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 Mayers, 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.



Carla Luna, Second-Year Law Student at Harvard Law School




Carla Luna is a first-generation Dominican-American and a student at Harvard Law School.  Now in her second year at Harvard, Carla participates in various student organizations, including the Harvard Law Entrepreneurship Project and the Harvard Business Law Review. Her interests include emerging technologies and community development.  Carla was also selected for the Honors Program at the Securities and Exchange Commission and currently interns at the Boston Regional Office during the school year.

Prior to starting law school, Carla worked in finance and professional services. During her first summer of law school, she worked as a summer associate at DLA Piper in Chicago. This summer she will be working as a summer associate at Simpson Thacher in New York.

Carla is a New York City native. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, visiting museums and trying new restaurants. She is an alum of the Posse Foundation and a graduate of Babson College, where studied Business and graduated summa laude.



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. 



Diane Darling, Author and Speaker




Diane Darling has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, NBC Nightly News, CBS Sunday Morning, San Francisco Chronicle, and International Herald Tribune. Diane speaks about sales, marketing, networking, LinkedIn, leadership and building sustainable relationships. 

A national expert on networking and business relationships, she authored McGraw-Hill's definitive book on networking. Since 2001, she has been traveling coast-to-coast — writing, training and consulting on how to manage business relationships. Strong relationships lead to increased productivity, profit and personal satisfaction. 

Diane's thought-provoking information and helpful tips can help you build confidence and presence, build your career, increase your profitability, and chat comfortably in social situations, leading to personal satisfaction and the extraordinary life you deserve. 


Eliza Sweren-Becker, Counsel, Brennan Center for Justice's Democracy Program




Eliza Sweren-Becker serves as counsel in the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, where she focuses on voting rights and elections. Prior to joining the Brennan Center, Sweren-Becker was a litigation associate in private practice at Boies Schiller Flexner LLP.

Sweren-Becker previously served as a Ford Foundation Fellow in the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project. She then served as a law clerk to Hon. Christina A. Snyder of the United States District Court for the Central District of California. Before attending law school, Sweren-Becker was a research associate for Latin America Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Sweren-Becker received a JD from Harvard Law School and a master’s degree in public policy from the Harvard Kennedy School. She holds a bachelor’s degree in international relations, magna cum laude, from Brown University.




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.




Josephine Lee, Associate General Counsel, Converse




Josephine is an Associate General Counsel at Converse, where she serves as a business and legal advisor to many of Converse’s internal business teams.  Prior to joining Converse, she was with the legal department of the Estée Lauder Companies, where she served as a commercial and patent counsel supporting all aspects of Estée Lauder’s business enterprise, including product development, R&D, and commercial operations for Estée Lauder’s entire brand portfolio. 

Immediately prior to joining Estée Lauder, Josephine worked as an Intellectual Property Associate at Lock Lord LLP in New York.  Josephine started her legal career in New York as well as a Patent Attorney with the law firm of Ryan, Mason & Lewis LLP.   

Josephine grew up in New York City, obtained an undergraduate degree in Biomedical Engineering from Boston University, an MBA from Hofstra University, and a JD from the University at Buffalo School of Law. Josephine is a registered patent attorney and is fluent in Chinese (both written and spoken). Outside of work, Josephine enjoys Pilates, yoga, and eating great food.


Kelsey Anspach, Second-Year Law Student at Harvard Law School





Kelsey is a 2L at Harvard Law School. She graduated from Dartmouth College in 2015. Between college and law school, she worked as a litigation and corporate legal assistant, barista, and technology research analyst. At HLS, she is a member of the Women's Law Association and Harvard Business Law Review.




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! 



Lauren Stiller Rikleen, President, Rikleen Institute for Strategic Leadership






Lauren Stiller Rikleen, president of the Rikleen Institute for Strategic Leadership, is a nationally recognized speaker, trainer, and consultant on workplace culture issues, including: women’s leadership and advancement; unconscious bias; strengthening multi-generational teams; and eliminating workplace misconduct.   

Lauren’s newest book is The Shield of Silence: How Power Perpetuates a Culture of Harassment and Bullying in the Workplace. She is also the author of You Raised Us, Now Work With Us: Millennials, Career Success, and Building Strong Workplace Teams, a widely acclaimed book that provides new insights and rebuts old stereotypes about Millennials.  Her two other books are Ladder Down: Success Strategies For Lawyers From Women Who Will Be Hiring, Reviewing and Promoting You, and Ending the Gauntlet: Removing Barriers to Women’s Success in the Law. 

As a former law firm equity partner, Lauren was selected by her peers to be listed in Best Lawyers in America, Chambers USA America’s Leading Business Lawyers, and Massachusetts Super Lawyers. She has an extraordinary background of leadership positions in professional and community organizations, including service as president of the Boston Bar Association and as a member of the Board of Governors of the American Bar Association. 

Lauren has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Award from the ABA Commission on Women in the Profession.  She was also recognized by Public Media's Next Avenue as one of the Top 50 Influencers in Aging.

The author of more than 180 articles, including topical commentary and op ed pieces, Lauren has written for or been interviewed by major publications and media outlets throughout the country.



