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Our Staff

Mayra Alejandra Rios

Mayra Alejandra Rios, Office Manager at Ridge & Downes.  Mayra has been working full-time at Ridge & Downes since 2015.   She was hired as our receptionist and after a very short time, was promoted to Legal Assistant....More

Nóra Woulfe

Nóra Woulfe, IT Manager & Legal Assistant, joined the law firm of Ridge & Downes in June 2002. She holds a B.A. from DePaul University and a M.A. from Yale University....More

Olivia Wright

Olivia Wright is a paralegal at Ridge & Downes. She has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Missouri and a paralegal certificate from DePaul University. She currently resides in Chicago, where she enjoys hanging out with her friends, swimming, and watching the Kansas City Chiefs. 

Melissa Van Ordstrand

Melissa has been a law clerk with Ridge & Downes for four years. She graduated from St. Ambrose University Suma Cum Laude in 2019 with a BA in Marketing and International Business. She is a recent graduate of UIC John Marshall School of Law earning Dean’s List recognition all four years of attendance. She will be sitting for the Bar Exam in July 2023. 

Jo Ann Wolniak

Jo Ann Wolniak has worked as a legal assistant at Ridge & Downes since 2006. She completed secretarial school at Tyler Southwest School of Business and became a legal secretary.  She has worked with various attorneys at Ridge & Downes, supporting both the workers’ compensation and personal injury departments.  She also assists with bookkeeping duties.


Jo Ann is married to her high school sweetheart.  They have two dogs, Daisy & Bella.  She is an adoring aunt to many nieces and nephews and two great-nieces.  She and her husband enjoy traveling.  Jo Ann is a big sports fanatic, loves Nascar, football, basketball, baseball, and hockey.  Jo Ann also sings in the choir at her church, loves spending time with her family and friends, and is very outgoing.

Vanessa Lopez

Vanessa Lopez is the Clerk at Ridge & Downes. She handles the Chicago Call, where she gets court dates set for cases and/or presents motions at the Commission. She goes to the Commission to file motions, dropoff/pickup settlement contracts from the vault, and transcripts when needed. She is also in charge of making sure settled cases are properly closed from our system and the physical file is ready for storage. Although this is the major part of her job, she is willing to help wherever she can and is needed.

Vanessa has lived in the Northside of Chicago for most of her life. Has been married since October 2010 and is blessed with a beautiful daughter and two dogs.

Meet the staff that makes our office work!

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