Anjie serves as the General Counsel for the Anoka-Hennepin School District, the largest school district in the state of Minnesota. Most recently Anjie worked as the Deputy General Counsel at Minneapolis Public Schools. As General Counsel, Anjie provides support and advisement to senior leaders on complex legal matters, ranging from employment law and labor relations, to special education law. She is also responsible for contract negotiations and litigation. Anjie has a breadth of experience in both the public and private sectors, and particularly in education and employment. She has in depth expertise in employment law, business law, diversity and equity initiatives, and litigation strategy.
Anjie works as an adjunct Law Professor at Mitchell Hamline School of Law, where she teaches Client Advocacy and Trial Skills. She has a B.A. in English, M.A. in Organizational Management and Human Resources, and she earned her Juris Doctor degree from Hamline University School of Law.
As a senior technology lawyer for the Attorney General of British Columbia and Deputy Chair of the Diversity and Inclusion Program, Paul is both a legal and DEI expert. In addition to his legal practice, Paul is a highly sought after consultant, trainer and speaker with a focus on workplace respect, leadership, and team culture. He is an advocate and trainer in the broad area of workplace respect, including bullying, harassment, sexual harassment, and bad behavior. Paul’s book, The Workplace Bullying Handbook is a comprehensive guide and resource for all of us trying to manage this challenging behavior.
Demeka currently serves as Counsel – Global Sports Marketing and Data Privacy for New Balance. In her current role, Demeka supports the Global Sports Marketing Department and negotiates and drafts sponsorship and partnership deals with individual athletes and teams across various sports including international football, basketball, baseball, and track and field. In addition, Demeka assists with managing company relationships with key stakeholders including the New York Road Runners organization, operators of the New York City Marathon. Demeka also helps to maintain the company’s compliance with GDPR, CCPA, and other data privacy regulations.
Before joining New Balance, Demeka served as Associate Counsel for the Minnesota Vikings, where she spearheaded and implemented the launch of the Sensory Room at U.S. Bank Stadium and led contract negotiations for the inaugural Summer Skolstice summer concert series and the Premier Lacrosse League Tournament to be held at TCO Stadium. She was integral in negotiations for several Vikings’ Super Bowl LII and NFL International Series agreements. In addition, she provided business and legal support in the Chief of Staff capacity to the Chief Operating Officer and took part in strategic planning, speech writing, and acted as a liaison between the C-suite and other Vikings divisions and departments.
As an alumna of the Howard University, facilitating and managing the Minnesota Vikings participation in the HBCU Battle of the Brains, as well as other HBCU initiatives, were passion projects that Demeka was happy to see come to fruition. Demeka was also a member of the Vikings Diversity Council, which focused on various initiatives that can help improve diversity and inclusion across the organization. Ensuring that underrepresented minorities have access to organizations such as New Balance, the Vikings and the NFL is an underlying mission as she navigates her career and creates pathways for her colleagues and peers.
Prior to pursuing her law degree, Demeka worked for Ford Motor Company as a Marketing and Sales Zone Manager based in Memphis, Tennessee. She managed and maintained relationships with Ford Motor Company and 13 independent dealerships ensuring they met sales goals, maintained customer satisfaction and aligned with brand strategies and practices. During her tenure, she was awarded the Top Zone Manager for the Memphis, Tennessee Region.
A military child who has lived in cities across the country and the world, Demeka received her Bachelor of Business Administration from Howard University and her law degree from Tulane University’s School of Law.
Megan is the Acting Head of Legal for Convoy. Inc., a technology start up in Seattle, leading their commercial transactions team, employment team, and immigration group. Megan has both law firm and in-house experience at multiple companies ranging from start-ups to national consulting firms, to an international Fortune 500 company. In her free time, Megan is also involved a company that provides diversity tools and training to organizations. Additionally, Megan is an Executive Board Member of the Association of Corporate Counsel and on the advisory committee for Center Force. She was given the "Career Success in the Private Sector" award by the Women Leaders of Washington and the 2020 Women, Influence & Power in Law Innovative Leadership award presented by Corporate counsel in Leadership. Megan lives in Seattle, WA with her husband and her one year old daughter.
