Clinic Highlight

Barbara Giorgi Vella Receives the Outstanding Alumni Award
for the NIU College of Law

April 26, 2006

DeKalb – Rockford attorney Barbara Giorgi Vella received the 2006 Outstanding Alumni Award for the College of Law from the Northern Illinois University Alumni Association. Giorgi Vella is a 1992 graduate of NIU Law. An active leader both in her community and at NIU, Giorgi Vella is a fitting recipient for this honor, which recognizes exceptional graduates from each of the university’s seven colleges.

Barbara Giorgi Vella ('92)

Barbara Giorgi Vella ('92)

Giorgi Vella is a partner at Vella & Lund, P.C. of Rockford, where she specializes in family law and mediation. In 1998, she was named Volunteer Lawyer of the Year by the Prairie State Legal Services for her work with children and families. The following year, she received the NIU Law Alumni Council's coveted Distinguished Service Award. In her community, Giorgi-Vella has served on the Saint Anthony Medical Center Advisory Board, the Winnebago County Bar Association Board of Trustees, the Holy Family Foundation Endowment Committee, the Crusader Clinic Board of Directors, the Rockford Public Library Board and on many other civic boards and commissions.

Her leadership also extends to the NIU campus, where she serves as chair of the NIU Board of Trustees. Since being elected to the position in July 2005, Giorgi-Vella became both the first Rockford resident and the first woman to lead NIU's independent governing board since its inception in 1996. She was appointed to the board in 1999 and has chaired both the finance committee and the academic affairs committee.

In 2001, Giorgi-Vella helped dedicate a new NIU facility in Rockford: the Zeke Giorgi Legal Clinic, named for her late father and member of the Illinois General Assembly. The Clinic gives NIU Law students - under the supervision of a licensed attorney - a hands-on education by providing legal services to persons who might not otherwise have access to legal representation. She also helped establish the E.J. “Zeke” Giorgi Memorial Scholarship committee, an endowed scholarship fund that provides recipients with three years of financial assistance at NIU Law.

The only public law school in the greater Chicago area, NIU Law has previously been ranked first in the nation for government placement, according to U.S. News and World Report. Nearly one-third of its graduates choose a career in public interest, including more than 50 alumni in the judiciary -- a remarkable accomplishment for a law school with less than 3,000 graduates. In honor of its commitment to public service, NIU Law received the 2001 Excellence in Pro Bono and Public Interest Service Award.

For more information, contact:
Melody Mitchell
Director, Alumni Events & Public Relations