April Morgan is the Chief of Staff to the Chairman of the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) Board, the governing arm of the second largest transit agency in the United States with 11,000 employees and an annual operating budget of $1.6 billion. As Chief of Staff, April advises the Chairman and Board directors on policy issues that impact the daily operations of the agency, and coordinates with the CTA President and senior leadership on key initiatives such as finance, workforce development, procurement policy, DEI and intergovernmental relations. She also directs and oversees the daily operations of the Board Office and serves as a trustee to the CTA Employee Retirement Plan (Plan), which manages a $2 billion employee retirement fund. As a trustee to the Plan, serves on the finance, audit and personnel committees, where she uses her legal and policy expertise to lead the committees through policy decisions.
Prior to her current role, April was a corporate lawyer for the CTA, where she was lead counsel for transactional and advisory matters in the areas of technology, general administration, diversity and intergovernmental relations. She also provided counsel and developed policy for CTA to create diverse contractor and workforce development opportunities on major agency projects such as the Red Line South and 95th Street Station reconstruction, the Red and Purple Modernization, Ventra fare system and the LoopLink bus rapid transit system. Prior to CTA,April was an attorney for the Illinois General Assembly where she drafted and advised on legislation pertaining to transportation and education issues. She also prosecuted administrative hearings on behalf of the Chicago Board of Education.
April is a founding member and current President of the Associate Board of the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana. In addition to her service on the Associate Board, Aprilis a Girl Scout troop leader, volunteers as a Street Law instructor and Illinois High School Association speech judge, and serves in the youth and career development ministries at her church.
April received her Juris Doctor from Northern Illinois University College of Law, where she was a member of the Law Review. She graduated with honors from Knox College in Galesburg, IL, where she received her B.A. in Political Science and Sociology
Paul Krause is Vice President & Chief Legal Officer at Harley-Davidson, Inc. in Milwaukee, WI. Prior to joining Harley-Davidson, Paul spent twelve years in Chicago working as in-house counsel at ArcelorMittal USA and at the law firm of Littler Mendelson. Paul graduated from Marquette University Law School in 2004. He currently lives in the Milwaukee suburbs with his wife, Elena, and two children, Sammie and Ben.
Laura is the managing partner of the firm’s Chicago office. She has broad experience counseling and advising employers across industries to help them manage and minimize risk. She conducts employment practice audits to identify unknown liabilities and assists in due diligence reviews during corporate transactions. Laura is also an experienced litigator who zealously represents employers in front of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Illinois Department of Human Rights, Cook County Commission on Human Rights, the Chicago Commission on Human Relations, and other state and local administrative agencies. She acts as lead trial counsel on litigation in both state and federal courts and has argued appellate cases before the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.
A skillful trial attorney, Amy Doehring represents clients in a wide variety of complex litigation matters in federal and state courts across the country as well as in arbitration. Her legal practice focuses on the defense of clients in several industries such as healthcare, food and beverage, engineering, manufacturing, and insurance. She also assists corporate clients in disputes arising out of commercial transactions and advises trustees and beneficiaries in trust and estate controversies. She serves as Office Managing Partner for the Chicago office and also as co-chair of Akerman’s Probate and Fiduciary Litigation Practice.
Heather Snider-Levinsky is a shareholder in the firm’s Chicago office. Heather has extensive experience managing complex litigation cases for a variety of businesses and insurance companies, under both general and excess policies, throughout Illinois and in many other jurisdictions. Heather is an experienced trial attorney focusing her practice on medical malpractice, products liability, construction, transportation, and catastrophic personal injury cases.
Heather has aggressively litigated cases across the country, diving into each case with a focus on the full picture to develop the best defense for the client and the most effective strategy for the case to be presented at trial. Through this process she identifies the strengths and weaknesses of the case and how they can be effectively attacked and defended throughout the entirety of the case.
Prior to joining Segal McCambridge, Heather worked as a partner at a Midwest litigation defense firm where she successfully handled cases from initial pre-suit analysis through trial, assisting on jury trials in medical negligence, personal injury, and construction cases was exposures over $100 million dollars.
Tajanae Mallett is the General Counsel and Secretary for Arjo Inc., a medical device distributor with a U.S. headquarter in Addison, IL. Arjo, the Malmo, Sweden-based company, manufactures products and solutions for ergonomic patient handling, medical beds, personal hygiene, disinfection, diagnostics and the prevention of pressure ulcers and venous thromboembolism in acute and long-term care facilities and for the government. Mallett reports directly to the CFO/VP of Finance for Arjo Inc. Mallett is the only attorney for the U.S. based entity and is responsible for overseeing all legal activities including litigation, contract drafting, employment issues and M&A activities. Mallett joined the organization in 2015.
Nicole Sorell is Senior Legal Counsel in the Safety & Insurance Litigation group within the CLO at Uber Technologies, Inc. and is based in Chicago, Illinois. She works closely with outside counsel to defend the company in the Northeast region of the U.S. in insurance and claims litigation matters, which present a host of novel and first-impression legal issues.
Prior to joining Uber, Nicole was in private practice at several insurance defense law firms in Chicago. She received her B.S. in Psychology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and her J.D. from Northwestern Pritzker School of Law.
In her free time, Nicole enjoys playing and reading books to her four year old son and going on walks and exploring the West Loop where she lives with her husband, son, and pup, Gizmo.
