Sally Wagenmaker

Sally Wagenmaker provides legal counsel in corporate, tax, employment, and real estate matters for nonprofits operating on local, national, and international levels. Her clients include churches and other religious organizations, social service providers, and schools.

Sally’s corporate and tax work includes development of new tax-exempt entities, providing guidance for effective nonprofit governance and other operational legal issues. In addition, she represents clients in property tax exemption matters for charitable, religious, and educational purposes, shared occupancy arrangements, and property transfers. Sally also regularly advises and counsels the firm’s nonprofit clients on employment matters including contracts, termination, employment policies, unemployment insurance, and compliance with other employment laws, particularly as they relate to nonprofit issues such as volunteers and clergy.

Prior to practicing law with Wagenmaker & Oberly, Sally was a partner with Mosher & Wagenmaker and also worked with the Chicago law firm of Hoogendoorn & Talbot. In addition, she worked as a solo practitioner, providing legal assistance to indigent and low-income clients primarily in Chicago’s west side neighborhood of North Lawndale. Sally lives in Chicago with her husband Dan, and they have two children in college.



  • Taxation of Exempts: "Religious Tax Reclassification for Public Charities," with Ryan Oberly and Paul Winters (January/February 2022)
  • Social Science Research Network, “Why Religious Organizations Shouldn’t Lose Tax-Exempt Status Based on Public Policy, Post-Obergefell,” (January 2018)
  • Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, “Answering Your Overtime Questions” (Book) (2016)
  • Christian Legal Society: “Church Guidance for Same-Sex Issues” (white paper, FAQs, and webinar) (2015)
  • Pepperdine Journal of Business: “Speak Up: Issue Advocacy in Increasingly Politicized Times, Pepperdine Journal of Business, Entrepreneurship & the Law” (2014)
  • Illinois Institute of Continuing Legal Education’s Not-For-Profit Corporations: "State Property Tax and Sales Exemptions” (2012 ed.)
  • Commission on Accountability and Policy for Religious Organizations (ECFA-sponsored): "Should Religious Institutions Be Required to File Form 990s?" (position paper co-authored with Michael Mosher) (January 2012)
  • RIA Checkpoint: "Churches and IRS Form 990 Reporting: Maintaining Exemption (adapted article from ECFA Commission) (2012)
  • Christian Legal Society: "Election Year Q & A: Do's and Don'ts for Churches and Other Nonprofits” (Magazine Article) (2012)
  • Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education’s Not-For-Profit Corporations: “Directors’ and Officers’ Responsibilities” (2009)


  • Member of the IRS TE/GE Advisory Council for the Great Lakes Region
  • Past-President of National Christian Legal Society
  • Board Member of the Northern Illinois Chapter of Christian Legal Society


  • Speaking Engagements: An Effective Child Protection Safety System, South Carolina Baptist Convention (2019)
  • Eight Legal Hot Spots for Ministry Employment  Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability - Webinar (with Cindee Coffee 2019)
  • Getting Your Legal House in Order, Resource Leadership Conference (2019)
  • Real Estate for Nonprofits, Nonprofit Web Advisor - Webinar (2019)
  • IRS Form 1023 Issues for Tax-Exempt Recognition, Strafford - Webinar (with Shirley McLaughlin 2018)
  • Responding to Loss of Tax-Exempt Status, Strafford -Webinar (with Louis Michelson and Shirley McLaughlin (2018)
  • Why Religious Organizations Shouldn’t Lose Tax-Exempt Status Based on Public Policy, Post-Obergefell, Chicago Bar Association (2018)
  • Guns, Churches, and Risk Management, Judson University – Webinar (2018)
  • Creating a Safe Culture: Making Sure #MeToo Does Not Happen at Your Church or Nonprofit, Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability – Webinar (2018)
  • FLSA and Mission Organizations, Missio Nexus (2017)
  • The Basics of Compliance for Mission Organizations, Missio Nexus (2017)
  • Impact of New Overtime Regulations on Nonprofits, Illinois CPA Society (2016)
  • Impact of New Overtime Regulations on Churches and Ministries, Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability – Webinar (2016)
  • Facilities Usage Stewardship and Religious Liberty, Post-Obergefell, Moody Bible Institute – Engage the Culture Conference (2016)
  • Church Guidance in Light of Same-Sex/Religious Liberty Developments, Judson University – Webinar (2016)
  • Political Activity for Nonprofits, The Law Project (2016)
  • My House? Your House? Our House? When Not-for-Profits Wish to Co-Locate, New York Law School/Loyola University College of Law - Rooftops Conference Chicago (2016)
  • Legal Hotspots for Nonprofits: Governance, Religious Liberty, IRS Developments, and Creative Collaboration, Capin Crouse (2015)
  • Legal, Tax, and Risk Management Hotspots for Churches and Nonprofits, co-panelist with Richard Hammar and H. Robert Showers, Christian Legal Society National Conference (2015)
  • Issue Advocacy for Nonprofits, Christian Legal Society National Conference (2014)
  • On Successful Leadership:  Applying Fiduciary Duties Beyond the Nonprofit Boardroom, Trinity International University (2014)
  • Getting Your House of Worship in Order, Educational Seminar - ABC Bank Chicago (2014)
  • Creative Fundraising Strategies in Challenging Economic Times, Christian Community Development Association National Conference (2012)
  • Employment Law for Nonprofit Leaders, Christian Community Development Association National Conference (2010)
  • Legal Best Practices on Organizational Documents, Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability Regional Conference (2010)
  • What is ‘Charity?’ Implications of Property Tax Exemption Trends on Federal Tax Exemption, IRS TE/GE Council – Great Lakes Area (2009)


  • DePaul University College of Law (2014, 2015)
  • DePaul University Graduate School (2007, 2009, 2011)
  • Harper College, Palatine, Illinois (2008, 2009)
  • Northwestern University Institute of Continuing Education (2009)


  • Volunteer Mediator with the Center for Conflict Resolution (1996-2010)
  • Lawndale Christian Health Center Board (2000-2005)
  • Lawndale Christian Legal Center Advisory Council (2011-present)
  • The Cabrini Green Legal Aid Clinic Board (1995-1999)
  • Legal Assistance Foundation of Chicago volunteer (1995-1998)