Cheryl Chavarrie Francl
Class of 1986
Cheryl Chavarrie Francl graduated from East Leyden in 1986 as the Class Valedictorian. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree from DePaul University in 1989 with Highest Honors and her Juris Doctorate in 1992 from Northwestern University School of Law in Chicago. At DePaul, she was honored as the Outstanding Senior in the College of Commerce, 1989. At Northwestern, Cheryl served as a note and comment editor for the Journal of International Law and Business. After law school she began her law career in private practice (Peterson & Ross and Smith, Rickert & Smith), practicing insurance defense, corporate and real estate law and civil litigation. In September of 1998, Cheryl started her airline career by joining United Airlines. She currently is Managing Director and Senior Counsel at United and her practice concentrates on commercial transactions, aviation law, and data privacy. Cheryl has won a variety of awards while at United but in April of 2013, she was recognized as one of 100 employees with the United 100 Award. She was recognized in the Chicago Business Journal for receiving this award. She is active in community service, including Ministry of Care and fundraising for a variety of charitable organizations, plus she is involved with pro-bono service initiatives with United. Cheryl is married with two children.
Her message to Leyden students: “Work hard, do the right thing, stay true to yourself, and remember to give back to your community. You can truly make a difference in anything you do.”
Class of 2002
Cezary Podkul is a reporter at ProPublica covering finance. Previously, he worked as a reporter at Reuters specializing in data-driven news stories. His work with Carrick Mollenkamp for Reuters’s “Uneasy Money” series was a finalist for the Gerald Loeb Award for Distinguished Business and Financial Journalism. He has covered energy and commodities and the private equity industry, among other beats, after leaving investment banking in 2008 to pursue journalism. Cezary Podkul graduated from East Leyden as Class Valedictorian in 2002. Cezary earned a B.S. in economics from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and is a 2011 alumnus of the Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism at Columbia Journalism School, where he won the Melvin Mencher Prize for Superior Reporting. He is fluent in Polish.
His message to Leyden students: "Do not be afraid of failure because the most important thing is not whether you fail at something but what you learn from it and how you use it as an opportunity for the next chapter of your personal or professional life. Every failure in life is also an opportunity. "