Brian Toth recently joined as General Counsel of ND Paper and Packaging, which is the US subsidiary of Nine Dragons Paper, the world's largest paper manufacturer. Prior to joining ND Paper, Brian worked for thyssenkrupp, a multinational industrial conglomerate, US Foods, the nation's second largest broadline food distributor and Newly Weds Foods, an international industry leader in food ingredient development and manufacturing. Brian attended undergrad at Northwestern University and obtained his law degree from Chicago-Kent College of Law. Brian attributes his success to the love and support of his wonderful wife, Angela, and is the "father" of two Yorkies, Thor and Loki.
Gray has more than a decade of experience representing employers in workplace litigation, handling labor relations disputes and providing strategic counsel on labor and employment law issues. She advises clients in a broad range of industries including education, software and technology services, real estate, financial services, retail and manufacturing. Gray tailors her solution-oriented counsel to the particular needs of each client, considering the nuances of their business in order to deliver advice that is practical and in line with their goals, values and culture. Gray is the regional practice lead for the firm's Labor & Employment Department for the Chicago office.
A native Spanish speaker from the Dominican Republic, Gray is adept at providing Spanish language representation to clients. She works fluently with Spanish language witnesses and documents, including document review, depositions, mediations, administrative proceedings, internal investigations and employment as well as various types of training.
A skilled trial attorney and member of the Employment and Labor practice area, Ida Shafaie counsels clients across industry sectors, primarily regarding complex civil rights claims and related state and local anti-discrimination laws. She has also conducted in-depth investigations on behalf of clients, including Fortune 100 companies, educational institutions and government entities.
Ida also regularly assists employers in developing policies and procedures, including employee handbooks in compliance with various regulatory agencies. She advises clients on noncompete, trade secret and restrictive covenant matters, and has successfully argued on behalf of her clients to secure temporary restraining orders in federal court.
Ida performs training seminars and has authored articles on best practices to help employers make informed decisions. She is co-editor of the Missouri Employment Law Letter, a monthly newsletter for HR professionals.
In addition to her active employment practice, Ida counsels on education matters, working with primary, secondary and post-secondary institutions. She has worked on matters involving public record laws as well as claims arising under Title IX, and has experience conducting Title IX training for university faculty and staff.
Valarie Hays leads the Chicago office’s White Collar Defense & Investigations practice. Ms. Hays is a trial lawyer and former federal prosecutor who represents companies and individuals in government inquiries and complex commercial litigation. She also conducts corporate internal investigations and advises clients on the execution of their compliance programs across a broad range of industry sectors, including healthcare, financial services, retail, and oil and gas. A first chair trial lawyer, Ms. Hays has tried 17 jury trials over the course of her career and has obtained numerous multimillion dollar settlements for her corporate clients, typically after prevailing on summary judgment rulings.
Ms. Hays is known for her strong courtroom presence, her strategic ability to find and leverage the weaknesses in her opponents’ cases, and her success in winning challenging cases. Following a three-week trial, she won an acquittal on all counts for her client, an attorney who was charged in a federal indictment with novel bankruptcy fraud theories. Ms. Hays also represented a former Michigan State University professor who was charged with fraud in a three-week jury trial that resulted in a hung jury (with nine jurors siding with the defense). The government dismissed the indictment with prejudice shortly after the trial ended. Additionally, Ms. Hays led a litigation team in the discovery and trial preparation stages of a wrongful conviction matter over a five-year period, which resulted in a $25.2 million dollar jury verdict against the City of Chicago. In addition to these victories, Ms. Hays has obtained numerous prosecution declinations on behalf of her corporate and individual clients.
Meghan Riley is Associate General Counsel for Verizon. As part of the Global Network and Technology Legal Group, Meghan advises the engineers deploying and operating Verizon's best-in-class network on a broad range of legal issues, negotiates network infrastructure agreements, oversees regulatory compliance, and works alongside Verizon’s government affairs and policy teams on legislative initiatives. Meghan serves on the internship committee and as a mentor for Verizon’s Public Policy, Legal, & Security Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council, regularly volunteers with the Street Law Program to educate high school students on legal topics and law-related careers, and is a vocal advocate for workplace policies and cultures that advance women and caregivers.
Meghan previously worked as an associate attorney in Quarles & Brady LLP’s Labor & Employment Group. She began her legal career litigating insurance matters at Cremer, Kopon, Shaughnessy & Spina, LLC, in Chicago. Meghan has also served as an adjunct professor for The John Marshall Law School’s Local Government Clinic, where she taught civil litigation skills and legal ethics.
Meghan received her law degree, magna cum laude, from University of Illinois Chicago Law School, where she was an editor of The UIC Law Review. She studied dance and English literature at the University of Iowa.
Meghan resides in Chicago’s western suburbs with her husband and four children. She lives for laughing with her family, horses, and yoga retreats (in the living room).
Peter is Deputy General Counsel at Aptos Labs, which is a blockchain startup aiming to advance Web3 through the Aptos blockchain. Prior to his current role, Peter was Associate General Counsel at Meta (formerly Facebook) where he worked on the company's blockchain project (Novi). Prior to Meta, he was Senior Counsel in the legal department at McDonald’s Corporation, in-house counsel at a health information technology company and an associate in the corporate department of an international law firm.
Christine Hollis serves as the firm's Director of Attorney Recruiting, Development and Diversity, implementing the strategic initiatives of the Recruiting, Management and Executive Committees with respect to the hiring of associates and lateral partners across all offices. Christine provides leadership to and works closely with the recruiting committee to develop and implement effective recruiting efforts ensuring the firm’s success in attracting and retaining top legal talent.
