2011 Forty Under 40 Winner: Elizabeth Coonan
Friday, March 18, 2011 7:00 AM
Age 33 | Partner, BrownWinick law firm
Elizabeth Coonan was recently named to the Iowa Commission on the Status of Women, adding another honor and another responsibility in a life that’s full of them. For example: At the moment, she’s the president of the Young Women’s Resource Center board of directors, serves on the Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute’s board of governors and is part of the leadership team of the Junior League of Des Moines. She received the Junior League’s Community Service Award in 2010 after helping coordinate the efforts of that organization and the Young Women’s Resource Center to host a career skills workshop for women.
“I just have always felt that to whom much is given, much is expected,” Coonan said. “I’ve always felt the need to give back. It started in law school, when I worked at a clinic providing free tax help to low-income individuals. I saw what an impact you can make with just a few hours.”
Coonan grew up in the Chicago suburb of Naperville and attended Miami University in Ohio. One of her professors there was a graduate of Drake University and suggested she look into Drake’s law school. That brought her to Des Moines, and she graduated with a law degree from Drake in 2002 after working as a judicial clerk for U.S. District Judge Ronald Longstaff and serving as editor of the Drake Journal of Agricultural Law.
Coonan was a law clerk at the Hansen, McClintock & Riley firm, spent three years as an associate attorney at Grefe & Sidney PLC and since 2005 has been at BrownWinick, where she is now a partner.
Her legal work centers on “a lot of employer counseling and training supervisors on things like discrimination, workers’ compensation and a little bit of business immigration work,” she said. “My greatest joy is counseling employers on how to run their companies more efficiently and better relate to their work force.”
Coonan also is the leader of a networking group for women. “Women’s issues are a paramount concern to me,” she said.
Coonan and her husband, Tim, have a son, Quinn, who is approaching his second birthday.
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