2019 NWLSO Leadership Academy Speakers

Please welcome our 2019 NWLSO Leadership Academy Keynote Speakers:



Judge Patti B. Saris, Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts




United States District Judge Patti B. Saris became Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts on January 1, 2013.  She was Chair of the United States Sentencing Commission in Washington, DC from January, 2011 to January, 2017. She is a graduate of Radcliffe College ‘73 (Magna Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa) and Harvard Law School ‘76 (Cum Laude). After graduating from law school, she clerked for the Supreme Judicial Court, and then went into private practice.  When Senator Edward M. Kennedy became chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, she moved to Washington D.C. and worked as staff counsel.  She later became an Assistant United States Attorney, and eventually chief of the Civil Division.  In 1986, Judge Saris became a United States Magistrate Judge, and in 1989, she was appointed as an Associate Justice of the Massachusetts Superior Court. In 1994, she was appointed to the United States District Court.




Hazel Meyers, Executive Vice President, Chief Business Ethics and Compliance Officer of CBS Corporation





Hazel Mayers, Esq. is Executive Vice President, Chief Business Ethics and Compliance Officer of CBS Corporation, where she works closely with the Corporation’s Senior Management team and Board of Directors.  In this role, Hazel is responsible for the Company’s global compliance and business ethics programs, including creation and oversight of the Employee Relations function, centralization of the independent investigatory function and ensuring that the Company’s policies, procedures and training programs are clear, uniform and consistent.  Prior to being named to this position, she served as Executive Vice President and General Counsel of Simon & Schuster, Inc., one of the Corporation’s business units.  While there, Hazel was responsible for all legal affairs for Simon & Schuster and its worldwide companies, including contracts, intellectual property management, litigation, trade issues, compliance, corporate governance and legal strategies relating to the evolving digital publishing realm.

Before joining Simon & Schuster, Hazel held various positions in the Viacom and CBS Law departments.  Prior to joining Viacom, she was a labor and employment associate at Proskauer Rose LLP and a litigation associate at Willkie Farr and Gallagher LLP.

Hazel graduated summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa with a Bachelor of Arts in Pre-Law from the City College of New York and earned a Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School, where she was a member of the Harvard Black Law Students Association and served as Co-Chair of the Association’s Street Law Clinic, a program that educates elementary and junior high school students in the Boston area about their constitutional rights.  Hazel also holds a certificate in Advanced Management from the Harvard Business School Executive Education program.  Hazel has served on numerous professional and charitable boards, including most recently serving as a vice president of the New York City Bar Fund (the pro bono affiliate of the New York City Bar Association).  She is currently an advisory board member of the Women in Law Empowerment Forum (“WILEF”).  In 2018, Hazel was named a 2018 National Woman in Law in Thought Leadership by Corporate Counsel magazine.  She was featured on the inaugural 2018 Crain’s “Leading Women Lawyers in New York City” list of 100 prominent attorneys.  She is a past recipient of the Alliance for Women in Media’s “Women Who Represent” award and a 2015 City College of New York Townsend Harris Medalist (recognizing the exemplary contributions of alumnae in their chosen fields).  She lives on Long Island, New York, with her husband, Kwen, and two sons, Channon (age 10) and Kwenton (age 3).


We're also pleased to introduce our other esteemed 2019 NWLSO Leadership Academy Speakers:

Allison Lukas Turner, Latham & Watkins



Allison Lukas Turner is an associate in the Boston office of Latham & Watkins and a member of the Litigation & Trial Department.  Ms. Turner focuses her practice on products liability and complex commercial litigation.  She has experience advising on a diverse array of business disputes, including domestic and international product liability litigation, trade secret protection, white collar investigations and defense, multi-million dollar contract disputes, and employer-side employment matters.  Ms. Turner graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School, where she was named a Dean's Scholar in White Collar Criminal Procedure.  While in law school, Ms. Turner served as an intern in the Appeals Division of the Essex County District Attorney's Office and in the Child Protection Unit of the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office.  She also volunteered her time as an interviewer/advocate with Northeastern Law School's Domestic Violence Institute.  After law school, Ms. Turner clerked in her home state for Chief Judge John A. Woodcock, Jr. of the United States District Court for the District of Maine, where she assisted chambers in a number of federal civil and criminal matters.

At Latham, Ms. Turner has been deeply committed to the firm’s diversity and inclusion efforts, serving as one of three global co-chairs of the Parent Lawyers Group and as a former local leader for the Women Lawyers and Parent Lawyers affinity groups in Boston.  She also proudly serves as a member of the firm’s Recruiting Committee and the Boston office’s Multicultural Promotion and Attainment Coalition.  In her spare time, Ms. Turner serves on the board of the non-profit Families First, an organization committed to improving the lives of children and families in the greater Boston area through parenting education and empowerment.

Ms. Turner is admitted to practice before the United States District Courts for the Districts of Maine and Massachusetts. Prior to joining Latham, Ms. Turner worked in the litigation department at another leading law firm.



