Conference Speakers

Joanna Visser Adjoian

Joanna Visser Adjoian

Joanna Visser Adjoian, Esq. is co-founder and Co-Director of the Youth Sentencing & Reentry Project. Prior to co-founding YSRP, Joanna served as Associate Director and Staff Attorney of the Toll Public Interest Center at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where she oversaw the Center’s 26 student pro bono projects, offered guidance to more than 100 student leaders, and directly supervised students in new and existing pro bono initiatives. Before joining the Toll Center, Joanna clerked for Judge Joel Schneider in the United States District Court of the District of New Jersey, and completed a Penn Law Postgraduate Fellowship at Juvenile Law Center, where she advanced efforts to end the practice of sentencing children to life in prison without parole, including co-authoring an Amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in the landmark case of Miller v. Alabama. 

Joanna is a 2014 Echoing Green Fellow, a 2016 Claneil Emerging Leader Fellow, a 2016 recipient of the Penn Law Young Alumni Award, a 2017 recipient of the Penn Law Alan Lerner Rising Star Award, a NITA presenter, and has appeared on local radio and television news programs. Joanna is a member of The Barristers’ Association of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania’s American Inns of Court. She serves as co-chair of the Legal Rights of Children Committee of the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Public Interest Section, is a member of the Toll Public Interest Center Advisory Board, and sits on the steering committee of the Pennsylvania Coalition for the Fair Sentencing of Youth. Before law school, Joanna worked as a paralegal in the Family Law Unit of Philadelphia Legal Assistance and taught English in Ecuador. Joanna received both her undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Pennsylvania.

Major Sarah W. Edmundson

Major Sarah W. Edmundson

Major Sarah W. Edmundson is the Chief, Accessions Branch, Professional Development Directorate (HQ USAF/JAX), Office of The Judge Advocate General.  Her primary responsibility is to manage the accession of attorneys into the Air Force JAG Corps.

Major Edmundson received a direct commission as an Air Force judge advocate in February 2008 and entered active duty in March 2008.  She previously served as an area defense counsel, professor of law at the United States Air Force Academy, and senior special victims’ counsel.  In 2009, she deployed in support of Task Force 134 as a liaison officer to the Central Criminal Court of Iraq. She is admitted to practice law before the Supreme Court of Illinois and the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces

Sharon E. Jones

Sharon E. Jones

Ms. Jones is a diversity consultant who specializes in providing diversity/inclusion consulting and training to law firms, professional services firms, corporations, not for profits and other types of organizations. She is the President of Jones Diversity, Inc. Her firm’s broad range of services enable the organization to fully utilize, retain and promote diverse employees into leadership roles. We work to build diverse and inclusive workplace cultures and communities. She has served as the Interim Founding Director for the Center for Diversity Innovation at the University at Buffalo which focused on translational research in diversity and inclusion and bringing those best practices to employers in all sectors.

Ms. Jones has practiced law and been a community leader over a 25-year career, including positions as a federal prosecutor, with major law firms and with Fortune 500 Corporations. She has been highly successful as a litigator, a counselor, an educator and a problem-solver regarding extremely complex and sensitive matters. She has served as the Chief Operating Officer for the Chicago Urban League, managing a $10 million budget with over 70 employees.

From 1985-1989, Ms. Jones served as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, based in Chicago, where she conducted federal grand jury investigations and trials in high profile white-collar criminal cases. In private law practice, she was a partner at Bird, Marella, Boxer, Wolpert & Matz in Los Angeles. In addition to her litigation practice, she was responsible for all in-house continuing legal education, as well as being an adviser to clients on a variety of employment and workplace harassment issues. She was Of Counsel at Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe in Los Angeles, where she created and implemented its litigation training as well as firm-wide orientation training and evaluation programs.

In the corporate sector, Ms. Jones managed litigation matters worldwide for Abbott Laboratories, as well as advising senior management in matters of crisis management and in fashioning creative solutions to highly complex business issues. Most recently, Ms. Jones acted as Senior Counsel at SBC Communications. Ms. Jones was Counsel of Record in the amicus curiae brief filed in the United States Supreme Court in 2003 by the Black Women Lawyers Association of Chicago in Grutter v. Bollinger and the University of Michigan in support of diversity in higher education.

Ms. Jones is a past President of the Black Women Lawyers Association of Chicago. Previously, she served as the Program Chair and created the innovative monthly BWLA Roundtable luncheon series designed to increase mentoring and networking opportunities for its members. She was the Chair of the Chicago Bar Association Committee on Racial & Ethnic Diversity and was instrumental in the 2006 adoption of the Chicago Bar Association’s Diversity Initiative and Commitments on Racial & Ethnic Diversity. She is a past President of the Harvard Law School Alumni Association (2010-2012) and responsible for the launch of the HLSA Global Women’s Alliance and the HLSA of Arabia, among others. She currently serves on the Board of the National Association of Women Lawyers and she is an elected director of the Harvard Alumni Association.

