NAWL 2020-2021 Board of Directors
Karen S. Morris is Senior Vice President, General Counsel for USAA's Property and Casualty Group, which offers property and casualty insurance products to members of the military, the military community, and their families. As P&C General Counsel, Ms. Morris serves as the chief lawyer for P&C, and is responsible for providing legal, regulatory, and governance counsel and guidance to the P&C President, the P&C leadership team, and the USAA P&C subsidiary boards. She also leads the P&C Counsel team, which is responsible for providing solution oriented counsel on all matters affecting USAA's P&C business, from product conception through delivery and fulfillment. Prior to joining USAA in September 2010, Ms. Morris spent 21 years with Allstate, where she held a wide variety of positions in Law, Marketing, Corporate Relations, and Strategy. Most recently, Ms. Morris was assistant vice president, Corporate Relations. In that position she led a team of professionals accountable for driving the company's reputation, corporate advocacy, and CEO executive positioning strategies. Prior to joining Allstate, Ms. Morris was in private practice in Chicago. She received a B.A., magna cum laude, from St. Mary’s University in Winona, Minnesota and a J.D. from the University of Illinois College of Law. Ms. Morris is a member of the University of Texas Center for Women in the Law General Counsel working group, and has been active with NAWL since 2008, serving as vice chair of the General Counsel Institute in 2010, chair in 2012, and sponsorship chair in 2013. She received NAWL’s “Virginia S. Mueller Outstanding Member” Award in 2012.
Jennifer A. Champlin is an Associate General Counsel for EdwardJones in Saint Louis where she partners with company leaders to provide legal advice on all manner of employment issues. Prior to EdwardJones, Ms. Champlin was a Director of HR for Walmart U.S. supporting Merchandising advising business partners on HR issues including but not limited to performance management, talent planning, talent development, organizational effectiveness, and diversity & inclusion. Prior to taking on an HR role, Ms. Champlin was an attorney in the Walmart Legal Department supporting the company’s Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”) investigative efforts and before that, practiced employment law partnering with leaders to provide legal advice on employment issues and managing the defense of employment litigation and administrative charges nationwide for Sam’s Club. Before joining Walmart, Ms. Champlin was a litigator specializing in electronic discovery at Crowe & Dunlevy in Tulsa, Oklahoma and before that, in the Boston office of Nixon Peabody LLP on the white collar criminal defense team. Ms. Champlin is currently the Vice President of the National Association of Women Lawyers and has been actively involved in NAWL since 2010. She received the “Virginia S. Mueller Outstanding Member” Award from NAWL in 2013. Ms. Champlin has chaired NAWL's Membership Committee, served on NAWL’s Sponsorship Committee, co-chaired the 2015 Women’s Initiative Leadership Boot Camp, and has been part of the planning leadership teams for regional GCI programming in Minneapolis and Atlanta and several other NAWL programs. Ms. Champlin spends most of her free time cheering her children, Grant (10) and Mallory (7), on in a variety of pursuits, watching the Boston Red Sox or volunteering in a variety of alumnae roles for Alpha Chi Omega. She obtained her B.A. in English with honors from Oklahoma State University and her J.D. from Cornell Law School.
DeAnna D. Allen is a Partner in Cooley LLP’s Washington, D.C. office. Her practice focuses on patent litigation and she counsels clients in a variety of areas such as telecommunications, semiconductors, computer related technologies, and biotechnology. Ms. Allen serves as Chair of the firm’s Diversity Committee. She also co-chairs the Programs Committee of the Intellectual Property Subsection of the ABA Section of Litigation, and she is a member of AIPLA and the National Bar Association. Ms. Allen previously served as in-house counsel to Burger King Brands and as a design engineer for Florida Power & Light. She has received multiple Benchmark Litigation recognitions. Ms. Allen has been listed as one of the “Most Powerful and Influential Women” in the Washington, D.C. area (National Diversity Council, 2010), and “Women Worth Watching®” (Profiles in Diversity Journal, 2015, 2009), and a member of the “Hot List” of “professional and entrepreneurial powerhouses under the age of 40” (Black Enterprise, 2007). In 2012–2013, she co-chaired NAWL’s Membership Committee and is currently the Board Liaison to NAWL’s Diversity Committee.
