Board of Directors and Officers
Immediate Past President
Maleaha Brown is a family law attorney for Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, where she represents low-income survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. Maleaha was selected as a Fellow with the American Bar Association’s Section of Family Law in 2018, and she currently serves as Vice-Chair of the Section’s Domestic Violence Committee. Maleaha is a graduate of Howard University School of Law and Baylor University. She is licensed to practice law in Texas and she is a Registered Legal Services Attorney in California.
While at Howard Law, Maleaha became involved with Ms. JD as a 2015 Ms. JD Fellow. After graduation, she served as the organization’s Fellowship Director before joining the Ms. JD Board of Directors in 2017. Maleaha is passionate about advocating for women’s issues. Notably, her articles “When Pros Become Cons: Ending the NFL’s History of Domestic Violence Leniency” and “The Unfair Choice: A Call for Reasonable Accommodations for Pregnant Workers” have been published in the ABA’s Family Law Quarterly and the Howard Human and Civil Rights Law Review, respectively.
Amber C. Thomson
Amber Thomson is an Associate at Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton’s Washington, D.C. office, where she counsels companies on cybersecurity and data breach matters, as well as U.S. and international data privacy, data transfer and “Big Data” issues. She graduated Cum Laude from Howard University School of Law where she served as Vice President of Epsilon Sigma Iota Sorority, Inc. the nation’s first legal sorority. She also served as President of OUTlaw, Howard’s LGBT organization, and President of the school’s International Moot Court Team. Amber received her B.S.B.A. with a focus on International Business and Spanish from Old Dominion University. Prior to attending law school, Amber worked for A.P. Moller-Maersk, first as an International Shipping Education trainee and later in various management roles in the United States and Latin America.
Amber is dedicated to mentoring young women in law school and serves as a Leadership Council on Legal Diversity (LCLD) mentor. She is also the founder of Lesbian Lawyers of Color. Amber first became involved with Ms. JD in law school when she was selected as a Ms. JD Fellow. She was so inspired by her experience as a Fellow that she became determined to contribute more to the organization. You can find Amber on Instagram at @lady_bijou.
Diana LaMorie is a Compliance Manager for a large investment adviser based in NY, where she manages a regulatory compliance framework to comply with SEC, CFTC, and NFA regulations (as well as FCA regulations for the firm’s UK office). Diana holds a J.D. (2010) from Brooklyn Law School, as well as a B.S. in Finance (2006) and M.B.A. in Finance (2007), both from Fordham University. She is also a RYT-200 Registered Yoga Teacher (though she practices a lot more than she teaches). Diana first became involved with Ms. JD as a 2018 Writer in Residence and continues to contribute to the Ms. JD blog as a Board Member.
Hailey Hillsman is a student at the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law in Cleveland, Ohio. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Anthropology from Troy University and a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Georgia College. At CM Law, Hailey is the research assistant to Associate Dean Carolyn Broering-Jacobs researching women in law, leadership, and grit. Hailey is also a member of the Dean’s Leadership Fellowship Program, a selected group of students dedicated to learning leadership skills in the legal field. In addition, she is a staff writer for the law school’s newspaper, The Gavel.
Prior to attending law school, Hailey was a secondary science teacher for six years in Georgia. Although she was passionate about her students, Hailey could not let go of her dream of pursuing a law degree. One of her main goals while attending law school is to find resources and mentors related to women in law. That goal led her to Ms. JD, and Hailey is excited to join this journey of promoting women in law with the organization.
Krista Selnau is a fellowships portfolio manager at Equal Justice Works, where she oversees Fellows and stewards Fellowship sponsors on the East Coast. Krista received her B.A. summa cum laude from Curry College and earned her J.D. from Suffolk University Law School, where was an active member of the Health Law Moot Court team.
Prior to joining Equal Justice Works, Krista founded and managed the Veterans Medical-Legal Partnership at Pine Tree Legal Assistance in Augusta, Maine with VA Maine Healthcare System. She practiced veterans law and coordinated Pine Tree’s veterans pro bono projects. She also served as Co-Chair of the Veterans Law Section in the Maine State Bar Association. From 2013–2015, Krista was an Equal Justice Works Fellow sponsored by Walmart and Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, and hosted by Legal Aid of Arkansas. Her Fellowship project expanded the Arkansas Children’s Hospital’s Medical-Legal Partnership to include a legal clinic focused on the unmet needs of children with cancer or sickle cell disease and their families. Before that, Krista co-founded and coordinated a pro bono medical-legal partnership for children in rural Northwest Arkansas.