Ms. Jones has received numerous awards including the Chicago Bar Association’s Breaking Barriers, Building Bridges Award (2008) and the Black Women Lawyer’s Visionary Award for Women Making History for Making a Difference (2004). Ms. Jones is a co-author of a guide published by the American Bar Association in May 2004 entitled, “Walking the Talk: Creating a Law Firm Culture Where Women Succeed” which deals with the retention and promotion of women in law firms. She is the author of “Mastering the Game: Career Strategies for Success” which provides the unwritten rules for career success for women and diverse professionals.

Ms. Jones is a graduate of Harvard Law School and Harvard College. 

Elizabeth J. Kim

Elizabeth J. Kim

Elizabeth J. Kim is an Associate General Counsel at Sallie Mae Bank, headquartered in Newark, Delaware.  In that role, Liz manages the Bank’s litigation, and provides legal advice on routine and complex matters in support of the Bank’s operations.  She was previously in private practice at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, and Reed Smith LLP.  In between her stints in private practice, Liz worked at the NYC Economic Development Corporation under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Liz earned her J.D. in 2003 from the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where she was both a Public Interest Scholar and a Keedy Cup finalist.  She also earned a Masters in Public Administration and Urban and Regional Planning from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University, and a B.A., cum laude, from Barnard College. 

Jennifer Gentile Long

Jennifer Gentile Long

Jennifer Gentile Long currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer of AEquitas, which she co-founded in April 2009 and serves as an expert on issues related to the prosecution of sexual violence, domestic violence, stalking and human trafficking. She began her career as an Assistant District Attorney in Philadelphia where she specialized in adult and child physical and sexual abuse and served in the Family Violence and Sexual Assault Unit. After her departure, served as an advocate for victims of domestic violence and child abuse in Bermuda and Philadelphia, respectively. 

Jennifer was a Senior Attorney and then was appointed the Director of the National Center for the Prosecution of Violence Against Women at the American Prosecutors Research Institute at NDAA. She promoted meaningful multidisciplinary collaboration and improved prosecution practices through authorship and contribution to numerous articles, publications, resources and curricula and provided assistance to prosecutors and allied professionals. 

Jennifer’s commitment to the identification, implementation and preservation of innovative, research-informed practices led her to co-found AEquitas, where she continues to work with prosecutors, allied professionals, and policy makers across the United States and internationally. Jennifer serves as an Advisory Committee Member with the American Law Institute, an Editorial Board Member with the Civic Research Institute for the Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Reports, and an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University Law Center, where she teaches Prosecuting Sexual Violence: From Research to Practice.

Jennifer graduated from Lehigh University with a Bachelor of Arts in English and East Asian Studies and the University of Pennsylvania Law School and Fels School of Government with a Juris Doctor degree and a Masters in Government Administration. She is a member of the Pennsylvania and New Jersey bars. She enjoys running, walking her dogs and making homemade pancakes for her family.

Lieutenant Commander Emma Robertson, JAGC, USN

Lieutenant Commander Emma Robertson, JAGC, USN

Lieutenant Commander Emma Robertson is currently serving as Deputy Staff Judge Advocate in the Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP) Headquarters.

Lieutenant Commander Robertson, a Green Bay, Wisconsin native, received her commission from Officer Development School and Naval Justice School in 2010. She is a 2006 graduate of Northwestern University in Evanston, IL with Bachelor of Arts degrees in History and German. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin Law school in 2010. She received a Fulbright grant to study in Vienna, Austria before beginning law school.

Her previous duty assignments include Naval Legal Service Office Southwest, where she was a defense counsel and legal assistance attorney. During this tour she supported RIMPAC 2012 as a deputy Staff Judge Advocate for U.S. Third Fleet. Region Legal Service Office Mid-Atlantic where she served as Staff Judge Advocate for Naval Weapons Station Earle and Naval Support Activity Lakehurst, and Region Legal Service Office Europe, Africa, and Southwest Asia Detachment Rota where she served as trial counsel and the primary legal advisor to four destroyers homeported in Rota, Spain.

Personal awards include two Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals, and five Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals.