Utilizing her background in Industrial/Organizational Psychology, she continuously creates, develops and implements effective and innovative processes for all aspects of the recruiting life cycle. Christine also manages the successful integration of all lateral associates and partners, facilitates lawyer training programs and initiatives as well as oversees the firm's CLE programs. Prior to joining Freeborn, Christine worked in attorney recruiting capacities at both Barnes & Thornburg LLP and McGuireWoods LLP.
As Director of Diversity and Chair of the Diversity & Inclusion Committee, Christine administers the firm’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiatives and oversees the development and implementation of programs and services that measure, monitor, promote and effectively increase diversity within the firm. Some of these initiatives include the firm’s Diversity Scholarship Award and our Summer Mentorship Program.
Christine considers herself a “foodie” and is always interested in trying new cuisine. She’s a native Chicagoan and enjoys seeing how the city has changed over the years, but has yet to visit the Skydeck in the Willis (fondly noted as the Sears) Tower.
John Mielitz joined TCDI in early 2020 to bring a focus on business development and client advisory to the central states’ region. With 30 years of legal services industry experience, John works directly with in-house lawyers and law firms to create custom solutions to dispute and non-dispute related problems. He advises and consults with clients in a wide variety of practice areas, including litigation management services covering the full EDRM spectrum, legal operations initiatives, and contracts lifecycle management. He focuses on process improvement via Lean Six Sigma methodologies, bespoke workflows incorporating proprietary as well as industry leading technologies, and demonstrable ROI to provide significant cost savings while ensuring the best possible business outcomes.
Cameron Woods works as Counsel on the Global Labor & Employment Law team at McDonald’s Corporation in Chicago. In that role, he provides strategic employment-related advice and counsel to the various areas business, including corporate-owned restaurants. Since January 2021, he has served as an Adjunct Professor at the University of the District of Columbia, where he teaches a section of the Legal and Bar Success course. Cameron is a proud native of a small community, Macedonia, located in southwest Arkansas. He earned his B.A. in Political Science/Journalism (with a minor in African/African American Studies) from the University of Arkansas. He then attended Southern Illinois University School of Law, where he was the first student to complete the J.D./M.S.Ed in Higher Education joint-degree program. Lastly, Cameron is also a part of the inaugural Black In-House Counsel Network’s Rise-Up program, a member of the Black Male Lawyers Association, and a proud member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. Outside of work, he enjoys traveling, watching any Razorbacks game, trying new restaurants, and spending time in Arkansas with his favorite people: his nieces and nephews.
Kathleen also regularly represents companies in cases involving allegations of sexual harassment, discrimination, retaliation, or wrongful termination brought by single-plaintiff employees at all levels of a company. In addition, she proactively counsels clients to ensure their employment practices comply with current or new workplace laws and regulations. For example, she has guided clients through new workplace issues resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. She has also offered training and guidance on the legalization of recreational and medical cannabis and its impact on a client’s workplace drug policies, complaint procedures, disciplinary action policies, and accommodations practices.
Before joining Epstein Becker Green, Kathleen worked in medical prosecutions at the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. She has published numerous articles and presented on a variety of employment law topics, including the impact of the legalization of cannabis on the workplace, wage and hour compliance, and reasonable accommodations in health care workplaces. She also speaks on developments in wage and hour class action law, managing remote employees during the COVID-19 pandemic, Fair Labor Standards Act classification, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and cannabis workplace issues.
For over a decade, Javaria Neagle has led significant litigation and provides strategic advice on key company initiatives at United Airlines, Inc. She currently serves as Associate General Counsel of Litigation & IP. In that role, she oversees a robust team of attorneys and legal professionals responsible for a vast portfolio of litigation including antitrust, commercial, intellectual property and personal injury matters. Javaria is also a DEI leader, and serves as Co-President of United’s Business Resource Group for parents and caregivers. Outside of work, Javaria represents asylum seekers and is a member of the Asian American Bar Association.
Karin Lee is a Senior Vice President & Senior Legal Counsel at The Northern Trust Company. She advises on wealth management banking matters, with a focus on issues relating to global family offices and consumer deposit products.
Prior to joining Northern Trust, Karin practiced in the Chicago office of Mayer Brown LLP. She has represented both borrowers and financial institutions in a variety of commercial lending transactions, including both secured and unsecured credit facilities, leveraged financings, asset-based lending, subscription credit fund facilities, bridge loans, first lien-second lien transactions, cross-border and multi-currency financings, private credit and acquisition financing arrangements. Karin began her legal career in the Chicago office of Jones Day, where she had the opportunity to work as a secondee at BMO Harris Bank, providing strategic legal advice for consumer deposit and lending products and services, including marketing, new product development, and procedural guideline matters.
Karin has a B.A. from Yale University and a J.D. from Northwestern University School of Law, where she served as Editor-in-Chief of the Northwestern University Law Review.
Before law school, Karin worked in the non-profit sector, for the Sierra Club and the Blue Green Alliance, a national partnership of environmental groups and labor unions. She has served on the boards of the D.C. and Chicago chapters of NAPAWF, the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, as well as the board of APLAN, the Asian Pacific American Legal Advocacy Network.
Karin is a proud daughter of immigrants from Taiwan and mom to an energetic toddler. She is passionate about diversity, equity, and inclusion, and has worked to advance such initiatives throughout her career.
