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Are you interested in learning more about a committee or being added to a committee email notification list? Feel free to contact Debra Pexa at or one of the Committee Chairs listed below. 

Minnesota Women Lawyers is primarily a volunteer organization. Leaders and members of MWL's committees coordinate countless events, projects and initiatives each year. Through the tireless dedication and effort of our volunteers, MWL has grown to one of the largest and most successful women's bar associations in the country. To join a committee or learn more about committee involvement, feel free to contact a committee leader directly.



2019-2020 MWL Committees


Awards & Recognition Committee

Ji Hae Kim, Target 
Tina Syring, Cozen O'Connor
Jenny Robbins, MADEL PA (Board Liaison)


The purpose of the MWL Awards and Recognition Committee is to honor, recognize and celebrate individuals, entities and legal employers who 1) represent the highest ideals of the legal profession; 2) enhance the status, influence and effectiveness of women lawyers; and/or 3) advance MWL’s mission. To that end, the Committee administers MWL's Myra Bradwell and Leadership Awards, which are presented annually at MWL's Annual Meeting. The Committee also identifies and submits nominations to external organizations and entities on behalf of Minnesota Women Lawyers, which further the Committee's purpose. Furthermore, the Committee may advise MWL on its other recognition efforts. The Committee meets periodically on an as needed basis.

Chapter Coordination Committee

Kate Bruce, Optum (Board Liaison)
*2019-2020 Chapter Representatives to be announced shortly.

The Chapter Coordination Committee provides direct support to current MWL Chapters, as well as supports the development of new chapters throughout Minnesota.

The Chapter Coordination Committee also identifies how MWL can best support women attorneys outside of the metro-area, regardless of proximity to a current MWL Chapter. Recommendations are made to the MWL for subsequent implementation. The Committee meets periodically on an as needed basis.  


Community Action & Advocacy Committee

Kelsey Kelley, Anoka County Attorney's Office
Nicolet Lyon, Lyon Law Office
Mary Szondy, Attorney At Law (Board Liaison)

The Community Action & Advocacy Committee facilitates greater community service and public policy programming and activities as defined by MWL’s mission and values, and approved by the Board. Current focus areas include: 1) violence against women; 2) pay equity; 3) access to justice; and 4) girl empowerment. Activities may be coordinated in conjunction with other associations, professional groups and organizations, both within and outside of the legal community.

The Community Action and Advocacy Committee typically meets on the first Thursday of every month from 7:30 am to 8:30 am at The Coffee Shop in Northeast Minneapolis. Please refer to the MWL Calendar of Events for more information.

Development Committee

Susan Gallagher, Gallagher Law Office, L.L.C. 
Kristin Haugen, KC Haugen Law / Rock Solid Consultants
Libby Stennes, Greenberg Traurig LLP


The Development Committee assumes primary responsibility for establishing key stakeholder relationships and subsequently raising the funds to meet established revenue goals. This effort will be driven by the development and implementation of MWL's annual fundraising plan.

The Board, in consultation with the Development Committee and Executive Director, will establish revenue goals for each fiscal year. The annual fundraising plan will encompass 1) individual membership campaign, including the Premier Member campaign; 2) legal employer sponsorship, including the Partner campaign; and 3) additional fundraising efforts necessary to meet annual revenue goals, including active coordination with MWL Foundation and its efforts.

Additionally, the MWL Development Committee will 1) develop a plan for involving Board members in the relationship-building and fundraising activities of the organization; 2) encourage, train, and thank Board members for their involvement; and 3) ensure the tracking of projected vs. actual results during the year, keeping the Board fully informed of its status and any necessary plan adjustments.

The Development Committee meets on the first Thursday of the month from 12 pm to 1 pm at the MWL office or via teleconference. Please refer to the MWL Calendar of Events for more information. All members are welcome to attend and get involved.


