M. Burke will be the speaker at the University of Illinois at Springfield's 37th commencement ceremony, which will begin at 2 p.m. Saturday, May 10, at the Prairie Capital Convention Center in downtown Springfield.
Anne M. Burke, Justice of the Illinois Supreme Court, First District
Justice Burke began her long career as a children's advocate, and later a legal professional, as a physical education teacher with the Chicago Park District where she worked with mentally disabled children. Out of that experience, in 1968 she founded the Chicago Special Olympics, which over the years grew to become the International Special Olympics, now operating in more than 160 countries.
Following graduation from Chicago-Kent College of Law in 1983, Burke established a neighborhood law practice that – in addition to civil and criminal trial work – represented the interests of children and families involved in cases of neglect, abuse, delinquency, and parental custody.
Her judicial career began in 1987 when she became the first woman justice of the Illinois Court of Claims. In 1994, in the wake of scandals involving the state's child welfare programs, Gov. Jim Edgar appointed Burke as Special Counsel for Child Welfare Services, as well as to a seat on his Legislative Committee on Juvenile Justice. In these capacities, her leadership helped bring about reforms in the state's juvenile justice and child protection systems.
She was appointed to the Illinois Appellate Court in 1995 and the following year was elected to a full term, serving on the Appellate bench for 11 years, until her appointment to the Illinois Supreme Court in July 2006.
As a member of the Supreme Court, Burke has served on the Illinois Courts Commission, the Special Commission on the Administration of Justice, and the Board of Admissions to the Bar.
Her other community service includes two years as interim chair of the National Review Board of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, investigating cases of abuse by members of the clergy and helping establish guidelines and policies to prevent such abuse in the future. She has worked with the board of Rush Medical Center, the Chicago Bar Association, the Chicago Public Library, the Persons with Disabilities Fund of the Chicago Community Trust, the Lincoln Park Zoological Society, and the St. Rose School for the Mentally Disabled; and has been president of Special Children's Charities and the Caritas Foundation.
Those who can not attend in person can watch Justice Burke's address via a live webcast of the UIS commencement ceremonies at www.uis.edu/technology/uislive.html.
Additional information about the 2008 commencement ceremony is available at www.uis.edu/commencement/.