As a tech attorney, Stephanie Nicholas has worked in the in-house legal teams of multiple, venture-backed startups, from Series A to post IPO public companies (WeWork, Rent the Runway, MakerBot). Stephanie began her legal career in the entertainment & technology sectors, finding her footing as a steady second legal hire for burgeoning startups. Her areas of expertise include privacy law, commercial transactions, labor & employment, and intellectual property. She is responsible for negotiating seven-figure enterprise software and data licensing deals, building out the legal function and advising engineering teams on implementing privacy by design principles in the startups she works with.
Nakia, who was born in Jamaica and raised in the Bronx, is a double Ivy League alum who attended Brown University at the age of 16, where she excelled academically and athletically, and the University of Pennsylvania Law School. Nakia has worked as a corporate transactional lawyer in Philadelphia, Dubai and New York City – all while nurturing her passion for fashion. She started her fashion and lifestyle blog, StyleChile, when she was a second-year lawyer in an international law firm. Nakia’s blog has facilitated introductions to emerging and established designers, fashion and lifestyle entrepreneurs, investors, entertainers and models.
CASSANDRA LABBEES is a Member of the Firm in the Employee Benefits and Executive Compensation practice, in the New York office of Epstein Becker Green. For more than a decade, she has provided counsel to clients in the financial services and health care industries, corporate clients, and tax-exempt and not-for-profit institutions on a wide range of employee benefit issues involving tax-qualified and non-qualified plans, 401(k) plans, ESOPs, defined benefit plans, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), multiemployer plans, and health and welfare plans.
Leslie Swain is Corporate Counsel in the MetLife U.S. Insurance Law division advising and providing support to the business primarily with respect to data privacy regulations and security breach issues, and individual and group insurance product matters. She has also worked to ensure compliance within the annuity and life insurance regulatory landscape. Leslie transitioned from the MetLife Group Disability Office of Privacy and Compliance. Prior to that, she worked on commercial insurance coverage disputes at AIG, and was in private practice litigating insurance defense matters.
Leslie is a member and former Director of the Association of Black Women Attorneys. She has participated in the Practicing Attorneys for Law Students (PALS) program as a bar exam mentor to mentees of color. She currently serves as Co-Chair of the MetLife Professional Association Liaisons Subcommittee which is dedicated to promoting diversity by supporting diverse bar associations and coordinating the annual MetLife Diversity Roundtable Discussion. Leslie is a graduate of St. John’s University School of Law, and received her undergraduate degree from Morgan State University.
Alexandra is an attorney with over 15 years of experience working with financial institutions, global conglomerates and AmLaw 100 firms to increase efficiencies, reduce risk and enhance predictability with the ultimate goal of improving the customer experience. Her areas of focus include legal operations, knowledge management and architecture, and process improvement.
Teresia L. Bost is Senior Corporate Counsel at Celgene Corporation in Summit, New Jersey, where she focuses on broad based commercial contracts in North America. Celgene is a global biopharmaceutical company committed to improving the lives of patients worldwide. Teresia has been at Celgene for 11 years, and during her time there has provided a broad level of counsel and support on general business transactions and other corporate matters, globally. Prior to joining Celgene, Teresia was an associate at Sedgwick, Detert, Moran and Arnold (now Sedgwick) in Newark, NJ, where her practice focused on providing counsel and support on general business transactions and other corporate legal matters.
Prior to moving to New Jersey, Ms. Bost worked in Connecticut, with the United Technologies Corporation at Pratt & Whitney Group, IAE International Aero Engines AG and Otis Elevator Company. Ms. Bost has served as a mentor to law students and others; a Girls on the Run coach; and on the Board of Trustees for the Good News Home for Women, in Flemington, NJ, she founded a Breast Cancer Awareness “Pink and Black” fashion show, with the Association of Black Women Lawyers of New Jersey (ABWL-NJ), created to educate women of color about the risks of developing breast cancer and serves as a panelist at conferences on topics of EU Compliance and International Clinical Trials. She is an honors graduate of Fisk University, holds a JD from Touro Law Center, and has completed course work towards an LL.M. in European Business Law from the University of Amsterdam, School of International Relations.
A member of the Advertising, Marketing and Customer Experience team within the General Counsel’s Office at American Express, Valerie Boccadoro provides advertising and marketing law subject matter expertise across the organization with a focus on commercial, consumer and merchant level servicing divisions. Applying principles of advertising law and regulatory oversight, Valerie advises on the creation and development of marketing strategy, product development and claims construction for American Express products and services across all forms of media.
Before joining American Express in 2014, Valerie was Senior Marketing Counsel for North American Personal Care at Unilever in charge of campaign and claims development for brands including Dove, Vaseline and Suave and Chief Intellectual Property Counsel at Toys “R” Us, Inc. at which Valerie’s remit included the global protection of famous trademarks including Toys “R” Us, Babies “R” Us and FAO Schwarz.