Equity Committee

Katie Bennett, Robins Kaplan LLP
Amy Boyle, Halunen Law
A. Elizabeth Burnett, Robins Kaplan LLP (Board Liaison)
Kelly Clark, Heinz Law
Angela Kiese, Minnesota Attorney General's Office
Adine Momoh, Stinson LLP
Elizabeth Patton, Fox Rothschild LLP
Trisha Volpe, Barnes and Thornburg LLP

The MWL Equity Committee is tasked with general oversight for MWL's projects and initiatives related to the systemic advancement and success of women attorneys. The Committee's work not only combines the foundational efforts of the previous Leadership Committee, Parity Committee and Judicial Sub-Committee, but further expands their reach as defined by the 2015-2108 MWL Strategic Plan.

Overall, the Equity Committee works to develop and implement action steps for MWL to achieve equity for women in the legal profession, including: 1) assessing the current status of women in the legal profession in Minnesota; 2) identifying barriers that prevent women from achieving equity; 3) steps (specific programs/initiatives) that can be taken to overcome such barriers; and 4) implementation of action steps as appropriate. Activities are inclusive of both the bench and the bar.

Current Equity Committee activities may include: coordination and oversight of the MWL Media Project, activities related to attaining non-profit and corporate board positions, specific practice area pipeline projects (judicial, firm, corporate, etc.), further development of MWL's Data Research Project, general oversight for and promotion of The MWL Compendium, and other initiatives in support of MWL's Strategic Plan.

As appropriate, the Equity Committee may review, research and make recommendations to the Board regarding policy or legislative issues as they relate specifically to the equitable position of women attorneys in the legal community.

The full Equity Committee meets quarterly on the 3rd Thursday of the month at 8:30 am at the MWL office or via teleconference. Subcommittees may meet between the quarterly meetings. Please refer to the MWL Calendar of Events for more information. All members are welcome to attend and get involved.

Executive Committee


Shannon Harmon, Hennepin County Attorneys Office (Board Past-President)
Kristin Haugen, KC Haugen Law / Rock Solid Consultants (Board Treasurer)
Jenny Robbins, MADEL PA (Board Secretary)

Breia Schleuss, Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP (Board President-Elect)

Description (as per MWL Bylaws)

(Board-Only Committee) The Executive Committee shall consist of the officers of the corporation. The Executive Committee shall have and exercise all of the authority of the Board. The Executive Committee shall act only in the interval between meetings of the Board and shall be subject at all times to the control and direction of the Board. The Executive Committee shall, among other things, advise and make recommendations to the Board concerning personnel matters, including the establishment of the Executive Director’s salary and job duties, as well as performance reviews and training for the Executive Director. The Executive Committee shall actively monitor the corporation's financial status and related activities. Contact the MWL Executive Director for information about meeting dates.

Governance Committee

Shannon Harmon, Hennepin County Attorneys Office 
Poonam Kumar, DLA Piper LLP
Jenny Robbins, MADEL PA
Breia Schleuss, Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP

The Governance Committee focuses its efforts on the overall strength, well-being and strategic direction of the Board of Directors. It is also charged with the development of strategic relationships within the legal community, in order to advance MWL's mission. 

The Governance Committee will provide general oversight and leadership for MWL's 2018-2020 Strategic Plan and the organization's efforts to achieve its goals. Tasks include the development and implementation of the Board's Annual Action Plan, as well as a Strategic Plan operating work plan.

In accordance with the Strategic Plan, the Governance Committee will lead MWL's internal diversity efforts by developing and implementing specific goals and initiatives. Subsequently, it will communicate MWL's diversity goals to all other MWL leadership groups and provide support to ensure each groups' related efforts and implementation.


Governance: Diversity and Inclusion Committee

Jenny Robbins, MADEL PA
Mary Szondy, Attorney at Law 

Guided by MWL’s Diversity and Inclusion statement, the Diversity and Inclusion Committee will lead MWL's diversity efforts by identifying and developing specific goals and initiatives to advance diversity and inclusion, both internally and outward-facing. Subsequently, it will communicate MWL's goals to all other MWL leadership groups and provide support to ensure each groups' related efforts and implementation. Furthermore, the Committee will develop MWL’s Diversity and Inclusion Plan each year and work to implement over the course of the fiscal year.