Peggy Steif Abram retired as of January 1, 2020, as a Partner in the Corporate and Securities Practice Group in the Minneapolis office of Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP. She advised clients on business matters, including corporate governance, compliance, Securities and Exchange Commission reporting, and major corporate transactions, and for several years provided general counsel services for a Minnesota-based global technology manufacturer. Ms. Abram was president of the Faegre Baker Daniels Foundation that funds social, cultural, and legal non-profit organizations, and chaired the firm’s Sponsorship Steering Group. She was a founding member of the firm’s Women’s Forum for Achievement, and a member of the Forum’s Leadership Council. Ms. Abram served on the national U.S. Law Firm Group Corporate and Securities Committee. She has been honored with a “Women in Business” Award from the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal. Ms. Abram graduated summa cum laude from Carleton College, earned her M.A. from The University of Chicago Divinity School, and received her J.D. cum laude from Harvard Law School. She lives in Minneapolis and is the proud mother of two daughters.
Kristin L. Bauer is a Principal with the Dallas office of the national employment law firm, Jackson Lewis PC. Ms. Bauer represents management exclusively in workplace law and related litigation. In addition to handling an active employment litigation docket, she counsels management on preventive strategies, including termination decisions, investigations, employment agreements, non-compete issues, wage and hour laws, policies and handbooks, and other issues affecting the workplace. Ms. Bauer also advises employers on the numerous laws touching ill and injured workers, including the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act, and strategies to manage those risks. She has been recognized as a “Texas Super Lawyer” 2014-2017 and repeatedly as a “Rising Star”. Ms. Bauer has served as pro bono general counsel to The Family Place, a Dallas-based non-profit agency serving the victims of domestic violence and their families, since 2005. In 2012, Ms. Bauer received the “Virginia S. Mueller Outstanding Member” Award from NAWL.
Gigi Rollini is a Shareholder with Stearns Weaver Miller Weissler Alhadeff & Sitterson, P.A., one of Florida’s premier full-service firms, and leads its Government & Administrative Practice Group. Ms. Rollini practices in Tallahassee, Florida’s capital city, and works closely with the firm’s offices in Miami, Tampa, Ft. Lauderdale, and Coral Gables, Florida. Her practice is focused on litigation and appeals, and all aspects of Florida administrative law, including regulatory compliance, licensure, administrative complaints and disciplinary proceedings, government contracts, procurement and bid protests, rulemaking and rule challenges, state and local taxation, election compliance and litigation, and non-profit and trade association formation, compliance and management. She is AV-Preeminent Rated in Florida administrative, appellate, and civil litigation, and serves on The Florida Bar’s Administrative Law Section Executive Council. She is a past president of the Florida Association for Women Lawyers (“FAWL”) and FAWL’s Delegate to NAWL for many years. She has been named one of Florida’s “Top 50 Women Lawyers” by Super Lawyers, is routinely named one of Florida’s “Legal Elite,” “Top Rated Lawyers,” and a “Super Lawyer” in both administrative and appellate law, and has been honored as a FAWL “Extraordinary Woman,” a Tallahassee “Woman You Need to Know,” and a Girl Scout Council “Woman of Distinction in Law.” Ms. Rollini is a past recipient of NAWL’s "Virginia S. Mueller Outstanding Member" Award, and is a two-time past president of America’s Second Harvest of the Big Bend, her region’s eleven-county food bank.
