As the Litigation Director of the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc., Christina Swarns oversees all aspects of LDF’s litigation in its four key practice areas: economic justice, education, political participation and criminal justice. In that capacity, Christina conceptualizes and evaluates new cases and campaigns, reviews and edits all substantive briefs, assists with preparation for oral arguments, and provides overall supervision for the legal staff. Christina also strategically engages the media through the development of messaging themes, press releases, talking points, letters to the editor, op-eds, and other communications vehicles.
Christina has served as Lead Counsel in the litigation of significant impact cases, including Texas v. Duane Buck (challenging a Texas death-sentence that was the product of explicit racial bias), Mumia Abu-Jamal v. Secretary (Pennsylvania death sentence for “world’s most famous death row prisoner” vacated based on improper instruction to sentencing jury), Rosales v. Quarterman (Texas capital murder conviction and death sentence vacated based on intentional discrimination in jury selection by Harris County District Attorney’s Office), Commonwealth v. Whitney (Pennsylvania death sentence vacated based on finding of “mental retardation”), Roper v. Simmons (amicus brief addressing racial discrimination in the administration of the death penalty for child offenders to support abolition of such sentences) and Wilson v. Horn (Pennsylvania capital murder conviction and death sentence vacated based on intentional discrimination in jury selection by Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office).
Christina was previously the Director of LDF’s Criminal Justice Project, where she analyzed, developed and implemented litigation, organizing, public education, communications and other advocacy strategies to ensure that the American criminal justice system is administered fairly and without regard to race such that all communities receive fair and appropriate police protection and that all individuals charged with or convicted of crimes are afforded the safeguards guaranteed by the constitution.
During her tenure as Director of LDF’s Criminal Justice Project, Christina litigated other such significant impact cases as Davis v. NYC (challenging the New York City Police Department’s unlawful pattern and practice of indiscriminately stopping, questioning and arresting Black and Latino New York City Housing Authority residents and guests for purportedly trespassing), State of Mississippi v. Brister (life without parole sentence for child offender vacated), Miller v. Alabama (amicus brief addressing racial discrimination in the origins of juvenile life without parole sentencing to support abolition of such sentences), Maples v. Thomas (amicus brief urging a constitutional right to effective assistance of post-conviction counsel in capital cases), Graham v. Florida (amicus brief addressing the challenges faced by children navigating the criminal justice system to support abolition of juvenile life without parole sentencing for non-homicide offenders), and Berghuis v. Smith (amicus brief addressing requirements for jury fair cross-section challenge).
Christina conceptualized and implemented an expansion of the Criminal Justice Project to include organizing capacity in order to deepen LDF’s capacity to achieve long term systemic change and more effectively engage the African-American community in identifying problems and developing/implementing reforms. She developed public education events and materials including LDF’s Annual Capital Punishment Training Conference (“Airlie”), the LDF/Columbia Law School 2007 Symposium, Pursuing Racial Fairness in Criminal Justice: 20 Years After McCleskey v. Kemp, multiple informational fact-sheets, and LDF’s authoritative report, No Chance to Make it Right: Juvenile Life Without Parole Sentencing in Mississippi.
Prior to joining LDF, Christina served as a Supervising Assistant Federal Defender and Assistant Federal Defender at the Capital Habeas Unit of the Defender Association of Philadelphia’s Federal Court Division. While there, Christina represented numerous death- sentenced prisoners whose convictions and/or death-sentences were reversed, including Nicholas Yarris, the first death row prisoner in Pennsylvania to be exonerated by DNA evidence. She was also a Staff Attorney with the Legal Aid Society’s Criminal Defense Division in New York.
Christina earned a J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School and a B.A. from Howard University.
