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2021 Quarter 1 Newsletter
Welcome to the 2021 Women Lawyers of Sacramento Board. Although we are already a couple of months into 2021, this is WLS’s first quarterly newsletter of the new year, so I want to take just a moment to introduce myself and tell you about the exciting plans that we have for this year.

My name is Kelly Babineau and I have been a member of WLS for a decade. I have enjoyed working in various positions. My most visible role, prior to joining the executive committee, was as chair of Programs.
If you attended any of our monthly luncheons at Lucca during 2015-2017, you were probably greeted by me at the front door or saw me darting around to ensure the event ran smoothly. I loved that committee, because it was where I first learned of the great friendship and camaraderie that existed in this organization.

As I start my final year on executive committee, I am excited to step into the role of President. Every president brings their own goals and ideas to the job. For me, I want to ensure that WLS continues to provide that sense of community and support, both personally and professionally. Candidly, 2020 was a difficult year, for all of us. It brought great change to our society, with protests about racial inequality and a devastating threat to our health and well-being that still exists. I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge those difficulties. But 2021 has already presented more hope. People are slowly getting their vaccinations and society is inching toward “normalcy.” (whatever that might mean). But we must remain vigilant in our commitment to racial and gender equality, and the promotion of women in the legal profession. This organization has been dedicated to the advancement and promotion of women in the legal community since 1962, and as such we are committed to bringing energizing and thoughtful events to the Sacramento Legal Community.

We started the year off with a New Member Happy Hour, held via zoom. It was a huge hit. Everyone enjoyed getting to “hang out” (even if it was virtually), while doing a little wine tasting. The membership committee will have several events throughout the year, to promote congeniality and relationships amongst our members. The next one is April 15, 2021 at 5:30 p.m. It will be a “sip and paint” featuring an art history guest speaker who will walk us through painting a famous rendition. I am looking forward to trying my hand at painting a classic. Be sure to sign up!

We are looking forward to Career Advancement and Retentions’ programs this year. They will be holding a series of intimate gatherings to address the difficult situations that we all face in the work place. In March, the presentation will feature Hector Escalante, an ombudsman from the University of the Pacific and other attorney organizations, on how to deal with difficult and toxic people in the work place. Watch for the announcement via social media and our website, so that you can be sure to attend.

Programs has had to “pivot” the most during these difficult times. Lucca is no longer open, and luncheons are just not possible. But they are committed to holding interesting and worthwhile events, that usually will also provide MCLE credit. They are kicking it off on March 25, 2021, with the topic of the day: COVID in the work place. This will be an outstanding event, with a doctor to explain about the vaccines and an employment lawyer to talk about its effects in the work place. You won’t want to miss it.

In our efforts to promote unity within the Sacramento Legal Community, we will also be focusing on partnerships with the other SCBA affiliates. On March 8, 2021, we are co-hosting International Women’s day. It will be a dynamic presentation about choosing to challenge gender bias and discrimination. The keynote speaker is the wonderful LaKenya Jordan from the CA Commission on the Status of Women and Children, to be followed by an engaging discussion with our panel, featuring Sacramento Superior Court Judge Lauri Damrell and Yolo County Superior Court Judge Sonia Cortez.

Lastly, take a moment to meet our Board and review their biographies in this newsletter. These dedicated women are committed to ensuring a fulfilling and worthwhile year for WLS. We hope to see you at our events this year!
Meet the 2021 WLS Board Members
  Kelly Babineau
President

 
Kelly Babineau is President of the 2021 WLS Board. She has been practicing since 1997, after graduating from McGeorge School of Law. After practicing law as a public defender for over 10 years, she opened her own firm in 2009. She represents clients in state and federal court. When not in trial, she enjoys cycling, hiking and yoga. But her true passion if for wine. She started a French wine company called La Belle Vie Shop, where she sells amazing wines from small family wineries.
  Katherine Underwood
Vice President  

 
Katherine is Vice President of the 2021 WLS Board. Katherine is a Senior Deputy City Attorney with the Sacramento City Attorney's Office.  As a member of the Litigation Section, Katherine handles lawsuits involving the City and/or its staff and provides pre-litigation and risk management advice to City departments. She is also the attorney coach for Highlands High School's mock trial team.
  Lauren Jones
Secretary 