Earlier in her career, Valerie served as a Legislative Assistant on Capitol Hill to the current United States Judiciary Committee Chairman, Congressman Jerrold Nadler.
She has been a contributing author to various publications and has spoken extensively on trademark, copyright, social media, publicity rights, licensing and marketing law.
Valerie earned her J.D. from Cardozo Law School and a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Maryland at College Park, from which she graduated magna cum lade. She resides in Hoboken, NJ.
Wesley Bizzell serves as Senior Assistant General Counsel, External Affairs and Managing Director of Political Law & Ethics Programs for Altria Client Services. Overseeing a comprehensive compliance system covering the regulation of government affairs, Mr. Bizzell provides advice and guidance on political law compliance for more than 75 jurisdictions. Mr. Bizzell also heads the legal team that supports Altria’s public policy activities, providing services related to legislative and regulatory drafting and interpretation.
Mr. Bizzell is an authority on political law compliance, serving as co-chair of the Conference Board’s Committee on Corporate Political Spending, a committee of leading American corporations dedicated to education and engagement on issues of corporate political activity. Since 2015, he also has served as co-chair of the Council on Governmental Ethics Laws’ (“COGEL”) annual conference.
Previously, Mr. Bizzell was an attorney in Winston & Strawn LLP’s Federal Government Relations and Regulatory Affairs Practice Group. His career also includes more than six years on Capitol Hill, where he served as an aide to Arkansas Senators David Pryor and Dale Bumpers.
Mr. Bizzell is extremely active in promoting diversity and inclusion within the legal and corporate communities. He is a founding member and serves on the steering committee for Altria’s LGBT Employee Resource Group, and is president-elect of the National LGBT Bar Association. In addition, Mr. Bizzell volunteers as a mentor for the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity’s (“LCLD”) Law School Mentoring Program and was selected as a 2014 LCLD Fellow. He also chairs the Diversity Committee for the Lowell School Board of Trustees.
Mr. Bizzell graduated with a B.A. in Justice, magna cum laude, from the American University in Washington, D.C. and received a Master of Social Work with a focus in public policy from the Catholic University of America. He received his J.D., magna cum laude, from Georgetown University Law Center, where he was elected to the Order of the Coif and served as an editor for the Georgetown Law Journal.
Jackie Yecies leads the firm’s funds litigation initiative, a cross-practice group of lawyers representing clients from fund formation to maturity. The team provides investment funds, including hedge, sovereign wealth and endowment funds, and private equity firm clients with compliance advice, representation in investment-related civil litigation and trials, and guidance through regulatory proceedings.
Jackie regularly represents institutional clients, including investment funds, private equity firms and international banks, as well as individual clients, in U.S. and cross-border investigations. On behalf of her clients, Jackie has presented to various U.S. civil and criminal regulatory agencies, including the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Department of Justice. She also represents clients in investigations by Asian and European banking and commercial regulators.
In her global practice, Jackie consistently manages key client relationships on multibillion-dollar litigations, and she has led multiple trial teams to victory, including in federal court in the Southern District of New York (S.D.N.Y.) and in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware. Jackie has also led arbitrations and mediations, run significant investigations and presented to senior regulatory agencies.
Erika Amarante is a Partner in the firm’s Litigation Department. She represents hospitals, physicians, and other health care providers in cases alleging professional negligence, lack of informed consent, or negligent credentialing. She has extensive experience in defending claims of wrongful death, birth trauma, delayed diagnosis of cancer, and brain injuries, as well as the catastrophic injuries that often arise in such claims. Erika also has served in a claims management position, setting reserves and valuing cases. She regularly counsels health care providers on issues of liability and risk-reduction strategies.
Erika is active in the Defense Research Institute’s Medical Liability and Health Care Law Committee, and currently serves as that committee’s Diversity and Inclusion Chair. She also serves as Vice-President of the Connecticut Defense Lawyers Association and is on the Board of Directors for the Connecticut Society of Healthcare Risk Managers.
Erika is Co-Chair of the Women of Wiggin (WOW) and is actively involved in programming and mentoring directed toward the hiring, retention and inclusion of female professionals.
Before joining Wiggin and Dana, Erika served as law clerk to Justice Richard N. Palmer and Justice Francis M. McDonald on the Connecticut Supreme Court and later served as Executive Assistant to Chief Justice Francis M. McDonald on the Connecticut Supreme Court.
Katie specializes in corporate partnering, strategic alliances, privacy, technology protection, and licensing and commercialization of intellectual property and technology assets. Katie advises venture capitalists and companies on intellectual property, technology and privacy aspects of venture capital financings and merger and acquisition deals. Katie represents a wide variety of technology companies from consumer internet, consumer products, ad tech, health tech, financial technology, software and SaaS, media, and entertainment technology industries, as well as a number of leading venture capital firms.
Katie has represented start-up and emerging growth companies in negotiating major corporate partnering deals, strategic alliances, and licensing arrangements with many large U.S. and international companies, including Alibaba, Autodesk, Comcast, Google, eBay, Facebook, NBC, Nielsen, MasterCard, Microsoft, Oracle, PayPal, Pinterest, Samsung, Time Inc., Twitter, Verizon, Walmart, Yahoo, and Zynga.