Krista has guest lectured on medical-legal partnerships at Berkeley School of Law and Georgetown University. She has written about and presented extensively on medical-legal partnerships nationwide.
In her free time, she volunteers as a member of the Pro Bono and Public Interest Committee for the Washington Council of Lawyers and as a pro bono volunteer at various legal clinics in Washington, DC. She also volunteers at The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, a summer camp in Connecticut, for seriously ill children and their families. She enjoys rock climbing and running. As a survivor of childhood cancer and an amputee, Krista is passionate about empowering and supporting young people in achieving their goals.
Krista first became involved with Ms. JD as a presenter at Ms. JD’s 12th Annual Conference on Women in Law: When Women Lead and later as a Board Member.
Ashley Beard is an associate at Hogan Lovells US LLP, where she thoughtfully advises clients in commercial and complex civil litigation matters. In her practice, Ashley has provided representation in a range of areas including contractual disputes, software licensing, and trademark infringement. She previously served as a law clerk to the Honorable Thomas C. Wheeler of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims and worked as Director of Academic Success at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. Ashley earned a J.D., cum laude, from Howard University School of Law and a B.A. in English from the University of Pennsylvania. Ashley is licensed to practice law in the District of Columbia and New York.
Ashley maintains an active pro bono practice, primarily counseling clients in domestic violence and small business matters. While in law school, she worked as a student attorney in the now-named Thurgood Marshall Civil Rights Clinic, where she focused on discriminatory practices in education. She was also a student attorney in the Investor Justice and Education Clinic, where she secured a favorable settlement for her client in a securities matter.
Ashley is committed to uplifting and supporting women. In addition to proudly serving on the Ms. JD Board of Directors, she is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated and Epsilon Sigma Iota Legal Sorority.
Kanysha Elaine Phillips is a litigation associate at Davis Polk and Wardwell, LLP. Kanysha was selected to receive a pro-bono award based on her experience representing incarcerated people who were falsely accused. Kanysha is a graduate of Howard University School of Law and La Salle University. She served as the Treasurer of her law school class. Kanysha formerly served as an intern at the New York State Attorney General's Office as well as the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office. Kanysha has volunteered on numerous political campaigns. Kanysha was a 2018 Ms. JD Fellow. She is from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and previously received a scholarship from the Barristers Association of Philadelphia. Kanysha is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc.
Lilybelle Davis is a Mergers & Acquisitions Associate at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP in New York. Lilybelle graduated cum laude with a B.A. in Economics from University of Maryland in 2015 and received her J.D. from Columbia Law School in 2018.
In undergrad, Lilybelle interned at Google in Mountain View, CA, and studied at the London School of Economics for her entire junior year. During law school, Lilybelle was an Articles Editor on the Columbia Science and Technology Law Review and a Corporate Law and Policy research assistant. Lilybelle spent her final semester of law school studying at the University of Oxford in the Masters in Law and Finance program, and Columbia awarded her the Parker School Recognition of Achievement in International and Comparative Law. Before joining Skadden, Lilybelle clerked for the Honorable Joseph R. Slights at the Delaware Chancery Court. While clerking, Lilybelle worked with her judge on several high-profile corporate disputes and an appraisal case that was affirmed by the Delaware Supreme Court.
Lilybelle currently volunteers as a mentor for Rising Leaders, Inc. in Harlem, working with underserved middle school students.
Jazmin Youngblood serves as in house counsel at Dealerware, an automotive software company in Austin, TX. She acts as the point of contact for legal business initiatives as well as requests for advice from a wide range of business clients across all functions.
She earned her degree in Political Science at Stanford University. She then pursued her Juris Doctorate at the University of Texas School of Law. Jazmin discovered her passion for the intersection between business and law after completing internships at Visa, Adobe, and Ottobock. The J.L. Turner Legal Association awarded her the Barbara Jordan Scholarship for being the most outstanding female minority law student.
Jazmin currently mentors potential law school candidates as a Consultant at Ivy Grad Services. She remains committed to encouraging present and future female attorneys to stand together and rise together.