 
Lauren Jones is the Secretary for the 2021 Board. She is owner of Lauren C. Jones Law, a law firm specializing in Estate Planning, Probate, Estate Administration, Business Formation and Governance, Contracts, and Business Litigation,.  She is also president elect for Soroptimist International of Woodland, and in 2020 was selected as one of the Sacramento Business Journal’s top 40 under 40. When she’s not working, you can find Lauren spending time with her husband and daughter, painting, crafting, or dabbling in photography.
  Jackie Suyeres
Treasurer 

 
Jackie Sueyres is Treasurer for the 2021 Board.  Jackie has been a member of the WLS board for 5 years serving on various committees including Legislation and Bar Delegation and Judicial Appointments. Jackie is taking some time off from day to day legal work and running her business “Neat Method” a professional home organization service she started last year. Most recently, she was a litigation attorney for State Farm. In her free time Jackie teaches InstaPhysique classes and spends time with her husband and two young boys.
Career Advancement and Retention Committee
Vanessa Raven

Vanessa Raven is Chair of the Career Advancement and Retention Committee. Vanessa is a Partner at Low McKinley & Salenko, LLP where she defends medical malpractice, elder abuse, and administrative licensing matters. She has served on the board of WLS for 7 years. She spends her spare time with her wonderful husband and three year old daughter, and is expecting another daughter in March 2021. 
Fhanysha Gaddis

Fhanysha Clark Gaddis is the Vice-Chair for the Career Advancement and Retainment Committee for 2021. Ms. Gaddis received her undergraduate degrees in Afro-American studies, Sociology, and Public Policy from the University of California: Los Angeles.  She earned her graduate degrees from Pepperdine University School of Law and School of Public Policy; respectively. After practicing in Los Angeles, the proud Southern California girl fell in-love with a Sacramento-native and relocated to Sacramento.
Ms. Gaddis is a California licensed attorney and public policy professional specializing in representing schools, counties and cities. Throughout her years in civil litigation, Mrs. Gaddis receives recognition for her ability to help clients mitigate costs (and maintain relationships) through a comprehensive and proactive conflict management model. Mrs. Gaddis currently advises boards, commissions and departments within the City of Sacramento as a Deputy City Attorney. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, wine tasting and spoiling her puppy, “Justice."

Lauren Bakke Kalfsbeek

Lauren Kalfsbeek is a Vice-Chair for the Career Advancement and Retention Committee. She is an associate with Martenson, Hasbrouck & Simon where she specializes in labor and employment defense. When she’s not advising and defending clients, you can find her spending time outdoors with her husband and three dogs, running, or experimenting with a new recipe.
Development Committee
Nicole M. Low

Nicole Low is Co-Chair of the Development Committee. Nicole is an associate at Flesher Schaff & Schroeder, Inc. Her practice focuses on defending Class I Railroads in catastrophic injury claims and defending businesses in employment matters. She received her B.A. from California State University, Northridge and her J.D. from McGeorge School of Law. Nicole enjoys spending time with her family, game nights, and trying new restaurants around Sacramento. 
Blair Swadley

Blair Swadley is Co-Chair of the Development Committee for the 2021 Board.  She is an associate attorney for Flesher, Schaff & Schroeder, Inc., where she practices insurance, personal injury, and employment defense. Blair is active in service to her community as a commissioner for the City of Davis and as a panelist for Yolo County Neighborhood Court, a restorative justice program.  She is married with two young sons and enjoys family adventures near and far.

 
Ariana Van Alstine

Ariana is Vice-Chair of the Development Committee. 
 Ariana founded and owns AAVA Consulting.  She is a consultant and legal advisor to cannabis companies throughout the United States. She is recognized for her knowledge and perspective on California cannabis industry regulatory and aptitude for guiding clients through local and state competitive licensing processes. Ariana has presented and lectured across California on the subject.  She is a Northern California Super Lawyers Rising Star. In addition to the WLS board, she is an Advisor to Khemia Manufacturing. Ariana is also a member of the California Lawyers’ Association, International Cannabis Bar Association, and the Women in Cannabis Chamber of Commerce, and she is a licensed Real Estates Agent.  In her spare time, Ariana enjoys comedy shows, post-run endorphins, and all manner of outdoor adventures.