Winnalynn (“Winnie”) Nacu Kantaris is a transactional and finance attorney who has worked at law firms, banks, and financial companies for almost 20 years. Currently, she is Director and Associate General Counsel for the Alter Domus, an international organization that has offices in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, North America and Asia. The company provides a variety of services, including divestment services, governance & business support, investor services, depository services, cash management, debt capital market solutions, accounting & reporting as well as asset servicing. She is responsible for legal issues across the company’s business lines as well as human resource, corporate, vendor contracts and licensing. Prior to joining Alter Domus, she was an associate and at two of the largest law firms in the country, Mayer Brown, LLP and Arnold Porter, LLP (f/k/a Kaye Scholer, LLP) concentrating on finance, banking and corporate law as well as at boutique firm that specialized in commercial mortgage backed securities.
Ms. Kantaris is an active member and was a former President of the Filipino American Lawyers Association of Chicago (“FALA”), a group she helped reboot in 2012. Under her leadership, FALA opened the first (and only) legal clinic dedicated to the Filipino Community in the Midwest, raised money to purchase Medals of Honor to Filipino World War II Veterans, organized a visit from the SEC Chairman from the Philippines and raised money for Typhoon victims. On a national level, Ms. Kantaris is a founding member of the National Filipino American Lawyers Association and served as the organization’s first Central Regional Governor. She is also the Women’s Leadership Network Ambassador and former Real Estate Case Study Chair for the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association. In recognition of her accomplishments in the Asian community, she was inducted into the 2018 Via Times “Hall of Fame” for Excellence in Law and was awarded with “Community Service Award” from the Asian American Coalition of Chicago in 2019.
In addition to her leadership at various bar organizations, Ms. Kantaris is an active alumna of Loyola University Chicago where she received her BS, JD, and an LLM in business law. As an alumna, she was elected to sit on the Alumni Board of Governors and invited to sit on the Dean’s Diversity Council. She is a regular speaker for the law school and judges local and national moot court competitions. She, along with her husband, also counsel and speak at the “Staying Best Friends” panel, geared to married/coupled students. In recognition of her dedication to the law school, she was named the St. Bellarmine awardee in 2017 which honors young alumni who have distinguished themselves by their contributions to the profession and to the Loyola’s School of Law. The Asian Pacific American Law Student Association also presented her with the Distinguished Alumni award that same year.
Bridget Hoy is partner at Lewis Rice in St. Louis. She gives strategic representation to her clients in defense of complex commercial litigation, or in protection of their important trademark rights. She has tried several multi-million dollar cases to favorable outcomes in both state and federal courts. She also maintains substantial trademark portfolios before the United States Patent and Trademark Office and trademark tribunals around the world for individuals, start-ups and some of the country’s most sophisticated companies. As a member of the Firm's Management Committee, Bridget is committed to advancing DEI at Lewis Rice and in the legal community.
Prash is the General Counsel for the North America Zone of Kraft Heinz, a global CPG company made up of iconic food brands. He serves on the leadership team as legal advisor and business partner. Prior to this role, Prash was General Counsel for Kraft Heinz’s U.S. Zone. Prash has extensive experience with commercial litigation, regulatory enforcement matters, intellectual property and employment law. He is a graduate of Yale University and Columbia Law School. Prash lives in Chicago with his wife and three boys.
Amber Lee Williams is a senior vice president & deputy general counsel at Bath & Body Works, Inc. (formerly L Brands), an international company that sells personal care and beauty products. Amber leads global ethics and compliance and international legal strategy.
Before joining L Brands in 2018, Amber served in various leadership roles in the Walmart, Inc. legal department, including as senior associate general counsel and section head for US compliance, and before that, leading the legal team responsible for real estate operations. Amber also held in-house positions at companies in Houston, Texas.
Amber currently serves as a board member for the Center for WorkLife Law, a research and advocacy organization focused on advancing gender and racial equity in the workplace. She is also on the board of the American Red Cross of Greater Columbus, Ohio.
The Harvard Business Review published Amber’s article “How to Speak Up if You See Bias at Work” in January 2017, and in December 2017, the American Corporate Counsel Docket magazine published “Lawyers on the Front Lines: Identifying Risk and Managing Internal Investigations,” which Amber co-wrote.
Amber is a member of the State Bars of Maryland, Texas, and Ohio. She holds a J.D. from The University of Texas at Austin and a B.A. in English (summa cum laude) from Oakwood University in Huntsville, Alabama. Amber was a 2013 Fellow of the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity and is also a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation.
Tiffany Gehrke, Partner at Marshall, Gerstein & Borun LLP, counsels clients regarding trademark portfolio management, including worldwide prosecution and enforcement. She also counsels clients regarding patent infringement and trade secrets. Tiffany routinely serves as a formal and informal mentor to younger associates in the firm and in the legal community. She also currently serves as the President of the Intellectual Property Law Association of Chicago. For many years, Tiffany was a mentor for youth in foster care. At Marshall Gerstein, Tiffany serves on the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee guiding the firm’s recruiting, professional development, and pro bono initiatives.
Melissa Harrup is Senior Vice President and Chief Counsel - North America for Mondelēz International, a global company leading the future of snacking with 2021 net revenues of approximately $29 billion.