Lisa D’Annolfo Levey, Founder, GenderWorks






Lisa D’Annolfo Levey is the founder of GenderWorks, a consulting and coaching company that advises organizations on proactively engaging men as gender allies to expedite progress toward gender parity. Lisa, a gender expert who led the research and development of a signature on-line male ally platform, has been consulting, writing, and speaking about women’s leadership and diversity for more than two decades. She’s consulted to a marque list of clients including leading law firms, academic institutions, non-profit organizations and Fortune 100 companies. Lisa was formerly the Women’s Advancement Practice Leader for Diversity Best Practices, a Senior Director in Advisory Services for Catalyst and played a key role in developing the women’s advancement practice at WFD (formerly Work/Family Directions). Her work regarding gender has been informed by her early career in investment management.

Lisa ‘s 2012 book The Libra Solution identifies strategies for navigating the obstacles to gender equality that confront dual-career professional couples raising children. She has blogged for the Huffington Post, the Good Men Project and the Glass Hammer. Lisa earned an MBA with highest honors from the Simmons School of Management, a BS with distinction from Cornell University and studied international economics at the London School of Economics.

Lisa and her husband Bryan, a technology executive and GenderWorks’ Advisor, have been featured in Fast Company magazine and other media in stories on egalitarian parenting. Bryan was awarded the PWN Global’s 2019 Manbassador of the Year.




Micah Buchdahl, Attorney






Micah U. Buchdahl is an attorney focused on assisting law firms with business development initiatives. He is the immediate past Chair of the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Continuing Legal Education and a past chair of the ABA’s Law Practice Division. Based in Moorestown, New Jersey, he is president of HTMLawyers, Inc., a law marketing consultancy.

Micah’s career experiences shape his vision and ideas for law firm clients. He worked in the Philadelphia Municipal Court as a mediator and arbitrator. He served as associate corporate counsel with the Philadelphia Flyers and Spectacor, as well as director of NBA Photos, a marketing division of the National Basketball Association. Micah is well known for his ethics counsel as it pertains to law marketing, advertising issues and compliance.  With HTMLawyers, founded in 2001, he has worked with law firms of all shapes and sizes on initiatives ranging from business development strategies to audits of existing marketing efforts.

Prior to law school, he worked in marketing and public relations functions within the National Hockey League and Major Indoor Soccer League. He also served as a journalist for The Baltimore Sun. Micah attended Temple University both as an undergraduate (B.A., journalism, magna cum laude, 1985) and later for Law School (J.D., class president, 1991). He is admitted to the Pennsylvania Bar.

In the legal community, Micah regularly teaches ethics courses on marketing and advertising for the Pennsylvania Bar Institute, the ABA and ALI among the CLE providers. He is the marketing columnist for Law Practice magazine, and associate editor of the ABA’s Law Practice Today webzine. Micah has worked on diversity initiatives with law firms and associations for more than two decades, and regularly attends annual meetings of NAMWOLF, the National Association of Minority and Women-Owned Law Firms.

In the community, Micah serves as the First Vice President of the Board of Trustees for Adath Emanu-El in Mount Laurel, New Jersey. He has served as a volunteer coach with the Moorestown Youth Baseball Federation and the Moorestown Youth Basketball Club. With his wife, Ivy, they contribute time and financial support to numerous charitable and educational endeavors (including Temple University, the University of Pennsylvania, Washington University in St. Louis and Moorestown Friends School). They are the proud parents of Lily and Benjamin. Micah’s personal passions include bicycling and following the Philadelphia Phillies, Eagles, and Temple Owls. Micah and Ivy, self-proclaimed foodies, provide wining & dining advice to friends and family looking for the best restaurants in Philadelphia.

Micah can be reached at micah@HTMLawyers.com or by phone at 856-234-4334, and on Twitter at @mbuchdahl.



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.




Najee Thornton, Fenwick & West



Najee Thornton is an associate at Fenwick & West, LLP and concentrates his practice on a broad range of corporate matters, serving clients in the life sciences and technology industries.

Prior to joining Fenwick & West, Najee was an associate at a prominent law firm where he represented public and private companies on a variety of corporate matters including mergers and acquisitions, corporate governance, venture capital financings, securities filings and reporting, and general corporate matters. Najee’s experience also extends to representation of private equity firms in matters involving entity formations, investment matters and employment.

Advocacy and activism are important to Najee. He currently serves on the associate advisory board of the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles and the advisory board of Miracle Messages, a San Francisco-based non-profit. He also has a relationship with Ms. JD, having been invited to speak on the panel entitled “Male Allies: An honest exchange about what men can and should do to make our profession more inclusive” at the organization’s 11th Annual Conference on Women in the Law.

Najee is a 2016 graduate of Howard University School of Law. During law school, Najee served as managing editor of the Howard Law Journal.



Nicole Williamson, Third-Year Student at Harvard Law School




Nicole Williamson is a third year law student at Harvard Law School. She currently serves as President of the Harvard Women's Law Association, the law school's largest and most active student-run organization. Her professional interests include gender equality, government, and space law, on which she has published in academic journals. Nicole graduated cum laude with a B.A. in political science from Washington University in St. Louis. Following law school, she will be clerking on the Court of Federal Claims and subsequently working at the law firm Arnold & Porter in Washington, DC.



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.


Join Us

Contribute to our blog and join the discussion.



Enter your email address to receive regular updates, news, and events.

Connect with us

Follow or subscribe