Print Page   |   Contact Us   |   Sign In   |   Join MWL
Site Search
2017 MWL Conference for Women in the Law: Speaker Biographies




Conference Highlights Registration & Rates 45th Annual Meeting
Program Agenda Scholarships Download Center
Speaker Biographies
Register Now Exhibitors & Sponsors


2017 MWL Conference Speakers

MWL is pleased to welcome an esteemed group of Conference speakers, presenters and moderators to the 2017 MWL Conference for Women in the Law. We are so grateful they are able to share their expertise with us this year. Look below to learn more!

Connie Armstrong is Associate General Counsel for McGough Construction Co., Inc. in St. Paul. Providing legal representation, guidance, analysis and services to protect the legal rights of McGough and assist in achieving its objective of “Building Exceptional Experiences” while maintaining its tradition of quality and craftsmanship. Ms. Armstrong is a member of the Minnesota Air National Guard, currently assigned as the Deputy Mission Support Group Commander at the 148th Fighter Wing in Duluth. She has been a member of the Air National Guard since high school and, prior to earning her law degree from William Mitchell College of Law in 2006, received an undergraduate degree from the University of Alaska – Southeast and a graduate degree from the University of La Verne while employed with the Alaska Air National Guard. She has been an active member of Minnesota Women Lawyers, first serving as the treasurer for the St. Croix Valley Chapter and on the Board of Directors since 2011. She has also been actively involved with the Minnesota Defense Lawyer’s Association for several years, speaking at its events and serving on its committees.

The Honorable Sharon Grewell Benson is a District Court Judge in Minnesota’s Seventh Judicial District. She was appointed on September 6, 2016 by Governor Mark Dayton. Before her position on the bench, Judge Benson was a Solo Practitioner with Benson Law Office, LLC. She was an MSBA Certified Criminal Law Specialist and was also a part-time Seventh Judicial District Public Defender. Previously, she has also worked as a legal services attorney and as the Managing Attorney at Central MN Legal Services. Judge Benson earned her B.A. and her J.D. from the University of Minnesota. Judge Benson was a pro bono advocate for veterans in the Stearns County Veterans Protocol, and has served on the Board of Directors for the Central Minnesota Housing Partners, Great River Education Arts Theatre, and the MSBA Bar Foundation. She has also served on the MN Supreme Court Juvenile Delinquency Rules Committee and the Child Protection Rules Committee.


Joan Bibelhausen is the Executive Director of Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers. Ms. Bibelhausen received her J.D. from the University of MN Law School and is admitted to practice in Minnesota. She has spent more than two decades working with lawyers who are at a crossroads because of mental illness and addiction concerns as well as work/life balance, stress and related issues. Ms. Bibelhausen is a member of the MN State Bar Association, Hennepin and Ramsey County and American Bar Associations, and MN Women Lawyers, among others. She has served on the ABA Commission on Lawyers Assistance Programs (CoLAP) and is currently on its Advisory Commission, She has chaired the MSBA Life and the Law Committee and the HCBA Solo and Small Firm Practice Section and has co-chaired the HCBA Diversity Committee.  Ms. Bibelhausen also served on the MSBA Board of Governors and and currently serves on the board of the Northstar Problem Gambling Alliance.  She has developed and presented numerous seminars  and has written on mental health and addiction, life balance and satisfaction, stress, diversity and other issues of concern to the legal profession.

The Honorable Kathleen A. Blatz served as the Chief Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court from 1998 to 2006, and served as an Associate Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court from 1996 to 1998. She served in the Minnesota House of Representatives from 1979 to 1994. Former Chief Justice Blatz is a Trustee of St. Thomas University and the Judicial Conference Committee on Federal-State Jurisdiction.  She has also served as a member of Special Litigation Committee of UnitedHealth Group. Former Chief Justice Blatz graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Notre Dame, received a Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Minnesota, and earned a law degree, cum laude from the University of Minnesota Law School.