Katie’s practice focuses on a broad array of technologies, including software, hardware, e-commerce, media, mobile and tablet applications. She assists clients with website, application, bot and internet of things terms and conditions and privacy policies, license agreements, support and maintenance agreements, SaaS offerings, promotion and marketing agreements, collaboration and development agreements, distribution agreements, reseller agreements, evaluation and beta testing agreements, and a variety of other in- and out-licensing deals and services arrangements.
Katie is a Certified Information Privacy Professional (CIPP), holding the U.S. private-sector privacy certification granted by the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP), the global standard in privacy certification. The CIPP/US certification demonstrates strong foundation in U.S. private-sector privacy laws and regulations and understanding of the legal requirements for the responsible transfer of sensitive personal data to/from the U.S., the EU and other jurisdictions.
Nicholas Tiger joined Capital One as in-house counsel in 2017, initially providing legal guidance to the Office of the President in resolving highly escalated customer complaints and regulator inquiries. Since then, his role has expanded to provide complaint escalations and regulatory counsel to multiple customer-facing phone channels. Nicholas serves on the Legal Diversity & Inclusion Committee at Capital One and in a leadership capacity for OutFront, the LGBTQ+ employee resource group. In addition to being passionate about driving diversity in the legal field, he has also been widely recognized for his pro bono service where he has appeared in contested removal proceedings before the Board of Immigration Appeals. He was recently named a finalist for the 2019 Volunteer of the Year award for the Greater Washington DC metro area.
Prior to joining Capital One, Nicholas practiced at the firm of Rausch, Sturm, Israel, Enerson, & Hornik in the area of creditors' rights where he represented multiple Fortune 500 finance companies and successfully defended federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) suits. Nicholas received his J.D. with an emphasis in International Law from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. While in school, Nicholas clerked for both a Federal Magistrate Judge in the Western District of Missouri and an Administrative Court of Appeals Judge abroad in Guanajuato, Mexico. He also holds a B.A. from Webster University in St. Louis, Missouri.
Jessica Golden Cortes is a partner in the Labor & Employment Practice Group of Davis & Gilbert. Ms. Cortes regularly counsels and actively litigates on behalf of her clients in all aspects of employment law, and frequently conducts employment trainings across the country, educating her clients in subjects such as respect in the workplace, unconscious bias and manager best practices. Representative counseling services include:
In addition, Ms. Cortes represents employers in federal and state courts, federal, state and local administrative agencies and in arbitrations and mediations nationwide in the areas of race, sex, age, disability, failure to hire and other discrimination claims, and in breach of contract disputes arising primarily from alleged breaches of continuing post-employment obligations and for cause terminations. She has successfully defended several of the firm’s clients against claims of discrimination before the EEOC and state agencies in multiple states, including New York, Connecticut, California, Ohio and Michigan.
Ms. Cortes has been recognized by The Legal 500 United States in the area of labor and employment: workplace and employment counseling area for seven consecutive years (2013-2019). She has also been recognized as a leading lawyer for labor & employment law by Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business (2012-2016). In addition, she has been selected as a Super Lawyer (2018 and 2019) and Rising Star (2013-2016) by New York Metro Super Lawyers, and named a winner in the Esquire Industry Practice category for SmartCEO’s 2015 CPA & ESQ Awards. Before joining Davis & Gilbert, Ms. Cortes was a litigation attorney at Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP.
Michelle Waites is Senior Counsel for Xerox Corporation, actively involved in obtaining, protecting and enforcing and the company's legal rights. Her responsibilities include developing legal strategy, structuring, drafting and negotiating agreements for technology, M&A and other business transactions and managing complex patent, employment, and complex commercial litigation. Prior to going to law school, she spent several years working as an engineer in the aerospace industry.
On a personal level, Michelle is a year-round sports enthusiast and is a die-hard fan and supporter of her alma mater, the Syracuse Orange. She serves on the National Board of Directors of Lambda Legal and is a member of the National Bar Association and the LGBT Bar Association.
Susanne Kandel is a Vice President and General Counsel, HispAm of American Tower. Prior to joining American Tower, she worked as an associate at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP. Susanne received her J.D. from New York University School of Law and her A.B. in Religion and Middle Eastern Languages and Literature from Dartmouth College.
Susanne has over 15 years of experience providing pragmatic legal advice to mitigate risk while supporting commercial objectives. She is a strategic thinker who is a trusted member of the executive management team and who engages with stakeholders at all levels of the global organization.