Sarah Visnovsky is an intellectual property attorney at Pulse IP. She counsels businesses, entrepreneurs, and creatives on trademark selection, clearance, proper use, and other brand protection matters across various industries. Sarah received a B.A. in English with a minor in French from the University of North Florida and received her J.D. from the University of Miami School of Law with a concentration in the Business of Innovation, Law, and Technology.
During law school, Sarah interned with the Brooklyn Nets, served on the executive board of the Business Law Society, served as a teaching assistant, and was an active member of Miami Law Women and the Entertainment, Sports, and Arts Law Society. She was also inducted into the Society of Bar and Gavel, an honors society specifically dedicated to recognizing law students who demonstrate outstanding service and dedication to goodwill. Sarah is a Dean’s Certificate of Achievement Award and CALI Excellence for the Future Award recipient. She has been a member of the Sports Lawyers Association since 2016 and enjoys attending the annual SLA conferences.
As a first-generation lawyer and youth sports coach, Sarah has a passion for mentoring young women.
Ruby Garrett is a senior associate and trial attorney at Munger, Tolles & Olson in Washington D.C. where she leads case teams in pursuing civil litigation, conducting internal investigations, and defending clients facing white-collar investigations and prosecutions. She received her J.D. from The University of Chicago Law School where she served as editor-in-chief of The University of Chicago Legal Forum and president of the Black Law Students Association. She earned her B.A. in psychology from Stanford University where she became a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and later captain of the cheerleading team.
Prior to joining her current firm, Ruby held clerkships with Judge Tanya S. Chutkan of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and Judge LaShann DeArcy Hall of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. She is licensed to practice law in Washington, D.C. and New York.
Her passion is rooted in providing access and supporting people in overcoming obstacles. Along with starting a conference entitled, Law School Is for Diverse People, she has pursued pro bono casework representing the underrepresented in wrongful conviction cases, civil rights matters, anti-SLAPP litigation, and immigration cases. She began actively investing in the communities she lived in as an undergraduate student at Stanford. She has grown nonprofits and taught dance classes to help others achieve personal freedom, and she continues to do so today in D.C. She is also a champion of diversity and inclusion at her firm where she serves on and leads multiple committees to expand the firm’s reach and broaden access to minority communities. Ruby is a founding member of The Gathering Spot in D.C., a Black-owned collaborative community of entrepreneurs, creators, disruptors, executives, artists, and forward-thinkers who possess the ambition to make an impact in the world.
Ruby is invested in opening pathways to women navigating their careers in law. Inspired by her personal experience with Ms. JD and the connections she made, she was honored to join the organization as a board member in 2022.
Kara Smith is an intellectual property attorney at Neal Gerber & Eisenberg in Chicago, Illinois, where she focuses her practice on intellectual property enforcement, defense and counseling. Kara represents clients in trademark, patent, and copyright litigation matters in federal court and in trademark matters before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board. Kara assists companies with online brand enforcement and in reclaiming domain names under the Uniform domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy.
Kara is also an adjunct professor at Loyola University Chicago School of Law where she teaches Advanced Legal Writing for Intellectual Property Practice, and coaches Loyola’s Vienna Vis Moot Team. Kara is an Academic Committee Member of the International Trademark Association, and a member of The Richard Linn American Inn of Court.
Kara holds a J.D. (2017) from Loyola University Chicago School of Law as well as a B.S. and B.A. from Purdue University (2013). Kara first became involved with Ms. JD as an attendee of the LaddHer Up conference and then as a Board Member.
Nazia Khan is a corporate and securities attorney at Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton, where she passionately represents public and private companies across various industries including, but not limited to, life sciences, healthcare, cannabis, technology, transportation and food and beverage. Ms. Khan has extensive experience representing investment banks and domestic and international companies in securities offerings including, but not limited to, initial public offerings, including initial public offerings of SPACs, as well as private securities offerings. She also has extensive experience with listings to the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq and compliance related matters.
Ms. Khan graduated with honors and a concentration in Business Law from California Western School of Law and cum laude with a B.S. in Finance from George Mason University. Ms. Khan is passionate about supporting the advancement of women in the legal industry and serves as a Leadership Council on Legal Diversity mentor.
