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Our Staff

Karen A. DeWitt

Karen DeWitt is the office manager for Ridge & Downes. She started at the firm in 1978 after graduating from Southwest School of Business and Bogan High School. She was initially hired as a legal assistant and now manages the support staff, as well as assists the attorneys in the daily management of case files...More

Nóra Heenan Woulfe

Nóra holds a B.A. from DePaul University.  While at DePaul, Nóra auditioned for and became a member of the William Ferris Chorale, as both a chorale singer and soloist from 1978 – 81.  On October 5, 1979, Nora sang for Pope John Paul II at Holy Name Cathedral with Luciano Pavarotti and Chicago Lyric Opera’s Tenor, Frank Little.  Nóra received a scholarship to attend Yale University School of Music, where she obtained her master’s degree in 1982.  Nóra remained in Connecticut for 11-years, where she was an adjunct professor and Director of Chorale at Albertus Magnus College in New Haven, Connecticut for two years...More

Lydia Vega

Lydia Vega is a personal injury legal assistant at Ridge & Downes.  She has spent her career supporting litigation attorneys throughout the Loop.  Lydia was born and raised on the Northside of Chicago.  She currently lives in Lincoln Square, where she likes to entertain family and friends.

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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