Skip to main content

Diversity & Inclusion in Law Practice 2018

Speaker(s): Adrienne D. Gonzalez, Angela C. Winfield, D'Arcy Kemnitz, Debbie Epstein Henry, Diane T. Ashley, E. Macey Russell, Jennifer Prioleau, Lorraine S. McGowen, Michelle C. Ifill, N. Nate Saint Victor, Sandra S. Yamate, Satra Sampson-Arokium, Sonia Low, Tanya K. Hernández, Vanessa Abrahams-John
Recorded on: Apr. 20, 2018
PLI Program #: 220523

Adrienne D. Gonzalez, Esq. is Lead of the BOLD (Black Organization for Leadership & Development) People & Business Resource Group, an industry groundbreaking leadership role created by Bristol-Myers Squibb's as part of its people strategy and efforts to become more powerfully diverse and broadly inclusive. As Lead, Adrienne is the full-time general manager of BOLD with responsibility for the development and execution of the strategic and operational plans tied directly to BMS business priorities. In this role, Adrienne reports to Executive Vice President & General Counsel Sandra Leung and the Global Diversity & Inclusion Council, chaired by CEO Giovanni Caforio, M.D.

Adrienne previously served as Senior Counsel in the Litigation and Government Investigations Group where she managed product liability litigation and consumer protection litigation, as well as government investigations. She also handled commercial matters and provided litigation counseling to the business units.

Before joining BMS, Adrienne focused her practice in the area of product liability and mass torts and spent five months seconded in Pfizer’s Civil Litigation group where she assisted in the management of product liability matters and provided litigation counseling to the business units.

In 2016, she was named a "Rising Star" by the Healthcare Businesswomen's Association (HBA). In 2017, she was awarded the Ruth Whitehead Whaley Professional Achievement Award by the Association of Black Women Attorneys and recognized as a Trailblazer by Black Women of Influence (BWOI).

Adrienne is a graduate of St. John’s University (summa cum laude) and St. John’s University School of Law.

Angela Winfield is the Director of Inclusion and Workforce Diversity at Cornell University. In this role, she provides leadership, vision, energy, and a unified philosophy to the university’s diversity, inclusion, and engagement efforts.  As one of four university diversity officers with her dedicated focus on Cornell’s over 7,000 staff members, Winfield develops and implements strategies to create an inclusive environment that supports Cornell’s commitment to a diverse workforce. She oversees and implements the university’s affirmative action program, is the equal employment compliance officer and one of three Americans with Disabilities Act coordinators for the campus.

Winfield is Of Counsel with Barclay Damon in its Commercial Litigation practice group and previously served as Program Manager for the Northeast ADA Center where she provided information, training and technical assistance on the Americans with Disabilities Act to stakeholders in New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. She is a past commissioner for the American Bar Association’s Commission on Disability Rights and serves on the Pathways to the Profession subcommittee on bias interrupters. She also is an advisory board member for the Burton Blatt Institute at Syracuse University and sits on the board of directors for Gadabout Transportation Services, Inc. Winfield is also a certified success and leadership coach and motivational speaker.

Winfield earned her J.D. from Cornell Law School and her B.A. from Barnard College of Columbia University.

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.

Debbie Epstein Henry is an internationally recognized expert, consultant, best-selling author and public speaker on careers, workplaces, women and law.  Since the late 1990s, she has crisscrossed the globe and spoken to thousands of people who want to improve the trajectory of their careers and make their workplaces more hospitable for all employees.  Her 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 nearly 20 years, hundreds of news outlets have featured Debbie’s work including The New York Times, NBC Nightly News, The Wall Street Journal, National Public Radio, The American Lawyer and many more.

Debbie is the author of LAW & REORDER: Legal Industry Solutions for Restructure, Retention, Promotion & Work/Life Balance, the #1 best-selling American Bar Association Flagship book for 2011 and the co-author of another ABA best-selling Flagship book in 2015, FINDING BLISS: Innovative Legal Models for Happy Clients & Happy Lawyers.  Debbie conceived of the Best Law Firms for Women initiative, a national survey she developed with Working Mother to annually select the top 50 law firms for women and report on industry trends which she ran for a decade.  By 2008, Debbie’s public speaking, press exposure and advocacy enabled her to build a national network of over 10,000 lawyers.  From there, in 2011, she joined forces with two colleagues to co-found Bliss Lawyers, a company that employs high caliber attorneys to work on "secondments" where the attorneys work on temporary engagements for in-house legal department and law firm clients.  Bliss has expanded to also handle temp to perm and direct hire placements and the company has attorneys employed for clients nationally, from New York to California.

