Distinguished Alumna
Class of 2017

Gail Chaney Kalinich

AHS Class of 1980

Gail Chaney developed a fascination with politics and world issues in Mike Nave’s American Problems class at Arcola High School. This interest led to a Political Science major at the University of Illinois, a career in employment law, and a life of service as she helps others overcome their hardships.

Gail Ann Chaney was born January 10, 1962, in Mattoon, IL, the second child of Harold E. and Doris Wetherholt Chaney of Arcola. Her brother, Mike, graduated with the AHS Class of 1968. While a student at Arcola High School, Gail was an Illinois State Scholar, National Honor Society officer and 2-year Scholastic Bowl Captain. She served as Spanish Club President, AFS Vice-President and volleyball team co-captain. Gail was also active in Drama Club, GAA and served as a basketball and track statistician. As a senior, she received the class awards for Science, English and Foreign Language, and was also selected to serve on both Homecoming and Prom courts. Gail is grateful for her employment at Rockome Gardens and Arcola Emporium while attending AHS.

Following her high school graduation, Gail was admitted to the University of Illinois in the James Scholars Honor Program in Political Science and was also awarded a WWII Child of Veterans Scholarship. She served as a student ambassador, was a volunteer tutor for students with learning disabilities in Urbana public schools and a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority and Sigma Iota Lambda Pre-Law Honor Society. Gail developed a greater understanding of the legal system as she worked in the Arcola law office of Mark Petty during her summer breaks from college. Chaney completed her B.A. at Illinois in 1984 with a triple major in English Literature, Rhetoric and Political Science. She continued her studies at University of Illinois College of Law, earning both Albert J. Harno and Belnap memorial scholarships. While in law school, Gail worked as a law clerk in a Champaign law firm, was a volunteer with Prisoners’ Rights Research Project and was consistently recognized as an outstanding teacher as she taught Rhetoric in the English Department at the U of I. She graduated Cum Laude with a Juris Doctor degree in 1987.

Chaney began her legal career as an associate in the Labor and Employment Department of the Chicago office of Katten, Muchin and Zavis. She and corporate attorney Kevin Kalinich were married in Glen Ellyn, IL, November 24, 1990. In 1991, she continued her work focusing on employment litigation at Ross & Hardies, which would later merge into McGuireWoods LLP. Kalinich was elected to partnership with Ross & Hardies in 1994, while on maternity leave with their son Adam. Their daughter, Chaney, was born in 1997. During her legal career, Gail represented major corporations in employment and complex litigation matters. Her clients included financial institutions, energy producers, publishers, hospitals and medical practices, insurance companies, beverage companies, communication providers, heavy construction contractors, defense contractors, retail and restaurant chains, technology companies, industry associations and large law firms. Prior to her 2013 McGuireWoods retirement, Kalinich was named a “Chicago Legal Leader” in Employment Law in 2012 and again in 2013. In addition to Illinois State Courts, Gail has been admitted to practice before the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth and Seventh Circuits, multiple United States District Courts throughout the country and was also admitted to the bar of the United States Supreme Court in July 2017.

Following her retirement, Gail has focused on volunteer work. She served as an Adjunct Professor of Law at Chicago-Kent College of Law, School of American Law, traveling to Ukraine and Lithuania in 2014, to teach employment law to foreign lawyers and law students. As an international election observer with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Gail has volunteered her service since 2011 to observe and report on the elections in Albania, Ukraine, Belarus and Russia.

Kalinich’s volunteer work and service to others has continued for decades. She tutored young children from Chicago’s Cabrini-Green Housing Project 1987-1992 and was also a founder, head coach and sponsor who organized Near North Little League baseball and softball teams in Cabrini-Green from 1990 through 1997. Gail has served in a variety of civic capacities, including pollwatcher, volunteer voter protection attorney and election judge, as well as election protection counsel for Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. She has provided free legal advice to victims of violent crimes and their surviving family members since her 2013 retirement. Gail also serves on political campaigns and is a member of several political action groups. As an officer of the Glen Ellyn League of Women Voters, Gail has organized candidate forums for federal, state and local political races, overseen voter registration drives, planned mock elections at local schools and arranged speakers for community meetings. She was recognized with service awards from the League in 2015 and again in 2016.

In her unwavering efforts to assist aspiring, but disadvantaged children as they pursue education and career opportunities, Gail has worked with a variety of organizations in the greater Chicago area to assist young people in applying to high schools and colleges, applying for scholarships and obtaining employment. Each year, she mentors 8th grade students in Englewood as they apply and transition to high school. As a Ponheary Ly Foundation volunteer and student sponsor since 2009, she promotes quality education for children of Cambodia.

Just as Gail has expanded educational and employment opportunities for other children, she has immersed her own children, Adam and Chaney, in month-long summer education and cultural enhancement trips to over thirty countries including Cambodia, Vietnam, Greece, Turkey, China, Peru, Italy, Spain, France, England, Croatia, Serbia, Tanzania and Egypt. Since 1990, she has traveled in more than forty countries on six continents. Gail and Kevin reside in Glen Ellyn, IL, where Gail continues her dedicated service.

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Last Revision November 11, 2017