Lieutenant Commander Robertson and her husband David have two children, Ellwood and Jeanette, and reside in Carlisle, Pennsylvania

Linda Shi

Linda Shi

Linda Shi is an Associate Counsel in The Vanguard Group, Inc.’s Office of the General Counsel.  In this role, she supports Vanguard’s Philadelphia-based Innovation Studio and broader digital and technology-driven initiatives at the organization.  She previously served as the General Counsel and head of compliance at Red Spark, a diversified digital media and technology company, with her practice focusing on intellectual property, privacy, and internet legal issues.  In addition to her legal function, she also held significant operational and management responsibilities.  Prior to joining Red Spark, she served as the assistant general counsel of IP for an international business software and services company, and prior to that, as an intellectual property associate with a premier intellectual property boutique law firm.  She was recently recognized by First Chair Awards as a 2017 Top General Counsel, and is the past recipient of the Philadelphia Business Journal’s 2016 Women of Distinction Award and 2015 Top Corporate Counsel Award for her advisory work.  She is also a recipient of the Penn Law Women's Summit Rising Star Award.

An engineering as well as a lawyer by training, Linda is the co-founder of Likuma Laboratories, an industrial design and product engineering firm based in Philadelphia.  In 2016, she and other partners launched Kapsul, a consumer HVAC company in the process of bringing an innovative compact window AC to market.  Kapsul has raised over $2M in crowdfunding through its Kickstarter and Indiegogo campaigns, and has been profiled by publications including the Philadelphia Business Journal, Tech Insider, The Verge, and New York Magazine.   

Linda received dual degrees in Mechanical Engineering and English from Rutgers University, and her law degree from the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where she served as an editor of the Law Review.  She is a registered patent attorney with the USPTO, and licensed to practice in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.  Linda takes an active part in the local startup community and various bar associations, and is a frequent speaker on issues of diversity and inclusiveness.   

Clarissa J. Sparks

Clarissa J. Sparks

Clarissa J. Sparks is a branding and marketing strategist, experienced facilitator, and founder of the She Sparks Agency in Atlanta, Georgia. She is intentional about leveraging her experience across a wide range of industries to help startup and small business owners build stronger brands.
 
Clarissa is passionate about turning ideas into visual and tangible experiences and always brings a fresh perspective to the table - for over 10 years she has inspired her clients to maximize their impact and gain visibility by clearly communicating their vision, mission, values, and brand promises while mentoring them through the Brand Thinking process in private and group workshops.  She is the author of This Little Light of Mine, A Guided Journal of Purpose, Passion and Shine, co-author of Business & Career for the Christian Woman, and host of the Atlanta Business Radio X series Spark Stories

Anne Weisberg

Anne Weisberg

Anne Weisberg is Director of the Women’s Initiative at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, LLP, where she is responsible for designing and implementing a gender strategy that fosters a high performing, inclusive work environment for all.

Anne joined Paul Weiss from the Families and Work Institute, where she served as Senior Vice President. She has worked at BlackRock and Deloitte on women’s leadership and talent management strategies, and at Catalyst, the non-profit research and advisory organization focused on changing workplaces for women, where she advised law firms and directed seminal research on women in the legal profession. Anne, a cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School, has practiced law and written extensively on the topic of women and the workforce, including co-authoring the best-selling Mass Career Customization: Aligning the Workplace With Today’s Nontraditional Workforce. She is an adjunct professor of management at the NYU-Stern School of Business, where she teaches a course on inclusive leadership. She and her husband reside in New York and have five children between them.

Michaele N. Turnage Young

Michaele N. Turnage Young

Michaele N. Turnage Young serves as Senior Counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (“LDF”), where she litigates education and voting rights cases.

Ms. Turnage Young co-authored amicus briefs of behalf of 25 Harvard student and alumni organizations in SFFA v. Harvard, arguing that the court should uphold settled law allowing universities to consider race, as one of many factors, in admissions so that universities can assemble diverse student bodies and students can enjoy the educational benefits of diversity.  In addition, she represents Black parents and children in school desegregation cases in Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama, and Florida.  Ms. Turnage Young also serves as counsel in Terrebonne Parish Branch NAACP v. Jindal, wherein the court held that Louisiana violated the U.S. Constitution and the Voting Rights Act when it intentionally discriminated against Terrebonne’s Black voters by using at-large voting to elect the five judges of the 32nd Judicial District Court, the state court that serves Terrebonne, even though that voting scheme diminishes the voting power of Terrebonne’s Black voters. 

Prior to joining LDF in 2017, Ms. Turnage Young served as a Trial Attorney with the Educational Opportunities Section of the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice.  There, she prosecuted 13 school desegregation cases in seven federal court jurisdictions across the country. Her efforts led school districts to desegregate their students and faculties, equalize access to course offerings, equalize their facilities, transform their discipline practices, and dramatically reduce the amount of instructional time students lost to exclusionary discipline. Ms. Turnage Young received the Attorney General’s Special Achievement Award in recognition of her work advancing educational equity.

Ms. Turnage Young clerked for the Honorable Joan B. Gottschall of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. She received her law degree from Harvard Law School, where she served as a student attorney with the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau and as an editor of the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review. Ms. Turnage Young earned her undergraduate degree from UCLA.

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