Debbie has received numerous awards including being named among the Philadelphia Business Journal "Women of Distinction”.  In May 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 volunteers her time with a number of non-profits including the Forum of Executive Women where she is a Member of the Board and Co-Chair of the annual Leadership Symposium.  Debbie is Chair of Brooklyn Law School Women’s Leadership Circle which runs a national women’s law student and alumnae initiative.  She is also a Member of the New York City Bar Committee to Enhance Diversity in the Profession.  Debbie received her B.A. in Psychology from Yale and her J.D. cum laude from Brooklyn Law School.  A native New Yorker, she lives in the Philadelphia suburbs with her husband, Gordon; they have three sons.  For more information, please visit

Diane T. Ashley is Chief Diversity Officer in the executive office of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (FRBNY). She is also director of FRBNY’s Dodd- Frank mandated Office of Minority and Women Inclusion. An industry leader with more than 20 years of experience in diversity-related roles, Ashley launched the Federal Reserve System’s (FRS) first Office of Diversity and Inclusion in 2007. Her Function has served as a model throughout the FRS, and has been recognized nationally.  During her tenure, Ashley has made presentations at Reserve Banks, the Federal Reserve System’s Conference of Board Chairs, Audit Chairs Committee, as well as Rutgers University and NYU Wagner School. A member of the Executive Leadership Council since 2004, Ashley recently completed two terms as a board member. She is a Charter planning member of the ELC Women’s Leadership Forum. Notably, in 2010, she hosted ELC women to a private conversation with then- Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.  She has been an active member on six non-profit boards. She currently serves on the boards of Rutgers University School of Business and the New York Theological Seminary, an accredited graduate institution, serving as board chair from 2002-2012. Prior to joining FRBNY, Ashley worked at Citigroup, leading efforts in diversity recruitment, workforce diversity, and re-launch of supplier diversity.  Under her leadership, Citi’s spending with women and minorities increased from $400MM to $1B, with two pilot programs established in Europe. Ashley holds a bachelor’s degree in French from Yale University, with a year of study at the Sorbonne in Paris. She also earned a Master of Education in human resources education from Boston University and a Juris Doctor from Rutgers University School of Law.

Jennifer Prioleau is lead counsel for the Graphic Solutions Business (GSB) within the Printing and Personal Systems Group. Jennifer oversees legal support across GSB as well as provides legal counsel to the following GSB divisions: Large Format Design, Large Format Production and Industrial (Scitex), Specialty Printing Systems (SPS), and Inkjet High-speed Production Solutions (IHPS). Prior to this role, Jennifer also worked as lead trademark and copyright counsel for HP’s Personal Systems Group.

Before joining HP in 2009, Jennifer served as Assistant General Counsel for Maidenform Brands, Inc., a global intimate apparel company. In this role, she managed intellectual property, licensing, product marketing, and commercial contracting matters among others. Prior to this role, Jennifer worked as an associate at Brinks, Hofer, Gilson & Lione, a large Intellectual Property boutique law firm where she conducted all aspects of intellectual property litigation support and also counseled clients in the areas of copyright, right of publicity, unfair competition, trademark, false advertising, and Internet related matters. Prior to her law career, Jennifer worked as a producer for CNN and NBC in Moscow, Russia.

Jennifer holds a J.D. degree from Northwestern University School of Law and received her B.A. in International Relations and Russian Area Studies from Tufts University.

Lorraine S. McGowen is a restructuring partner at Orrick, a leading global law firm focused on serving the financial, and 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 the bondholder committee on the restructuring of Suriname’s $675 million Sovereign Bond Restructuring, representing the steering members of the bondholder committee on the tender offer and consent solicitation of Belize’s USD Bonds due 2034; representing financial institutions in connection with Puerto Rico’s $72 billion restructuring; representing several alternative energy PPA counterparties in the PG&E bankruptcy case; and 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. 

She is a member of Orrick’s Management Committee and is the Partner in Charge of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. She also co-leads Orrick's Automotive Technology & Mobility Group. 