IMMEDIATE PAST PRESIDENT
Kristin D. Sostowski is a Director (Partner) with Gibbons P.C. in Newark, New Jersey, where she is a member of the Employment & Labor Law Department and serves as Team Leader of the firm’s Higher Education practice. Ms. Sostowski provides strategic counsel to clients at all phases of the employment relationship, including compliance with federal and state workplace laws, pre-litigation risk avoidance, and defense of workplace-related disputes. She represents companies and managers in employment litigation in state and federal courts and agencies, with an emphasis on discrimination, harassment, whistleblower, wage and hour, and restrictive covenant matters. Ms. Sostowski also provides employment law advice to in-house counsel and human resources professionals in a variety of industries, including higher education, technology, pharmaceuticals, healthcare, and financial services. She regularly counsels clients regarding internal investigations, employee leaves and accommodations, workforce restructuring and reductions in force, employee policies and handbooks, employment agreements, and employment issues arising from corporate transactions. Ms. Sostowski currently serves as NAWL’s President and as a Director of the New Jersey Women Lawyers Association. She has served as co-chair of NAWL’s Pipeline to Equity Partnership program and Program and Membership Committees and as Board Liaison to the Amicus Committee. Ms. Sostowski is listed in the most recent editions of Best Lawyers® for Litigation - Labor and Employment, New Jersey Super Lawyers for Employment & Labor, Benchmark Litigation as a “Labor & Employment Star – Northeast,” and has been named a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation. She has been named to Diversity Journal’s “Women Worth Watching” list and NJBIZ’s “Best 50 Women in Business” and “Forty Under 40” lists for her work on behalf of New Jersey employers and her leadership on women attorneys’ issues. In 2010, she received NAWL’s “Virginia S. Mueller Outstanding Member” Award. Ms. Sostowski received her B.A. from Swarthmore College with High Honors, Phi Beta Kappa, and earned her J.D. from Harvard Law School. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and three daughters.
NAWL BOARD - MEMBERS AT LARGE
April Boyer is a Partner at K&L Gates LLP in its Miami, Florida office. She focuses her practice on employment law and complex commercial litigation where she serves as lead trial counsel for companies. Ms. Boyer has been recognized by her peers for her accomplishments, including being listed in Best Lawyers in America in the area of Labor Law-Management. She also is an AV-rated lawyer — the highest available rating given by Martindale Hubbell for legal ability and professional ethics. In the area of employment law, she defends employers faced with employment law disputes such as wage and hour claims, discrimination, harassment and/or retaliation lawsuits, whistleblower actions, and ERISA fiduciary duty claims. Ms. Boyer also has significant experience litigating misappropriation of trade secrets claims and breaches of restrictive covenants. Ms. Boyer trains and counsels employers on making day-to-day employment decisions to ensure compliance with applicable employment laws and regulations. She also assists employers in conducting internal audits to ensure legal compliance. In the area of complex commercial litigation, Ms. Boyer helps companies resolve their business disputes with competitors, customers, vendors, and others with whom they conduct business, including claims of misappropriation of trade secrets, tortious interference with contracts and business relationships, violations of Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, consumer fraud, slander/defamation, and other civil disputes. Ms. Boyer is active in community and charitable organizations and voluntary bar associations. Ms. Boyer began her involvement with NAWL in 2007, serving on a variety of planning committees for NAWL events (including co-chairing the Miami-based Mid-Year Meeting in 2018), serving as the Co-Chair of the Challenge Club Committee (2019-2020), and receiving NAWL's "Virginia S. Mueller Outstanding Member" Award (2013).
Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Mary E. Card-Mina served for 22 years on Active Duty as an Army Judge Advocate. Her final assignment was serving as an Assistant Legal Advisor, Department of Defense, Office of Military Commissions, and Office of the Convening Authority. Lieutenant Colonel Card-Mina previously served as the Staff Judge Advocate for the Army Materiel Command Legal Center, Aberdeen Proving Ground, and Maryland. She holds a Masters of Military Arts and Sciences from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College; an L.L.M in Military Law from The Judge Advocate General’s School, U.S. Army; a Juris Doctor from the Columbus School of Law, The Catholic University of America; and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from The Catholic University of America. Her awards include the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal and the Connecticut Wartime Service Medal. She earned the Iraq and Kosovo Campaign Medals, as well as the Korea Defense Service Medal and the NATO medal. She also received the President’s Volunteer Service Medal (Bronze). She is entitled to wear the Department of the Army Staff Identification Badge and is a member of the Military Order of Saint Barbara. She is admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of the United States, the Court of Appeals for the United States Armed Forces, the Court of Federal Claims, and is licensed to practice in the State of Connecticut. Mary is currently a Supervisory Attorney at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Mary and her spouse Jim, have one son, James Mina.
Lindsay Carlson is the Information Governance Compliance Manager at Latham & Watkins, in Los Angeles. In this capacity, she oversees the handling of a variety of information governance issues, and ensures the firm’s management of information meets applicable legal, ethical, security and privacy requirements in all jurisdictions in which the firm operates around the world. She is responsible for developing, implementing and maintaining firm-wide and departmental policies, standards, procedures, and guidelines related to records and information management, information security, data privacy and other issues. Prior to this role, she spent 14 years as a litigator and trial attorney in client-facing private practice, working extensively with companies in the automotive, product manufacturing, retail and cosmetics, financial services, and telecommunications industries, among others.
Cyndie Chang is the Duane Morris Los Angeles managing partner and a member of firm’s governing Partners Board. Chang litigates complex business, class action and commercial disputes involving contracts, products liability, product safety and recall, business torts and fraud, insurance coverage, trademarks, and real estate. Chang has obtained favorable results serving as first chair in arbitrations and state and federal bench and jury trials and leading joint defense groups in complex cases. She served as President of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA), representing more than 50,000 Asian American attorneys and 75 local, state and national bar associations. She led NAPABA during its advocacy efforts and amicus briefs to SCOTUS on immigration issues and initiated programs for minority women in the profession and lawyers’ self-care/mental health. She was also President of the Southern California Chinese Lawyers Association, which awarded her its inaugural Trailblazer award. She serves on the Board of Directors for Loyola Law School, LA and received the Board of Governors Grand Reunion alumni award. She is a Commissioner on the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession. She’s received the “Super Lawyers” distinction, including Top 50 Women of Southern California and the Daily Journal’s Top 100 California Women Lawyers. Her honors include: one of the "Most Influential Minority Lawyers", “Most Influential Women Lawyers,” and “Leader in Law” by the Los Angeles Business Journal; NAPABA’s 2010 Best Lawyers Under 40; Council on Legal Education Opportunity (CLEO) EDGE’s inaugural Greater Equality Award recipient; Asian Americans Advancing Justice LA Pro Bono Award recipient; inaugural fellow to the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity (LCLD); recipient of Asian Americans Advancing Justice-LA’s annual Pro Bono Award; one of The Recorder’s "Lawyer on the Fast Track”; and profiled in Best Lawyers Magazine, Spring Edition 2016, for women in the legal profession leading the charge for achievements in the practice and policy, on both local and national levels. Ms. Chang has also been featured in the Los Angeles Business Journal, Above the Law, Ms. JD, The American Lawyer, Diversity Journal, Diversity Executive, the Daily Journal and other legal publications. Chang is a graduate of Loyola Law School, Los Angeles and a graduate, with honors, of Johns Hopkins University.
Kelly Clark is a Vice President and Assistant General Counsel, P&C Insurance Operations, in the Insurance Operations Law practice group at Allstate. In that role, Kelly is lead counsel to the Executive Vice President of Product Operations, the Chief Claims Officer, and the territorial Presidents. She leads a team of attorneys that support Allstate’s Claims organization, Product Operations organization, Compliance, and other areas of responsibility. Kelly provides advice and counsel to Senior Leadership Team members on a wide variety of insurance matters including regulatory, compliance, and product management related to Allstate personal Lines, Commercial, Encompass, and Service Businesses. In her 23 years at Allstate Kelly has held a wide variety of positions within the Law Department, including counseling and compliance, claim litigation, regulatory and legislative advocacy, strategic product development, and as a trial attorney defending insureds for Allstate’s staff counsel office in Chicago. Prior to joining Allstate in 1996, she was in private litigation practice in Chicago. Kelly received her B.A. from the University of Michigan and her J.D. from DePaul University, College of Law.