A native New Yorker, Alana C. St. Aude is Director, Assistant General Counsel in the Capital One Commercial Bank, where she provides legal advice to finance private equity sponsor-backed and other corporate borrowers in leveraged finance, investment grade and other capital structures. Alana advises as to market terms and risks, provides regulatory advice and implements strategic bank initiatives. Prior to joining Capital One, Alana was a Senior Associate in the Banking & Finance Group of Weil Gotshal. Alana is the Co-Founder/Co-Chair of the Advancement Initiative, a network geared toward female lawyers of color who are within 5 to 15 years in law firm practice or in-house, and Co-Chair of the Corporate Law Section of the Metropolitan Black Bar Association. In 2019, she was awarded with the Association of Corporate Counsel’s Top 10 30-Something Award and recognized as Top 40 Under 40 by The Network Journal. In her spare time, Alana can be found doing high-intensity boutique exercise classes, Zumba or yoga. Alana obtained her law degree from Harvard Law School and her B.S. in Industrial and Labor Relations from Cornell University.
Madhu Goel Southworth is Senior Vice President, Legal & Business Affairs for AMC Network Entertainment LLC, Sundance TV, IFC TV. In that capacity, she advises and counsels AMC, Sundance TV, and IFC TV network departments with respect to unscripted development and production matters, digital productions and webisode series, product integrations, linear and digital advertising, marketing, merchandising and consumer products, licensing and acquisitions, location based entertainment, gaming, intellectual property and other business affairs matters concerning AMC's top shows. Madhu joined AMC in 2009, just three weeks before AMC greenlit The Walking Dead and had a significant role in the launch of AMC Studios.
Prior to AMC, Madhu worked at A&E Television Networks as Director, Legal and Business Affairs providing counsel and negotiating development, production, and talent agreements in both their unscripted and documentary departments working on television series and documentaries. While at A&E, Madhu negotiated and drafted the option sale of the movie rights to “The Great Gatsby” to Sony Pictures and Baz Luhrman.
Madhu graduated from University of Chicago Law in 2001, spent a year at a federal judicial clerkship in the Southern District of New York, and then was an associate at Sidley & Austin in New York. Following her time at Sidley, Madhu joined Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz, P.C., an entertainment law firm, where Madhu worked on cases involving the Mutant-X/X-Men properties, a variety of productions including Juno, The Namesake, and Synecdoche, and represented talent in their deals with HBO, Viacom, and other networks and studios.
Since January 2013, Vivian A. Taylor has served as Associate Dean for Diversity and Cultural Affairs at Columbia University School of Nursing and for 28 years served in multiple roles at Barnard College. In her role at Columbia Nursing, she has worked closely with the School in promoting a climate of belonging and inclusion and in implementing the School’s commitment to social justice and health equity. In the wider community, Dr. Taylor has facilitated Columbia Nursing’s involvement in health literacy programs; health screenings; the promotion of health careers and increasing nursing work force development for members from groups under-represented in the nursing profession.
She supports the Columbia University Medical Center LGBT health initiative and outreach. She has reached out to men and women in homeless shelters and is a strong supporter of the College and Community Fellowship, an organization that seeks to eliminate individual and structural barriers to higher education, economic security, and civic participation for formerly incarcerated women and their families. She has served as a Commissioner with the Office of Black Ministry of the Arch Diocese of New York and is a former board member of the Manhattan Regional School Board of the Arch Diocese of New York, and De La Salle Academy. She currently serves on the Advisory Board of the New Jewish Home Geriatric Development Program.
At Barnard College, Dr. Taylor worked in a variety of administrative positions providing oversight for the Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP), the Collegiate Science and Technology Program (C-STEP), The Liberty Partnerships Program, and the Science and Technology Entry Program (STEP). She also served as the Sophomore Class Dean, Administrator for the Andrew Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program, Associate Director of the Intercollegiate Partnership Program, Dean for Multicultural Affairs, and Vice-President for Community Development.
Dr. Taylor holds two degrees from the University of Pittsburgh, a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Education, as well as a Doctor of Education from Teachers College, Columbia University.
Dr. Taylor is a social justice advocate.Throughout her career, she has been committed to creating and sustaining diversity initiatives and has shown leadership and vision in developing and implementing programs that bring equity, access, and support to the disenfranchised, the under-represented, and marginalized members of our society. She is dedicated to educating our youth, strengthening families, and building partnerships with community organizations.
Kathryn Lundy is a Partner in the Litigation and Labor & Employment Practice Groups. Admitted to practice law in New York and New Jersey, Kathryn is a poised and sought after legal industry veteran, and the management-side employment cases she handles bear this out. Her top-shelf clientele –generally concentrated in fashion, luxury goods and the hospitality industries– count on Kathryn to litigate particularly high stakes disputes, including wrongful termination, sexual harassment and discrimination, wage and hour, restrictive covenant, misappropriation of trade secrets and breach of contract matters.
Kathryn is also regularly called upon for advice and counsel regarding the gamut of complex employment issues including executive compensation or termination issued, wage and hour compliance, classification issues, restrictive covenants, discipline, management training, policy development, reductions in force, investigation, or guidance having to do with compliance with local, state, and federal employment laws, Kathryn – for so many businesses – is a go-to attorney.
Gail Rodgers is a partner in DLA Piper's global Litigation practice. She is based in New York and concentrates her practice on investigations and compliance.