Programming Committee

Kelly Lelo, Larson King
Karen Opp, Korn Ferry
Alona Rindal, U.S. Bank

The Programming Committee is charged with general oversight for all of MWL’s programs and CLE’s, ensuring MWL's work is coordinated and meeting established annual strategic goals. To that end, the Committee will also assist Staff and the Board in the development and maintenance of MWL’s master calendar of events. (Although other MWL Committee's may spearhead an event/CLE from time to time, all activity MUST be coordinated with / run through the Programming Committee, to ensure it fits into the master calendar of events). Finally, the Committee will provide general oversight for and input regarding MWL's signature events (Wahl Lecture, MWL Conference, and Annual Meeting). The group typically meets the first Tuesday of the month at 11 am via teleconference. 


Programming: Annual Conference Committee

Lisa Lodin Peralta, Peralta Appellate Law PLLC
Lynn Walters, Walters Legal Services


The Annual Conference Subcommittee provides general oversight and coordination for the Annual Conference, to be held in the spring of each year. 

Activities may include 1) assistance in coordinating event logistics; 2) development of overall conference theme and structure; 3) securing keynote speaker (s); 4) securing breakout speakers and panelists; 5) general publicity and marketing support; and 6) volunteer coordination and support.

The group typically meets on the third Friday of every month via teleconference.


Programming: CLE Committee

Emerald Gratz, Minnesota Supreme Court (Board Liaison)
Andrea Hoversten, Geraghty O'Loughlin & Kenney

The CLE Subcommittee will coordinate specific professional development and leadership events that support women attorneys in: 

1) addressing issues of bias and inequity within the profession; 
2) developing core competencies; 
3) building skill and expertise within specific legal/practice areas; 
4) developing leadership skills;
5) attaining leadership positions outside of the legal community;
6) developing and supporting mentoring relationships

The group typically meets the second Friday of the month via teleconference.


Programming: Leadership Development Committee

Emerald Gratz, Minnesota Supreme Court
Theresa Johnson, Theresa Johnson Law

The Leadership Development Committee is responsible for responsible for coordination and oversight of a new intensive leadership program development for women attorneys. Initial work will include development and marketing of an RFP; RFP review and recommendation to the MWL Board; and initial and ongoing programming oversight in collaboration with the selected facilitator. The Committee will also be responsible for ongoing and final program evaluation in anticipation of future programming. Related tasks in support of additional leadership programming may also be an area of focus for the Committee.


Programming: Networking Committee

Dionne Blake, Target
Kristin Haugen, KC Haugen Law/Rock Solid Consultants (Board Liaison)
Nicole Truso, Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP 

The Networking Committee will coordinate MWL’s stand-alone networking events (all-member socials, happy hours, roadshows, etc.) Additionally, the committee will provide support and oversight for networking events held in conjunction with other MWL events (e.g. receptions at the Wahl Lecture, MWL Conference, etc.). The committee will also work to create a welcoming and accessible environment across all MWL activities, to foster opportunities for members to develop meaningful connections and relationships with one another (e.g. Colleague Connections, etc.)


Publications Committee


Ellen Ahrens, MADEL PA (Board Liaison) 
Laura Arneson, Mueting, Raasch & Gebhardt, P.A.
Jennifer Wichelman, Minnesota Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility

The Publications Committee is responsible for producing MWL's quarterly publication With Equal Right, ensuring its content and format supports MWL's strategic objectives and goals. The Publications Committee meets on a periodic basis. Please refer to the MWL Calendar of Events for more information regarding meetings. All members are welcome to attend and get involved.


Minnesota Women Lawyers
600 Nicollet Mall, Suite 390B
Minneapolis, MN 55402

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