Jennifer Gibert Mencarini
Jennifer Gibert Mencarini is the Director of Diversity & Inclusion at Fox Rothschild, LLP, an AmLaw 100 law firm with 28 offices nationwide. Previously, Jennifer built a successful litigation practice in Dallas primarily representing health care providers who had been sued for malpractice. Thereafter, at Elon University School of Law, Jennifer provided holistic professional development and support services to law students and graduates. She was first exposed to Ms. JD through her work with law students. In addition to providing 1:1 career coaching and group programming, she taught professional development, managed Elon Law's pro bono program, and co-developed the law school's DEI program. She continues to serve as an adjunct faculty member supervising student externs, and mentor/coach to graduates studying for the bar examination.
Jennifer received her J.D. from Emory University School of Law, and her B.A. from the University of Virginia. She currently serves on three North Carolina Bar Association Committees (Minorities in the Profession, Pro Bono and Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity), is a Director of the Greensboro (NC) Bar Association, and a Trustee of the U.Va. IDEA Fund, focused on providing action-oriented leadership to grow inclusion, diversity, equity, and access throughout the University community. She practices yoga and Pilates, and loves to read and hang out with her husband, Steve and their dog, Scout.
Maureen Edobor is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Law in the Master of Legal Studies program at Penn State Law and a Litigation Associate at Goldberg Segalla. Maureen’s research interest focus on voting rights jurisprudence through a critical race theory lens, drawing on her experience as a Staff Attorney at the League of Women Voters of the United States, where she managed the national litigation portfolio on election administration and voting rights in the 2020 election cycle. Maureen has spoken about the importance of voting rights at the University of Virginia School of Law, American University Washington College of Law, and Penn State Law. A first-generation lawyer, she received her B.A. from the University of Texas at Arlington and a J.D. from Washington and Lee School of Law, where she also worked for the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, the House Judiciary Committee, Restore the Vote, and Common Cause. After law school, she clerked for Judge Pamela J. White on the Baltimore City Circuit Court
Chalak Richards is Associate Dean for Student Life, Diversity, and Belonging and Executive Director of the Parris Institute for Professional Excellence at Pepperdine University Caruso School of Law. She is dedicated to bringing diversity, equity, inclusion, and a true sense of ownership and belonging to the law.
Chalak previously worked as an immigration attorney representing individuals in immigration court and before USCIS. She was named in 2016 and 2017 as a “Top 100 Lawyer in Las Vegas” for her outstanding work and has won numerous Advocacy and Trial awards. Chalak earned her JD from Pepperdine University School of Law and her BA from Spelman College.
While a law student, Chalak was an award-winning member of the Trial Advocacy and Moot Court teams, Western Regional Chair of the National Black Law Students Association, and participated in many volunteer activities in the community. Prior to law school, Chalak worked with Urban Promise, a non-profit organization supporting the academic and spiritual development of five- to ten-year-old children and mentoring teenagers in high-risk communities.
Chalak currently serves on the National Black Law Student Association National Alumni Advisory Council and was recently appointed to the State Bar of California's Council on Access and Fairness.
N’Dea Hallett is a Litigation Associate at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP in New York. N’Dea graduated cum laude with a B.A. in Psychology from Tufts University, where she received a Honos Civicus recognition for her commitment to public service and civic engagement. N’Dea then received her J.D. from Columbia Law School in 2020. N’Dea is licensed to practice law in New York.
During her undergraduate studies, N’Dea interned in the Harvard Business School Social Psychology Lab with Professor Amy Cuddy and at the Center for Reproductive Rights as a Global Legal Intern. During law school, N’Dea participated in Columbia’s Challenging the Consequences of Mass Incarceration Clinic, where she provided pro bono counsel and services to incarcerated individuals. Additionally, N’Dea served as an editor on the Columbia Journal of Law and Social Problems and as an editor and judge for the Harlan Fiske Stone Moot Court. N’Dea spent one semester studying international law and arbitration in the Netherlands at Amsterdam Law School.
N’Dea dedicates her free time to mentoring students of color and solving an occasional jigsaw puzzle. N’Dea is a former Consultant at Ivy Grad Services where she mentored and provided resources to potential law school candidates. N’Dea is committed to amplifying the voices of women and people of color in the legal profession.