 
Kendall Fischer-Wu

Kendall Fisher-Wu is a Vice-Chair of the Development Committee for the 2021 Board.  Kendall is an attorney at Boutin Jones Inc., where her practice consists of defending employers in litigation as well as advising clients on California Consumer Privacy Act compliance.  Kendall attended McGeorge School of Law and graduated in the Order of the Coif.  When she is not working, Kendall likes to read, spend time outside, and be with her family, including her rescue dogs.
Grants and Awards Committee
Allison Callaghan

Allison Callaghan is a Co-Chair of the Grants and Awards Committee.  Allison is employment defense attorney at Nossaman LLP. She has experience litigating class and representative actions, as well as single plaintiff cases.  Allison also advises both public and private employers on a broad array of employment matters.  Allison is a graduate of U.C. Davis School of Law and Claremont McKenna College. She is a native of the Greater Sacramento area and now lives in Davis with her geologist husband and six-month old son. 
Tara Rojas

Tara Rojas is a Co-Chair for the 2021 WLS Board Grants and Awards Committee.  She is the owner of Rojas Family Law, Inc., a firm that focuses only on family law matters.  She has been named a Rising Star by Super Lawyers for six consecutive years and has been named Best of the Bar by the Sacramento Business Journal several times in the past several years.  In her spare time, she loves spending time with her husband and adult-aged children, traveling to Wine Country for tastings, and binge-watching television shows on a rainy day. 
 
Keeley Nichelson

Keeley Nickelson is a Vice-Chair for the 2021 WLS Board Grants and Awards Committee. She is new to both the board and WLS. Keeley works at Rojas Family Law, Inc. where she practices family law exclusively. She has been named a Rising Star by Super Lawyers the last three years. She regularly provides pro-bono legal advice to self-represented litigants with Capitol Pro Bono’s family law clinic. Keeley is a dog, plant, and chicken mom, wine-o, broccoliholic, and wannabe-photog.  
 
Michelle Shaffie

Michelle Shaffie is Vice-Chair of the Grants and Awards Committee. She is an Assistant Public Defender at the Sacramento County Public Defender's Office. She received her J.D. from the University of Southern California (USC) Gould School of Law, and earned her undergraduate degrees in International Relations and Spanish from the University of California, Davis. In her spare time, Michelle enjoys traveling, hiking, attending concerts, and reading.
Judicial and Other Appointments Committee
Alanna Lundgren

Alanna Lungren is Chair of the Judicial and Other Appointments Committee. Alanna is Counsel at Hartman King PC and advises businesses on environmental compliance as well as provides representation in enforcement defense matters. Alanna graduated from the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law in 2009, and earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Notre Dame. Alanna enjoys her free time skiing, on horseback, and doing ranch work with her husband and dogs.  She is Vice-Chair of the Membership Committee.
Miranda Lekander (she/her)

Miranda LeKander is a Vice-Chair on the Judicial Appointments Committee and Special Counsel on Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation. Previously, she had been appointed Deputy Commissioner of the Legal Division at the Department of Business Oversight under Governor Jerry Brown after serving as Senior Counsel and Assistant Chief Counsel in the Enforcement Division since 2007. Before commencing state service, Miranda practiced insurance defense and was staff counsel at the California District Attorneys' Association. She teaches workers' compensation law and legal writing and enjoys mentoring law students.

Carissa Bouwer

Carissa Bouwer is a Vice-Chair on the Judicial Appointments Committee. Carissa is a senior associate at DLA Piper in Sacramento. She assists clients in selecting, registering and protecting their global trademark portfolios with a focus on consumer goods.  She also advises clients on advertising, social media, right of publicity, prize promotions, copyright, IP licensing, and gift card laws.  Carissa received her B.A. from George Washington University and her J.D. from McGeorge.  She is on the Boards of the International Trademark Association Right of Publicity Committee and the SacBar IP Section.