Melissa is an international lawyer with 20+ years of experience spanning emerging and developed markets, transformation/change management roles, and advising in turnaround and crisis environments. Melissa is passionate about diversity, equity and inclusion and is the Executive Sponsor of Mondelēz International’s Asian American Employee Council and a member of the US Diversity & Inclusion Impact Team. Melissa has held a wide range of regional and global legal leadership roles in Mondelēz International and its predecessor companies and has worked and lived in Australia, Singapore and the United States. Previous roles include Head of Global Intellectual Property and Chief Counsel - North Asia.
Melissa has a B.A. (Hons; Phi Beta Kappa) from Grinnell College; L.L.B. (Hons) from Monash University (Melbourne, Australia) and is currently completing a Master of Science in Data Science (Artificial Intelligence) from Northwestern University. Melissa is admitted to the Bars of Australia and New York and admitted as House Counsel in Illinois and New Jersey.
About Mondelēz International
Mondelēz International, Inc. (Nasdaq: MDLZ) empowers people to snack right in over 150 countries around the world. With 2021 net revenues of approximately $29 billion, MDLZ is leading the future of snacking with iconic global and local brands such as Oreo, belVita and LU biscuits; Cadbury Dairy Milk, Milka and Toblerone chocolate; Sour Patch Kids candy and Trident gum. Mondelēz International is a proud member of the Standard and Poor’s 500, Nasdaq 100 and Dow Jones Sustainability Index. Visit www.mondelezinternational.com or follow the company on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MDLZ.
Monica H. Khetarpal is a principal in the Chicago, Illinois, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. She is an experienced litigator and advisor, providing skilled advocacy and thoughtful advice, training, and strategic planning for her clients.
Her litigation experience includes cases involving claims for discrimination, harassment, wage and hour violations, FMLA violations, disability discrimination and requests for accommodation in both single plaintiff and class action matters. She regularly handles matters at all levels, from administrative agencies to jury trials to appeals in both state and federal courts. She also counsels clients through the mediation process, and provides advice regarding best practices to avoid litigation. Monica’s advice and counsel practice focuses on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion matters. She regularly conducts investigations and climate surveys, advises as to strategic DEI initiatives, and provides training in the areas of unconscious bias, inclusion, and equity.
Monica focuses a significant portion of her practice on representing higher education clients and serves as co-leader of Jackson Lewis' Higher Education industry group. The group focuses on solving workplace law and other civil rights challenges facing higher education institutions. It represents both public and private universities in a range of matters including tenure cases, Title IX claims, strategic investigations, student claims, constitutional and state statutory issues and traditional labor matters. Monica has represented educational institutions throughout her career. She has experience defending denial of tenure cases, providing advice and counsel regarding high profile faculty and student matters, revising strategic policies and procedures, and conducting internal investigations and climate surveys. She has partnered with her clients in managing the student, faculty and media issues unique to the higher education setting.
Monica also devotes a significant amount of time to encouraging diversity, equity and inclusion within the legal profession. She is a co-leader of Jackson Lewis’ Asian American resource group and both D&I liaison and mentoring coordinator for the firm’s Chicago office. She has also served on the Board of the South Asian Bar Association of Chicago, SABA’s Foundation, and the Diversity Scholarship Foundation’s Unity Dinner planning committee. She was the 2018 recipient of the Advocate for Diversity Award from Chicago’s Diversity Scholarship Foundation. Monica also frequently speaks on topics related to women in the law and successful work-life balance, and founded the Chicago chapter of the firm’s Practicing and Parenting group to support attorneys who balance their legal practice with raising children.
Jessica Nguyen is the Chief Legal Officer of Lexion, the simple legal tailored ticketing system and AI-powered contract management. Jessica has an extensive in-house legal career at companies of various sizes and stages. Prior to Lexion, she was the General Counsel of PayScale, a Microsoft attorney, and the first in-house attorney at Avalara. Jessica has been recognized as the 2020 “Startup GC of the Year” by Corporate Counsel magazine, a 2019 Top 100 Legal Influencers by The Business Journals, Best Under 40 by the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, and a 2018 Puget Sound Business Journal 40 Under 40.
Michelle is a Partner in the Chicago office of Fragomen and has practiced immigration for over 20 years. With extensive experience in corporate immigration law, Michelle provides strategic immigration representation to multiple startup, multinational and Fortune 500 companies. She leads client teams in the establishment and modification of immigration compliance policies to ensure business compliance. Michelle is a trusted advisor to clients’ business, international mobility, HR, talent acquisition and legal teams, and helps them understand the impact of administrative decisions on their immigration programs and business continuity. She manages large teams to provide innovative success-driven solutions while managing risk and compliance-oriented strategies.
Michelle is an active member in the legal and broader community, and has a strong commitment to serving others and helping to advance those around her. She was appointed to the American Bar Association’s Commission on Immigration. In this role, Michelle provides critical counsel to the Commission in its efforts to ensure fair treatment and full due process rights for immigrants and refugees within the United States, and helps to develop and implement immigration-related policy for the ABA. Michelle also serves as Diversity Officer to the American Bar Association’s International Law Section. She was also recently elected to the Board of Directors for the Chinese American Service League, an organization that has long dedicated its efforts to serving the Chicago community with essential services, including providing immigrants with pathways to citizenship.
A strong advocate for pro bono work, Michelle assists with asylum, Temporary Protected Status (TPS), Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) cases through the National Immigrant Justice Center and several other nationally recognized pro bono organizations. She routinely assists with TPS, DACA and citizenship workshops. She has routinely provided pro bono legal services to immigrant adults and children who are detained at the southern border in Texas.
Michelle is regularly recognized as a leading lawyer in well regarded legal and business publications. Michelle speaks English, French and Spanish.
