Swafia Ames, a Managing Director, People Strategy & Inclusion with Brighter Strategies has designed, managed, and marketed global diversity and inclusion programs for two American Lawyer magazine Top 100 law firms (Baker & Hostetler LLP & Paul Hastings LLP). In her capacity as a diversity and inclusion manager she designed and managed initiatives aimed at attracting, developing and advancing diverse lawyers. Key initiatives spearheaded included, recruiting, mentoring, leadership and professional development programs.
Throughout her career, Swafia has also supported a wide range of organizational development and human capital management initiatives including diversity recruitment strategies, affinity group creation and management, talent development programs, employee engagement, strategic planning, and team building workshops. Swafia employs a diversity, equity and inclusion lens as part of her process for designing and implementing organizational development and human capital management programs. She is adept at identifying challenge areas within an organization and working collaboratively to develop and implement equitable and effective solutions.
Swafia earned her B.A. degree in Psychology from the University of Maryland in College Park, MD and her M.A. degree in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology in Washington, DC. She has also been certified by the Society of Human Resources Management as a Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP).
Ann Jenrette-Thomas oversees the implementation of the firm's Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan, taking an innovative approach when it comes to addressing challenges within the firm and the profession relating to diversity and inclusion. Her two-pronged approach centers on individual responsibility—equipping people with the knowledge, skills and tools they need to create and inclusive environment—and eradicating the effects of bias through systems and process. She addresses structural bias by continuously evaluating the firm's policies, practices and norms and identifying unique methods to achieve desired outcomes.
When she noticed that diverse attorneys and law students were often foreclosing opportunities simply because they did not know the "unwritten rules" for success in the profession, Ann created Big Law Success: The Inside Scoop for Law Students and New Lawyers, a five-part podcast that demystifies how to thrive in big law. Ann also led a multi-stop roadshow to law schools in order to educate diverse law students on the importance of a strong personal brand, and has worked with several organizations on diversifying the law school pipeline.
Among numerous publications and presentations throughout her career, Ann penned the Amazon best seller, The Happy Law Practice: Expert Strategies to Build Business and Maintain Peace of Mind. Prior to joining Stinson, Ann was a diversity and inclusion consultant, an attorney at an Am Law 100 firm, a judicial clerk for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and a legislative attorney for the New York City Council. She was also president and CEO of a nonprofit organization.
Meet the Panel
Michael-Bryant Hicks serves as executive vice president, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary for Elanco. He is responsible for leading the company's legal organization and global legal strategy. Hicks brings extensive corporate legal experience from a variety of industries as well as expertise on advising companies on domestic and international transactions to the Elanco Leadership Team. Prior to joining Elanco, he served as general counsel at Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals, where he oversaw all legal functions, including litigation, intellectual property, environmental, regulatory, and mergers and acquisitions. Hicks has also served as senior vice president, general counsel, chief compliance officer and corporate secretary for The Providence Service Corporation, a global provider of a range of healthcare services. Additionally, he has served as assistant general counsel for DaVita and as associate general counsel and head of legal support for the company's Asia and Latin America operations for Beckman Coulter. Hicks also worked in the corporate law practices of two international law firms — Vinson & Elkins LLP and Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw LLP.
Hicks received a bachelor’s in psychology from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Juris Doctor from Yale University.
Nancy Lipson is the Executive Vice President and General Counsel of Newmont Corporation (“Newmont”), the world’s leading gold company. In her role, Nancy manages a global team responsible for Legal, Corporate Secretary, Business Integrity and Compliance, Land and Records/Information Management. Beyond the legal function, during the course of over 15 years at Newmont, Nancy has been a member of the global human resources leadership team and deeply involved in ESG- including environmental and human rights, international operations in developing nations/country risk, ethics and compliance and executive compensation/human resources. As Executive Vice President and General Counsel, Nancy is responsible for a global team, operating in Canada, the United States, Mexico, Argentina, Peru, Suriname, Ghana, Australia and formerly Indonesia.
Presently, Nancy is a Board of Trustee Member to the Colorado Legal Aid Foundation and previously served on the Board of Denver CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates). Before Newmont, Nancy worked in several other corporate legal departments, including USWest/Qwest and Sports Authority and prior to that she was a commercial litigator in private practice.
Regina Rodriguez is an accomplished trial lawyer who has more than 30 years of experience guiding clients through bet-the-company litigation and high-stakes challenges. She has worked closely with company CEOs, senior management and boards of directors in highly regulated industries—such as pharmaceuticals, biomedical, healthcare, technology, oil and gas, and medical devices—to create a culture of compliance in an ever-changing regulatory landscape. Ms. Rodriguez, who has worked in both government and private practice, has a deep understanding of the regulatory challenges facing companies today, and works strategically and collaboratively across the entire corporate spectrum to provide exceptional client service and counsel.