Debbie Epstein Henry, Expert, Consultant, Best-Selling Author and Public Speaker




Debbie Epstein Henry is an expert, consultant, best-selling author and public speaker on careers, workplaces, women and law.  She is the founder of DEH Consulting, Speaking, Writing and consults with and speaks at events for companies, law firms and other professional service firms as well as non-profits.  Debbie runs the DEH Speaker Series, offering programming with New York Times best-selling authors and thought leaders in NYC and by webcast, drawing more than 1,000 participants per quarter.  She’s written two ABA Flagship best-selling books, Law & Reorder (Author, #1 best-seller, 2010) and Finding Bliss (Co-Author, best-seller, 2015).  Debbie’s international work includes multiple engagements in The Hague as well as in Paris at the French Senate and in London and Vienna and other cities abroad.  For 20 years, hundreds of news outlets have featured her work including The New York Times, NBC Nightly News, The Wall Street Journal, National Public Radio, and The National Law Journal. 

In 2007, Debbie conceived of the Best Law Firms for Women initiative, a national survey she developed and ran for a decade with Working Mother to annually select the top 50 law firms for women and report on industry trends.  By 2008, her public speaking, press exposure and advocacy enabled her to build a national network of over 10,000 lawyers.  From there, in 2011, Debbie co-founded Bliss Lawyers, a company that employs high caliber attorneys to work on temporary engagements for in-house legal department and law firm clients. 

Debbie volunteers her time with a number of non-profits including The Forum of Executive Women, a membership organization of the top 450 women in business in Philadelphia.  She is on the Board of The Forum and serves as its Vice President and also co-chairs The Forum’s Annual Leadership Symposium.  Additionally, Debbie is Chair of Brooklyn Law School Women’s Leadership Circle which runs a national women’s law student and alumnae initiative.  She has received numerous awards including being named among the Philadelphia Business Journal‘s "Women of Distinction.”  In 2017, Debbie received the Anne X. Alpern Award, presented annually to a female lawyer who demonstrates excellence in the legal profession and who makes a significant professional impact on women in the law.  She received her B.A. from Yale and her J.D. cum laude from Brooklyn Law School.  A native New Yorker, Debbie lives in the Philadelphia suburbs with her husband; they have three sons. 




Jodi Flynn, Executive Leadership Coach, Podcaster, Author, Speaker, and Workshop Facilitator



Jodi Flynn of Women Taking the Lead is an Executive Leadership Coach, Podcaster, Author, Speaker, and Workshop Facilitator for people-leaders. She works with rising women to improve the skills that advance them to the top levels in their career. She is the host of the critically acclaimed Women Taking the Lead podcast, and an Amazon bestselling author with her book, Accomplished: How to Go from Dreaming to Doing. Jodi has spoken at the Massachusetts Conference for Women, The Maine Women’s Conference, Podcast Movement, and the Agents of Change Digital Marketing Conference. She is the President of the board for The Maine Women’s Conference and has been featured in Entrepreneur and Forbes Magazine. You can find out more about Jodi at womentakingthelead.com.




Kyona McGhee, The McGhee Law Firm






Kyona McGhee is an attorney, a wife, a mother and most importantly a follower of Christ. By day, she expunges criminal convictions for the City of Detroit Law Department and by night she files trademarks for small business owners! By practicing both criminal law and small business law, she has found a way to merge her passions into her life’s daily work. After graduating from law school as valedictorian in May of 2018, she passed the Michigan bar and immediately opened her own law firm, The McGhee Law Firm. Kyona, her husband David McGhee and their two children are residents of the City of Detroit, and have the most boringly fantastic life you can imagine! 



Monsurat Adebanjo, Attorney, Entrepreneur, Change Agent, Journalist, Artist and Founder



Monsurat Adebanjo is a first generation born African-American attorney, entrepreneur, change agent, journalist, artist and a global citizen. Her personal and professional life has been dedicated to the promotion and protection of the arts, advocating for diversity and empowering underrepresented people. In 2018, Monsurat was named SHE Media’s Voice of The Year – Community “because her work over the last year has challenged the status quo, and her voice and platform have been used to make the world a better and more equitable place.” She has also been identified as a game-changing leader challenging unconscious bias, shattering stereotypes and empowering women by the Tory Burch Foundation.

In addition to being a practicing attorney, Monsurat is the founder of Brown Girl For The Arts Media; The Urban Culturist, a tech startup; and Brown Girl Artists, Inc. Brown Girl For The Arts Media is committed to broadening the sluggishly changing narrative of pan-Africans through representation in the media. The Urban Culturist, a tech startup, utilizes its digital platform (and mobile application*) to promote diversity, access, and exposure within the art world and share opportunities to appreciate art and culture not often experienced by a majority of society.  Brown Girl Artists, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to empowering girls of color to envision their futures as artists, professionals and world changers by connecting them with positive, relatable and accomplished role models of color.



Sara Dewey, Director of the Farm & Food Initiative and Staff Attorney at Conservation Law Foundation 



Sara Dewey is the Director of the Farm & Food Initiative and a staff attorney at Conservation Law Foundation. Sara has worked on environmental, agricultural, and energy issues as a legislative aide in the U.S. Senate and as policy director of an environmental governance initiative at Yale University. Sara holds a J.D. from Harvard Law School, a Masters in Environmental Management from Duke University, and a B.A. from Middlebury College.

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