Ann Vanga is the Vice President of Legal at IDS, a global B2B software company headquartered in Minneapolis, MN. Her areas of focus include international commercial law, M&A due diligence, data privacy and security, intellectual property, service organization control (SOC 2) reporting, and software as a service (SaaS) implementation and oversight. In her previous role, she was a global executive team member of a German manufacturing firm with Chinese ownership as the primary counsel for all subsidiaries in the Americas, Australia and India.
For the last 8 years, she has been the head coach of a Willem C Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot team, taking students to Hong Kong and Vienna each year to compete against students from across the world. Ann received her BA from the University of Kentucky, her JD from Hamline University School of Law and her MBA from the Carlson School of Business at the University of Minnesota.
Sarah Crippen currently serves as the firm’s Managing Partner. She also chairs the Employment and Labor Practice Group and is a former chair of the Litigation Section. Sarah’s practice focuses on employment advice and litigation, as well as general civil litigation and trial work.
An MSBA Certified Labor & Employment Specialist, Sarah provides advice and training in all areas of employment law, including wage and hour issues, employment and compensation agreements, harassment and discrimination, medical and other leaves of absence, hiring and interviewing, and employee discipline and terminations. Sarah advises clients regarding union/management issues, including collective bargaining, contract management and grievance arbitrations. She is an experienced trial lawyer and regularly litigates employment law matters, representing clients in state and federal court and before local, state and federal agencies including the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Minnesota Department of Human Rights and the Minnesota and federal Departments of Labor. Sarah also has extensive experience as an investigator, performing employment investigations for a wide variety of clients from municipalities and other governmental entities to Fortune 100 corporations.
Anne Lockner, a partner at Robins Kaplan LLP and member of the firm’s Executive Board, represents corporations and individuals facing complex legal challenges that create financial exposure and other business risks. She offers strategic guidance on how to use litigation—defensively or affirmatively—to achieve business objectives. As a trial attorney with extensive litigation experience nationwide, she wields the threat of trial as a sword, but recommends using it only as weapon of last resort.
Nilanka Maldeniya is Senior Insurance Counsel at Uber and is based in San Francisco. She supports the company’s risk management teams on placing a wide array of property and casualty coverages and represents the insurance business in B2B transactions. Prior to Uber, Nilanka was Associate General Counsel at Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) where she served as the primary product and commercial attorney to the Graphics division and managed the marketing and trademarks legal teams. Before moving to California, Nilanka was in private practice at the leading Toronto law firms of Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP and Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP where she focused on corporate/securities law and commercial/regulatory insurance law respectively. Nilanka is also a popular childrens' books author and you can learn more about her work at www.nilankamaldeniya.com.
Natasha Sardesai-Grant is Corporate Counsel in the Trademark and Domain Group within IP Operations at Amazon. Prior to joining Amazon at the end of 2020, Natasha spent a combined 8+ years as outside counsel at Arent Fox LLP and Kenyon & Kenyon LLP, and 2 years as Senior Director of Intellectual Property at Ralph Lauren. Natasha received her JD from NYU, and her undergrad and masters degrees from Penn. She lives in New York with her partner and two children aged 4 and 1.
Poonam Kumar has extensive experience working on a wide variety of cross-border transactions, including mergers and acquisitions, divestitures, spin-offs, joint ventures corporate restructurings, as well as general corporate and commercial law matters.
Poonam's recent work experience has focused on highly complex global corporate restructuring and integration transactions. She has advised large multinationals on the planning and implementation of various multi-jurisdictional transactions, including pre-acquisition planning, post-acquisition integration, divestiture restructurings, legal entity rationalization, supply chain optimization, cash repatriation and intellectual property planning and migration. She regularly advises on the general management and expansion of international operations through the establishment of foreign subsidiaries, branches, representative offices and liaison offices.
Poonam's practice extends across a wide variety of sectors, with a particular emphasis on transactions in energy, manufacturing and the financial services industry. Her experience has made her particularly effective at directing and coordinating large teams of lawyers to assist clients in structuring, negotiating, implementing and closing international transactions. Poonam's transactions regularly involve multidisciplinary cross-border teams that leverage the strength of the firm's global platform.