Ms. Rodriguez has tried more than 30 cases as lead trial counsel in complex litigation, and is an American College of Trial Lawyers fellow. She has worked with life sciences, consumer, and diversified industrial companies on a wide range of commercial matters, including M&A due diligence, strategic advice and litigation, regulatory and compliance matters, and class actions. She also defends clients in government investigations. Ms. Rodriguez is currently advising a major health insurance company on potential anti-discrimination issues, and related compliance considerations, in connection with its use of algorithms.
Ms. Rodriguez’s experience includes serving as an Assistant United States Attorney and Chief of the Civil Division in the District of Colorado, where she supervised and directed all defensive and affirmative litigations as well as the Financial Litigation Unit. She also served as a liaison with the courts, client agencies, the private bar, and congresspersons. In addition, Ms. Rodriguez served in the Assistant Attorney General's Office for the Department of Justice (DOJ) as the Deputy Senior Counsel for Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). In that role, she assisted with implementing Attorney General Janet Reno's vision of ADR being used to obtain efficient results in litigation matters. Ms. Rodriguez also worked to establish and implement a nationwide ADR program for Civil AUSAs, and participated in numerous mediations as a certified mediator for the DOJ.
Prior to joining WilmerHale, Ms. Rodriguez spent a combined 17 years working as partner at two other law firms in Denver, Colorado.
Josh Widoff is Managing Director, Chief Legal Officer at Black Creek Group, a leading real estate investment management firm. In this role, Mr. Widoff oversees the legal, compliance and internal audit departments and provides strategic guidance on transactions, growth initiatives and company operations. Since joining the firm in 2007, Mr. Widoff has served in various leadership positions including Managing Director and General Counsel to Black Creek’s public and private sponsored funds.
Mr. Widoff has more than 25 years of experience and prior to joining Black Creek, he was a partner at the Denver law firm Brownstein Hyatt & Farber, where he was active in the management of the firm and oversaw an integrated team serving clients primarily in the commercial real estate business.
Mr. Widoff chairs the board of commissioners for the Denver Urban Renewal Authority. Mr. Widoff is also an adjunct professor at the University of Colorado School of Law, where he teaches a course on commercial real estate transactions. Mr. Widoff was named as one of Denver’s Best Corporate Counsel by the Denver Business Journal. He also serves as a member of the board of directors of the U.S. subsidiary of a publicly traded Canadian oil and gas company, Enerplus Resources (NYSE: ERF). Additionally, he is an alumnus of Leadership Denver, a premier leadership program for the region, and has served on many charitable and community boards during his career.
Mr. Widoff holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Political Science from Trinity University where he graduated magna cum laude, and a Juris Doctor from the University of Colorado School of Law where he was named to the Order of the Coif.
Meet the Panel
Honorable Judge Gary Jackson is a Denver native graduating from George Washington High School with honors and the University of Colorado at Boulder, undergraduate and law school. He was appointed to the Denver County Court in 2012. Prior to taking the bench Judge Jackson practiced law for over 37 years with DiManna & Jackson. His practice included representing attorneys and judges in attorney regulation and judicial performance matters, employment litigation and complex personal injury litigation. Judge Jackson is 2017 Colorado Judicial Institute County Court Judge of the year and the Colorado Law Week 2019 Trial Judge of the Year. Judge Jackson is the 2011 recipient of the Colorado Bar Association Award of Merit, the 2003 recipient of the Order of Coif from CU Law School, the 2008 Norlin Award from CU, and the 2010 Knous Award from CU Law School, the highest alumnus award from the law school. Judge Jackson is a member of the American College of Trial Lawyers and the past president of the American Board of Trial Advocates. He is also a past member of the Second Judicial Nominating Commission and the Arapahoe County Judicial Performance Commission. Additionally, Judge Jackson is a co-founder and past president of the Sam Cary Bar Association and co-founder of the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar. Gary has been active member of the Bar for 49 years and listed in Colorado Super Lawyers and Best Lawyers in American for a dozen years.
Representative Kerry Tipper is a Colorado native who represents her hometown of Lakewood in House District 28. She serves on the Judiciary and Health & Insurance Committees and is Treasurer for the Colorado Democratic Latino Caucus. She is a Uniform Law Commissioner (representing Colorado at the national level) and is Vice Chair of the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators Law and Criminal Justice Task Force of the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators. Rep. Tipper focuses her legislative work in the areas of fair representation, consumer protection, criminal justice reform, and health care. Examples of this include: successfully passing legislation to end prison gerrymandering in Colorado, and mandating insurance coverage for infertility diagnosis, and treatment, as well as fertility preservation in the state. Though born in Colorado, Rep. Tipper spent parts of her early childhood in Costa Rica and Mexico. From a young age, she alternated between the different cultures and languages of her parents. When she was six, she came back home to Colorado with her family. She graduated from Jeffco Public Schools and went on to the University of Denver for college. After graduation, she worked as a Spanish interpreter at an immigration law firm, and later went on to law school at Northeastern to become the first attorney in her family. Rep. Tipper started her legal career at WilmerHale in Boston as a litigator and securities lawyer. She maintained a robust pro-bono practice while there, working almost exclusively with indigent Spanish-speaking clients on immigration, housing, wage-theft, and domestic violence issues. Rep. Tipper then went to the Massachusetts’ Attorney General’s office to prosecute civil rights, anti-discrimination, and consumer protection law violations. In 2015 she returned home to Colorado and joined the Colorado Attorney General’s Office as a regulatory lawyer. She left the AG’s to run for office.