Ana Maria is a Senior Associate at Fragomen’s Chicago office, where she counsels employers from various industries on a diverse array of immigration matters, including nonimmigrant and immigrant visas and compliance. Prior to joining Fragomen, Ana Maria worked at a boutique immigration law firm, where she advised small and multinational employers from various industries, including higher education, finance, architecture, religion and telecommunications.
Rebecca Weinstein Bacon tries and litigates complex cases for Fortune 500 clients. With over 20 years of experience, Rebecca has represented companies in some of their most important cases on a variety of claims: pharmaceutical products liability claims, antitrust cases, consumer class actions, and commercial disputes. She is an expert legal strategist with extensive trial experience, as well as the business sophistication and acumen to know when and how to obtain the best possible settlement for her clients.
Rebecca tried one of the only consumer class action cases to go to trial, which resulted in a defense verdict for Whirlpool. She also tried one of the only "pattern or practice" employment discrimination cases to go to trial. It was brought by the EEOC against Texas Roadhouse. She is currently leading the team defending FedEx Ground against sweeping claims by the EEOC relating to their treatment of deaf package handlers. She serves on trial teams for bellwether cases in pharmaceutical companies' most important mass torts. She has tried and is slated to try pelvic mesh trials for Johnson and Johnson in 2020.
Her representation of Bayer in the WeightSmart litigation led to one of the seminal class action decisions related to ascertainability. In this case, her leadership resulted in appellate review of the only certified state class which she argued before the Third Circuit. The Third Circuit reversed the class certification decision and denied plaintiffs' request for rehearing.
Rebecca is a nationally recognized attorney. She is Chambers ranked, named one of Crain's Most Influential Women Lawyers in Chicago, a Benchmark Litigation National and Local Litigation Star, one of the Top 250 Women in Litigation for many years, and on the Lawdragon 500. Rebecca served as an adjunct professor at Northwestern University School of Law for three years where she taught a class on trial advocacy, and she has published and presented on a wide range of topics related to high-stakes litigation.
Rebecca graduated from Columbia University School of Law as a Kent and Stone Scholar and earned her bachelor's degree from UCLA with honors.
James F. Botana is a principal in the Chicago, Illinois, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. He represents management in employment cases in federal and state courts, and before administrative agencies in a variety of employment and labor-related claims.
Prior to joining Jackson Lewis, he was a prosecutor and a senior attorney in the Employment Litigation Department of the Office of the Corporation Counsel for the City of Chicago. He has successfully prosecuted and defended numerous civil and criminal cases in trials and evidentiary hearings in federal and state courts. James has represented the City of Chicago in prosecuting criminal and quasi-criminal matters and has defended the City of Chicago in employment discrimination, civil rights, and insurance defense cases in state and federal court. Since joining Jackson Lewis in August 2000, James has continued to represent management before federal and state courts and administrative agencies in a variety of employment and labor-related claims. He currently serves as a Special Assistant Corporation Counsel and represents the City of Chicago and its employees in a variety of claims.
James was born in Havana, Cuba, and raised in Spain. He is fluent in Spanish and is frequently called upon by businesses with large Spanish-speaking workforces to train managers and supervisors as well as non-supervisory employees in both English and Spanish in best employment practices and to conduct investigations of employment-related disputes.
James is the former co-leader of Jackson Lewis’ Hispanic-American Attorney resource group, a group of attorneys in the firm who provide assistance in workplace law matters to businesses with a large Hispanic workforce. James is also a founding member of the firm’s Diversity Committee. James was recently reappointed to a second two-year term on the Illinois State Advisory Committee (SAC) of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.
Asha handles a wide array of complex corporate litigation, with a practice that encompasses general commercial disputes, intellectual property, class actions, product liability, and mass torts. Representative clients include Trinity Industries, Bayer, Walgreens, and Whirlpool.
In 2018, Asha was named one of the 40 Illinois Attorneys Under Forty to Watch, with one client nominator describing her as "a brilliant legal strategist. She is the consummate professional and is extraordinarily passionate about client service. Her zealous preparedness has delivered incredible value to the company on multiple matters.” Another client nominator described Asha as “just superb,” citing her “strong combination of book smarts, common sense, good judgment, personality, and poise.”
For these reasons, clients have repeatedly entrusted Asha to oversee some of their most high-stakes and sensitive litigation, best illustrated by the fact that in the last eighteen months Asha has served as the second chair for six trial teams, preparing significant cases for trial in difficult jurisdictions. In this role, she has been responsible for developing and orchestrating the trial strategy for each case. This includes developing the theory of the case, deposing plaintiffs’ liability experts and defending her clients’ liability experts, taking and defending key fact depositions, preparing for the examination of multiple witnesses at trial, arguing case dispositive motions, and overseeing the strategy for all pre-trial filings, including motions in limine and motions to exclude expert testimony. Asha has served in this capacity in both state and federal court, in jurisdictions as varied as Dallas, City of St. Louis, and New Hampshire.
Asha also has extensive experience at trial. In LoggerHead v. Sears, a 2017 patent jury trial, Asha presented LoggerHead’s damages expert and cross-examined the defendants’ patent attorney (who defendants put on to defend against a claim of willful infringement). Asha’s examinations were successful. The jury returned a verdict of infringement for LoggerHead and awarded damages near the top end of the range Asha’s damages expert presented at trial. The jury also returned a finding of willful infringement in LoggerHead’s favor. Asha has also had the opportunity to cross-examine a damages expert in a multi-billion dollar confidential arbitration and has examined fact witnesses in other matters. She has also supported multiple trials throughout her career at Bartlit Beck.
