Ms. Benkers joined Plano Synergy as the company’s General Counsel in May, 2015. Ms. Benkers is a member of the company's Executive Committee and is responsible for overseeing the Plano Synergy companies’ legal affairs including litigation, intellectual property, and corporate matters.
Prior to joining Plano Synergy, Ms. Benkers was a partner at Quarles & Brady LLP where she specialized in the areas of general commercial and intellectual property litigation.At Quarles & Brady, Ms. Benkers handled a wide variety of commercial disputes including patent infringement, trade secret, copyright infringement, trademark, false advertising, breach of contract, fraud, UCC claims, insurance coverage, breach of restrictive covenants, real estate, employment, licensing and various other business disputes.Outside of the litigation context, Ms. Benkers counseled clients on business practices on a number of fronts, including securing and protecting their intellectual property, advertising, regulatory and environmental issues, document retention issues, and other general business advice.
Josie obtained her Juris Doctorate, cum laude from the University of Wisconsin.She also obtained a Bachelor’s of Science degree, magna cum laude, in Psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh in Psychology.
Accomplished corporate lawyer with diverse in-house and major law firm experience. Well skilled in advising on complex legal issues in an easily understood manner. Results oriented problem solver with a collaborative approach that promotes actionable, profitable solutions. Licensed in Illinois and Missouri.
Jennifer Crawford has served as Litigation Counsel at The Marmon Group in Chicago, Illinois since 2016. In this role, she manages litigation and advises key business leaders for approximately 175 independent Marmon business units in the manufacturing industry, along with general corporate practice. Prior to going in-house, she spent nearly a decade practicing law in the areas of product liability and toxic tort litigation at Locke Lord (formerly Wildman, Harrold, Allen & Dixon) and Faegre Baker Daniels. Before entering private practice, Jennifer gained extensive trial experience as a Cook County Assistant State's Attorney. She is also a frequent guest speaker and trial advocacy coach at the Chicago-Kent College of Law. Jennifer earned her J.D. at the University of Toledo, and her B.S. at the University of Michigan.
Michelle Ruff’s practice presently centers around licensing and compliance. Since 2012 she has served as a legal advisor to corporate counsel and leaders at Amrock, a title and technology company located in Detroit, Michigan. She is heavily relied upon for matters in Texas and is an expert in all matters pertaining to title, curative, real estate and settlement services for the State of Georgia.
Prior to working for Amrock, Michelle was in private practice handling real estate, family, criminal, unemployment appeals, social security appeals and immigration matters. She is a seasoned family law litigator and believes that her civil litigation practice has helped her to skillfully find creative legal solutions to meet complex compliance issues.
She graduated with her B.A. in Communications from Oakwood University, Huntsville, AL in 1996 and with a M.A. in Communications from Morehead State University, Morehead, KY in 1998. A 2001 graduate of the Louis D. Brandeis School of Law at the University of Louisville, Michelle participated in the Immigration Clinic as a student; received an award for her public service work; and, was an active member of the Diversity Committee. After graduation, she begin her career working with Farmworker Legal Services in Michigan and proudly continued her non-profit service with Cobb County Legal Aid, a division of Atlanta Legal Aid and the Latin American Association before going into private practice. She is a member of the Kentucky, Michigan and Georgia Bar Associations.
Michelle has put together training materials on cultural sensitivity for guardian ad litems and spoken on the impact of natural disasters on immigrants for young lawyers assisting Hurricane Katrina victims.
Most importantly, Michelle has two adult children, who endured college, graduate and law school with her as a single mother. She is an avid fitness enthusiast who volunteers to teach a workout class to senior citizens in Atlanta, Georgia, where she lives.
Joy joined World Business Chicago (WBC) in July 2014 as a special advisor for international initiatives. She was recruited to WBC to lead the formation of Metro Chicago Exports (MCE), an unprecedented collaboration between the City of Chicago through WBC, and the seven counties in Northeastern Illinois (Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry and Will) with the goal of increasing exports from SMEs and supporting regional job growth. After the successful launch of MCE, Joy served as Interim Director/Program Manager of MCE until a permanent managing director was named. Joy also led the recruitment of the Legal Advisory Board comprised of senior leadership from 15 major law firms and 15 general counsels from WBC Board member companies to guide and assist WBC in identifying and navigating legal issues arising out of the Mayor’s Plan for Economic Growth (the “Plan”).
