Jul 21, 2013 – Follett Chairman Alison O'Hara passed away unexpectedly on Saturday, July 20, 2013, from complications of breast cancer.
Alison was a graduate of Oak Park and River Forest High School, and went on to receive a bachelor of arts from Colorado College, and a juris doctor from the University of Colorado Law School.
She began her public sector law career as an Assistant State's Attorney with the Cook County State's Attorney Office in 1988, and in 1991 became an Assistant Attorney General with the Illinois Attorney General's Office. From 1995 to 1997, Alison served as Senior Counsel with the Attorney Registration & Disciplinary Commission of the Illinois Supreme Court. In private practice in Chicago during the 1990s, Alison served as an associate at Jackson Lewis and as Co-Chair of the Appellate Department of Cassiday Schade. Between 1996 and 1998, she was also an adjunct professor at Loyola University's Chicago School of Law.
In 1999, Alison joined Follett as Senior Counsel in the company's legal department, and in 2003, she was promoted to Assistant General Counsel. She was named to Follett's Board of Directors in 1999. In 2011, Alison was elected as the first female Chairman of the Board in Follett's 140 year-history. In 2012, she served as acting President and CEO following the retirement of Chuck Follett, and subsequently led the Board's search for a successor. Alison was the catalyst behind the Company's pursuit of emerging opportunities in education, particularly in digital content and technology.
Alison will be greatly missed by all who knew her. She is survived by her husband, James A. Barasa, her children, Amanda, Trevor, and Tucker, her stepchildren, Gina, Eliza, and Jimmy; her mother, Ariel Follett O'Hara, her father, J. Philip O'Hara (Patricia), her siblings, Keith (Dena), Julie (Dennis White), and John (Amy); and her entire extended family including nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, and cousins. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions be made to the Follett Educational Foundation, 2233 West Street, River Grove, Illinois 60171-1817.