The Honorable Hildy Bowbeer is a Magistrate Judge with the United States District Court, District of Minnesota. Judge Bowbeer began her career as a trial and appellate lawyer in private practice, and was a Founding Partner of the law firm of Bowman and Brooke.  She joined 3M Company in 1997, where she initially managed product liability and mass tort litigation, then, as a member of 3M’s Office of Intellectual Property Counsel, managed the company’s intellectual property litigation.  She is a member of the American Law Institute and a Judicial Advisor to the Sedona Conference Working Groups on Electronic Discovery and on Patent Litigation Best Practices.  She is also a member of the Federal Practice Committee for the District of Minnesota. She is a past Chair of the Board of Minnesota Continuing Legal Education and served eight years on the Governor’s Judicial Selection Commission. Judge Bowbeer received her law degree from the University of Michigan.


Amy Boyle is an attorney at Halunen Law in Minneapolis.  She is a member of the firm’s Consumer Class Action Practice group.  Working to level the playing field for her consumer clients who challenge illegal or unethical corporate conduct, Ms. Boyle’s work includes lawsuits against manufacturers for faulty construction materials and home products, and food and cosmetic companies for false labeling.  Before working at Halunen Law, Ms. Boyle defended insurance companies and their insureds in a wide variety of civil lawsuits.  She is currently a member of the Warren E. Burger Inn of Court and a Board Member of the Federal Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Division.  She serves on the Equity Committee for the Minnesota Women Lawyers and is excited to be co-chairing the Judicial Initiative. 


Erin Bryan serves as Senior Corporate Counsel in the Law Division of U.S. Bank, where she provides legal support to U.S. Bank’s mortgage and consumer lines of business. Prior to joining U.S. Bank in 2014, Ms. Bryan was an Associate in the Finance and Restructuring group at Dorsey & Whitney LLP, where her practice included a wide variety of transactional matters and bankruptcy litigation for clients in the financial services, healthcare, technology, and energy industries. Ms. Bryan began her legal career as a Judicial Law Clerk for the Hon. Robert J. Kressel, United States Bankruptcy Judge. She earned her law degree from the University of St. Thomas School of Law in 2007.  Ms. Bryan is the incoming Co-Chair of the Minnesota Lavender Bar Association’s Board of Directors.

The Honorable Margaret Chutich is an Associate Justice on the Minnesota Supreme Court.  She was appointed on January 22, 2016 by Governor Mark Dayton. Prior to her position on the Supreme Court, Justice Chutich served on the Minnesota Court of Appeals, beginning in 2011.  In 2008, she was appointed Assistant Dean of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota.  Previously, Justice Chutich worked in the Office of the Minnesota Attorney General, and as an Assistant United States Attorney. Justice Chutich received her law degree from the University of Michigan Law School and her undergraduate degree from the University of Minnesota. 


Annamarie Daley is a Partner at Jones Day, focusing her practice on complex commercial litigation, federal regulatory and intellectual property law matters. With more than 30 years legal experience, she has represented clients in federal and state antitrust, consumer protection, deceptive trade practice, data privacy matters, and nationwide class action and intellectual property litigation.  Ms. Daley is active in many civic and professional organizations, including service as a Senior Fellow of the Litigation Counsel of America, and a member of the Trial Law Institute and the Diversity Law Institute. Ms. Daley is currently the Vice-Chair of the Minnesota Supreme Court Historical Society.  She earned her law degree from the University of Minnesota.


Sybil Dunlop handles complex litigation for local and international clients in both the public and private sectors. She has represented businesses engaged in commercial, patent, and shareholder disputes as well as counties, cities, and school districts facing constitutional, commercial, and class claims. Ms. Dunlop has served her clients from initial investigations through trial. Prior to joining Greene Espel, Ms. Dunlop clerked for the Honorable James M. Rosenbaum of the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota. Ms. Dunlop graduated from Vanderbilt University Law School, Order of the Coif, where she served as Senior Notes Editor for the Vanderbilt Law Review. Before attending law school, she received her B.A. from Smith College and lived and worked in Geneva, Switzerland, and Washington, DC.


Melitta Drechsler (formerly Melitta George) is an Assistant Ramsey County Attorney in the office’s Civil Division.  She drafts, reviews and negotiates Ramsey County’s high dollar value procurement contracts, specializing in IT outsourcing contracts. Ms. Drechsler is currently the President-Elect of the Minnesota Asian Pacific American Bar Association. Prior to joining the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office, Ms. Drechsler was corporate counsel for Taylor Corporation in Mankato and an associate in the Business Law section of Briggs and Morgan.  She graduated from William Mitchell College of Law in 2008.