Paula Hinton focuses her practice on representing businesses in complex civil litigation. She has represented clients in courtrooms across the country, before administrative agencies and in international and domestic arbitration forums to resolve a wide variety of disputes, including those concerning contracts and general business issues, business torts, consumer disputes, environmental issues, trademark issues, trade secret issues, product liability, telecommunications litigation, energy-related litigation, and numerous class actions. Paula received a Bachelor of Arts, magna cum laude, in political science, and a Masters of Public Administration from the University of Alabama where she was named the Outstanding Graduate Student. She received her J.D. from the University of Alabama School of Law, where she was a member of Pi Sigma Alpha, Omicron Delta Kappa, Phi Delta Phi, and Farrah Law Society. She served as Chief Justice of the Honor Court are the University of Alabama School of Law. Paula was also a Rotary International Graduate Fellow in international comparative law at the Universidad de Seville, Spain.
Elizabeth A. Levy is an attorney with experience in intellectual property and corporate/regulatory in private practice and in-house law departments. She also serves as a hearing officer for attorney discipline matters with the Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers. Ms. Levy graduated with honors from Suffolk University Law School and the University of Texas. She was a partner at McDermott Will & Emery’s Boston office before taking in-house legal positions at Bayer Corporation, Siemens Healthcare, and the Office of General Counsel at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. A NAWL member since 2007, she is currently a board member at large, the executive editor of NAWL’s Women Lawyers Journal, and liaison between the board and NAWL’s many Practice Area Affinity Groups. She chaired NAWL’s Seventh General Counsel Institute (“GCI”) and its first Night of Giving in Boston. She has been a mentor in NAWL’s mentoring program and received NAWL's "Virginia S. Mueller Outstanding Member" Award in 2013.
Leslie D. Minier is a Partner and the Chief Diversity Officer at Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP. She has extensive experience representing both private and public companies in mergers and acquisitions, venture financing, and general corporate matters. Ms. Minier represents buyers and sellers in structuring, negotiating, and documenting acquisitions including stock purchases, asset sales, tax-free mergers, and leveraged recapitalizations. She is the co-chair of Katten’s Diversity Committee. She has a strong commitment to public service and holds leadership positions with several organizations including Chicago United and the Joffrey Ballet. Ms. Minier received her J.D. from Northwestern University School of Law. Additionally, she earned her M.S. in Management from Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management and her M.S. in Electrical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology. She also received her B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Tuskegee University
Connie Montoya is a Partner at Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP, where she is also a member of the Diversity Committee. She brings nearly two decades of class action experience to her trial and litigation practice in employment law and consumer protection defense. She is widely recognized for successful strategies that resolve litigation disputes and governmental investigations and ensure compliance with various regulatory requirements. Ms. Montoya has litigated in the federal, state, and administrative courts of New York and New Jersey in countless class action lawsuits involving claims brought under various federal and state employment and consumer laws. She has represented publicly and privately held companies; not-for-profit organizations; banking, finance and financial services firms; governmental entities; law firms; tech companies and startups; health care providers; and restaurant, insurance, manufacturing, pharmaceutical, and retail businesses. In the field of labor and employment, Ms. Montoya counsels her clients on a variety of employment issues, focusing on discrimination and harassment matters, including claims relating to discrimination on the basis of ethnicity, gender, age, pregnancy and disability. Before joining Hinshaw, Ms. Montoya was an assistant corporation counsel in the Special Federal Litigation Division of the Office of the Corporation Counsel of the City of New York, where she defended the City and its municipal employees in federal civil rights actions.
