NWLSO Leadership Academy Speakers
Lisa is a founding partner of Arrowood LLP whose practice concentrates on business litigation, employment disputes, medical malpractice, personal injury and legal malpractice. Previously, she had been one of the founding partners at Todd & Weld LLP and a Junior Partner at Hale and Dorr. She is the immediate Past President of the Boston Bar Association. She is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and International Academy of Trial Lawyers. She previously held a three year appointment as the First Circuit Representative to the ABA Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary. For five years, she was a member of the Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers. Lisa has had some of the top ten jury verdicts for plaintiffs in Lawyers Weekly as well as one of the top ten defense verdicts. She has tried cases in federal and state courts in Massachusetts and in other states throughout the country. She is a graduate cum laude of Harvard Law School and magna cum laude and with Honors from Brown University.
Chocolate expert Valerie Beck is a pioneering entrepreneur in chocolate and hospitality. Creator of the original chocolate tours, which she expanded across the US, Valerie's business also provides chocolate services to cacao growers and artisan chocolate makers, and focuses on sustainability. In addition, Valerie recently launched a premium soy-free craft chocolate subscription box.
A Chicago native, Valerie graduated from Harvard College and Harvard Law School. After practicing law in Europe and the US, she founded Valerie's Original Chocolate Tours and Chocolate Uplift, and is also a popular speaker and media personality.
She started the Chocolate Freedom Project to end child slave labor on the cacao farms that produce cocoa beans for big chocolate brands, and with every chocolate subscription box sold she donates a meal to formerly trafficked kids at a West African rescue center.
Valerie’s mission is Uplift Through Chocolate, because chocolate can improve our mood and the world!
Susan Blount is a 2017 Advanced Leadership Initiative Fellow at Harvard University.
Susan previously served as General Counsel of Prudential Financial, a leading provider of insurance, retirement and asset management products and services from 2005 to 2015. In that role she was a member of the Company’s Office of the Chairman Group, the six senior-most officers of the company, and led a team of 700 people around the world in the company's Law, Compliance, Business Ethics and External Affairs organization.
Susan joined Prudential in 1985 as a staff attorney in the Company's commercial real estate organization. Thereafter, she held a variety of positions of increasing responsibility, including the roles of Chief Investment Counsel and Vice President and Corporate Secretary. Prior to joining Prudential, Susan was an Associate at Kirkland & Ellis.
Susan is active in professional and community service. While at Prudential she served on the Boards of such organizations as Montclair State University (the second largest university in New Jersey), the Leadership Council for Legal Diversity, the Association of Corporate Counsel and the New Jersey Law and Education Empowerment Project (NJLeep). She was also a faculty member at Stanford University's Directors' College and a regular participant in Stanford's Institutional Investors Forum. She currently serves as a Trustee of the Nantucket Historical Association and the University of Texas Law School Foundation and is a Leader-in-Residence and member of the Executive Committee of the Center for Women in Law at the University of Texas.
Paola Cecchi-Dimeglio, J.D., LL.M., Ph.D.
Paola Cecchi-Dimeglio, J.D., LL.M., Ph.D., is a behavioral economist and lawyer. She is the Chair of the Executive Leadership Research Initiative for Women and Minority Attorneys (ELRIWMA) at the Center for the Legal Profession at Harvard Law School and a Senior Research Fellow, jointly appointed at Harvard Law School (PON) and at the Harvard Kennedy School (Women and Public Policy Program (WAPPP)). Paola is one of Harvard Law’s rising stars studying issues related to diversity and gender vis-à-vis organizational behavior with the goal of promoting broad-based inclusion of women and minorities in the legal profession and in large organizations. In the role of management consultant, she applies her expertise in practice by helping her clients to implement inclusive “nudges” that attract, recruit, promote, and sustain diverse talents across their organizations while enabling them to remain compliant and competitive. Dr. Cecchi-Dimeglio is a world-leading expert working with clients including firms in the AML 50, AML 100 and Fortune 500. Her research is featured in the Business Inside, NY times, FT, WSJ, Bloomberg, The American Lawyer, HBR and Thomson Reuters among others.
