Northern Illinois University Law Dean Jennifer Rosato was presented with the Distinguished Leadership Award on September 25 from Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White. She was honored during the Illinois Secretary of State's 2013 National Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration for her career in law and in legal education, her legacy as a professor and scholar, and her many leadership roles.
"Dean Rosato's impressive career in law and legal education has set a high standard of achievement for those who follow in her footsteps," noted Secretary White. He added, "We are grateful for all she has done to empower those living in Illinois and throughout the nation."
In 2009, Dean Rosato became the first female Latina dean to head the NIU College of Law, and is still amongst only a handful of minority women deans across the country. Under her guidance, NIU Law has enacted numerous initiatives to advance its mission of promoting diversity, professionalism and academic excellence in the legal academy.
Dean Rosato dedicated the award to her mother, who taught her humility and to never forget where she came from. "That is why I fight every day for access to education at the highest levels for all students and all walks of life," she said.
During the special ceremony, Secretary White recognized individuals who are leaders and have made historic contributions in education, philanthropy, and business. Other distinguished honorees included Martin Castro (Lifetime Achievement Award), Chairperson of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission; Neli Vazquez-Rowland (Humanitarian Achievement Award), Co-founder & President of A Safe Haven Foundation; and Gilbert Villegas, Jr. (Distinguished Leadership Award), Chief of Staff for the Illinois Capital Development Board. The Master of Ceremonies was Lourdes Duarte, anchor and reporter for WGN-TV Channel 9.
National Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated annually from September 15th through October 15th, recognizing the contributions and accomplishments of the Hispanic community across the county. The program also featured live performances from a Mariachi band, Brazilian samba dancers, and an Ecuadorian folk dance.