Tyrone Glover is a trial lawyer representing clients facing a wide variety of legal issues. His areas of practice include criminal defense, civil rights, and complex civil litigation. He handles all manner of cases in state and federal court and has taken over 50 cases to trial. Mr. Glover is a former Colorado State Public Defender and prior to embarking on his career in law was an undefeated professional fighter and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt.
Chris Martin is a rising 3L at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law focusing on corporate transactional law. Growing up in a biracial home just outside of Albuquerque, New Mexico, he was raised to understand the importance of his racial background and staying true to that identity.
He began his journey north along I-25, completing his undergraduate degree at Colorado College, where he earned his Bachelor of Arts in Economics with a business focus. He wrote his senior economics thesis on incarceration rate disparity between Blacks, Hispanics, and Caucasians, and researched the contributing factors to that disparity. In addition to his degree in economics, he received a minor in Spanish. During his time at CC, he played four years of varsity basketball, starting at center and serving as a captain both his junior and senior year. While at CC, he also served as a leader in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes chapter, worked as a liaison between the men’s basketball team and Operation TBI Freedom, and served as a mentor for incoming first years.
Chris then continued his journey north to Denver for law school. As a law student, he served as the President of the Black Law Students Association for the 2019-20 academic year, will serve as the 3L Representative for the 2020-21 academic year, is a student ambassador, leader in the Christian Legal Society, and has had the privilege of working at different corporate and firm placements during his first two years. He plans to remain in Denver after graduation.
Phyllis Wan utilizes 20+ years of experience in diversity, equity, and inclusion to advance the firm’s strategic mission and goals.
With experience practicing law at an Am Law 100 firm and serving as in-house counsel for a Fortune 100 company, Phyllis brings a unique understanding of the opportunities and challenges for diverse professionals in the legal industry.
As CDIO, Phyllis is responsible for designing and driving strategic initiatives that help the firm attract, support, and promote its diverse talent. Phyllis works collaboratively with firm leaders and stakeholders to implement and advance the firm’s Diversity and Inclusion Plan. Phyllis also leads efforts to enrich the firm’s inclusive environment through education, networking, and engagement of professionals across the firm.
Developing creative approaches to partner with firm clients, local business and legal communities, and law schools to deepen diversity initiatives is also her priority as CDIO.
Before joining Holland & Hart, Phyllis was the Interim Executive Director of the Center for Legal Inclusiveness (CLI), where she increased board and membership engagement, redeveloped its strategic goals and organizational structure, and enhanced collaboration within the legal and business community.
Phyllis was a partner for 17 years in the Technology, Media & Telecommunications group at Hogan Lovells US LLP, where she also served as its U.S. Deputy, then Chief Diversity Officer for eight years. She then joined as Charter Communications as Vice President of Law-Programming and Chief Broadcast Attorney.
Sara Scott, CLI CEO Nearly fifteen years ago Sara Scott started her career representing foster children in Washington D.C., at the Children’s Law Center (CLC). At CLC she supervised attorneys, managed dozens of cases, and watched as the foster care system disproportionately impacted black families while creating a further disenfranchised community.
After CLC, Sara honed her oral advocacy skills as the founding partner of Zamani & Scott LLP – a full-service family law firm where she most enjoyed her assisted reproductive technology practice and serving same sex families. In 2005, Sara and her family moved home to Denver to be near family and Sara’s terminally ill father. Sara’s entrepreneurial spirit led her to start a family law practice in Denver. She became active in the community as one of the founding board members of Lawyer’s for Equal Justice and was appointed as a Uniform Law Commission.
Sara has always had a strong passion for Diversity and Inclusivity. She was one of the first students to earn her bachelor’s degree in Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity from Stanford University, where she also won the Community Building Award. Sara has followed Diversity and Inclusivity throughout the duration of her career and next week will receive her Certificate in Diversity and Inclusivity from Cornell University. Sara’s passion, enthusiasm and drive make her the perfect fit for the Center for Legal Inclusiveness.
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 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.
Her latest book features research on the neurology of lying and liars and how deception breaks down inclusive interactions and disrupts our abilities to gather and leverage collective intelligence.