Legislation & Bar Delegations Committee
Cecilia Martin

Cecilia Martin is Chair of the Legislation and Bar Delegation Committee for the 2021 Board.  She is Senior Counsel with the Labor and Employment team at Kronick, Moskovitz, Tiedemann & Girard, and represents public and private sector entities in all employment matters including wage and hour actions, workplace audits and investigations, and discrimination and harassment claims.
Cecilia is also the representative for her firm in the Sacramento County Bar Association’s Diversity Fellowship Committee and part of the Sacramento Legal Employers Diversity Collaborative.  In her free time, Cecilia enjoys spending time with her family, reading, watching Bravo and TLC, and working on home remodeling projects.
 
Lissa Oshei

Lissa is Vice-Chair of the Legislation and Bar Delegations Committee. Lissa is an associate at Boutin Jones, Inc., where she specializes in labor and employment law. Lissa and her wife enjoy traveling, especially with their two dogs.
 
Kristin Blocher

Kristin Blocher is Vice-Chair of the Legislation and Bar Delegations Committee and is the liaison to California Women Lawyers. Kristin works with Angelo Kilday & Kilduff, representing public entities in civil litigation. In her solo practice, she focuses on intellectual property and estate planning. She received her bachelor's degree from Westmont College and her law degree from McGeorge School of Law. Out of the office, she spends time with her dog, runs, snowboards, cooks, indulges her passion for wine, travels, and serves on the Board for the non-profit affiliate of the Sacramento County Animal Shelter (T.E.A.M.)
 
Carmen-Nicole Cox

Carmen-Nicole Cox is Vice-Chair of the Legislation and Bar Delegations Committee. Carmen-Nicole Cox is the Deputy Director at For The People. She is a reform advocate, adjunct law professor, community servant, and former prosecutor. 
Membership Committee
Andrea Velasquez

Andrea is Co-Chair of the Membership Committee. Andrea is a Senior Deputy City Attorney at the City of Sacramento City Attorney’s Office and is in the litigation section defending the City and its employees in civil litigation.  Ms. Velasquez focuses on the defense of civil rights cases brought against the Sacramento Police Department and is an instructor at the Sacramento Police Academy.  Ms. Velasquez is a mother of two and enjoys hiking, running, weight lifting, skiing, yoga, and coaching her daughter’s soccer team. 
Aparna Agnihotri

Aparna is Co-Chair of the Membership Committee. Aparna is an enthusiastic attorney who currently works as an Administrative Hearing Officer and at a local nonprofit focusing on family law and landlord/tenant law. She is a private tutor for high school students, law students, and candidates preparing for the bar exam. In her spare time Aparna enjoys tutoring, couponing, event coordinating, volunteering at local nonprofits, and cooking. 
 
Taylor Whitten

Taylor Whitten is Vice-Chair of the Membership Committee. Taylor is an associate at King & Spalding LLP and specializes in health care litigation. Her background is in contracted and non-contracted managed care disputes and False Claims Act litigation.  Taylor received her B.S.F.S. in Foreign Service from Georgetown University and her J.D. from the University of Iowa College of Law.  She joined WLS last year after moving to Sacramento from Chicago. In her free time, Taylor enjoys skiing in Tahoe, taking her dog for hikes, traveling, and finding hidden dining gems in the Sacramento area.
Kristin Scribner

Kristine Scribner is Vice-Chair of the Membership Committee. Kristine is a Partner with Lewis Brisbois where she practices civil litigation, including public entity, civil rights and  general liability defense. She is native of the Sacramento  area and  obtained her bachelor's degree from U.C. Davis and graduated from McGeorge School of Law with a concentration  in  intellectual  property.  Kristine  enjoys  spending time  with  friends  and  family, frequenting local wineries and traveling.
Programs Committee
Susana Solano