Sonia Miller-Van Oort is a highly respected and accomplished litigation attorney. She has worked on a variety of litigation involving commercial disputes, product liability cases, non-competition and non-solicitation matters, breach-of-contract cases, invasion-of-privacy matters, franchise disputes, tortious interference claims, and misrepresentation and fraud claims. Having represented clients nationally, regionally, and locally, Sonia has a breadth of experience briefing and arguing dispositive and non-dispositive motions, negotiating settlements in complex matters, and trying cases both in state and federal court. Sonia’s clients most value her strong oral advocacy abilities, negotiation skills, and practical, yet innovative approach to addressing their needs.
Sonia’s skills both inside and outside of the courtroom have been recognized by her peers and adversaries alike. In 2002, Sonia was selected as one of only ten attorneys in Minnesota to be recognized as an “Up and Coming Attorney.” She was subsequently named a “Rising Star” by Minnesota Law and Politics in 2005, 2006, 2008, and a “Super Lawyer” in 2013, 2014, and 2015. And in 2007–2008, Sonia had the distinguished honor of being elected the 89th President of the Hennepin County Bar Association (one of the 15 largest county bar associations in the country), serving as the Association’s first Hispanic President and the second youngest President in its history. Sonia served as the first Latino President of the Minnesota State Bar Association and fifth female President in 2017–2018. In September 2020, Indiana University-Mauer School of Law presented Sonia with its Distinguished Service award in recognition of her extraordinary service to the legal community.
Not only is Sonia committed to her legal practice and meeting her clients’ needs, she is also committed to public service. Sonia was appointed by the ABA President to serve on the prestigious ABA Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary as the 8th Circuit representative; in this capacity, Sonia and the 14-member committee volunteer significant time evaluating presidential nominees to the federal court and issuing ratings to the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Department of Justice, and the White House. Over the years, Sonia has provided pro bono assistance to numerous clients, including representation of parents, guardians ad litem, and children caught in foster care and custody disputes. Her commitment to community is also reflected in the variety of non-profit boards of directors on which she has served: the Hennepin County Bar Foundation, Volunteer Lawyers Network, University of Minnesota Legal Services, and the Notre Dame Club of Minnesota. Sonia also served for eight years on the School Board of the Hopkins-based Spanish-immersion public charter school, International Spanish Language Academy, serving as Chair for two years and an officer for several. Sonia feels a strong allegiance to her law school and was honored to be asked to serve on the Indiana University Alumni Board of Directors for several years, as well as the Latino Alumni Advisory Board.
Those who know Sonia know she takes her fun seriously. In addition to playing many board games with her husband and two nearly-grown children, Sonia loves travel, playing competitive tennis, dancing the night away, and cheering on the Notre Dame football team.
Debjani D. Desai is the General Counsel for the Illinois Office of Comptroller. She leads a team of lawyers in Chicago and Springfield to provide legal counsel on state comptroller mandates, such as ordering payments through the Treasury, managing the state’s fiscal accounts, and conducting audits and reports on the state’s fiscal health. She advises the office on litigation, legislation, finance, operations, compliance, and labor and employment matters. Her legal assistance focuses on making government more efficient and effective, advancing transparency, and finding ways to save taxpayers money. Debjani sits in leadership positions for various bar associations and community organizations that promote diversity, inclusion, and equity.
Tina Newsome-Lee just celebrated her 15-year anniversary with Travelers. She began her career as Counsel, advanced to Associate Managing Attorney in 2013 and was promoted to Managing Counsel last year. Tina served as co-chair of the Travelers Military and Veterans Diversity Network for four years and is an Ally ambassador for the Women’s Diversity Network.
Leader of enterprise-wide Big Data strategy and governance; experienced in Healthcare Information Technology (Health IT); complex technology transactions, Big Data strategy, and IP attorney for one of the largest health care non-profits ($79 billion operating revenues); over 18 years experience in structuring and negotiating high dollar technology transactions, cloud services, AI, strategic innovation collaborations, licensing, professional and managed services, web-based, and outsourcing transactions. Negotiated upwards of one billion dollar IT deals, including domestic and international transactions. Advised on customer and supplier side of technology agreements for both in and out-bound transactions. Counseled clients ranging from Fortune 100, and early stage companies in IT, healthcare, software, web-based, e-commerce, automotive, manufacturing, insurance, energy, and banking and financial industries. Lead a Data Strategy Team of 12 attorneys and paralegals. Co-chair of the Enrichment and Development Subcommittee of the Equity, Inclusion and Diversity Committee.
