Attorney shares skills to better her community

Long before she ever set foot in the village, Shilpa Upadhye knew she would one day live in Hinsdale.

While studying at the University of Michigan, she became friends with a fellow student who raved about her hometown in the western suburbs of Chicago.

"I just heard her talk about Hinsdale all the time," Upadhye said. But she would move many times and live in many states and two countries before realizing her dream of residing in the town that her college friend described as so idyllic.

Upadhye said her early academic career also took many turns before she settled on a major that both met her interests and prepared her for her next step.

"I found I had a knack for languages," said Upadhye, who earned a degree in Spanish from the University of Michigan before enrolling in law school at St. Mary's in San Antonio.

Throughout her career, Upadhye has passed not one, but four bar exams in order to continue practicing through her family's frequent moves. She has practiced in Indiana, New York, New Jersey and now in Illinois. As senior counsel for McDonald's Corp., Upadhye assists the company in buying and leasing land for new restaurants.

While raising her two children, Upadhye was involved with their schools and with scouting. She was a Cub Scout den mom and an organizer for Troop 8. She also offered her knowledge and experience in real estate law to help the local Scouting district take inventory of its real estate needs.

"Positive change came out of that," she said, including improved infrastructure at some properties. "It was a nice way to marry my real estate skills with a passion for Boy Scouts."

With her Eagle Scout son now away at college, Upadhye said she remains a supporter of the organization and its ability to help young men build leadership skills and a solid work ethic.

Ronald McDonald House Charities, where Upadhye serves on the board of directors, also benefits from her professional expertise.

"I have a full plate," Upadhye said.

That plate recently became even fuller with her position as co-chair of the Women's Leadership Network for the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association. She called the new post a passion project that will allow her to give back to the Asian community and the law community.

"It will be a good platform for me to put out some messaging for Asian women and Asian attorneys in general," she said.

This year marks two milestones for Upadhye, and she has big plans to celebrate both.

As Upadhye closes in on 10 years at McDonald's Corp., she's preparing for her first eight-week sabbatical - a valuable perk of her employment. She plans to spend her time traveling, first to Morocco, then to Spain and several other spots throughout Europe.

For their 25th wedding anniversary, Upadhye and her husband, Shashank, made a list of 25 things to experience together. Some, like their upcoming Europe trip, are big. Others are small, like hiking through Morton Arboretum.

"One of our goals this year is to cherish this milestone," Upadhye said.

Last year marked Upadhye's 10th year as a Hinsdalean. Having lived in three countries and several states, Upadhye said Hinsdale is a place she can finally call home.

"This is the longest we've ever lived anywhere," she said. "We've decided we're going to stay."

- story by Sandy Illian Bosch, photo by Jim Slonoff

Author Bio

Sandy Illian Bosch is a contributing writer to The Hinsdalean