By a vote of all the current circuit judges in Winnebago and Boone counties, Janet R. Holmgren has been elected to serve as chief judge for the 17th Judicial Circuit, which includes Winnebago and Boone counties.
Holmgren succeeds Justice Kathryn E. Zenoff, who was assigned to duty on the Appellate Court by the Illinois Supreme Court.
As Chief Judge, Holmgren assumes overall administrative responsibilities for the circuit court, including being the 17th Circuits representative to the Illinois Supreme Courts Conference of Chief Judges.
Holmgren was first appointed as an associate judge in February 1995. In November 1998, she was elected as a resident circuit judge for Winnebago County, a position to which she was later retained by voter approval in 2004.
During her tenure on the bench, Holmgren has served as presiding judge of the Family Division, and has presided over courts hearing cases involving juvenile abuse and neglect, mental health, DUI, misdemeanor, felony and small claims. Her most recent court assignment has been hearing major civil cases in Winnebago County.
Holmgren is a member of the Illinois Childrens Justice Task Force, a multidisciplinary group that provides funding for childrens advocacy centers and for programs to aid child victims of serious sexual and physical abuse. She is also a member of the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission, which provides programming and funding for at-risk and delinquent youth throughout Illinois. Holmgren also holds the position as facilitator for the 17th Judicial Circuit Family Mediation Council.
Prior to serving on the bench, Holmgren practiced law for 10 years, concentrating in civil litigation. She has also served as a mediator and arbitrator at the 17th Circuit Alternative Dispute Resolution Center in Rockford.
Holmgren earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Denver in 1977, and later earned her law degree magna cum laude from Northern Illinois University College of Law in 1985.
Holmgrens civic involvement has included serving on the board of directors of On the Waterfront, Inc., including two years as chairman; as a director of the Winnebago County Bar Foundation and Winnebago County Bar Association; and as judicial adviser to the Winnebago County CASA program.
In 1999, Holmgren received both the Illinois Champion of Adoption Governors Award for outstanding service on behalf of abused and neglected children and also the Distinguished Service Award from the Northern Illinois University College of Law Alumni Association for Community Service. In 2001, Holmgren was the recipient of the Alta Hulett Award for the Professions.
Holmgren is a Rockford native, a graduate of Rockford East High School, and is married and has two children.
from the May 23-29, 2007, issue