Gail Rodgers has spent the majority of her career representing multinational pharmaceutical and medical device companies. Gail focuses her practice on end to end compliance and investigations including regarding bribery and corruption. She has represented multiple Fortune 500 companies in cross border and multi-jurisdictional investigations involving allegations of violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and the UK Bribery Act. She has extensive experience leading teams for corporate internal and government investigations across the globe.
Gail also conducts proactive global compliance reviews and partners with the business in implementing controls and remediations and evaluating the efficacy of compliance and investigations programs and protocols. A significant portion of her practice involves providing clients with strategic business advice.
Ms. Rodgers has extensive experience in a wide variety of state and federal litigation, and has focused on pharmaceutical and medical device litigation, including providing strategic advice at each stage of a litigation, managing national discovery teams, depositions, motions practice including Daubert challenges and implementation of national resolution programs. She has represented several of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world.
Before her legal career, Ms. Rodgers practiced as a Registered Nurse in the Critical Care Units of MD Anderson Cancer Center. Her medical experience provides her and her clients a distinct advantage, as it gives Ms. Rodgers particular insight into complex medical issues, scientific evidence, expert development, depositions of medical fact witnesses and case valuation.
Ms. Rodgers also has significant experience as resolution counsel and has coordinated a team of medical specialists in the evaluation of individual and class action claims, resulting in the resolution of thousands of claims. Relevant engagements include litigation relating to the prescription medications Celebrex and Bextra, Omniscan, Phen-Fen and Propulsid.
Ms. Rodgers handled over a hundred medical malpractice actions against a bankrupt hospital, negotiating dozens of multi-million dollar claims resulting in settlements for a fraction of the amounts claimed or outright dismissals of the claims.
Ms. Rodgers is passionate about pro bono work and has represented asylum applicants almost the entirety of her career. All of her clients have been successful in their quest to remain in the United States. She mentors multiple teams of junior associates, typically managing seven or eight cases at a time. She also has represented prisoners in compassionate release cases.
Ms. Rodgers is equally as passionate about diversity, equity and inclusion as it is a cornerstone of her personal life. She enjoys mentoring and sponsoring junior attorneys, particularly those who are diverse. During her decade in leadership of the DRI Drug and Medical Device Committee, she has purposefully and significantly increased the percentage of diverse and women attorneys in leadership as well as the speakers at the DRI Drug and Medical Device Seminar. She also has actively encouraged young and diverse attorneys to engage with the Committee and work towards leadership roles.
Mary brings decades of experience in helping clients comply with ever-changing labor laws and regulations, as well as in managing employment challenges such as sensitive terminations, sexual harassment, reductions in workforce, discrimination claims, and severance agreements. She is a proactive resource for clients seeking her counsel on a variety of human resource issues before they become a costly crisis, as well as a fierce advocate when crises arise.
Mary is Chair of the firm’s Labor, Employment and Benefits Department and regularly represents employers in state and federal court litigation, administrative and regulatory proceedings, and mediations and arbitrations. She handles all aspects of labor and employment law, including discrimination claims, sexual harassment, wrongful discharge, wage/hour, and employment contract claims. She has handled complex, multi-plaintiff claims and class actions and has first-chaired dozens of bench and jury trials through to verdict.
Mary regularly assists clients in developing policies and procedures to ensure compliance with fluctuating regulations. She frequently conducts management and human resource personnel training, leads internal investigations, assists with wage audits, and defends clients under investigation by state or federal agencies, including departments of labor, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), state human rights commissions, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). She has also handled Title IX and Clery Act matters.
Mary is the author of Employment Litigation (part of the Employment Law series published by the Law Journal Press) and is a frequent lecturer on a wide variety of employment law topics hosted by bar associations, human resource organizations, and Chambers of Commerce. She has an AV® Preeminent™ peer rating from Martindale-Hubbell, and she is recognized in Chambers USA and by Super Lawyers® in Connecticut.
Diversity is another passion of Mary’s. She is Co-chair of the Diversity Committee, for which she drafted the firm’s first Diversity Plan, and she is a member of the firm’s Women’s Committee. Mary launches and participates in a variety of diversity-related initiatives for the Firm.
Lisa Cleary, Patterson Belknap’s Co-Chair and Managing Partner, works closely with a broad range of corporations and tax-exempt organization clients on employment issues related to their highest level executives and other key employees. A thoughtful strategist, she brings valuable insights to clients beyond the law and the facts, anticipating the responses an employer might expect when taking employment action, and how to limit that action’s disruptive impact on the organization. Her clients benefit from her big-picture understanding and insightful perspectives, which allows clients to implement the most effective strategies for their organizations.