Taj Clayton is a founding partner of the Dallas office of Winston & Strawn and serves as Chair of the firm's Domestic Alternative Dispute Resolution Practice. Taj manages trial teams in representation of a wide range of clients ranging from award-winning filmmakers to one of the world’s largest financial institutions. He practices in both federal and state court, focusing on complex business, intellectual property, products liability, and mass tort litigation. His previous legal experience includes a position as a Law Clerk to Chief Judge Mark L. Wolf of the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts (2005-2006). Prior to practicing law, Taj began his career in sports in the Management Council of the National Football League (1999) and later worked as a consultant at ICG Commerce, an e-procurement consulting firm (2000-2002). Outside of his law practice, Taj is an extremely proud husband and father, an avid weekend warrior, amateur trumpet player, and a lover of good literature. He is active in his local community, serving on several nonprofit boards including Girls, Inc., the Dallas Children’s Theater, Dallas Chamber Music Society, and Launchability. Taj has also served on President Barack Obama’s Texas Finance Committee and was a candidate to represent Texas’s 30th Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives.
Diane Darling is the author of McGraw-Hill’s definitive book on networking,The Networking Survival Guide and Networking for Career Success. Diane has appeared on NBC Nightly News, in The Wall Street Journal, San Francisco Chronicle, and The Boston Globe. A former columnist for the Boston Business Journal, Diane is currently a random columnist for a variety of publications. Diane coaches executives, junior managers and volunteers and has worked with academic institutions, non-profits, large corporates, small associations, medium and small businesses, too. Diane’s travels include all seven continents and approximately 60 countries. Having lived overseas for several years and domestically, in several regions of the USA, Diane has acquired a keen appreciation and awareness of international cultures. She is able to support the complexities of cultural, gender and racial relationships.
Michael Gillespie is a corporate partner and a member of the firm’s Mergers & Acquisitions, Corporate Governance and Family Enterprise Groups. In addition to M&A, Mr. Gillespie regularly advises senior management and boards throughout the world, including the United States, Latin America, India, Russia, and various other jurisdictions, on a range of strategic transactions and related matters, including critical governance, compliance and risk management issues. He is a leader of the firm’s Technology, Media & Telecommunications and Latin America Groups.
Mr. Gillespie has also served in a range of leadership positions in the firm, including as Hiring Chair and as a member of the firm’s Management Committee. He has been particularly involved, through these positions and otherwise, in the areas of talent development and diversity and inclusion. Mr. Gillespie joined Debevoise as an associate in 1986 and became a partner in 1995. He received a B.A., summa cum laude from Amherst College in 1982 and his J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1986.
Jenée Desmond-Harris, a 2006 graduate of Harvard Law School, is an Op-Ed editor at the New York Times. During her second and third years as an antitrust associate at K&L Gates, she contributed to TheRoot.com, Time Magazine, and MSNBC as a freelance writer. Her full transition to an “alternative” career took place when she joined the staff of TheRoot.com, eventually becoming a senior editor and the publication’s White House correspondent. Next, she covered race, gender, law, and politics as a senior correspondent at Vox.com. She was a 2016 John S. Knight journalism fellow at Stanford University, where she spent a year researching ways to bring academic insights to coverage of race in America. She now lives in Palo Alto, California.
Lynn Wood Harwell
Lynn Wood Harwell is the Administrative Director of the Stanley Center at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard where, as part of the leadership team, she oversees and provides oversight of the administration and operations of the Stanley Center. This includes developing financial strategies and budgets for the center and managing personnel to ensure optimal performance in support of research activities within the Stanley Center. Lynn also partners with the Broad Institute’s central administration including the Development Office, Office of Sponsored Research, Strategic Operations, and Strategic Alliances and Partnering. Lynn received her JD-MBA from Harvard Law School & Harvard Business School and brings broad experience in public policy for biomedical research, finance, and management. Lynn was Executive Director of the Harvard NeuroDiscovery Center which aimed to enable collaborations to better understand the causes of neurodegenerative disease in the service of developing treatments. Previously, Lynn served as Deputy to the Governing Board Chair for Finance, Policy and Outreach at the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM). Immediately after graduate school, Lynn worked at the entertainment company, Warner Bros., in the Corporate Business Development and Strategy division with a focus on forming partnerships for new business initiatives including digital media platforms and complementary businesses for Warner Bros. assets.