Bruce Jackson is an Associate General Counsel for Microsoft where he currently supports the Global Sales, Marketing & Operations (GSMO), U.S. Regulated Industries, Financial Services, Health and Life Sciences and Public Sector, Group. In this role, he leads the engagement of a $13 billion business and manages a team of (15) Fifteen. Bruce is a passionate proponent for Diversity and Inclusion. Mr. Jackson has spoken about the general necessity, corporate responsibility and economic advantages of Diversity and Inclusion.
Jackson began his career at Microsoft in 2000 as corporate counsel for the Digital Media Division. Determined to play a pioneering role in digital media, Jackson accepted Microsoft’s offer to work for the top technology company while supporting and learning from a regulatory and technical development standpoint. He was one of the first attorneys coming out of the music industry where music was being distributed in a physical format to work with a company that supported a different form of distribution that no one envisioned.
He brought a broad and unique skill set to the division as an established Entertainment attorney. Equipped with a B.B.A. in Public Accounting from Hofstra University, a JD and LL.M. in Taxation from Georgetown University Law Center; Bruce Jackson founded the law firm of Jackson, Brown, Powell and St. George. The firm concentrated its areas of practice in highly specialized Entertainment law.
Bruce has been a member of Microsoft’s Law and Corporate Affairs (LCA) diversity committee since 2001. He has been recognized for helping to shape Microsoft’s legal department’s diversity efforts, including organizing and executing the first LCA Women and Minority Law student IP Summit in New York.
Bruce’s personal commitment to diversity, inclusion, community and youth is demonstrated through his numerous civic activities. He is a current board member of the National Association for Women and Minority Owned Law Firms and the African American Chamber of Commerce for Westchester and Rockland County
Bruce Jackson is a 2011 recipient of both Microsoft’s Diversity Award and for his ongoing commitment, accomplishments and sustained high level of contributions across a broad range of organizations and activities.
D’Arcy Kemnitz brings more than two decades of non-profit and social justice experience to her role as The LGBT Bar’s executive director. Under her leadership, The Bar has become the largest and most recognized organization of LGBT legal professionals in the country. In addition to orchestrating a coalition of more than 25 local, state, and regional LGBT bar associations, and dozens of LGBT law student associations, D’Arcy has overseen the annual “Lavender Law” Conference and Career Fair with thousands of attendees each year.
D’Arcy is a frequently quoted expert on LGBT legal issues, appearing in media outlets including The ABA Journal, ABC News, Time Magazine, and others. She is a distinguished graduate of the University of Wisconsin and the Hamline University School of Law. She has experience speaking on a number of issues related to LGBT rights and the law and is available to speak at future events.
Jean Lee is the President and CEO of the Minority Corporate Counsel Association (MCCA), a national organization focused on hiring, promoting and retaining women and diverse attorneys by providing cutting-edge research, best practices and training.
Prior to joining MCCA, Ms. Lee served as Vice President and Assistant General Counsel at JP Morgan Chase & Co. where she worked on consumer litigation and regulatory matters. Before joining JP Morgan Chase & Co. in 2011, Ms. Lee worked on litigation matters at a boutique litigation firm in New York City and started her career as a law clerk to the Honorable John J. Hughes, United States Magistrate Judge (retired), in the District of New Jersey.
She graduated from New York University with a B.A. in Politics and Psychology and a M.S.W. in Social Work. Ms. Lee received her J.D. from Rutgers University School of Law, where she was a Senior Editor of the Rutgers Law Record.
Ms. Lee served on Asian American Bar Association of New York’s Board of Directors from 2010 to 2016 and as its President in 2012. In 2014, the Council of Urban Professionals recognized Ms. Lee as a Catalyst: Change Agent | Law and in 2015, she was recognized as a Trailblazer by the Korean American Lawyers Association of Greater New York. Currently, she serves on the Select Committee for the Legends in Law Award for the Burton Foundation.
Judge Parker was sworn into office on November 4, 2016. She received a B.A. degree, cum laude, from Duke University in 1989. In 1992, she received her J.D., cum laude, from Fordham University School of Law, where she was elected to the Order of the Coif. She was a Notes & Articles Editor for the Fordham Law Review.
