Jeannie Carmedelle Frey, Christus Health, Irving, TX
For thirty years, the Business Law Section has awarded the Jean Allard Glass Cutter Award to a series of women business lawyers from a variety of backgrounds whose talents, achievements, and leadership have increased the stature of women in the legal profession and our Section and also have inspired generations of young women lawyers to seize opportunities and create successful, noteworthy careers as business lawyers.
This year, we celebrate the 30th anniversary of this outstanding award. This year’s recipient exemplifies all of the characteristics that the previous Jean Allard Glass Cutter Award recipients have consistently demonstrated in serving the legal profession and our Section. I am thrilled to announce that the 2023 recipient of the Jean Allard Glass Cutter Award is Jeannie Frey, of Dallas, Texas. Jeannie has been consistently supportive of young women lawyers in each law department she’s worked in or led, many of whom have gone on to leadership roles both in their in-house law departments and in the Section. We can’t think of anyone who is more deserving of this Award.
As members and leaders of the Business Law Section, we were the beneficiaries of Jeannie’s dedication, legal knowledge, and organizational prowess as she empowered our committees, cultivated member talent, and served in one leadership role after another. Jeannie served as Chair of our Non-Profit Organizations Committee, as a member of our Section Council, and as Chair of our Publications Board. She developed 5 books as lead author, managing editor, and executive editor, and assisted in the production of many others. She became Chair of the Section during a particularly challenging time during the height of the pandemic. Her leadership and ability to form consensus on difficult issues in a turbulent year resulted in making the Business Law Section stronger and more responsive to our members. She was the driving force in restructuring our Section’s governance model, making it nimbler and more productive than before, and opening up more opportunities for people to serve in leadership roles. She has, more recently, taken a leadership role in attracting and retaining in-house counsel to both the Section and the ABA in general.
Jeannie’s effectiveness in her various roles at both the ABA and the Business Law Section were honed from her experience in very demanding legal positions throughout her career, which she balanced, as so many of us do, with an active family life with her husband Dan and children Cat and Christopher. As partner with McDermott Will and Emery in Chicago, Jeannie’s legal expertise encompassed health care law, nonprofits, mergers and acquisitions, and corporate governance. Such knowledge allowed Jeannie to make the switch from law firm to in-house counsel when she became the first general counsel for the Resurrection Health Care system in Chicago in 2014. And if being responsible for the system’s hospitals, medical groups, nursing homes, and all inpatient and outpatient facilities was not daunting enough, Jeannie parlayed her law firm experience as a healthcare M&A attorney to become an integral member of Resurrection’s transaction team that oversaw sales and acquisition, as well as the development and restructuring of joint ventures.
Jeannie’s in house career was marked by one success after another and she eventually became Chief Legal Officer and General Counsel for Presence Health, the largest Catholic health system in Illinois. Jeannie and her family then relocated to Dallas, where she currently is Chief Legal Officer and General Counsel of CHRISTUS Health, an international not-for-profit health system comprising almost 350 services and facilities, including more than 60 hospitals and other health-care facilities, 175 clinics and outpatient centers and dozens of other health ministries and ventures.
Jeannie’s achievements and credentials are, of course, impressive and a source of pride for her, her family, and her Section colleagues. But her modesty, respect for others, and great, understated sense of humor are no less important in making her a worthy recipient of the Jean Allard Glass Cutter Award. Jeannie has served the Section and the profession brilliantly and exemplifies the essential elements of this Award.