As a leading D&I advocate, McGowen creates programs for the legal profession and the community.  She has been recognized as an MCCA Rainmaker, one of Savoy’s Most Influential Black Lawyers in 2018 and 2015, and one of 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. 




Macey Russell is a senior partner in the firm’s Complex Trial and Appellate group and represents major corporations and financial institutions in litigation matters in state and federal courts.  He is listed in Best Lawyers in America, and is a Litigation Counsel of America Trial Lawyer Honorary Society member, American Bar Foundation Fellow, and College of Law Practice Management Fellow.  The Burton Foundation and Library of Congress presented him with a Burton Award for his co-authored article entitled, Developing Great Minority Lawyers for the Next Generation.  He serves on the Advisory Board of the Institute for Inclusion in the Legal Profession and has authored several articles on African Americans in the legal profession. He also serves on the firm’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee and Hiring Committee.

Over a 20 year span, Mr. Russell served as a frequent advisor and contributor to Harvard University Law School’s Trial Advocacy Workshop.  From 2011 until 2014, Mr. Russell chaired the Judicial Nominating Commission of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, which recommended judicial appointments to the Governor.  He graduated from Trinity College in Hartford, CT in 1980 and Suffolk University Law School in 1983.

Michelle C. Ifill is the Senior Vice President and General Counsel of Verizon Corporate Services Group, Inc., responsible for primary legal oversight and support of Information Technology and Cyber Security, as well as the Chief Administrative Office, which includes Sourcing, Global Real Estate and Aviation & Fleet Management. Michelle’s team also has primary responsibility for a variety of intellectual property and financial services areas.

Before this most recent appointment, Michelle was Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary for Verizon’s Enterprise Solutions legal organization. In this capacity, she was responsible for representing the legal and regulatory interests for Verizon’s $18 billion global business unit which oversees all of Verizon's wireless, wireline, IT and Cloud capabilities for enterprise and government customers globally. Prior to this role, Michelle was Vice President and Deputy General Counsel responsible for supporting Verizon’s global enterprise sales organization, where she led a team that provided commercial legal counsel and contract negotiation support for more than $15 billion in revenue generated in the U.S., Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Michelle is a Co-Chair of the Verizon Legal Diversity & Inclusion Council and sits on the Board of Trustees for SUNY Purchase College Foundation as Governance Chair. Active in the mentoring of students and young professionals, Michelle is an Advisory Board Member of the Ron Brown Scholars Program. Michelle is also engaged in the importance of diversity in the legal profession and speaks on the subject often, as well as on issues surrounding executive leadership for women, information security, global corporate governance and compliance.

Michelle received a Bachelor of Arts from Brown University and her law degree from Harvard Law School.

Nate Saint Victor is a mission-driven financial services executive with over 19 years of experience within the financial and legal services sectors with substantive experience in analyzing structural dynamics and innovation barriers and implementing strategies for growth and change.  Nate has a proven track record of developing best practices, communicating to stakeholders, and serving in leadership roles as a solutions-oriented trusted advisor.

Nate is General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer at Engine No. 1.  Engine No. 1 is an investment firm that is driving long-term value by tying social and environmental commitments to economic outcomes. The firm was founded on the shared belief that a company’s ability to create long-term shareholder value depends on the investments it makes in its employees, customers, communities, and the environment.  Previously, Nate was an Executive Director at Morgan Stanley, where he provided legal counsel focused on its prime brokerage, securities lending and fund administration businesses.  Previous to that role, Nate counseled the wealth management division on broker-dealer and investment advisory issues with a focus on research, development and distribution of alternative investments and sat on private fund adviser boards of directors and as a member of internal risk committees.  Nate started his legal career in the Investment Management Group at Davis Polk.

Nate has served on multiple industry groups, including the SIFMA Prime Brokerage Securities Lending Committee, 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, and has written, on topics related to securities laws, diversity, ethics and professional development.

Nate recently completed a term on the Board of Directors for the New York City Bar Association, where he chaired the Audit and Nomination Committees and previously Co-Chaired the ABCNY’s Diversity Committee. Nate mobilizes resources to promote innovation and change, including through his leadership positions with the Alliance of Securities and Financial Educators (ASAFE), the Council of Urban Professionals (CUP), Legal Outreach, My Brother’s Keeper My Sister’s Keeper, the National Association of Minority and Women Owned Law Firms (NAMWOLF) and Orrick’s Diversity Advisory Board.