From November 2000 through October 2016 she was a partner at Proskauer Rose LLP where she practiced labor and employment law and chaired several practice groups including Employment and Law Counseling and Training and Government Regulatory Relations and Affirmative Action. She was associated with the Proskauer firm from October 1993 through October 2000 as an associate. While at Proskauer, she had an active litigation career in cases involving the full gamut of federal, state and local employment laws. She also litigated cases involving fair housing, civil rights, non-compete, contract and employee benefits disputes.
While at Proskauer, Katharine was elected to be a Fellow of The College of Labor and Employment Lawyers and consistently honored in various listings such as Best Lawyers in America and New York Super Lawyers.
Judge Parker clerked for the Honorable Warren W. Eginton in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut prior to joining Proskauer.
Judge Parker has been actively involved with the NYC Bar Association during her career, and has chaired both the Disability Law and Employment Committees. Judge Parker is also involved in pro bono and charitable causes, including the Michael J. Fox Foundation and Girl Be Heard. She was a recipient of the Fairy Godmother Award from Girl Be Heard and the Jeremy Epstein Award for Pro Bono Service from the NYC Bar Association.
June Witterschein is the Law Department's Director of Professional and Organizational Development, where she creates and implements the Continuing Legal Education curriculum for the Department’s 1000 attorneys. June and her staff are responsible for programming for the professional development of the Department’s employees, and they oversee the agency's diversity training programs, and the Department's Coaching Collaborative. June began her legal career in the Law Department in 1978 in the Appeals Division, and then served as Deputy Chief of the Legal Counsel Division. In 1990, June left the Department and later served as a law clerk to the then Presiding Judge Sylvia Pressler of the New Jersey Appellate Division. June taught for nine years at Seton Hall University School of Law, before returning to the Law Department in 2003.
June is admitted to practice in the Courts of the State of New York, the US Courts for the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York, and the United States Supreme Court. She currently serves on the Mediation Panel of the Southern District of New York, and on the Law Department's Management Committee. June is also a member of the New York City Bar Association’s Committee to Enhance Diversity in the Profession.
Lorraine S. McGowen is a restructuring partner at Orrick, a leading global law firm focused on serving the financial, energy & infrastructure and tech sectors. One of IFLR1000’s Leading Lawyers, she is a seasoned legal practitioner and business advisor involved in the most complex transactions where parties are seeking to maximize recoveries or reduce liabilities.
Recent engagements include representing Toyota (one of the largest creditors with more than $7 billion in claims) in the highly complex global restructuring of Takata Corporation, one of the largest manufacturers and distributors of automotive safety systems, including airbags; representing financial institutions in connection with Puerto Rico’s $70 billion restructuring; representing VMware in connection with the assumption of its vendor contracts and enforcement of its claims in the chapter 11 reorganization of Windstream and its subsidiaries; and representing several alternative energy PPA counterparties in connection with the assumption of their power purchase agreements and enforcement of their claims in the PG&E chapter 11 bankruptcy case.
She is a member of Orrick’s Management Committee and also co-leads Orrick's Automotive Technology & Mobility Group and its global Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (D&I) Initiative.
As a leading D&I advocate, McGowen creates programs for the legal profession and the community. She has been recognized as an MCCA Rainmaker, Savoy’s Most Influential Black Lawyers in 2018 and 2015, and Savoy’s Most Influential Women in Corporate America and received the National Bar Association’s Outstanding Woman at a Majority Firm, NYC Bar Association’s Diversity Champion Award and Legal Outreach’s Pipeline to Diversity Champion Award.
McGowen received her B.S.F.S. from Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, and her J.D. from Columbia University School of Law.