For over 20 years, Ms. Cleary has regularly advised boards of directors on issues including the negotiation of executive compensation, performance evaluation, transition and employment termination of CEOs. She provides this sensitive advice for public companies, private entities and tax-exempt organizations and foundations, all of which operate under the same rules in these circumstances. Her practice includes assisting clients in employment-related litigation matters before administrative agencies, state and federal courts. She frequently advises and defends clients facing EEOC, Department of Labor, and New York City Human Rights Commission charges, audits and inquiries. She counsels clients with respect to employment contracts and regularly defends clients in wrongful discharge cases. In addition, she provides training on a broad range of employment matters, drafts and vets personnel policies and handbooks, and also provides advice on employer recordkeeping requirements. Ms. Cleary often assists companies in navigating difficult situations where CEO termination occurs in the midst of critical litigation or other corporate crises. She also advises in-house counsel, human resources personnel, and line managers on minimizing the legal risks of individual employee terminations beyond executives, as well as counseling clients to ensure compliance with applicable laws.
She received her B.A., magna cum laude, from Harvard University and Radcliffe College, and her J.D. from Duke University School of Law.
Beverly Jones is Senior Vice President and Chief Legal Officer of the ASPCA, providing broad-based legal support and expertise on a wide range of programmatic and operational areas including contracts, tax, intellectual property, employment, defensive litigation, lobbying and political activity, and animal welfare law.
Ms. Jones is also an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Pathology, Immunology & Laboratory Medicine at the University of Florida, where she co-teaches a course in Animal Law to veterinarians and forensic veterinary scientists.
Prior to joining the ASPCA in 2009, Ms. Jones served as Associate General Counsel at the Vera Institute of Justice, and as an associate in the Tax Exempt Organizations practice group of Preston Gates and Ellis, LLP in Seattle (now part of K&L Gates).
Ms. Jones earned her A.B. in Government from Smith College in Northampton, MA, a Juris Doctor degree from Yale Law School in New Haven, CT, and a Master of Laws in Taxation (LLM) from Villanova University Law School. After law school, she clerked for the Honorable Chief Justice Deborah T. Poritz of the New Jersey Supreme Court, and subsequently served as the Rockefeller Brothers Fund Fellow in Nonprofit Law through the NYU Center on Philanthropy and the Law.
Jennifer N. Jones is Managing Counsel in the Labor and Employment group at Toyota Motor North America, Inc. (“TMNA”). Jennifer is responsible for providing legal advice and counsel to TMNA Headquarters HR Operations – Product Support Division. She is also responsible for supporting Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Mississippi’s (“TMMMS”) HR Operations. Jennifer also assists with labor relations matters across all of Toyota’s North American Manufacturing Facilities and is the internal subject matter expert on trade secret protection and related confidentiality issues.
Prior to joining Toyota in 2016, Jennifer worked as a labor and employment attorney with Hunton & Williams, LLP and later as Counsel with FordHarrison, LLP, providing advice and representation to employers regarding labor and employment law matters, including discrimination, retaliation, wrongful termination, harassment, worker's compensation, wage and hour disputes, and union avoidance.
Jennifer earned a BA in Criminal Justice from Stephen F. Austin State University (Nacogdoches, TX) and received her juris doctorate degree from Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law (Dallas, TX).
During undergrad, she became a member of Alpha Phi Sigma – the National Criminal Justice Honor Society, and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. While in law school, she served on the executive board of SMU’s Black Law Student’s Association.
Jennifer has been recognized as a 2014 Lawyers of Color Hot List Honoree, and in 2015, she was named by the National Black Lawyers Association as one of the Top 40 attorneys Under 40. In 2018, she was selected as a finalist in the D CEO Corporate Counsel Awards, and in 2019, was selected to participate in the Dallas Bar Association’s WE LEAD Program, a program about Women Empowered to Lead in the Legal Profession.
Her favorite quote is: “To whom much is given, much is required.”
Naz Vahid is a Managing Director and Global Head of the Law Firm Group (LFG) for Citi Private Bank. In this role she is responsible for the 14 offices in the United States and UK that serve Law Firms, their Partners and Associates. She leads a group of almost 200 professionals who provide financial advice and services to more than 50,000 attorneys across more than 700 law firms including 85% of the AmLaw 200 (the 200 highest-grossing law firms in the US).
Naz is responsible for overseeing a team of sales and support professionals who are tasked with deepening client relationships and developing wealth management strategies. Under Naz’s leadership, LFG has established a disciplined sales process and delivered quality Private Bank client relationships (solutions and services) in an intensely competitive and fragmented market, taking full advantage of the scope of the Citi franchise, while complying with relevant country legal/regulatory requirements and protecting Citi and its clients. Since Naz became Head of LFG in 2009, the business has seen double digit growth YoY and she has grown her businesses revenue from $230mm to exceed $640mm in annualized revenue.
Kerri Ann Law is an experienced trial lawyer and counselor with a diverse practice representing clients, including Fortune 500 companies, in complex commercial litigation in both state and federal courts, as well as in domestic and international arbitration forums. She also represents companies and individuals in connection with sensitive and high-profile criminal and regulatory matters, and related civil matters. On behalf of her clients, Kerri Ann regularly interacts with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the U.S. Department of Justice, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and other governmental agencies.