Currently, Joy reports directly to the President/CEO of WBC and functions in various newly-created roles from serving as General Counsel to raising awareness, fundraising, creating, developing and leading strategic initiatives and cultivating new external partnerships to further WBC’s mission to drive inclusive economic growth and job creation, cultivate talent, support businesses, and promote Chicago as a leading global city. Joy also manages the engagement and integration of Legal Advisory Board members and their designated representatives with WBC strategy leaders for the Plan and oversees legal work of the Legal Advisory Board serving as outside counsel to various WBC strategies, initiatives and projects.
Prior to joining WBC, Joy was an attorney at Edwards Wildman Palmer LLP, where she played an instrumental role in the setting up of Edwards Wildman’s office located in Istanbul, Turkey. Joy also worked with companies interested in doing business in the Central Europe Middle East and North Africa regions and other emerging markets. She recently accompanied the State of Illinois and five Illinois-based companies on a trade mission to Istanbul.
Joy and her family moved to Chicago in 2006 after Hurricane Katrina struck their home in New Orleans, Louisiana. Joy has spent the past eight years in Chicago practicing law with Edwards Wildman Palmer and Kirkland and Ellis LLP. As an attorney, Joy has over a decade of experience counseling national and international clients in a wide variety of litigation, corporate restructuring and insolvency matters, and global and cross-border corporate transactions. Joy has represented clients covering a wide span of industries including airlines, automotive, banking, energy, entertainment, food processing, hospitality, gaming, infrastructure, manufacturing, real estate, retail, shipyards, telecommunications and utilities. Prior to her legal career, Joy served in various roles at the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Senate and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Joy earned her J.D. from the Paul M. Hebert Law Center at Louisiana State University, her Master’s in Public Policy from Georgetown University, and her Bachelor of Arts from Georgetown University. Joy also attended the London School of Economics and earned a General Course Certificate in International Politics and Economics.
Tiffany S. Fordyce is Co-Chair of the firm’s Labor & Employment Practice’s Workforce Compliance & Regulatory Enforcement group. She concentrates her practice on commercial litigation, with an emphasis on labor and employment. Her employment litigation practice includes virtually all types of discrimination and retaliation claims, wage and hour claims, trade secret misappropriation claims, whistleblower claims, restrictive covenants, Fair Credit Reporting Act claims, and WARN Act claims. Tiffany defends both single plaintiff and class action employment cases. Tiffany represents employers in federal, state and administrative courts, as well as before administrative agencies.
Executive at the intersection of financial services and technology. Seasoned member of C-suite known for sound business judgment. Expertise in domestic and international M&A, finance, regulatory affairs, compliance leadership, human capital, strategy development/execution, crisis management/high-risk litigation, corporate governance and fiduciary duties, process improvements. Experienced member of boards of directors of for-profit companies. Interested in C-suite and Board opportunities.
Driven corporate attorney with substantial in-house and large firm experience. Accomplished team leader and trusted advisor to business executives. Skilled in negotiating and drafting complex commercial agreements. Dedicated to continuous process improvement for both law department and cross-functional business processes. Proven ability to deliver practical solutions for achievement of business objectives in a fast moving environment.
Areas of expertise include sophisticated commercial transactions, corporate finance, real estate, logistics and supply chain, trademarks, e-commerce, regulatory compliance, and private foundation work.
General counsel with deep expertise in complex and sensitive matters requiring sophisticated and sound legal and business judgment. Ability to successfully partner with C-level management and sales/product teams and build key client relationships. Essential partner in shaping business strategy and identifying risks. Effective leadership style in managing diverse teams and collaborating with stakeholders. Creative problem solver and solution-oriented fixer.
Lorraine M. Tyson focuses her practice on corporate finance, privatization and public finance transactions. She represents insurance companies, pension funds, banks, finance companies and other institutional investors on corporate finance transactions. Lorraine has acted as bond counsel, underwriter's counsel, remarketing agent counsel, issuer's counsel or letter of credit counsel in connection with financings by the City of Chicago, the State of Illinois, the Regional Transportation Authority, the Illinois Finance Authority, the Illinois Housing Development Authority, Cook County, Illinois and the Board of Education of the City of Chicago.