Nate is Chair Emeritus 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 and was recognized by Legal Outreach as an “Elder of the Village,” the organization’s highest honor.

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. 

Sandra S. Yamate is the CEO of the Institute for Inclusion in the Legal Profession. She spent the preceding ten years as the Director of the American Bar Association’s Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession. She was the first Executive Director of the Chicago Committee on Minorities in Large Law Firms. Prior to that, Sandra was a litigator in Chicago for ten years.

Currently, Sandra serves on the boards of the National Judicial College, where she chairs the Nominations and Governance Committee, and the National Association of Women Lawyers, where she is part of the Advocacy and Survey Committees.  Sandra was a founding member of the Asian American Bar Association of the Greater Chicago Area and the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, where she served as the first Central Region Governor and continues to serve on the Leadership Advisory Council. She is a former president of the Japanese American Service Committee, the oldest Asian American social service agency in the Midwest and the Harvard Law Society of Illinois. She is a former member of the boards of the Japanese American Citizens League, the Asian American Institute, the National Women’s Political Caucus of Metropolitan Chicago, the Girl Scouts of Chicago, Friends of the Chicago Public Library, the Asian Pacific American Women’s Leadership Institute, and Asian Americans for Inclusive Education. She has written and spoken extensively on diversity in the legal profession and on multicultural children’s literature.

Sandra earned her AB in Political Science (cum laude) and History (magna cum laude) from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. She received her JD from Harvard Law School.

Sandra, her husband, Brian Witkowski, and their dogs, Cashew and Filbert, live in Chicago’s Ravenswood neighborhood.

Satra Sampson-Arokium is the global director of Diversity and Inclusion at global law firm Dechert LLP. She is responsible for strategic oversight, design and implementation of the firm’s diversity and inclusion initiatives for more than 900 lawyers in 27 offices and 12 countries. Mrs. Sampson-Arokium works with firm leadership and the Diversity and Inclusion Committee to advance Dechert’s guiding principles of building a more inclusive culture. Dechert earned a 100% on the HRC’s Corporate Equality Index Score for the sixth year in a row and 50% of lawyers promoted to partner on January 1, 2018 were women. Prior to joining Dechert, Mrs. Sampson-Arokium served in the same capacity at global law firm Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP.

Prior to Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer, Mrs. Sampson-Arokium spent over a decade at Deloitte in various roles including chief of staff for Global Enterprise Risk Services and then as senior consultant for Global Diversity. Mrs. Sampson-Arokium is an accomplished and results-driven business partner with a demonstrated track record of solving complex challenges and delivering strategic solutions. She is a visionary leader with the experience and discipline to drive change management, brand eminence, inclusive leadership and cultural transformation.

Mrs. Sampson-Arokium serves as a board member of the Association of Law Firm Diversity Professionals (ALFDP), vice president of Jack & Jill of America, Inc. - Eastern Fairfield County Chapter, and a volunteer with College Summit.

Mrs. Sampson-Arokium holds a Masters of Public Administration from Marist College and earned a B.A. in Political Science from the State University of New York at Albany.

Sonia Low is the General Counsel of The ONE Group Hospitality, Inc., a publicly-traded, global hospitality company and the creator of the international restaurant brand STK®.  In addition to developing, owning and operating upscale, high-energy restaurants and lounges, The ONE Group provides turn-key food and beverage services – ONE Hospitality® – for hotels, casinos and other high-end locations, such as the W Hotel, Cosmopolitan Hotel, Hippodrome Casino, ME Hotels and Hyatt Hotels.  As General Counsel, Sonia advises the board, executive officers and employees of the company as well as oversee the legal affairs of the company and its subsidiaries and affiliates.  Prior to joining The ONE Group as its first in-house counsel in 2014, she was the General Counsel and only in-house lawyer of Chinese-American Planning Council, Inc., a large nonprofit organization serving the Chinese-American, immigrant and low-income communities of New York City by providing social, educational and community services.

Ms. Low’s restaurant industry experience includes prior representation of companies such as Benihana and Patina Restaurant Group, at which she facilitated the acquisition of The Smith & Wollensky Restaurant Group restaurants outside of New York.   She also served as in-house corporate counsel at Credit Suisse where she represented private equity groups on legal and compliance matters and managed corporate risk, and at Automatic Data Processing, Inc. where she advised on securities laws and regulatory and compliance matters.  