Sheila M. Murphy After 20 years of successfully litigating and developing and coaching talent in corporate America and law firms, Ms. Murphy is pursuing her passion for helping others reach their full potential. Leading with passion and purpose, Ms. Murphy is CEO and President of Focus Forward LLC and Chief Learning & Talent Officer of WOMN LLC, which are focused on having individuals and businesses achieve their career and business goals. Ms. Murphy also continues to support the financial industry in her role as an expert and consultant at Bates Group. In 2018, she retired as Senior Vice President and Associate General Counsel at MetLife where she provided litigation, regulatory and risk mitigation advice. As a well-respected thought leader, she served as an executive sponsor to MetLife’s U.S. Women’s Business Network, co-chaired the Legal Affair’s Academy providing developmental opportunities to legal and compliance professionals worldwide and served as a member of its U.S. Task Force on diversity. Prior to joining MetLife, Ms. Murphy was at the law firm of Thacher Proffitt & Wood. She is a member of the Board of Directors of PowerPlay, NYC, an organization that engages and educates underserved girls with a focus on sports. Ms. Murphy serves on the advisory board of Transforming Women's Leadership in Law and co-chairs the CARE’s Women’s Network of New York, which works on eradicating poverty through empowering women and girls. Previously, she was a member of the Board for Read Alliance. Due to Ms. Murphy's dedication to advancing women in law, she received the Women, Influence, Power in Law Life Time Achievement Award. Women’s Venture Fund awarded Ms. Murphy the highest "Leaf" Award in recognition of her commitment to helping others advance in their careers. She was named a "Most Influential Irish Woman" by the Irish Voice, a "Leading Women Lawyer in NYC" by Crain's New York, and a Business 100 honoree by Irish America. Ms. Murphy also has received the "Benchmark Litigation In-house" Award at the Americas Women in Business Awards, the "Virginia S. Mueller Outstanding Member" Award from NAWL and a "First Chair" award for hard work, innovation and significant contributions to the legal community. Ms. Murphy is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where she served on the Comparative Labor Law Journal and the School of Management at the State University of New York at Binghamton where she graduated magna cum laude. She is a frequent speaker on litigation and regulatory issues, talent, and business development, leadership and diversity.
Sima F. Sarrafan is a Senior Attorney in the Corporate, External, and Legal Affairs (“CELA”) department at Microsoft. She provides legal guidance to Marketing and Consumer Business clients and previously worked in Microsoft’s Office of Legal Compliance. In addition to her experience at Microsoft, Ms. Sarrafan has worked in private practice, served as an assistant U.S. attorney in Washington, D.C., and served as an adjunct professor of law, having taught courses in Corporate Compliance and Investigations at Seattle University School of Law and Trial Advocacy and Advanced Appellate Advocacy at Roger Williams School of Law. While in law school, she also taught economics as a Teaching Fellow at Harvard College. Ms. Sarrafan is a Director of the Bellevue School Board. She received her J.D. from Harvard Law School and her B.A. from Vassar College.