Katherine Johnson is Chief Legal & People Officer at Storj Labs, which is tackling data privacy and security with decentralized data storage powered by the STORJ digital token. Katherine also heads Compliance, and is responsible for overseeing token and corporate governance. Katherine’s work in blockchain and cryptocurrency started at Coinbase during its hyper-growth period, where she led compliance management and regulation. Katherine’s prior work also includes bank regulatory compliance at Ernst and Young, employment law and compliance at Credit Suisse, anti-money laundering and financial crimes compliance at BNY Mellon, and advising clients on corporate, regulatory, and litigation matters at Fried Frank and other international law firms. She previously clerked in the SDNY and served on the New York City Bar professional responsibility committee. Her work emphasizes diversity, inclusion, equity, and ethics.
Sukanya Momsen is Associate Corporate Counsel at Best Buy. She works closely with Geek Squad Services on advertising compliance and third-party contract negotiation. Sukanya has also worked as an employment attorney at Nilan Johnson Lewis, and as a judicial law clerk on the Minnesota Court of Appeals for the Honorable Judge Louise Dovre Bjorkman. Sukanya graduated Order of the Coif, magna cum laude from the University of Minnesota Law School, and summa cum laude from the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities.
Piyumi works with large corporations seeking to attract highly educated foreign nationals. In this capacity, she ensures each matter is handled with the personal and professional integrity and legal expertise required to successfully relocate top talent to this country. Piyumi’s areas of focus include securing various nonimmigrant classifications, such as:
H-1B – professionals (including physicians)
L-1A – executives and managers, exchange program students, scholars, trainees, teachers, research assistants
J-1 Waiver – medical graduates
TN – Canadians and Mexicans entering under the North American Free Trade Agreement
R1 – religious workers (R1)
P – entertainers
O – individuals with extraordinary ability in the arts, sciences, business, athletics, movies, or television.
She also focuses on various immigrant classifications including:
Labor certification applications
National interest waivers
Multinational executives or managers
Immediate relative petitions
A range of other immigration categories, including citizenship
Laura Hammargren is Senior Counsel with 3M Litigation in St. Paul, Minnesota, where she manages product liability and PFAS litigation, commercial litigation, and certain investigations. She belongs to the 3M Legal Affairs Diversity & Inclusion Committee and chairs the external outreach subcommittee.
Prior to joining 3M, Laura was a partner in Mayer Brown’s litigation group in Chicago, Illinois, where she focused on product liability matters, government investigations, and complex commercial and employment litigation. Laura also worked at Dorsey & Whitney in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and clerked for the Minnesota Supreme Court.
J.D., University of St. Thomas School of Law, Minneapolis, MN
Bachelor of Journalism, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO
Britton Nohe-Braun is the General Counsel of the One Earth Future Foundation, Inc. (OEF), an international nonprofit organization focused on building sustainable peace. Britton leads the Foundation’s Legal and Compliance department, supporting the Foundation’s 100+ employees, spread across nine offices on four continents, working on 6 programs, ranging from reintegrating FARC ex-combatants into Colombia society, to managing an impact investment fund investing in Somali small businesses, to reducing the risk of a nuclear incident by mistake or misinformation. Britton is also the Founder of Women on the Rise, a women’s mentorship network that brings together women professionals (and male allies) at different stages in their careers to support one another.
Prior to joining OEF and founding Women on the Rise, Britton practiced white collar and compliance law at the world’s largest firm, Dentons. While in private practice, Britton was fortunate enough to have several incredible mentors (providers of guidance and career advice) and sponsors (providers of influence and/or opportunities for advancement) that gave her the knowledge, confidence and connections to succeed professionally in a tough industry and then the courage to leave that industry to focus full-time on nonprofit work.
Appreciating the importance of mentorship/sponsorship to professional development and the lack of informal avenues available to build those relationships – particularly for women, Britton helped friends and colleagues identify and develop mentorship/sponsorship relationships by organizing gatherings that brought together professionals of varying seniority to share advice on professional development topics and mingle with one another. The success of these informal gatherings led Britton to organizing larger networking events, focusing on the unique challenges and opportunities that many women professionals experience. At end of 2019, Britton and several like-minded women created Women on the Rise to host informal, off-the-record panel discussions, networking sessions and other events that bring together up-and-coming women professionals and more senior members of the community interested in providing mentorship and sponsorship.