The Honorable Joan Ericksen serves on the United States District Court, District of Minnesota. Judge Ericksen began her legal career working in private practice from 1981 to 1983. She was an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Minnesota from 1983 to 1993, and was in private practice in Minnesota from 1993 to 1995. Judge Ericksen served as a Judge on the Fourth Judicial District of Minnesota in Hennepin County from 1995 to 1998 and as an Associate Justice on the Minnesota Supreme Court from 1998 to 2002. Judge Ericksen was nominated to the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota in 2002. She earned her law degree from the University of Minnesota Law School.

Amran A. Farah practices in insurance defense matters, including construction law, product liability, insurance coverage, no-fault UM/UIM, auto liability, professional liability, employment law and liquor liability at Waldek Law Firm, P.A. Ms. Farah has represented clients in disputes involving negligence, breach of contract and settlements involving minors. Ms. Farah is also an Adjunct Professor of Civil Dispute Resolution at Mitchell Hamline School of Law. Before joining Waldeck Law Firm, Ms. Farah was a Judicial Law Clerk for the Honorable Pamela G. Alexander at the Fourth Judicial District in Hennepin County. Ms. Farah is the President of the Somali American Bar Association and the Vice President of the Minnesota Association of Black Lawyers. Ms. Farah also serves on the Police Conduct Review Oversight Committee and the Governor’s Council of Minnesotans of African Heritage. She earned her law degree at Hamline University School of Law, magna cum laude.

Heidi J.K. Fessler is Of Counsel in Barnes & Thornburg’s Minneapolis office and a member of the Litigation Department and the eDiscovery, Data and Document Management Practice Group. Ms. Fessler concentrates her practice on discovery and data related issues, cyber and data security, and internal investigation services. In addition, Ms. Fessler acts as designated national discovery counsel for a large healthcare organization where she works with the organization, external merits counsel and in-house counsel to create defensible and cost-effective discovery practices. Ms. Fessler is a frequent speaker and author on e-discovery, information management and legal technology topics. Heidi is a Co-Chair of the Minnesota Women Lawyers Master Attorneys Affinity group. She is also a member of the Sedona Conference Working Group Series and Minnesota eDiscovery Working Group. Heidi earned her J.D. from Rutgers University School of Law, and her B.A., magna cum laude, from the University of Wisconsin.


Elizabeth Fors is an Associate at Robins Kaplan LLP. She works to help those who have been injured from medical malpractice or personal injury. She graduated summa cum laude from Hamline University School of Law, now Mitchell Hamline School of Law, where she attended classes while also working full-time as a paralegal. Before attending law school, Ms. Fors was an Emmy-nominated producer for live sporting events and live pre-game shows. During her ten years in the sports industry, she was involved in televising Twins, Timberwolves, Lynx, Brewers, and Bucks games as well as football, hockey, and basketball games at the University of Wisconsin and University of Minnesota.


Beth Forsythe is a Partner at Dorsey & Whitney LLP. In her white collar and corporate investigations practice, Ms. Forsythe plans and conducts effective internal investigations and represents those under investigation by federal or state authorities for securities fraud, health care fraud, mortgage fraud, public corruption, and Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”) violations. Ms. Forsythe also routinely provides anti-corruption/FCPA due diligence and compliance advisory services, including program development, board presentations, and employee training. Beth is a member of the University of St. Thomas School of Law Alumni Advisory board, and a Board Co-Chair of Connections to Independence. Ms. Forsythe earned her law degree from the University of St. Thomas Law School, magna cum laude, in 2006.


Laurie Robinson Haden is the Senior Vice President and Assistant General Counsel of CBS Corporation. In 2015, she was tapped by CBS Corporation for a new role within the Litigation Department reporting to the Head of Litigation. In this new position, she oversees and manages outside counsel, directs legal strategy, and participates in alternative dispute resolution. In addition to her role at CBS Corporation, Mrs. Robinson Haden is the Founder and CEO of Corporate Counsel Women of Color, a non-profit professional organization, which she created in 2004 to advance women of color attorneys and to foster diversity in the legal profession. Mrs. Robinson Haden’s leadership and ability to galvanize has resulted in the growth of the organization’s membership from 30 members to over 3,300 members within an eleven-year period. She earned her law degree at Indiana University School of Law at Bloomington.