Susana Solano is the Chair of the Programs Committee. Susana is a labor and employment law senior counsel for Kronick, Moskovitz, Tiedemann, and Girard. She counsels and represents private and public sector employers in state and federal court, arbitration, mediation,  administrative proceedings, and trial. She counsels employers in all issues arising from an employment relationship and manages and defends single-plaintiff claims, class actions, and representative claims. She received her law degree from UC Davis School of Law in 2010 and her undergraduate degree in psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles. In her spare time, she enjoys swimming, spending time with family and friends, traveling, and wine tasting. She has been a member of WLS since 2010. 
Kimberly Buchholz

Kimberly Buchholz serves on the Programs Committee of WLS. Kim is the principal of the Law Office of Kimberly Buchholz, a law firm specializing in estate planning, probate, and estate administration. Kim also works for California Hearing Officers, LLP, serving as an administrative hearing officer. Kim lives in Land Park with her husband, two children, and dog. She serves on the Crocker Riverside PTO, is a room parent, and coaches youth volleyball.
 
Susanna Martin

Susannah Martin is Vice-Chair of the Programs Committee.  She is an Assistant Public Defender at the Sacramento County Public Defender’s Office.  She received her J.D. from the University of California Berkeley School of Law.  She earned her B.A. in Political Science at McGill University in Montreal, Canada.  Some of Susannah’s favorite hobbies outside of work are sharing good food with loved ones, the great outdoors, and traveling.
Monica Espejo

Monica Espejo is Vice-Chair of the Programs Committee. Monica is an attorney with Murphy Austin and practices in the area of construction litigation and general litigation matters.  Monica’s practice is focused on representation of developers, general contractors, public entities and subcontractor trades on a broad range of issues including public and private contract disputes, licensing issues, and construction defect matters.   
Publicity and Community Relations Committee
Natalie Fujikawa

Natalie Fujikawa is Co-Chair of the Publicity and Community Relations Committee. As a Partner with Gordon & Rees LLP, Natalie specializes in employment litigation and counseling for public and private employers, both regionally and nationally. Natalie received her J.D. from McGeorge School of Law, and B.A. from the University of Notre Dame. Currently, Natalie also serves as Board President of the Sacramento LGBT Community Center. She lives in Sacramento with her wife and two dogs, Rudy and Francis.
 
 
 
Kathryn Meola

Kathryn ("Kathy") Meola is Co-Chair of the Publicity and Community Relations Committee. Kathy is a Partner with the law firm of Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo. Prior to joining the firm, Kathy was General Counsel to California School Board Association's General Counsel, the first woman to serve in that position in the organization’s 88-year history. Prior to joining CSBA, Kathy was a public servant for the County of San Mateo for 25 years. As a Chief Deputy for the San Mateo County Counsel's Office, she led the office's school law practice, providing representation for school districts in the County. Prior to joining the County Counsel's Office, Kathy worked as a Deputy District Attorney, where she tried more than 50 jury trials to verdict, including cases such as homicide, felony domestic violence and sexual assault. 

 
Alexandra Smith

Alexandra ("Alex") Smith is Vice-Chair of the Publicity and Community Relations Committee. Alex is a Sacramento native. She practices employment law with a primary focus on defense work. Her background includes criminal prosecution at the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office and general civil litigation. She is very excited to have this opportunity to reach out to lawyers in the Sacramento area. On weekends, Alex likes to hike in Tahoe with her dog, Apollo.
Board Liaisons
Justice Elena Duarte, Judicial Liaison

Associate Justice Elena J. Duarte was appointed to the Third District Court of Appeal in December, 2010. From 2007 to 2008 she was a trial judge on the Los Angeles Superior Court and was subsequently appointed to the Sacramento Superior Court, where she served through 2010. Born and raised in California, she is a graduate of University of Southern California and received her law degree from Stanford Law School. After law school she worked at the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., and then returned to California where she served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Sacramento and Los Angeles. At the time of her 2007 appointment to the trial court, she was Chief of the Cyber and Intellectual Property Crimes Section at the U.S. Attorney’s office in Los Angeles.
Maralee Eriksen, Past President Liaison

Maralee Eriksen led our board in 2014 and serves as Past President Liaison to the 2021 board.  She has been practicing law for nearly twenty-five years.  Among other things, she assists other solo and small firm practitioners with larger or complex business litigation matters.  She also adjudicates administrative matters in various counties around the state.  Over her career, she has served on bar association boards at the national, state, and local level.  Beyond her law practice, Maralee enjoys travel and spending time in California’s state parks.
Allison Williams
WLS 2021 New Member Highlight
WLS Introduces Allison Williams as the Q1 Newsletter New Member Highlight
Allison has been a Sacramento County Public Defender for 15 years, and is originally from Guyana in South America.  When Allison first came to Sacramento, she immediately saw an area of need for young ladies of color who frequently did not have any contact or positive experiences with other women professionals, particularly women of color professionals in the law.