Asha graduated from The University of Chicago Law School in 2010 with High Honors. She was a member of the Law Review and the Order of the Coif, a Kirkland and Ellis Scholar (awarded to the top five percent of the class), and received the Edwin F. Mandel Award for exceptional contribution to the Law School's clinical program.
Kristen D. Hardy is Assistant General Counsel & Assistant Secretary at Northwestern Mutual, where she is a member of the Insurance Products and Operations team. At NM, Kristen counsels on matters related to transactions, anti-money laundering compliance, special investigations and various insurance products. Prior to NM, she served as Legal Counsel & Integrity Manager at Briggs & Stratton and Rockwell Automation. At Briggs & Stratton, Kristen led the global corporate compliance function, including third party program management, anti-bribery/anti-corruption (FCPA), international trade and sanctions, and the integrity program. Her practice also included internal investigations and counseling on various international business issues. She has also served as an adjunct professor at Marquette University Law School.
Kristen is the currently the Secretary of the State Bar of Wisconsin, and holds director positions on the boards of several local organizations, including LOTUS Legal Clinic and the Bronzeville Center for the Arts. She is a past-president of the Wisconsin Association of African-American Lawyers (WAAL), where she served in various roles between 2014 and 2020. In 2019, Kristen was appointed by Governor Tony Evers to serve as a member of the Judicial Selection Advisory Committee, a group responsible for interviewing and recommending candidates to the governor for judicial appointments. Additionally, Kristen is a Wisconsin Supreme Court appointee to the Wisconsin Lawyer Regulation System’s Preliminary Review Committee. Kristen has been recognized as a Milwaukee Business Journal 40 Under 40 honoree, Top Corporate Counsel: Rising Star, Wisconsin Law Journal’s Up & Coming Lawyer, and a Milwaukee Time’s Black Excellence honoree.
Kristen holds a BA from Seton Hall University and a JD from Marquette University Law School.
Folarin is a business advisor to Levy, a restaurant and hospitality company specializing in providing food and beverage to major entertainment and sports venues. He leads the legal team on all significant matters involving Levy and its subsidiary companies.
He was most recently the Senior Commercial Counsel for GE Aviation where he was the lead legal advisor for the Commercial Engines, Services, Global Sales, and Digital business units and the General Counsel for the International Revenue Sharing Program. Prior to his role at GE, Folarin spent several years at Much Shelist P.C. and Skadden Arps in Chicago.
Folarin graduated from Dartmouth College before earning his J.D. from the University of Illinois College of Law. Folarin has been widely recognized for his philanthropic efforts, including with Pro Bono Partnership of Ohio (PBPO), Leadership Council on Legal Diversity, and Chicago Volunteer Legal Services Foundation (CVLS), where he was twice elected as President of the Board.
Mary Frances Edmonds is a Vice President & Assistant General Counsel of The Williams Companies, Inc. (NYSE: WMB). She began her career in the Williams Legal Department in 1996. During her tenure Mary Frances had very distinct roles in various business units working on mergers and acquisitions, commodity trading and structured transactions, contracts administration and risk management, and Gulf of Mexico / offshore construction and commercial agreements. In 2011, she became VP & Assistant General Counsel for Williams and is currently responsible for all legal work supporting Williams’ Gathering & Processing and Commodity Marketing businesses.
Her family moved from New York to Tulsa, OK in 1970 when American Airlines moved its computer headquarters there. From an early age she loved traveling with her father for business with American Airlines. The people she met brought new perspectives into her life, and thus began the thirst for diversity of thought, culture, and opinion – just to name a few. In college she lived in the International dorm at KU. Watching international news and discussing international events with friends from Libya, Jordan, Ivory Coast, and Venezuela were some of her most memorable times in college.
Each year, Williams recognizes leaders who go above and beyond to create an inclusive work environment in which everyone feels respected, valued by, and connected to through its Randy Barnard Leave the Ladder Down Award. The award, given annually, was created by the Women’s Business Resource Group to recognize a leader who fosters an environment that attracts and retains a high-performing and diverse workplace. In 2008, the first year the award was given, Mary Frances was the “Runner Up” and in 2009, she won the Leave the Ladder Down award. She has served as the executive sponsor of the Global Business Resource Group and Asian and Pacific Island Employee Resource Group at Williams. Outside of work, she serves on the Tulsa Global Alliance Board and served on the Women’s Energy Network’s global board. Both organizations promote diversity and inclusion through their programming and platforms.
Carly O. Machasic supports employers in labor and employment law matters. She defends clients in discrimination, whistleblower, and harassment cases while counseling employers on collective bargaining issues and unfair labor practices.
Carly is an experienced litigator who defends employers against claims involving a wide range of employment-related issues, including discrimination, harassment, retaliation, whistleblowing, family/medical leave, and accommodating disabilities.
Carly is also experienced with traditional labor issues and frequently counsels and represents employers regarding the administration of collective bargaining agreements, unfair labor practices, and labor negotiations.
A large part of Carly’s practice is assisting employers with practical advice and solutions for day-to-day workplace issues.
Dana O. Williams is a Senior Vice President and Assistant General Counsel at Northern Trust in Chicago. Dana supports global Human Resources groups, providing legal advice and counsel to the Human Resources Consulting Function, Employee Relations, Talent Acquisition, Global Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and the Human Resources Service Center, regarding all aspects of the employee lifecycle. Dana also manages pending and threatened employment litigation against the company.