Portia Hampton-Flowers is currently the Deputy City Attorney at the St. Paul City Attorney’s Office. She manages the Civil Litigation Division of the City Attorney’s Office.  Ms. Hampton-Flowers provides direct supervision for all litigation matters involving the City of St. Paul and  defends the City, its Mayor, City Council members and employees from a wide variety of civil lawsuits in both state and federal courts. Ms. Hampton-Flowers has previously served as the Litigation Supervisor for the St. Paul City Attorney’s Office, as well as an Assistant City Attorney for St. Paul. She has also worked as a Litigation Manager and Claims Officer for the Minnesota Department of Corrections, and also as Assistant Attorney General for the Office of the Minnesota Attorney General. Ms. Hampton-Flowers received her law degree from the University of Iowa, College of Law in 1990.

The Honorable Charlene Hatcher currently serves as a Judge in the Fourth Judicial District of Minnesota. She was previously the Chief Civil Deputy Hennepin County Attorney, where she was the chief advisor and negotiator to the County Attorney for all county department legal issues. Judge Hatcher also severed as the Managing Attorney of the Human Services Division and Assistant County Attorney in the Civil Division of the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office, Associate Counsel at H.B. Fuller Company, Special Assistant Attorney General in the Office of the Minnesota Attorney General, and a Business Litigation Associate at Robins Kaplan LLP. Judge Hatcher earned her B.A.S. from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and her J.D. from William Mitchell College of Law. She was a volunteer at Simpson’s Women’s Shelter, a medical mission team member in Cairo, Egypt, a Service Information Center volunteer and a Sunday school teacher at Substance Church.


Kristin Haugen is a Solo Attorney at KC Haugen Law and an Attorney Business Development Coach for Rock Solid Consultants.  In her solo practice, Ms. Haugen advises entrepreneurs and companies at every stage of the business life cycle.  She especially enjoys using trademark law to protect clients’ brand identity and goodwill.  Clients particularly like her pragmatic approach and ability to find creative business and legal solutions.  As a coach and trainer, Ms. Haugen uses her personal experiences to coach other attorneys on managing their practices, building critical relationships and achieving their goals.  Ms. Haugen has worked with clients of all ages and stages – from law student to equity partner, from solo practitioners to the AmLaw200, and in cities across the country.  Ms. Haugen serves on MWL’s Board of Directors. She is also a Co-Chair of MWL’s Networking Committee and actively participates in MWL’s Development Committee.  She earned her law degree from the University of Illinois College of Law. University of Minnesota Law School and her B.S. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


Loan Huynh is a Shareholder at Fredrikson & Byron and has practiced immigration law for over 20 years. She focuses on employment-based immigration, corporate immigration compliance and global mobility solutions for employers, ranging from Fortune 500 companies to mid-size companies, entrepreneurs/investors, and family-owned farms by developing practical immigration policy and strategies to meet their goals. Loan is also a frequent speaker at national conferences and has written extensively on immigration issues. She is a member of the Board of Advocates for Human Rights, the Board of Trustee of the American Immigration Council and a member of the national American Immigration Lawyer’s Association’s DOL Liaison Committee. She is also the Chair of Fredrikson & Byron’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee. Loan earned her bachelor’s degree and law degree from the University of Houston.


Valerie M. Jensen has been the Executive Director of Twin Cities Diversity in Practice (TCDIP) since 2007. Prior to TCDIP, she worked in career services at Valparaiso University School of Law and was the inaugural Associate Dean for Multicultural Affairs at William Mitchell College of Law, where she was named one of 15 “Attorneys of the Year” by Minnesota Lawyer. Before assuming her role at William Mitchell, Ms. Jensen worked for the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office, the Minnesota Supreme Court, and the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. Ms. Jensen is currently the Chair of the Board of Directors at a local independent health clinic and teaches a seminar on Race and the Law each fall at Mitchell Hamline. A native Minnesotan, Ms. Jensen earned her B.A. from Carleton College and her J.D. from William Mitchell College of Law.