To address this area of need, Allison started the Young Ladies Ministry Mentorship Program in 2009.  The mission of this program is to encourage young ladies of color to consider professional careers and to provide assistance through resume building, practice with public speaking and information about dress and etiquette.  Allison started her own family now, but stays involved and has recently joined the Women Lawyers of Sacramento.

Allison joined WLS because she saw the WLS mission to be closely aligned with her passion for advancing women in the legal profession, and also because felt she could bring a different voice, and different perspective to WLS. Allison was also thrilled to see her friend and former Public Defender colleague, Kelly Babineau, become the 2021 WLS President.

Allison's goal for 2021 is to find away to empower women of color in the Sacramento community who might feel that justice has forgotten them or that jurisprudence was not designed for them.

Allison says her Fun Fact is that she has discovered that she is very competitive -- something she already knew about herself but did not know how competitive until she became a parent on the sidelines, watching her children's participation in youth sports!  
Allison hopes to find ways to become a strong liaison between WLS and the community she knows and represents. We are excited to have someone as wonderful as Allison become a member of the WLS Community!
The Judicial and Other Appointments Committee evaluates the qualifications of persons seeking judicial or other appointments upon the request of the applicant. The committee also searches for and recruits WLS members and non-members, who endorse WLS goals, for judicial positions in the state and federal trial and appellate courts having jurisdiction in Sacramento and neighboring counties. The committee educates, trains and assists these individuals, and provides follow-up assistance, if requested, to those candidates whom WLS has evaluated as qualified, well-qualified, or exceptionally well-qualified. In 2021, Alanna Lungren, Principal at Hartman King PC is the Chair of the committee. Carissa Bouwer is an Associate at DLA Piper and Vice-Chair of the committee. Miranda LeKander is Special Counsel for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation and Vice-Chair of the committee.
WLS’s Membership Committee hosted a New Member Happy Hour on January 14, 2021.  The event featured a lovely Beaujolais Villages cuvee from the Colonge family that each attendee had the option to purchase from Le Belle Vie, a French wine import shop.  WLS President, and owner of Le Belle Vie, Kelly Babineau took attendees through a tasting of the light red wine and provided background and history of the varietal and the wine-making family, as well as a brief glimpse into what WLS has prepared for the 2021 membership year.   The event was well attended by both active members and curious lawyers wanting to see if WLS is a good fit for them.  Thank you to everyone who attended and made this event so much fun and a most grateful thank you to WLS President, Kelly Babineau.  
WLS 2021 Events:
Virtual Discussion with Dr. Hector Escalante -- March 17, 2021
Virtual MCLE Luncheon on COVID-19 Vaccines -- March 25, 2021

REGISTER for the WLS Virtual MCLE Luncheon 
Thursday, March 25, 2021, from 12pm-1:15pm


Join WLS and presenters Dr. Vanessa Walker and Attorney Jenn Protas for a discussion about the COVID-19 vaccines and how their availability impacts the rights and obligations of employers and employees to maintain a safe workplace. This event qualifies for 1 hour of MCLE credit.

Dr. Vanessa Walker is an internal medicine physician who is also board certified in pulmonary and critical care medicine. Jenn Protas is a shareholder at Hoge Fenton in San Jose and a McGeorge School of Law alum. Jenn helps employers navigate California’s numerous employment laws and defends employers with an eye toward successful, yet cost-effective resolution. 

Click Here to Renew Your WLS Membership for 2021!
The California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) is currently recruiting for two attorney positions located in Sacramento:
 
Click Here to Renew Your WLS Membership for 2021!
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