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The Nation's Top Attorneys support WAAL

Each year, the Wisconsin Association of African-American Lawyers has the privilege of inviting highly accomplished and esteemed African-American lawyers to Wisconsin to share their perspective, strategies, and experiences.

VelanDale Scholarship Dinner Keynote Speakers

September 6, 2018:

April Miller Boise

Senior Vice President, Chief Legal Officer and Corporate Secretary, Meritor, Inc.

April Miller Boise is the Senior Vice President, Chief Legal Officer and Corporate Secretary of Meritor, Inc. a NYSE traded company and a leading global supplier of mobility, drivetrain, electric axles, braking and aftermarket solutions for commercial vehicle, construction, agricultural and industrial markets. This is her third role serving as a CLO/General Counsel of a global manufacturing company where she leads a team of lawyers and compliance professionals.

Ms. Boise has more than twenty years’ experience advising boards of directors and executive leadership teams of public and private companies, particularly on matters of corporate governance, strategic relationships, joint ventures and capital markets transactions and leading strategic acquisitions and successful exits. She has significant international experience, particularly in China, Brazil, Europe, Australia, and the Philippines. She has had the pleasure of serving with three highly effective executive leadership teams and reports to the chief executive officer.

Ms. Boise has received numerous accolades for her work in the business and legal community and her passion for diversify and inclusion. She was recognized by American Lawyer as one of 45 Women Under 45 to Watch; was named to the Power 100: Northeast Ohio’s Most Influential People by Inside Business; was recognized by Chambers USA: Americas Leading Lawyers for Business in the Corporate Mergers and Acquisitions category for five years in a row from 2005 to 2010 (prior to leaving private practice) ; and was honored by the YWCA as a Woman of Achievement.

Ms. Boise received a Bachelor’s of Business Administration from the University of Michigan Business School, magna cum laude, and a Juris Doctor from the University of Chicago Law School.


September 28, 2017:

Jason L. Brown

Vice President, General Counsel, and Secretary for Dyson, Inc.

Jason L. Brown is Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary for Dyson, Inc. In this role, Brown is responsible for all legal and regulatory matters that impact the Americas Region of the British technology company known for its innovative vacuum cleaners, bladeless fans, high speed hand dryers and personal care products. He leads a team handling a variety of issues involving, product safety and compliance, data privacy and security, litigation, commercial contracts and marketing claims.

Prior to Dyson, Brown was a member of the legal department at MillerCoors. As Associate General Counsel, he focused on marketing, sales and regulatory matters and co-led the commercial legal team for the second largest beer company in the U.S. Before entering the beer business, Brown was the Executive Director and General Counsel for the National Association of Minority and Women Owned Law Firms (NAMWOLF). In his role as NAMWOLF's first chief executive, he was responsible for developing a vision and a strategy for the non-profit organization committed to promoting diversity within the legal profession. Earlier in his career, Brown was Director of Legal at Pepsi Beverages Company, formerly PepsiAmericas. At Pepsi, he managed litigation, corporate compliance, marketing and sales contracts for the bottling and distribution division. He began his career in private practice in Minneapolis in the litigation group of Winthrop & Weinstine before moving to Chicago to join Ungaretti & Harris.

Brown currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Illinois and Legal Prep Charter Academy, charter high school in the West Garfield Park area of Chicago. In 2015, Savoy Magazine recognized him as one of the Most Influential Black Attorneys in America. He is very active with the Chicago Chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel and is a former board member and served as the Chapter's President. Brown also volunteers with the Posse Foundation. He earned his bachlor's degree and juris doctor from Howard University in Washington, D.C.


September 15, 2016:

Floyd W. Pitts

Senior Vice President & Chief Diversity Officer, American Red Cross

Floyd Pitts joined the American Red Cross National Headquarters as its Senior Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer in November 2008. He formerly was Senior Director of Diversity Programs for Hilton Hotels Corporation, a position he held from 1999 until this appointment with the Red Cross. As SVP & Chief Diversity Officer for the American Red Cross, he is responsible for design and development of diversity programs intended for organization-wide implementation.

Floyd has been involved in diversity-related programming for over 30 years. This involvement began in 1980 with the Equal Opportunity Specialist position he held with the City of Lansing, Michigan. In that position, he coordinated implementation of the city’s affirmative action program and was involved in performing outreach with minority-owned and women-owned businesses to increase their participation in the city’s procurement activities. From 1985 to 1989, he served as Executive Director of the Greater Lansing Fair Housing Center where he conducted numerous initiatives to advance equal housing opportunities throughout Mid- Michigan, many of which were funded by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. After a hiatus to obtain a law degree and a brief stint with a Los Angeles area labor law firm, he accepted a Project Director’s position with a Los Angeles based consulting firm. This firm specialized in design and implementation of compliance monitoring programs on public agency projects, primarily covering equal employment opportunity and Women/ Minority Business Enterprise utilization programs. 7