Kathy Ehrhart is a Partner in the Litigation Practice Group and member of the Insurance/Reinsurance Team. Kathy has acted as trial and appellate counsel in arbitrations and litigations in federal and state courts throughout the United States, representing a variety of corporations, business and professional firms. Her areas of focus include complex commercial and class action, reinsurance, antitrust, securities fraud, accountant liability, employment, restrictive covenants and breach of contract claims. She has extensive experience working with executives, senior management and in-house counsel of corporations in managing litigation as well as advising on litigation risks and strategy.
Maya Ewing is Director and Senior Managing Counsel at Allstate Insurance Company in Northbrook, Illinois. In her current role, Ewing leads the Employment and Benefits Team responsible for employment-related litigation and for providing legal counsel to Human Resources and Allstate business units.
Ewing joined Allstate in 2002 and has held a variety of positions in Corporate Litigation, Corporate Law and Insurance Operations Law divisions, while successfully directing several key initiatives for the corporation. During her tenure at Allstate, Ewing has led a multitude of employment class action litigation and complex insurance business initiatives, as well as co-chaired the law department’s Inclusive Diversity Council.
Earlier in her career, Ewing built a foundation for her career at Allstate through legal practice with a Chicago-based law firm and the U.S. Department of Labor Solicitor’s Office. Ewing holds a B.A. degree in English from Southern Illinois University – Carbondale and a J.D. from Loyola University Chicago School of Law.
Christie Bolsen Benear is Corporate Counsel at Glanbia Performance Nutrition, a global business with industry leading brands including Optimum Nutrition, BSN, ABB (American Body Building), Isopure, thinkThin, Amazing Grass, and most recently SlimFast. She focuses on all aspects labor & employment, providing counsel, global legal support, and training in areas including hiring practices, performance management and discipline, investigation of employee complaints, employee leaves of absence and requests for accommodation, compliance with all federal, state, and international employment laws, and more. She also drafts and reviews workplace policies and contracts, including non-competition agreements and severance agreements. In addition, she works on employee claims at all stages, from threats of legal action to charges of discrimination to litigation.
Prior to going in house, Christie gained experience in litigation and labor & employment law in various law firms, beginning her career at Winston & Strawn in Chicago. While working at firms, her practice included auditor liability, class actions, pharmaceutical and technological patent litigation, securities litigation, civil rights disputes, and other complex commercial litigation, in addition to extensive experience with all aspects of labor & employment cases including wrongful termination, discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and failure to accommodate.
Christie graduated cum laude from the University of Notre Dame, where she majored in political science and philosophy with a minor in journalism, and graduated cum laude from the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.
Liz Walker spent over a decade as litigation counsel representing various companies and insurance carriers in complex coverage matters. Over the course of her career, she not only served as outside counsel representing insurers, but also worked in-house managing mass litigation claims and coverage communications for a global insurance company.
In 2013, she changed roles to join an insured, Chicago tech company, Groupon, Inc., managing Groupon’s interests in various litigation and pre-litigation matters. Groupon is a mobile and online marketplace where people discover and save on amazing things to do, see, eat and buy.
After 3 ½ years in Groupon’s legal department, Liz reinvented her career by developing, then filling, her current role managing Groupon’s global insurance and enterprise risk. She is also a very active member of the Chicago Chapter of the Risk & Insurance Management Society and a member of the Chicagoland Risk Forum committee – the committee that plans the Chicago Chapter’s annual risk conference.
Liz also speaks at various risk and insurance conferences on subjects including cyber risk coverage, the future of insurance, and how to internally market yourself to achieve risk management success. In December 2018, Business Insurance named Liz as an Honoree of the 2018 Women to Watch Award.
Amanda Demas is responsible for all the legal affairs of BMO Harris Financial Advisors and BMO Harris Investment Distributors. BMO Harris Financial Advisors is a U.S. retail broker-dealer, registered investment advisory, and insurance broker, and BMO Investment Distributors is a U.S. limited broker-dealer responsible for distributing the BMO mutual funds. Both entities are divisions of the Bank of Montreal. Prior to BMO, Amanda was Assistant General Counsel for Chase Wealth Management.
Maureen is a Director in Uber Technologies, Inc.’s (Uber) safety and insurance team where she has worked over the past three and a half years. She manages litigation and high exposure claims arising out Uber’s general and auto liability insurance policies in the United States and Canada. She also regularly counsels the business on risk mitigation as well as safety and legal best practices. In addition to her legal capacities, she is a dedicated people manager who is lucky to oversee an incredible team of over 30 legal professionals that continues to innovate in this industry. Prior to her role at Uber, Maureen worked in a commercial transportation litigation group at the office of SmithAmundsen, LLC in Chicago, Illinois after launching her career as a trial lawyer at the office of Parillo, Weiss, & O’Halloran where she first chaired more than 40 trials to verdict. She believes strong in Uber’s mission to ignite opportunity by setting the world in motion and that insurance is a critical part of that mission.