Elizabeth (Beth) Pagel Serebransky a Senior Partner in the Executive Compensation & Employee Benefits Group at Debevoise & Plimpton LLP in New York. Her practice focuses on a broad range of executive compensation and employee benefits matters, including the tax and benefits issues that arise in mergers and acquisitions and other corporate transactions and on the design, negotiation and implementation of employee agreements, equity-based incentive, and other compensation programs for public and private companies, financial sponsors, management groups, and individual executives. She also advises clients on compensation-related corporate and securities law matters, including corporate governance and analyzing and complying with applicable SEC registration, reporting and disclosure requirements. Ms. Pagel Serebransky is ranked as a leading lawyer by both Chambers USA and The Legal 500 US in Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation
Julia A. Simon is Chief Legal Officer and Corporate Secretary at Mary Kay Inc.’s global headquarters in Addison, Texas. As a member of the executive committee, Simon manages all aspects of the company’s Legal, Risk Management, Corporate Communications and Corporate Social Responsibility functions. Simon has more than 25 years of legal experience in private law practice and in-house positions. She first joined Mary Kay Inc. in 1995 as an employment lawyer, then left to rejoin the law firm, Locke Purnell Rain Harrell, where she was elected as a partner in 1998. Simon returned to Mary Kay Inc. in 2000 and most recently served as Senior Vice President, Deputy General Counsel and Assistant Secretary. She is active in the legal community, currently serving on the Women in the Profession Committee for the State Bar of Texas and as a member of the General Counsel Working Group at the Center for Women in Law at the University of Texas. In 2015, Simon was recognized by the Association of Corporate Counsel and D CEO Magazine as Outstanding Deputy General Counsel. Simon earned a Bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M University in 1989 and her law degree from the University of Texas School of Law in 1991. She is active in the North Texas community having served on the board of directors for charitable organizations including the Dallas Children’s Advocacy Center, Family Gateway, Friends of the Dallas Public Library, and the Dallas Zoological Society.
Eva M. Spahn is a Shareholder in the Litigation Department of Greenberg Traurig LLP’s Miami office. She handles complex commercial and class action matters in various forums, including state and federal courts in multiple U.S. jurisdictions, as well as domestic and international arbitrations before various arbitral bodies. Her professional and community involvement includes active participation as a Board Member of NAWL, as well as membership in the ABA, and the Dade County Bar Association Young Lawyers Section, and has taught as an adjunct professor at the University of Miami. Ms. Spahn is also a member of the Board of the Miami Chapter of Dress For Success/Suited for Success, a member of the winning project team for the 2013-2014 Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce Leadership Miami Program, and participated as a 2010-2011 Ms. JD fellow. In 2015, Ms. Spahn was shortlisted by the Chambers Women in Law Awards in the Future Leader (Private Practice) category and in 2016 and 2018 she was shortlisted by the Chambers Diversity Awards USA in the Future Leader – Gender Diversity category. She graduated magna cum laude in 2011 from the University of Miami School of Law and received a B.A. in government from Harvard University in 2006.
Mary-Christine (M.C.) Sungaila is the leader of Buchalter’s Appellate practice group and a Shareholder in the Firm’s Orange County office. Ms. Sungaila has repeatedly been named a “Notable Appellate Practitioner” by Chambers USA, Chambers & Partners (2013-2018), as one of “California’s Top 100 Women Lawyers” by the Daily Journal (2005, 2010-2018), and twice named a “California Lawyer Attorney of the Year” (2015, 2016) for victories before the California Supreme Court and U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Clients describe her in one Chambers listing as a “gifted appellate lawyer who consistently delivers bottom line results” and praise her for her “great practical sense,” “laser” focus on key issues, “excellence in creative thinking,” and ability to “advise on the business side just as well as she does on the legal side.” Last year alone, two of the year’s five biggest appellate reversals in California cited by the Daily Journal involved her. At the age of 29, Ms. Sungaila took on and helped win a case before the U.S. Supreme Court (a decision which reinstated a criminal civil rights verdict against a state court judge who had abused his power by raping and sexually assaulting female court employees and litigants). She has provided free representation in at least one appellate case a year since 1996, resulting in significant victories at the international, national, and state levels, including a decision in a case against Mexico before the Inter American Court of Human Rights for the disappearances and killings of women and girls in Ciudad Juarez that has been lauded as one of the most important women’s rights decisions in decades and the first to interpret a women’s rights treaty. She has continuously served on one or more community boards and bar organization leadership for more than two decades. Within the ABA, Ms. Sungaila has served on the Standing Committee on the American Judicial System, the Standing Committee on Amicus Briefs, the Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity, and in various leadership roles within the Litigation Section. Locally, she currently serves as a Director-at-Large on the Orange County Bar Association Board of Directors, and as a member of the Board of Directors of the Coastline Community College Foundation. Ms. Sungaila has also been honored for her sustained commitment to community service and pro bono work, receiving recognition from groups as diverse as California Women Lawyers, Alpha Phi International Fraternity, the Orange County Hispanic Bar Association, the Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles, and Coastline Community College Foundation. In 2017, she was awarded both the Orange County Women Lawyers’ Association’s “Attorney of the Year” and the “Ellis Island Medal of Honor”, whose recipients include seven U.S. Presidents, Nobel Prize winners, athletes, leaders of industry, artists, and others whose work has made a lasting impact on humanity, for her combined professional achievements and humanitarian and pro bono work.