Maja Hazell is the Global Head of Diversity & Inclusion at White & Case. She oversees the Firm's global D&I strategy as a member of the Business Services Leadership team and reports to the Firm’s Chair and Chief Operating Officer. Following seven years of practice at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP, Maja has led diversity and inclusion and career development initiatives for over 15 years, also working for law firms, Fried Frank LLP, as their Director of Diversity and Inclusion, and as an Assistant Dean for Career Development at Pace University School of Law. Maja is a member and past President of the Association of Law Firm Diversity Professionals, and a member of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, NALP, and Professional Development Consortium. Maja currently serves as a member of the Executive Committee and Board of the New York Urban League, Hunter College Pre-Law Advisory Board and the New York City Bar Association (NYCBA) Committee to Enhance Diversity in the Profession. She previously served on the NYCBA Committee on Recruitment and Retention of Lawyers, assisting in its administration of their long-standing Diversity Fellowship Program, and as a founding member of the Leadership Institute Board of Advisors of the Council of Urban Professionals. She received her B.A. in English from Yale University and J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center. Maja is also a certified graduate of Accomplishment Coaching, an ICF-accredited leadership coach training program. She is a frequent speaker on diversity and career development issues.
Nate Saint Victor is an Executive Director at Morgan Stanley where he provides legal advice on the securities laws, with a focus on prime brokerage, securities lending and fund administration. Previously, Nate provided legal advice to the Wealth Management division on broker-dealer and investment advisory issues with a focus on research, development and distribution of alternative investments. Nate started his legal career in the Investment Management Group at Davis Polk. Nate has previously served on the SIFMA Alternative Investments Roundtable, Investment Adviser/Broker-Dealer Task Force, and Investment Advisory Committee as well as the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) Board Business Model Working Group. Nate regularly speaks on issues related to securities laws, diversity and inclusion and professional development.
Nate mobilizes resources for innovation and change within the legal profession through his leadership positions with My Brother’s Keeper My Sister’s Keeper, the Alliance of Securities and Financial Educators (ASAFE), the Council of Urban Professionals (CUP), Legal Outreach, the National Association of Minority and Women Owned Law Firms (NAMWOLF), and the NYC Bar Association, where he sits on the Executive Committee.
Nate is a former Chair of the Morgan Stanley Legal and Compliance Division Diversity & Inclusion Committee, a 2018 Savoy Most Influential Black Attorney, 2017 Metropolitan Black Bar Association “Trailblazer of the Year,” 2015 CUP Catalyst Change Agent in Law, and 2009 CUP Fellow. Nate also enjoys mentoring through LEAD, and Legal Outreach and was recognized by Legal Outreach as an “Elder of the Village,” the organization’s highest honor.
Nate co-authored the “Power of Partnering” article, summarized here and available at the NAMWOLF website, describing best practices for majority and minority- or women-owned law firms to co-partner on client matters.
Nate graduated from Duke University, where he co-founded the Duke Business and Investment Clubs, and Georgetown Law, where he served on the Journal for Gender and the Law, the award-winning Frederick Douglass Moot Court team and as President of the Black Law Student Association.
Pamela A. Gibbs serves as the Chief Diversity Officer for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). As head of the agency’s Office of Minority and Women Inclusion, Ms. Gibbs provides strategic and operational leadership to ensure the SEC’s diversity and inclusion strategy advances the goals of the agency’s core mission—protecting investors. Under the direction of Ms. Gibbs, the SEC has developed strategic partnerships and alliances with diverse educational institutions, professional organizations, and community-based organizations, increased the utilization of minority-owned and women-owned businesses in the agency’s supply chain, and developed diversity standards for the more than 25,000 entities regulated by the SEC. In addition, the SEC has initiated an enhanced national outreach program to attract a diverse talent pool for current and future employment opportunities.
Prior to joining the SEC, Ms. Gibbs served as the Director for the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Ms. Gibbs began her career at the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of the Solicitor, as a trial attorney in the Civil Rights Division, enforcing employment opportunity laws administered by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs. Later she represented the agency on internal employment discrimination and labor relations matters primarily before the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Merit System Protections Board, and the Federal Labor Relations Authority. Ms. Gibbs is a graduate of the University of Virginia and the Georgetown University Law Center.