Anna Palmer is cofounder of Wondermile. Prior to Wondermile Anna was co-founder and CEO of Fashion Project, where she scaled the company to millions in revenue, led national brand partnerships and raised multiple rounds of venture funding. With the sale of Fashion Project in 2016, Anna took over as SVP of marketing for the acquirer and later was promoted to Chief Operating Officer.
Most recently, Anna is a co-founder and Investing Partner of XFactor Ventures, a seed fund investing in the next wave of billion dollar female founders, where she focuses on retail innovation, consumer goods and marketplace businesses. She holds a J.D from Harvard Law School, graduating in 2011.
Lauren Stiller Rikleen
Lauren Stiller Rikleen is President of the Rikleen Institute for Strategic Leadership, an author, former law firm partner, mediator, and a leader in professional and community organizations. She is the author of You Raised Us - Now Work With Us: Millennials, Career Success, and Building Strong Workplace Teams, 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. Lauren is also a Visiting Scholar at the Boston College Center for Work & Family in the Carroll School of Management. Within the American Bar Association, Lauren is Co-Chair of the Women’s Caucus and a member of the Standing Committee on Bar Services & Activities. She is also a member of the Board of Editors of the ABA Journal and a Co-Chair of the American Bar Foundation Massachusetts Fellows. Lauren is the recipient of numerous awards, including the prestigious 2017 American Bar Association Margaret Brent Women of Achievement Award. She was also named by Public Media’s Next Avenue as one of the 50 Most Influential People in Aging.
Lesley Rosenthal is Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. Working closely since 2005 with the 80-member Board, President, and the rest of the senior management team of the world’s largest and most comprehensive performing arts center, she oversees all legal aspects of the complex’s financial, physical and human resources, its community building through the arts, its entrepreneurial initiatives in digital media, and international engagement. She is responsible for the legal relationships between the Center and the City of New York as well as the Center’s ten independent resident organizations, including the Metropolitan Opera, the New York Philharmonic, the New York City Ballet, and The Juilliard School. She has been named to the Corporate Counsel 100 Most Influential In-House Lawyers in Business Today.
Rosenthal is the author of the bestselling book, Good Counsel: Meeting the Legal Needs of Nonprofits (John Wiley & Sons 2012), which distills the legal needs of the one million nonprofits in the United States.
A former Chair of the Commercial & Federal Litigation Section of the New York State Bar Association, Rosenthal co-authored the section’s 2017 report, If Not Now, When? Achieving Equality for Women Attorneys in the Courtroom and in ADR. The report, which was widely covered in the NY Times and legal publications, concluded that women litigators make up only 25% of the speaking roles in NY courts and offered recommendations for rectifying women attorneys’ underrepresentation, particularly in large complex commercial cases.
Since the 2016 election, Rosenthal has piloted new seminars and workshops for artists, lawyers, students, and the public interested in activating democracy and advocating for the Rule of Law. Her appearances in the 2017-18 season include moderating events on Arts and the Rule of Law at the World Justice Project Forum in The Hague. Find her on Twitter and Facebook at Let’sROL.
In 2014, Rosenthal was elected by Harvard alumni worldwide for a six-year term on the University’s Board of Overseers. The Overseers exert broad influence over the University’s strategic directions, provide counsel to University leadership, and superintend the visitation process.
Recognized for galvanizing significant financial and pro bono resources for the nonprofit sector, Rosenthal has generated close to $20m in pro bono legal services for Lincoln Center and matched over a hundred lawyers with nonprofits serving indigent people statewide in New York. She serves as Vice President of the New York Bar Foundation and has brought in and stewarded close to $5 million to that organization. As chair of Weinberg Center for Elder Abuse Prevention lawyer’s fundraising breakfast, she has raised close to $1 million toward elder abuse prevention.
