Board member spotlight: Judge Rena Van Tine


Vice President Kamala Harris and the Hon. Rena Van Tine

Chinese Mutual Aid Association has always prided itself on the diversity of our outstanding board members– one example being the Honorable Rena Van Tine, who is the first female Asian American Acting Presiding Judge in Illinois announced October 2022.


An immigrant from Bangalor, India, Judge Van Tine arrived in the US at the young age of 2 years old along with her father and mother (pregnant with her sister at the time) and one suitcase. A kindly group of nuns took her family in to start up a brand new life in New York and later, Canada. After returning back to India for a number of years, Judge Van Tine returned to the US, getting her undergraduate degree at Oakland University, her law degree at New York Law School (becoming a US citizen halfway through), and a number of graduate courses at Michigan State University focusing on intercultural communication.


After law school, she had a choice to make– Bar Exams happening on the same day in Michigan, Illinois, and New York. After visiting a college friend in Chicago, she fell in love with the city and after passing the Bar, started working in a small law firm focusing on real estate law with occasional cases allowing her to be in court, a place that she instantly fell in love with.


With more time in the court as a Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney for 12 years and after that, Special Counsel to Illinois State Comptroller Daniel W. Hynes, through the merit process she became a judge 22 years ago.


In 2001, she was the first female Indian American judge when she was appointed Associate Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County. She served as a founding member of the Chicago chapter of the Indian American Bar Association (renamed the South Asian American Bar Association of Chicago in 2016), and started with its first board of directors. She is past president of the Asian American Bar Association where she met CMAA Executive Director Dennis Mondero, and is currently Vice President of the Asian American Judges Association of Illinois.


Judge Rena Van Tine is a vital member of the board of directors and we are proud to call her one of our volunteers.


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