Alejandra Garcia Earley handles financing, development, and management of domestic and international power, energy, and infrastructure-related projects, as well as other corporate matters. She also structures, drafts, and leads negotiations for transaction documents related to project finance, investment tax credit, and mid and large cap leveraged transactions. She represents clients from a wide range of industries including financial institutions, developers, sponsors, lenders, and asset owners in the power industry.
As Corporate - IP counsel for Tate & Lyle Ingredients Americas (headquartered in London, England), Sara is responsible for mobilizing innovation, directing IP strategy, building, managing, protecting and leveraging Tate & Lyle’s worldwide patent assets for the Specialty Food Ingredients, Innovation & Commercial Development, Bulk Ingredients and Food Systems business units. She is also involved in various aspects of corporate IP practice, including IP agreements, technology licensing, IP due diligence for M&A transactions, open innovation matters and IP dispute resolution. Prior to joining Tate & Lyle, she was a partner in the IP group of the national law firm of Quarles & Brady. She is a registered patent attorney with over 15 years of patent prosecution and complex portfolio Management experience, specializing in the biochemical and biotech industries. She earned a B.S. in biochemistry from Trinity University in Texas, a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Notre Dame and a law degree from Marquette University. Besides her children, one of her prized accomplishments as an attorney was being invited to speak at the National Academy of Sciences in 2004 to share her expertise with the nation's policy makers in the area of patenting structural genomics and proteomics.
Perving Taleyarkhan is Legal Counsel at Whirlpool. Her experience includes IP strategy, contract negotiation, as well as litigation. Prior to Whirlpool she served as Legal Associate in the IP legal team at Purdue University. She earned her BSChE in Chemical Engineering from Purdue University and her J.D. from Indiana University Robert H. McKinney, School of Law. Pervin is actively involved in the American Bar Association, where she serves on the Editorial Board of the ABA Journal, and is also Editor-in-Chief of the Young Lawyer Division (ABA YLD)'s flagship The Young Lawyer. She is currently Vice Chair of the IP Law Section of the ABA YLD. In addition, Pervin is active in the ABA IP Law Section in various capacities, including work on the Editorial Board of the ABA IPL Section's Landslide magazine and chairing the Section's In-house IP Committee. She is also serving on the IP Counsel at the State Bar of Michigan and the Board of Directors for the Michigan Chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC). At the regional level, Pervin co-chairs the ACC's Southwest Michigan Committee.
Andrea McGrew is the Chief Compliance/Chief Legal Officer at USA Financial, a comprehensive financial services institution, focused on providing advisors with the tools required to make solid recommendations and to empower clients to make educated and informed financial decisions. For more information, go to www.usafinancial.com
TALITA RAMOS ERICKSON is General Counsel (Americas) & CEO Barilla Restaurants, for the Barilla Group, the Italian food company. In her legal capacity, she manages legal, compliance, and crisis management for the Region, with focus on U.S., Canada, Brazil, and Mexico. Since 2018, she has an additional business role managing the company’s restaurants division. From 2013 to 2016, she served as Barilla’s first Global Chief Diversity Officer, leading the company’s Global D&I Board and managing the implementation of a comprehensive Global D&I program.
She currently serves on the Board of The Cradle, a non-for-profit that advances the well-being of children by compassionately delivering exceptional education, guidance and lifelong support to build, preserve and strengthen their families. She also serves on the national Board for the Hispanic Alliance for Career Enhancement (HACE), a non-profit dedicated to the employment, development, and advancement of current and aspiring Latino professionals.
Prior to joining Barilla, she had work and academic experiences in Brazil, Italy, Germany and the Netherlands, including several positions during her 10-year tenure at Kraft Foods.
She holds a J.D. from Federal University of Paraná (Brazil), an LL. M. in Business Law from Loyola University of Chicago, and an M.B.A. from University of Chicago Booth School of Business. She is licensed to practice law in Brazil, New York, and Illinois.
I am an experienced intellectual property attorney with a passion for improving the lives of the members of my community, particularly under-represented and under-served populations.