She has been recognized with the NYSBA President’s Pro Bono Service Award, the Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts’ Champion of the Arts award, and NOW-nyc’s Woman of Power & Influence award.
Rosenthal practiced law at Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison for 13 years. Previously she served as a law clerk in the Southern District of New York for the Hon. Shirley Wohl Kram.
Rosenthal graduated from Harvard Law School Class of 1989 and received her undergraduate degree in philosophy from Harvard College, magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, in 1986.
Adam Savitt is a 3L at Harvard Law School (HLS) and former neuroscience researcher. He is involved in a number of organizations at the Law School related to psychology and mental health, including the Law & Behavioral Science Student Group and the Student Government Mental Health and Wellness Committee.
Mia Sussman is the Director of Fellowships at Equal Justice Works, where she manages a team that runs the nation’s largest public interest legal fellowship program. She previously worked as a litigation associate in the Washington, D.C. office of Latham & Watkins LLP from 2007-2011, where her practice focused on antitrust litigation. She also helped manage the firm's pro bono program, assisting Holocaust survivors in applying for reparations from Germany. Mia previously worked in public interest positions at the International Senior Lawyers Project in DC and New York, and at the Human Rights Law Network in Delhi, India. Mia is also an Adjunct Professor at the University of Michigan Law School, where she teaches a course on “Pro Bono and BigLaw.” She serves on the Boards of the Washington Council of Lawyers and the Washington Lawyers' Committee of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, as well as the Anti-Defamation League's NextGen Leadership Circle. She received her B.A. summa cum laude from Tufts University and earned her J.D. cum laude from the University of Michigan Law School, where she served as an articles editor for the Michigan Journal of International Law. Mia also holds a Certificate in Nonprofit Management from Duke University.
Gillien Todd is a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, where she has taught the Negotiation Workshop since 2001, and the Harvard Graduate School of Education. As a consultant with Triad Consulting, she teaches workshops on negotiation, difficult conversations, and effective feedback for executives in a variety of industries, including accounting, biotech, computer software, financial services, retail and pharmaceuticals, as well as at top teaching hospitals in Boston and as part of Harvard University’s internal leadership development programs. As an executive coach, Gillien helps leaders navigate their hardest conversations, understand how their own leadership profile impacts their teams, and repair strained relationships. As a facilitator, Gillien has mediated contract negotiations for school districts and symphony orchestras; facilitated strategic relationship management among nonprofit and private sector alliance partnerships; and led a multi-year multi-stakeholder collaboration in the public sector. Gillien’s practice is guided by theories of interest-based negotiation and communication developed by the Harvard Negotiation Project and Triad Consulting; by her work on dialogue and structural dynamics in teams with Dialogix UK and David Kantor, author of Reading the Room: Group Dynamics for Coaches and Leaders; and by her work with Ronald Heifetz, author of Leadership Without Easy Answers. Gillien received her B.A. from Yale University, her M.Ed. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and her J.D. from Harvard Law School. She is schooled in negotiation (daily) by her three children, ages 11 – 15.
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.
Sandra S. Yamate
Sandra Yamate is the CEO of the Institute for Inclusion in the Legal Profession or "IILP." IILP is a charitable and educational organization that is focused on creating a more inclusive legal profession by 1) working to engage lawyers who, historically and traditionally have not been actively involved in D&I efforts; 2) addressing all types of diversity in all practice settings; and, 3) through its research and programming, offering the profession new ways to look at, think about, and act to make itself more diverse and inclusive.
Currently, Sandra is the Chair-Elect of the National Judicial College, the nation’s oldest and largest judicial education institution and serves on the board of the National Association of Women Lawyers. She is a member of the Enhance Diversity in the Profession Committee of the New York City Bar Association where she co-chairs the Global Diversity Sub-committee and a member of the Leadership Advisory Council of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association. Sandra is also an active member of the Chicago Bar Association’s Animal Law Committee. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois and Harvard Law School.
Sandra and her husband, Brian Witkowski, reside in Chicago with their two dogs, Cashew and Filbert.