While at Hilton Hotels Corporation, he was responsible for development and implementation of diversity programs for all of Hilton’s owned and managed hotels, as well as corporate management operations. He was responsible for implementing Hilton’s initiative of linking diversity performance to performance bonus plans at both hotel and corporate management levels. He was also responsible for developing, implementing and directing the corporation’s Diversity Mentoring Program, Supplier Diversity Program, Diversity Advertising Campaign, and Franchise Development Diversity Outreach Program. During his tenure at Hilton, the corporation was recognized by Fortune magazine, for seven (7) consecutive years, as one of the Top 50 Companies for Minorities. As a result of his leadership in Hilton’s Franchise Development Diversity Outreach Program, the hotel company was recognized in Black Enterprise magazine as one of the “Ten Best Franchise Systems for African Americans.”

Floyd received his Bachelor of Arts Degree, with high honor, from Michigan State University, and his Juris Doctor degree from UCLA School of Law. In 2004, he was a recipient of the Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund Founder’s Award; and in 2007, he received the Annual Diversity Award presented by the Int’l Association of Hispanic Meeting Professionals. In 2012, Floyd was recognized as one of “Top 2012 Champions of Diversity” by DiversityBusiness.com.


June 11, 2015: Veta T. Richardson
President and CEO of the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC)

Veta T. Richardson is President and CEO of the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC), the largest global bar association serving in-house counsel. With membership of more than 37,000 in-house lawyers at more than 10,000 organizations in 90 countries, ACC serves as the "voice of the in-house bar" for corporate lawyers at 98 percent of the Fortune 100 and 51 percent of the Global 1000. Veta's priority as CEO involves increasing ACC's global footprint and charting the organization through a strategic plan geared to address the unique needs and challenges of corporate lawyers. As a result, general counsel and governance professionals look to ACC for strategy, global legal trend analysis and research related to corporate best practices, governance policies, advocacy and boardroom trends. Veta was previously executive director of the Minority Corporate Counsel Association (MCCA). She started her legal career as in-house counsel at Sunoco, Inc., and received a B.S. and J.D. from the University of Maryland.


October 8, 2010: Sherry Williams
Senior Vice President-Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer of Halliburton Corporation

Ms. Williams shared her wisdom and guidance with WAAL members and supporters at the annual Diversiy Dialogue for Legal Professionals brought in partnership with WAAL's 2010 Diversity Partners: REINHART BOERNER VAN DEUREN, SC; GONZALEZ SAGGIO HARLAN, LLP; and, HINSHAW & CULBERTSON, LLP. Ms. Williams leads Halliburton's global compliance function. Prior to these roles, Ms. Williams was Senior Vice President and Corporate Secretary, with responsibility for the Public Company Law Group. Ms. Williams serves on the Halliburton Legal Management Team, the governing body that determines the function and development of Halliburton's Global Law Department.


April 30, 2009: Vernon E. Jordan
Senior Managing Director of Lazard Freres & Co., LLC in NewYork

A friend and confidant to presidents, Mr. Jordan has had a distinctive career in civil rights, the National Urban League, and at the highest level of business and politics. Mr. Jordan is the author of Make it Plain, a history and an embodiment of black speech at its finest, full of emotion, controlled force, righteous indignation, love of country, and awe in front of the God-given challenges ahead.


May 15, 2008: Edward L. Woods
Top Entertainment Lawyer and Business Leader

Represented clients such as Jay Z, NBA superstar Allen Iverson, DMX, Stephanie Mills, Angela Winbush, Kelly Price, FUBU, Bad Boy Hitmen Producers, and more.


May 18, 2007: Willie E. Gary

One of the "Top 50 Attorneys in the U.S." - Forbes Magazine.
Won over 150 multi million dollar suits, including a $500 million award. A member of the National Bar Association, American Bar Association, American Trial Lawyers Association, Florida Academy of Trial Lawyers Association, Martin and St. Lucie County Bar Associations and the Million Dollar Verdict Club. He has also received Honorary Doctorates of Law degrees from eleven universities. His extensive community activities include membership in the NAACP, Florida Guardsmen, Inc., Urban League, Civitan International, United Way of Martin County and Martin Memorial Hospital Foundation Council, along with others.


2006: Stedman Graham

2005: Tony Brown

2004: Stephanie Tubbs-Jones

US House of Representatives, Ohio's 11th District (1999-2008)
Cleveland Municiple Court Judge (1981)
Court of Common Pleas of Cuyahoga County (1983-1991)

2003: Johnnie Cocheran

Celebrity Lawyer, representing OJ Simpson, Sean Combs, Michael Jackson, Todd Bridges, Jim Brown, Tupac Shakur, Snoop Dogg, and Regionald Oliver Denny.


Wisconsin Association of African-American Lawyers
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