Ms. Low began her career at a major international law firm where she specialized in capital markets, mergers and acquisitions, corporate governance and regulatory compliance.  While working at the law firm, she spent one year at the Paris office advising European clients on U.S. securities, employment, tax, litigation and insurance laws.  Ms. Low also led pro bono projects representing not-for-profit organizations such as Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts and the American Civil Liberties Union.

Prior to entering private practice, Ms. Low served as a judicial law clerk to the Honorable Ronald L. Ellis in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.  Ms. Low received her J.D. from Brooklyn Law School where she was a merit-based scholarship recipient and managing editor of The Journal of International Law.  A native of New York City, Ms. Low received her J.D. from Brooklyn Law School and her B.A from Columbia University.

Ms. Low currently serves on the Board of Directors of two organizations, Asian American Bar Association of New York and Apex for Youth.  She is also a member of the Enhance Diversity in the Profession Committee at the New York City Bar Association.  In 2016, she received the CUP Catalyst: Change Agent Award and a Brooklyn Law School APALSA Award for Overall Achievement and Contribution to the Legal Profession and as an Alumnae.

Tanya Katerí Hernández, is the Archibald R. Murray Professor of Law at Fordham University School of Law, where she teaches Anti-Discrimination Law, Comparative Employment Discrimination, Critical Race Theory, The Science of Implicit Bias and the Law: New Pathways to Social Justice, and Trusts & Wills. She received her A.B. from Brown University, and her J.D. from Yale Law School, where she served as Note Topics Editor of the Yale Law Journal. 

Professor Hernández, is an internationally recognized comparative race law expert and Fulbright Scholar who has visited at the Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense, in Paris and the University of the West Indies Law School, in Trinidad.  She has previously served as a Law and Public Policy Affairs Fellow at Princeton University, a Faculty Fellow at the Institute for Research on Women at Rutgers University; a Faculty Fellow at the Fred T. Korematsu Center for Law and Equality, and as a Scholar in Residence at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Professor Hernández is a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation, the American Law Institute, and the Academia Puertorriqueña de Jurisprudencia y Legislación.  Hispanic Business Magazine selected her as one of its annual 100 Most Influential Hispanics. Professor Hernández serves on the editorial boards of the Revista Brasileira de Direito e Justiça/Brazilian Journal of Law and Justice, and the Latino Studies Journal published by Palgrave-Macmillian Press. 

Professor Hernández’s scholarly interest is in the study of comparative race relations and anti-discrimination law, and her work in that area has been published in numerous university law reviews like Cornell, Harvard, N.Y.U., U.C. Berkeley, Yale and in news outlets like the New York Times, among other publications including her books Racial Subordination in Latin America: The Role of the State, Customary Law and the New Civil Rights Response (including Spanish and Portuguese translation editions) and Brill Research Perspectives in Comparative Discrimination Law: Racial Discrimination.  Her most recent publication is the book Multiracials and Civil Rights: Mixed-Race Stories of Discrimination ( Beacon Press is publishing her forthcoming book Racial Innocence: Unmasking Latino Anti-Black Bias and the Struggle for Equality.  

Vanessa Abrahams-John was named executive director of Global Diversity and Inclusion for Praxair, Inc. in 2012.  She leads the development and execution of global strategies to enhance and leverage diversity and foster an inclusive culture that drives innovation and business success.  Additionally, she is responsible for Talent Acquisition to promote best-in-class diversity and inclusion practices throughout global recruitment and hiring processes.

Abrahams-John joined Praxair in 2007 as senior legal counsel.  Prior to that, she practiced corporate law in New York City and Delaware, and served as an adjunct professor at Pace University. 

Abrahams-John earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Western Ontario, Canada and a law degree from Howard University School of Law, Washington D.C. She is a director on the boards of the Bronx Bethany Community Corporation and AMBYESE, and serves on the Executive Leadership Council and the New York City Bar Committee on Diversity & Inclusion.  In 2014, she was recognized as Diversity & Inclusion Leader of the Year by the Southern Connecticut Chapter of SHRM and in 2017 was named Top 25 Black Women by the Network Journal.