Prior to joining Northern Trust, Dana practiced in the Chicago office of Seyfarth Shaw LLP in the Labor and Employment and Litigation, Trade Secrets and Corporate Espionage groups, primarily defending Fortune 500 employers in state and federal court litigation. Dana also worked in the Chicago office of Sonnenschein, Nath and Rosenthal LLP (n/k/a Dentons) in the Litigation group.
Dana has a B.A. in African-American Studies from Dartmouth College, and a J.D. from Georgetown University.
For over ten years, Dana has been an active member of the board of Primo Center, a provider of permanent and transitional housing to homeless women and children on Chicago’s South and West Sides. Dana was recently appointed to the board of CARPLS, Cook County’s largest provider of free legal aid services.
Dana is currently serving as Co-Chair of the Women of Color Alliance within Northern Trust’s Women in Leadership Business Resource Council.
Dana is also a Leadership Greater Chicago Class of 2022 Fellow.
Dana lives in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago with her husband and three children.
Lalania Gilkey-Johnson is an Associate General Counsel at GE Appliances, a Haier Company (GE Appliances). In this role and as managing counsel, Lalania is primarily responsible for providing and managing the legal support for all aspects of the global sourcing of commodities, parts and sourced finished goods for the company. She is also response for GE Appliances’ joint venture - Mabe.
Lalania has both legal and business experience. Previously, Lalania was Assistant General Counsel at US Foods, a food distributor based in Chicago, Illinois. While working at US Foods, she supported the National Sales organization, negotiated large, complex deals, managed a team of attorneys, and provided legal support for external communications. Prior to US Foods, Lalania worked for Axiom, where she was Senior Counsel for CDW Government sales. In addition to her legal roles, she was also an adjunct professor at Trinity International University, where she taught Business Ethics and Business Law. Lalania started her legal career at Schiff Hardin, a Chicago law firm, where she worked on white collar litigation, general litigation, and transactional intellectual property matters. Prior to becoming an attorney, started her professional career as a Branch Sales Director for Sprint Corporation, now T-Mobile, with a focus on Sprint’s largest data communication customers.
Lalania graduated from Howard University for her undergraduate studies, and she received her law degree from Chicago Kent College of Law.
Mary is the General Counsel of Coforge Limited, a foreign, publicly-traded, midcap IT and software technology firm. Mary has over 20 years' of legal experience, leading significant client engagements in the tech space, mergers and acquisitions, and lending transactions, having closed over $20 Billion in aggregate transactions. In addition to deal work, Mary supports day-to-day needs of the largest global clients and manages the international legal team.
Before joining Coforge, Mary was a senior attorney at another tech company, a corporate and trade lawyer at firms in New York and Chicago, a consultant at Deloitte Tax, and an attorney-advisor at the Department of Homeland Security. In addition to her JD, Mary has a MBA from the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business and a Masters’ Degree in International Affairs from the School of International Services at American University.
In addition to practicing law, Mary is an adjunct law professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago Law School, and Mary sits on the boards of non-profit organizations to which she has been committed for years.
Mary lives in the Chicago area with her husband and two children and enjoys reading, traveling, and entertaining, and pretending she is a decent knitter and gardener.
Jeannil Boji is a first go-to for clients—from Fortune 50 companies to tech startups and high-profile individuals—when faced with urgent, sensitive, and complex employment issues and crises.
Jeannil is known for creatively and effectively navigating complicated and delicate employment matters before they become expensive and publicized problems. Jeannil focuses on avoiding litigation and minimizing legal exposure by utilizing her skills and problem-solving approach to anticipate and address problems early on, through proactive counseling, drafting and negotiating effective agreements and workplace policies, conducting trainings and investigations, and negotiating and resolving pre-litigation disputes involving highly-sensitive and cutting-edge legal issues relevant to the modern workplace. Jeannil has particular experience counseling on matters involving non-compete and trade secrets law, confidentiality and workplace privacy and technology, whistleblower and retaliation allegations, remote workers and gig economy concerns, and the hiring, counseling, or termination of high-profile executives or other employees that may involve significant legal exposure.
Jeannil routinely investigates potential trade secret or other data theft and breaches, including coordinating forensic expert inspections of devices and systems and implementing recovery and preservation protocols. She also regularly handles sensitive workplace investigations and internal compliance issues, and provides employment law-related training, particularly to companies concerned about #MeToo issues, sexual harassment and discrimination, or racial discrimination and bias.
If and when litigation becomes inevitable, Jeannil brings to bear more than a decade of experience fiercely litigating a wide variety of significant employment matters in federal and state courts across the country. In particular, Jeannil is highly skilled in defending against and obtaining injunctions involving non-competition and other restrictive covenants, trade secret misappropriation, and unfair competition. She also regularly litigates and mediates complex labor and employment disputes in the areas of wage-and-hour class and collective actions under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), whistleblower retaliation, and discrimination and retaliation cases under Title VII, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
In keeping with Jeannil’s focus on emerging trends in the modern workplace, Jeannil has also developed a deep knowledge advising companies on issues related to ever-changing cannabis laws and legal developments. This includes counseling companies on best practices for employee investigations, drug testing, discipline, discharge, accommodation requests, and other unique workplace concerns involving cannabis in states where marijuana is legal for recreational or medicinal use.