Founder and Inaugural President
Elizabeth Pederson graduated Order of the Coif with Pro Bono Distinction from Stanford Law School, where she was a Public Interest Fellow and the Symposium Editor on the Executive Board of the Stanford Law Review. Since graduation, Elizabeth clerked on the Northern District of California and served as an Assistant District Attorney in the Manhattan DA's Office. Prior to law school, Elizabeth served in the Peace Corps in Costa Rica. She holds a M.P.A. from the Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan as a Frey Foundation Fellow and a B.A. summa cum laude with highest honors from Brandeis University.
Founding Chief Financial Officer
Karen E. Deschaine
Karen E. Deschaine is a Partner in the Cooley LLP Business department. She joined Cooley in 2007 and is resident in the San Diego office. Karen received a J.D. with a specialization in Business Law from the University of California, Los Angeles, where she was the Editor in Chief of the UCLA Women’s Law Journal. She has a Masters of Business Administration from Auburn University and a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the United States Military Academy, in West Point, New York. While at West Point, Karen was on the Sport Parachute Team and, as such, jumped the game ball into numerous Army football games and was named the Overall Novice Champion at the 1994 National Collegiate Skydiving Championships. Prior to law school, Karen served as a captain in the United States Army and commanded two companies. Karen was one of the founding members of Ms. JD's Board of Directors (2006-2012) and is a member of the State Bar of California.
Jessie Kornberg graduated in 2007 from UCLA School of Law, where she was Editor in Chief of the Women's Law Journal and Articles Editor for the Journal of Sexual Orientation Law. She holds a B.A. from Columbia University. During law school Jessie was the Helena Rubenstein Foundation Fellow at Legal Momentum, the legal defense and education fund for NOW. After law school Jessie served as a judicial clerk to the Honorable Jon Phipps McCalla, Chief Judge of the Western District of Tennessee. Prior to law school, Jessie worked in homeless family services in New York City and co-authored Homeless in America, Part Two: A Statistical Reader with the Institute for Children and Poverty. In 2009, Jessie became Ms. JD's first Executive Director. Jessie currently also serves on the American Bar Association's Commission on Women in the Profession and on the Governing Board of California Women Lawyers. In 2011, Jessie joined the Los Angeles litigation boutique Bird Marella. Jessie has been recognized by The Recorder and Super Lawyers as a “Lawyer on the Fast Track” and “Rising Star,” respectively. In 2014, Jessie became the first female CEO and President of Bet Tzedek.
Janet Wallace co-founded the law firm O'Leary Wallace LLP in San Luis Obispo County, California. Janet is a faculty member at Cuesta Community College, where she teaches courses on Estate Planning and Administration, Business Organizations, Introduction to Law, and Legal Technology. She received her J.D. from the University of California, Davis, where she served as President of Law Students for the Arts and Research Assistant to Professor Lisa R. Pruitt. Janet graduated with highest honors from the University of California, Santa Barbara, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in the History of Art and Architecture. Prior to attending law school, Janet was a high school photography teacher, robotics adviser, White House gift wrapper, intern coordinator, office manager, field representative, and art gallery docent. Janet served on the Board of Directors of Ms. JD, the Women Lawyers Association of San Luis Obispo and is Past President of the San Luis Obispo County Arts Council. She graduated from Leadership San Luis Obispo Class XXII and is a trained $tart $mart facilitator. In 2015, Janet was named one of the Top 20 Under 40 by the San Luis Obispo Tribune and received the inaugural Rising Star Award from the Women Lawyer's Association of SLO. Janet and her husband of 13 years have one son, Julian, are licensed foster parents, and craft the perfect basil vodka gimlet (but not one because of the other). You can find Janet online at her personal blog, www.thisconfettilife.com. In her spare time, Janet sleeps.
Katie Larkin-Wong is an associate at Latham & Watkins LLP in San Francisco, CA where her practice focuses on antitrust and white collar litigation. She is the second President of Ms. JD. She graduated cum laude from Northwestern Law School. Katie is a long time Ms. JD reader, served as a 2010-2011 Writer-in-Residence, and was a 2010 Ms. JD Fellow. While at Northwestern, she served as the Managing Editor of the Northwestern Journal of Technology and Intellectual Property and on the board of the Women’s Leadership Coalition. She was also active in Northwestern’s Program on Negotiations and Mediation where she became a certified mediator, mediating and settling cases in the Chicago courts. Katie holds a dual major in psychology and government with an emphasis in women’s studies from Claremont McKenna College and, prior to law school, worked for Verizon’s Corporate Counsel on antitrust and intellectual property matters.