Springfield, IL – Governor JB Pritzker recently announced the appointments of several Arbitrators to the Workers’ Compensation Commission.
Linda J. Cantrell will continue to serve as an Arbitrator on the Workers’ Compensation Commission.*
Cantrell was appointed by Governor JB Pritzker in October 2019 after having practiced law in Illinois and Missouri for 18 years. In 2021, Cantrell was the recipient of the Harriett Reid Distinguished Arbitrator Award. She was recently admitted to the U.S. Supreme Court and earned her Bachelor of Science from St. Louis University and Juris Doctor from the Southern Illinois University School of Law.
Raychel Wesley will continue to serve as an Arbitrator on the Workers’ Compensation Commission.*
Prior to her appointment in 2020, Wesley was a Domestic Violence Attorney at Prairie State Legal Services (PSLS) where she co-chaired the Racial Justice Initiative. Following graduation from law school, she worked at various firms in Joliet and was a solo practitioner for a time. In those firms, she also functioned as an Arbitrator in the Will County Mandatory Arbitration Program, as a mediator in the Will and surrounding counties and as a court appointed guardian ad litem. Wesley is a founding member of the Black Bar Association of Will County. She is a present member of the Will County Bar Association, integrating member of the over 100-year-old LaSalle County Bar Association, Will County Women’s Bar Association, National Hook Up of Black Women, City of Joliet Community Relations Advisory Board, Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Association and is active in giving back to her community. Wesley received both her Juris Doctor and undergraduate degrees from DePaul University.
Bradley Gillespie will continue to serve as an Arbitrator on the Workers’ Compensation Commission.*
Prior to his appointment in 2021, Gillespie served as an Associate Attorney at Gori Julian & Associates. Previously, he served as the Assistant Attorney General in both the Environmental and General Law Bureau in the Illinois Office of the Attorney General. Gillespie also served in the United States Army Reserve where he earned the Army Commendation Medal among other accolades. He received his Bachelor of Arts from Southern Illinois University and his Juris Doctor from Saint Louis University School of Law.
Jeanne AuBuchon will continue to serve as an Arbitrator on the Workers’ Compensation Commission.*
Prior to her appointment, AuBuchon practiced general law with an emphasis on family law, estate planning, and workers’ compensation. Before her legal career began, AuBuchon served as a newspaper reporter for nearly 10 years, including tenure at the Belleville News-Democrat in Belleville, Illinois, where she covered municipal and county government and the courts. AuBuchon has over 24 years of legal experience representing abused and neglected children as guardian ad litem in St. Clair County. AuBuchon received a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia and her Juris Doctor from St. Louis University.
Gerald Napleton will continue to serve as an Arbitrator on the Workers’ Compensation Commission.*
Napleton has served as an Arbitrator with the Workers’ Compensation Commission since his appointment in 2020. Prior to joining the Commission, he was an attorney at well-known law firms focusing on the prosecution and defense of workers’ compensation and personal injury matters. He is an active member of the Illinois State Bar Association where he served as chairperson of both the Workers’ Compensation Council and the Young Lawyers Division. He served as a board member of the Illinois Bar Foundation and as past president of the Marist High School Law Association. In his free time he is a bagpiper with the Shannon Rovers Irish Pipe Band that leads the Chicago St. Patrick’s Day parade every year. Napleton earned a Bachelor of Business Administration (Management) and a Bachelor of Arts (Philosophy) from Saint Xavier University and his Juris Doctor from DePaul University College of Law.
Charles Watts will continue to serve as an Arbitrator on the Workers’ Compensation Commission.*
Watts has served as Arbitrator for the Workers’ Compensation Commission for the past six years, and he is currently responsible for a Chicago call. n this role he is responsible for a docket of over 2500 cases and conducts numerous pretrials and settlement conferences. Throughout his career, he has presided over more than 200 trials.. Prior to becoming an arbitrator, he was Chief Legal Counsel for the Illinois House Republicans under Leader Jim Durkin. In this role he was Floor Parliamentarian, FOIA officer, and legislative analyst. His former civil litigation practice included defense of cases concerning general negligence, medical malpractice, and aviation. Watts also taught English and American History at both the middle school and high school level for ten years. Watts earned his bachelor degree at Eastern Michigan University and his Juris Doctor from Loyola University Chicago.
Rachael Sinnen will continues to serve as an Arbitrator on the Workers’ Compensation Commission.*
Sinnen has spent the last decade working almost exclusively in workers’ compensation, first at Knell O’Connor Danielewicz representing respondents and then joining the petitioners bar at Elfenbaum, Evers & Zielinska. Sinnen previously served as vice chairwoman of the Young Lawyers’ Section for the Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Association and is a member of the Hispanic Lawyers Association of Illinois. She is also an adjunct professor at IIT Chicago‐Kent College of Law teaching evidence and trial skills. Sinnen received her Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance, Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and Master of Business Administration from Loyola University Chicago and her Juris Doctor from IIT Chicago Kent College of Law.
Paul Seal will continue serve as an Arbitrator on the Workers’ Compensation Commission.*
Seal has served in this capacity since his original appointment in 2018. Previously, he worked at Zurich North America for a decade as staff counsel. Seal graduated from Loyola University Chicago with honors and earned his Juris Doctor from Loyola University School of Law.
The IWCC also announced that Arbitrators David Kane and Steven Fruth have announced their retirement, effective August 28, 2023. The new Arbitrators to serve on their retirement are:
James Byrnes will serve as an Arbitrator on the Workers’ Compensation Commission.*
Byrnes has over thirty years of workers’ compensation experience, currently serving as Partner at Ganan & Shapiro, P.C., where he represents clients before the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission as well as manages the in-house continuing legal education program. Prior to his tenure at his current firm, Byrnes worked at Freeborn & Peters, LLP and the Law Office of Patricia Cassiday. He began working as a staff attorney in 1990 with former Commissioner Linzey Jones at the Workers’ Compensation Commission. He currently serves P He has been a member of the Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Association since 1992. Byrnes received a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Notre Dame and a Juris Doctor from the University of Illinois.
Jennifer Bae will serve as an Arbitrator on the Workers’ Compensation Commission.*
Bae has over twenty-five years of legal experience, including serving as a member of the Cook County Sheriff’s Merit Board. Bae currently serves as the Director of Employee Discipline within the Cook County Sheriff’s Office. While in this role she supervises a department that is charged with disciplining over 6,000 sworn officers including civil employees throughout various levels of hearings. Prior to her time with Cook Country Sheriff’s Office, Bae was a Staff Attorney with the City of Chicago. She also ran her own practice in Chicago and Des Plaines where she specialized in criminal law and administrative hearings. Bae has been recognized several times by her peers and has been presented the Korean American Law Enforcement Group- Advancement of the Mission Award, State of Illinois Supreme Court- Outstanding Service on the Committee on Character and Fitness, and Pan Asian Humanitarian Award. Bae received a Bachelor of Science from the University of Houston and a Jurist Doctor from the University of Illinois-Chicago.
* Appointments pending confirmation by the Illinois Senate.
Source: IL Governor’s Office