Before the start of the global pandemic, Women on the Rise hosted two successful panel discussion + networking events. By popular demand, Women on the Rise plans to host its next event virtually in Spring 2021. To learn more about or get involved with Women on the Rise, please contact Britton at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ji Hae is a Director Counsel, Employee Relations at Target, where she provides legal support to the company’s supply chain processes and initiatives and advises on employee relations issues.
Prior to that, she worked at Paul Hastings as an employment attorney, representing Fortune 500 companies in single-plaintiff and class action discrimination and wage and hour lawsuits.
She serves as co-chair of the Minnesota Women Lawyers, Awards and Recognition Committee and is active on the board of the Minnesota Korean American Bar Association.
Ji Hae received her JD from Georgetown Law and graduated from Georgetown University, School of Foreign Service.
Tamara O’Neill Moreland advises clients on complex litigation involving land use, environmental issues, construction, real estate and appellate advocacy. For over 20 years, she has litigated cases to successful conclusions against city and state agencies in state and federal court and successfully handled a wide variety of appeals. Tamara is a Minnesota State Bar Association Board-Certified Real Property Specialist, was named to Best Lawyers in America in 2020-present for Land Use and Zoning Law and has been chosen by her peers as a Super Lawyer for many years. At Larkin Hoffman, Tamara serves as the firm’s Ethics Counsel, a member of the Board of Directors, Chair of the Professional Development Committee and, previously, as founder and Chair of the Diversity Committee.
Kenya Bodden is an accomplished litigator who has tried dozens of cases during his career. His practice focuses in the areas of casualty, products liability and labor and employment. Throughout his career he has prided himself on working closely with clients during the litigation process, confirming their objectives and identifying and utilizing appropriate defenses to attain desired results.
Candice Ciresi is General Counsel, the Chief Legal Officer at Sezzle, an advisor for Blacks United in Leading Technology, Intl, Campaign Committee member for the homeless shelter, Simpson Housing Services, and decorated veteran having served in Desert Shield/Desert Storm as a mechanic; from compliance to carburetors - she makes things run better. With over twenty years in-house and compliance experience, she thrives on helping companies empower the workforce, improve the company and build up the community. With a law degree, a Master’s in Business Administration, five kids and some pretty impressive hockey skills, she isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty to clean things up.
Melitta Drechsler, formerly Melitta George, currently serves as an Assistant Ramsey County Attorney in the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office. She has worked in the office’s Civil Division since October 2014, where she supports the County’s Property Tax department as well as the 911 Center and the County’s workforce development efforts.
Drechsler was instrumental in drafting and negotiating Ramsey County’s high-dollar-value procurement contracts. Prior to joining the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office, she worked as corporate counsel for Taylor Corporation in Mankato, and for five years as an associate in the business law section of Briggs and Morgan.
Marni Helfand is the General Counsel and Vice President of Human Resources for The Planet Group. Marni oversees all legal and HR functions including providing training, advising on all areas of compliance, negotiating client agreements, managing litigation, mergers and acquisitions, real estate and protecting the company's intellectual property.The Planet Group is a family of seven staffing and consulting companies, which together provide outsourced global workforce solutions in the life sciences, diversified energy, engineering, healthcare, IT and digital marketing industries.
After leaving private practice with the law firm of Littler Mendelson, most of Marni’s career has been spent in the staffing and consulting industries. Prior to beginning her career, Marni received her Bachelor's Degree in Industrial and Labor Relations form Cornell University, and attained her JD Law Degree from Northwestern University's School of Law.
Sarah focuses her practice on efficiently solving a variety of complicated business and employment problems consistent with her clients’ goals. Sarah also defends professionals in regulatory investigations and malpractice actions. Clients appreciate Sarah’s creativity and skill and the time she takes to discuss the legal process and strategic options with them – from before a case goes into litigation and through all appropriate appeals. She has been selected for inclusion on the Minnesota Super Lawyers® list for the years 2013-2020 and is included on the Top 50: Women Minnesota Super Lawyers® list for 2016 and 2019.
Sarah volunteers for the domestic abuse ministry at her church. Sarah enjoys spending time with her husband and three children.