UW-Eau Claire Alumni

President's Award
2014 Recipients

Catherine Furay and James Sweet will receive the President's Award, which recognizes outstanding professional and personal achievements and service to UW-Eau Claire.

Rick FrenetteCatherine Furay, a 1974 UW-Eau Claire psychology graduate, earned her law degree from UW-Madison in 1980 and became a U.S. bankruptcy judge for the Western District of Wisconsin in 2013.

With more than 30 years dedicated to her profession, Furay represented debtors, creditors, creditors' committees, lenders, trustees and acquirers in financing transactions, corporate restructuring and reorganization, bankruptcy, commercial and transaction law, and business and commercial litigation.

Furay's areas of practice included business bankruptcies, commercial and business litigation, general corporate and business representation, negotiating financing transactions and appellate practice. Furay was the chair of the Creditors' Rights, Insolvency and Bankruptcy Practice Group and the Corporate, Business and Tax Practice Group at her former law firm in Madison. She has written and lectured extensively on bankruptcy, creditor rights and ethics, and taught as an adjunct professor at the UW-Madison Law School for more than 18 years.

Furay served on the Special Legislative Study Committee on the Credit Aspects of Marital Property, received the 1994 Distinguished Service Award from the State Bar of Wisconsin and has received numerous awards from the American Bar Association. Her achievements have been recognized by Who's Who of American Women, Who's Who in American Law and Who's Who of Emerging Leaders. She also has been repeatedly included on lists for Wisconsin Super Lawyers and Best Lawyers in America.

Furay has been active in the State Bar of Wisconsin, the American Bar Association and the American Bankruptcy Institute. She also has served on boards and committees of various nonprofit organizations.

Rick FrenetteJames Sweet, a 1975 UW-Eau Claire philosophy and political science graduate, is a partner with the law firm Sweet DeMarb & Associates LLC, which is affiliated with the firm of Kerkman Dunn Sweet DeMarb in Madison. He earned his law degree from UW-Madison in 1978 and specializes in the areas of corporate renewal, restructuring and reorganization, bankruptcy, finance and newly formed companies.

In addition to practicing law, Sweet has lectured at the UW-Madison Law School, the Southwestern Bankruptcy Institute, numerous Wisconsin State Bar Bankruptcy Updates and the Iowa Bankruptcy Seminar on topics including bankruptcy, corporate reorganization, asset protection, creditors' rights, marital property aspects of creditor/debtor relations, and a variety of chapter 11 and legal ethics issues. He is a member of the American Bar Association, the American Bankruptcy Institute and the Turnaround Management Association, and he chaired numerous committees and sections of the State Bar of Wisconsin from 1988-2000. He is the former president and founding member of the Western District of the Wisconsin Bankruptcy Bar Association and was president and chairman of the American Boards of Certification. This spring Sweet was inducted as a fellow into the American College of Bankruptcy, only the eighth Wisconsinite to be so honored in the history of the college.

Sweet's achievements have been repeatedly acknowledged in the Wisconsin Super Lawyers and Best Lawyers in America publications, and he was cited by Madison Magazine as one of the top industry lawyers in Dane County and one of the top financial services/commercial lending law and bankruptcy lawyers. Sweet’s community service outside the law includes having served as president of Bishops Bay Country Club for nearly eight years.

While a student at UW-Eau Claire, Sweet served as student body president. His philosophy is to provide superior client service, legal integrity and strong commitment to the community in which he lives and works.

View the list of past recipients of this award.