Stacey M. Gray is the principal of Stacey Gray, PC, an employment law firm that represents employers, members of management and employees in state, federal and appellate courts, as well as resolving disputes through litigation, arbitration, mediation and negotiations. Gray counsels and represents management and executives at all stages of an employment dispute, including administrative proceedings, investigations, due diligence, internal grievances and appeals. She negotiates, enforces and cancels employment contracts, bonus pay, fiduciary duties and restrictive covenants for managing directors and executives in the financial industry.
Gray’s representation also includes discrimination and retaliation, sexual harassment, wrongful termination, and whistleblower claims in addition to related causes of action.
Gray’s cost-effective skillset helps clients avoid disputes by counseling and training management and employees on workplace policies and practices that are tailored to the size and needs of an organization. The firm advises members of management on a spectrum of city, state and federal laws to ensure their compliance and offers the necessary perspective at the appropriate time. The firm also is MWBE certified.
She is a regular panelist and coordinator for employment law and diversity programs.
The New York Law Journal has profiled Gray twice about her work. Most recently in 2015, the New York Law Journal awarded her firm an Honorable Mention for its efforts to diversify the legal profession. Previously, the New York State Bar Association’s Labor and Employment Law Section selected Gray to be a Diversity Fellow, and the Women’s Venture Fund in New York awarded her firm the Highest Leaf Award.
Gray is an active member of the Federal Bar Council and a long-standing member of its Program Committee which plans Continuing Legal Education programs. In 2014, she also published a paper with the law firm, Jackson Lewis, Developments in Employment Litigation and Arbitration, for the Federal Bar Council. The New State Bar Association published an article she wrote, The Mediation Process: Pre-Mediation Preparation Through Private Caucus Negotiations, in its NY Litigator.
Gray received her law degree from Berkeley Law at the University of California and undergraduate degree from Duke University. This year she served as Co-Chair for her 20th reunion at Duke University. Previously, Gray served as a Board Member for Duke University’s Alumni Association and a member of its Council on Women Studies.
A leading researcher, author and advisor in the fields of leadership and inclusion, Arin studied business at DePaul University’s College of Commerce, attended law school at University of Southern California and received her Ph.D. in Sociology from Northwestern University.
Arin is a best-selling author of two books – The Next IQ and One Size Never Fits All – and she is the President of the research and advisory firm, Nextions (pronounced “connections” without the “co”), a new way of seeing and doing leadership and inclusion. Arin has designed and led several comprehensive research projects on leadership and inclusion in topics ranging from gender equity, cultural integration and implicit bias to transformational leadership and working through generational differences.
Before Nextions (formerly The Athens Group), Arin practiced law for several years and also served as an Adjunct Professor at Northwestern University where she taught classes on law and society.
Arin’s book, The Next IQ: The Next Generation of Intelligence for 21st Century Leaders, was a publisher best-seller upon its release in January, 2012, and her latest book One Size Never Fits All: Business Development Strategies Tailored for Women (And Most Men) was released in August 2014. She has also authored a chapter on creativity, innovation and inclusion entitled “Creating Creativity” for the Global Innovation Science Handbook, the premier resource for innovation practitioners. Arin has been featured on NPR for her work on inclusion is cited often in online and traditional media as an expert in leadership and inclusion in workplaces. She is a Fellow of Leadership Greater Chicago, and she was recognized as a Rising Star by the Anti-Defamation League. Her column “Diversity in Practice” was recognized by the Herman Kogan Media Awards for excellence in journalism.
Arin is an avid amateur photographer and has been “outed” in the Wall Street Journal as a professional addict of all things politics. She is a “creatively maladjusted” catalyst for better leadership and smarter intelligence, and she lives in Chicago with her husband and two children.