Deborah K. Wright is responsible for providing legal advice to Prudential Financial’s servicing subsidiary, Prudential Asset Resources, Inc (“PAR”). PAR’s $100B+ commercial real estate loan portfolio covers Prudential’s General Account, CMBS, Fannie Mae, FHA, Freddie Mac, third-party investors, funds, and other loan portfolios. This includes assistance in strategic initiatives, business planning, corporate matters, insurance matters, rating agency matters, operations and development, and documentation and negotiation of the acquisition of servicing portfolios. Recently, she has been very involved with a coalition of lenders working on the revised HMDA regulations as well as earlier efforts working to ensure continued availability of Evidence of Insurance to commercial lenders. Ms. Wright has over 35 years of experience in servicing, special servicing, and workouts. Prior to joining Prudential, she was in private practice with concentrations in banking, real estate, finance, and bankruptcy, followed by a 13-year experience with AMRESCO, Inc. and Lend Lease Real Estate Investments, Inc., and 4 years as General Counsel for Asset Management Company of America, L.P. (formerly a Goldman Sachs subsidiary). She advised those companies with respect to international fund management, portfolio and corporate acquisitions, CMBS acquisitions and servicing (in both Master and Special servicing capacities), bankruptcy, litigation & workout matters, information technology and other intellectual property areas, and general corporate governance.
Sandra S. Yamate the Chief Executive Officer of the Institute for Inclusion in the Legal Profession (“IILP”). IILP is a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to creating a more diverse and inclusive legal profession through its research and programs. A lawyer by training, Ms. Yamate spent ten years as the Director of the ABA’s Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession. She was the first Executive Director of the Chicago Committee on Minorities in Large Law Firms. Prior to that, she was a litigator in Chicago for ten years. Ms. Yamate is the Chair of the National Judicial College and serves on the Enhance Diversity in the Profession Committee of the New York City Bar Association where she co-chairs the Global Diversity Sub-committee. She helped found the Asian American Institute, the National Women’s Political Caucus of Metropolitan Chicago, the Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Chicago Area (of which she is a past president), the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, and Asian Americans for Inclusive Education. Ms. Yamate is a former co-chair of the Diversity Committee of the Chicago Bar Association and a past president of both the Japanese American Service Committee and the Harvard Law Society of Illinois, and a former board member of numerous civic and community organizations in the Chicago area. She has been honored and recognized by Crain’s Chicago Business “40 under 40,” Chicago Sun Times “Neighborhood Hero,” National Asian Pacific American Bar Association“ Trailblazer” Award, Today’s Chicago Woman “One of 100 Women Making A Difference,” Chicago Department of Human Relations, Chicago Bar Association “Vanguard Award,” the University of Illinois “Asian American Alumni” Award, and the Asian American Bar Association “Hall of Fame” Award. In addition to her work within the legal profession, she is known for her work writing and publishing Asian American children’s literature. A Sansei (third generation American of Japanese ancestry), Ms. Yamate earned her J.D. from Harvard Law School as well as an AB in Political Science (cum laude) and History (magna cum laude) from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. She has written and spoken extensively on community engagement, diversity and inclusion, and multicultural issues. Ms. Yamate and her husband, Brian Witkowski, reside in Chicago with their two dogs, Cashew and Filbert.