Among her more notable representations, Kerri Ann secured a multimillion-dollar jury victory for a manufacturing company in an unfair competition case. The jury found that the defendant had stolen trade secrets relating to unique and state-of-the-art manufacturing processes that the plaintiff had developed over decades. Kerri Ann represented Bear Stearns in several shareholder derivative actions and class actions arising out of the collapse of two hedge funds in 2007. She also represented an individual in a putative class action alleging manipulation of the platinum and palladium markets, including the trading of futures contracts, in violation of the Commodity Exchange Act, the Sherman Antitrust Act, and the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.
Kerri Ann has litigated numerous false advertising matters for pharmaceutical and other companies. Legal 500, which ranked Kramer Levin’s advertising practice “in the top tier,” designated Kerri Ann as a “highly recommended” counsel in this area. Among other representations, Kerri Ann successfully defended AstraZeneca in a false advertising suit related to the company’s Nexium product.
Legal 500 also designated Kerri Ann as a “recommended” counsel for her employment litigation practice, which includes representing and advising companies in employment disputes alleging discrimination, sexual harassment and retaliation, and violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act, as well as those arising from employment contracts. Kerri Ann successfully defended several subsidiaries of one of the world’s largest financial services companies in an arbitration commenced by a former manager, who asserted a breach of contract claim in connection with her termination. Kerri Ann also achieved a favorable settlement of allegations of wage and hour violations under the Fair Labor Standards Act and New York’s Labor Law for a client in the travel industry.
Kerri Ann undertakes many pro bono matters, with a particular focus on human rights. She successfully obtained asylum for a woman who had been repeatedly persecuted in Kosovo and Montenegro because of her nationality and her religious and political opinions.
Kerri Ann serves on the firm’s Executive Committee, Planning Committee, Branding Committee and Women’s Initiative Committee, and as chair of the firm’s Hiring Committee. Kerri Ann has also regularly served on the firm’s Compensation Committee.
Rachel Goldman is a commercial litigator with over 20 years of experience in federal and state courts, at the trial and appellate levels, and in both domestic and international arbitration proceedings. She represents clients in various sectors, including financial institutions, multi-national corporations, energy and renewable companies and private equity funds. Her practice focuses on complex commercial disputes, such as breach of contract and fraud claims, securities litigation, bankruptcy litigation, construction litigation, class actions, RICO and False Claims Act litigation. Rachel's practice also includes challenges to government agencies under the Commerce, Takings and Supremacy Clauses, and First Amendment and libel actions. In addition, she is actively involved in the firm's monitorship and compliance matters. Her prior experience as both a lawyer representing the government and as in-house counsel provides a valuable perspective of client needs and objectives. Rachel is also a member of the firm’s COVID-19 Crisis and Recovery Task Force, advising clients on various issues related to the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, including matters related to the government’s stimulus loan programs.
Before joining Bracewell, Rachel was a vice-president at Giuliani Partners LLC, where she served as both in-house counsel and management consultant. Rachel advised Giuliani Partners on various matters, such as contracts, employment, joint ventures, intellectual property, conflicts of interest, compliance and public hearings. She also served as acting general counsel for Giuliani Capital Advisors LLC.
Rachel began her career as an assistant corporation counsel in the New York City Law Department, Office of the Corporation Counsel. In that capacity, she represented municipal officials and the City of New York in numerous federal and state cases. As an assistant corporation counsel, she gained unique experience in constitutional law, including First Amendment and Takings litigation. She also prosecuted criminal matters on behalf of the Corporation Counsel's Office. Rachel received an award from the Association of the Bar of the City of New York for Outstanding Achievement as an assistant corporation counsel.
Rachel is also the Co-Chair of Bracewell’s pro bono committee.
Alison Zoellner is General Counsel, Americas at Dentsu Aegis Network. Most recently, Alison was Vice President and General Counsel of Honeywell’s Advanced Materials business, a multi-billion dollar global business which manufactures a wide variety of high-performance products, including environmentally preferable refrigerants and materials used to manufacture end products such as bullet-resistant armor, computer chips and pharmaceutical packaging. Prior to this, Alison was Assistant General Counsel, Securities and Corporate Finance of Honeywell International Inc. Alison also worked for seventeen years in the legal department of The New York Times Company. She started her legal career at Sullivan & Cromwell. Alison earned her bachelor’s degree from Duke University and her law degree from the University of Texas School of Law.
Marissa E. Miller’s practice focuses on complex commercial litigation. She represents corporations, investment funds, and individuals in federal and state courts throughout the country in matters involving securities fraud, breach of contract, and a variety of business torts.
Marissa is recognized as a “Rising Star” in New York Metro Super Lawyers.
Marissa also devotes time to pro bono cases, including the successful representation of a client seeking custody and child support.