As of January 2018, Anna L. Brown is the Global Director of Diversity and Inclusion at Baker McKenzie, a global law firm with 77 offices in 55 countries. In her new role, Anna will develop and execute holistic and integrated D&I strategies to achieve the Firm’s short and long term D&I objectives. Anna is responsible for leading and promoting the awareness of diversity and inclusion issues both across the Firm and to an external market.
In her previous role as North America Director of Diversity & Inclusion, Anna was responsible for designing and implementing all aspects of the Firm's internal and external diversity and inclusion strategic initiatives in North America. She brings more than 17 years of experience designing, implementing and directing all aspects of diversity and inclusion initiatives, including education, retention, advancement and inclusion strategies. Prior to joining Baker McKenzie, Anna served as Global Director of Diversity and Inclusion/Special Attorney at Shearman & Sterling.
In 2015, Anna received the Diversity and Inclusion Trailblazer Champion Award from the New York City Bar Association, recognizing her critical role in initiating and sustaining change within her organization and the overall New York legal community. Anna is the co-author of “Diversity in Action: A Manual for Diversity Professionals in Law,” published by the American Bar Association for individuals holding diversity roles in law firms and corporate legal departments, and is a frequent lecturer and panelist on topics related to diversity and inclusion in the legal profession.
Anna serves on the New York City Bar Association Committee to Enhance Diversity in the Profession and is a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation, member of the American Bar Association and a past President of the Association of Law Firm Diversity Professionals.Prior to her role leading diversity and inclusion efforts, Anna started her law career at Shearman & Sterling in its capital markets group and subsequently served as Associate General Counsel at Continuum Health Partners. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the Citizens' Committee for Children of New York, a non-profit advocacy group for New York City children, and the Mount Sinai Medical Legal Partnership. Anna earned her J.D. cum laude from Howard University Law School.
Gabrielle Lyse Brown is the Director of Diversity and Inclusion for the New York City Bar, where she leads the Association’s efforts to enhance diversity in the legal profession across a broad range of internal and external constituents, including law firms, corporate legal departments, nonprofit organizations and educators to foster diverse and inclusive work environments. Previously, she founded the City Bar’s Pipeline Initiative, which provides comprehensive programming for inner-city students to address academic support and enrichment, professional and substantive skill development, networking/mentoring opportunities and exposure to the legal profession.
Gabrielle is committed to diversity in the profession and is active in several like-minded organizations. She is a member of the Executive Board of Directors of Practicing Attorneys for Law Students, Inc. (PALS), the Institute for Inclusion in the Legal Profession (IILP) Advisory Board, The Association for Legal Career Professionals (NALP), the Oberlin College Alumni Council, and is a 2014 Council of Urban Professionals (CUP) Fellow and member of the Alumni Board. She speaks regularly on developing diversity and inclusion initiatives, professional readiness, mentoring, and networking.
Mark Roellig is Executive Vice President and General Counsel of Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (“MassMutual”), the parent company of a global, growth-oriented, diversified financial services organization, listed 94th in Fortune’s ranking of America’s largest corporations with more than $651 billion in total assets under management. MassMutual is headquartered in Springfield, Massachusetts. In his capacity as MassMutual’s General Counsel, Mark is responsible for all the legal affairs of the Company and advises management and the board of directors to ensure that MassMutual complies with corporate-governance requirements and safeguards the interests of MassMutual’s policyholders. He is also responsible for the corporate secretary, corporate compliance, internal audit, government relations and the Corporate Business Resources and Real Estate and Facilities Departments of MassMutual. Prior to joining MassMutual in 2005, he served as general counsel and secretary to three public companies before their sale/merger: Fisher Scientific International Inc., Storage Technology Corporation (“StorageTek”) and U S WEST Inc. He received his bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the University of Michigan, his law degree from George Washington University and his MBA from the University of Washington. Mark is currently an adjunct facility member at the University of Colorado Law School and teaches a class on “An Introduction to In-House Practice”.