If not for an especially influential TA in the UI’s sociology department during her time on campus, the distinction of being the first woman to serve as chief judge for the Southern District of Illinois might belong to someone other than the Hon. Nancy Rosenstengel.
Her name was Kenna Kiger. She was working on her Ph.D. studying serial murder when she and Rosenstengel crossed paths in the late ’80s.
“She was confident, dynamic and inspirational,” Rosenstengel remembers. “She also strongly supported me during a difficult time when my father died my senior year and another faculty member in the sociology department was less than sympathetic or accommodating to my situation.
“Kenna really sparked my interest in criminal law, and after taking just one of her classes, I decided to go to law school.”
Three years later, Rosenstengel graduated cum laude from Southern Illinois University’s School of Law. And on Nov. 7, 2013, President Barack Obama nominated her to serve as a federal judge for the Southern District.
Rosenstengel was sworn in on May 19, 2014, and assumed the role of chief judge five years later.