Daniele is the Assistant General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer at Indo-MIM Inc., a leading global supplier of precision-engineered products using Metal Injection Molding (MIM) as the core manufacturing technology. Daniele is responsible for overseeing compliance with laws, regulatory requirements, policies and procedures within Indo-MIM Inc. She provides leadership and direction in compliance matters by building and fostering a program of training, education, and cooperation throughout Indo-MIM’s manufacturing plants located in Bangalore, India and San Antonio, TX. Daniele also provide legal and strategic advice and support to senior leadership and Indo-MIM employees on a wide range of business issues including immigration, taxation, and personnel matters. Previously Daniele worked as a senior associate in the Washington, D.C. office of Skadden Arps for ten years. She represented clients in connection with congressional, government and internal investigations.
Daniele graduated with honors from the American University Washington College of Law (AUWCL), and now teaches Introduction to Regulation and Compliance at AUWCL. She received her Master of Public Administration from Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs and worked at the Government Accountability Office for five years thereafter as a Senior Policy Analyst. For her undergraduate degree, Daniele studied political science and economics at the University of Chicago. She lives in Washington D.C. with her husband and three young children
Naomi B. Waltman is Executive Vice President and Associate General Counsel, Litigation, of ViacomCBS Inc., a leading media company that creates and distributes content across a variety of platforms to audiences around the world. She serves as the Company’s chief litigation counsel, overseeing litigation for ViacomCBS and its business units in a broad range of matters, including intellectual property, defamation, and general commercial disputes. Earlier in her career, Naomi was a litigation associate at Kaye Scholer LLP (now Arnold & Porter) in New York City and served as a law clerk to the Honorable Warren W. Eginton of the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut.
Naomi is a well-recognized leader in the legal profession and is frequently honored by external legal and professional organizations. She has been recognized as a National Woman in Law (Technology, Media, and Telecom) by Corporate Counsel, a Leading Woman Lawyer by Crain’s New York Business, and a Woman of Influence by Best Lawyers Magazine.
Naomi received a B.A. with Distinction from Stanford University and a J.D. from Stanford Law School.
Dania Nasser is the Senior Counsel at Canon Business Process Services. Prior to working in this role she was the Business Operations and Compliance Counsel at Ralph Lauren. Dania acquired her law degree from Yale University.
Nancy Del Pizzo is a member of Rivkin Radler’s Commercial Litigation; Intellectual Property; and Privacy, Data & Cyber Law Practice Groups. She resolves commercial disputes, including intellectual property matters such as trademark, trade dress, copyright and patent infringement, restrictive covenants and domain name disputes, misappropriation of trade secrets and unfair competition, false advertising, defamation and trade libel.
Melissa represents technology companies in a variety of fields including consumer products and services, online media and ad tech, mobile and social technologies, software and SaaS, hardware, and clean technologies, and also advises venture capital funds investing in those businesses. She is experienced in transactions at all stages of the technology lifecycle, regularly advising entrepreneurs as they form businesses, counseling growing companies and investors through rounds of financing, structuring tender offers, M&A deals, public offerings and other late-stage transactions, and providing day-to-day guidance on corporate governance, employment, and intellectual property matters.
In addition to advising technology companies and venture capitalists as outside counsel, Melissa was the General Counsel of Boxee, a streaming media hardware and software company, until it was acquired by Samsung Electronics. Having served as part of a start-up management team, she knows first-hand that having flexible, business-minded, incisive counsel is of critical importance to the success of high-growth businesses, and enjoys playing that role for her clients.
Melissa is also a founding member of Gunderson Dettmer’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee, and committed to fostering diversity both within the firm as well as in the broader technology and venture capital community. She began her legal career as an associate at the New York office of Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton, and was a pastry chef in her long-ago first career. She currently lives with her husband, two young children, and two cats in a happily hectic Brooklyn apartment.
Keisha-Ann G. Gray is a partner in the Labor & Employment Law Department, and serves as co-chair of the Policies, Handbooks and Training Practice Group, and is the former co-chair of the Employment Litigation and Arbitration Practice Group. She is a distinguished trial lawyer who has secured significant victories in both federal and state courts (jury trial and otherwise) for companies facing “bet the company” sensitive litigation issues.
The breadth of her experience and background in government, first as a federal law clerk, and then as an Assistant United States Attorney, coupled with her tenure in private practice as a Big Law partner and employment litigator, gives Keisha-Ann the unique ability to meaningfully connect with diverse populations, and to thereby advocate effectively and successfully for her clients. As a result, Keisha-Ann is frequently called upon to litigate high-profile workplace misconduct claims and to conduct highly sensitive and confidential internal investigations. She regularly advises well-known companies, brands and individuals on high-reaching, high-level, reputational risk, workplace misconduct matters. Because of the sensitive nature of Keisha-Ann’s practice, many of her matters have successfully resulted in non-public resolutions and remain confidential – precisely the mandate required by her clients.
Counseling is another cornerstone of her practice. As a seasoned trial counsel and litigator, Keisha-Ann draws from her experiences in the courtroom before juries to help inform her clients, including many Fortune 500 companies, on issues pertinent to employment law and complaint prevention.