Mara Kaplan is currently the Director Counsel at Target Corporation, responsible for the legal aspects of Target’s merger and acquisition activity.  She is also responsible for all legal aspects of, a subsidiary of Target Corporation. Prior to joining Target, Ms. Kaplan was with the law firm now known as Faegre Baker Daniels where she advised multinational clients on cross-border transactions. Ms. Kaplan was named in 2015 by the Hispanic Association of Corporate Responsibility as a Young Hispanic Corporate Achiever and was nominated as one of two of Target’s 2013 fellow for the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity.  She has served in various leadership roles both at the Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA) and the Minnesota Hispanic National Bar (MHBA) since 2004, including serving as President of the MHBA and Regional President of the HNBA.  She has also served as a member of Advisory Board of the Institute for Mexicans Abroad, a decentralized agency of the Mexican Foreign Ministry. Ms. Kaplan received her law degree from the William Mitchell College of Law.

Barbara Klas is a Consultant and Director of Account Management at Casepoint LLC, an international full service eDiscovery, technology and litigation support services provider. She leads national business development strategy, consulting and client services support based in Casepoint’s Minneapolis/St.Paul office. She supports national corporate and law firm clients with litigation management, electronic discovery, technology and consulting services. She began her practice as a litigation attorney at Rider Bennett, LLP. She is a thought leader and frequent speaker on best practices in eDiscovery, co-author of Minnesota CLE’s recently published E-Discovery Desk Book, a member of the MSBA eDiscovery Working Group, executive member of MN Women Lawyers where she is Co-Chair of the Master Lawyers Affinity Group, an active member and sponsor of Women in eDiscovery (WiE) and the Twin Cities eDiscovery Group. She served on the Alumni Board of Directors of Mitchell Hamline School of Law. Ms. Klas received her J.D. from William Mitchell College of Law and B.A. from St. Catherine University with honors.


Mary Knoblauch, Shareholder at the law firm of Anthony Ostlund Baer & Louwagie P.A., is a labor and employment and business litigator with more than 25 years of experience of representing her clients dealing in business and employment-related disputes and problems. Her clients are from a wide range of industries including medical device, consumer goods, financial services, health care, manufacturing and food processing. She has a particular emphasis on non-competes, unfair competition, employment contract disputes, and employment discrimination.  Ms. Knoblauch is a current At-large Member of the Minnesota Commission on Judicial Selection.  She is also a Board Member for The Fund for Legal Aid, formerly serving as its Chair.  Ms. Knoblauch graduated cum laude from the University of Minnesota Law School.


Lidya Makonnen is the Appointments Coordinator for the Office of Governor Mark Dayton and Lt. Governor Tina Smith. Previously, she served as Special Projects Coordinator for the Office of Governor Mark Dayton; Policy Intern with the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants; and a Neighborhood Liaison for Student Community Relations at the University of Minnesota.  Ms. Makonnen graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and Government from the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities.


Lariss Maldonado is an Associate General Counsel at UnitedHealthcare, where she is participating in a unique rotation program, spending time in the Compliance, Regulatory Affairs, and Litigation groups over the course of two years. As President of the Minnesota Hispanic Bar Association, Lariss supports the organization’s many robust projects and initiatives, including promoting diversity on the bench and sponsoring pipeline programs. Lariss also serves on the Board of the ACLU of Minnesota. Previously, Ms. Maldonado was a Litigator at Faegre Baker Daniels. Notably, Ms. Maldonado was recognized as an Up and Coming Attorney by the Minnesota Lawyer. She graduated magna cum laude from the University of Minnesota Law School, and her undergraduate degree is from Smith College.


The Honorable Anne McKeig was appointed to the Minnesota Supreme Court as an Associate Justice by Governor Mark Dayton on August 31, 2016. She served previously as a Judge for the Fourth Judicial District of MN in Hennepin County. Justice
McKeig was also an Assistant Attorney for Hennepin County in the Child Protection Division for more than 15 years, specializing in
Native American child welfare cases. She earned her law degree from the Hamline University School of Law.

The Honorable Helen Meyer is currently Of Coursel at Briggs and Morgan, P.A.  Previously, she served as an Associate Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court from 2002-2012. Before her appointment, she worked as a civil trial lawyer and mediator for more than 20 years. She was the owner of Meyer and Associates in St. Louis Park, and was a Founding Partner of the law firm Pritzker and Meyer in Minneapolis. She received her law degree from William Mitchell College of Law.


The Honorable Susan R. Miles was elected to serve in the Tenth Judicial District starting in 1997, and has been re-elected in 2002, 2008, and 2014. Before her judicial position, she practiced for Hessian, McKasy & Soderberg. Judge Miles has served as President of MWL (1997-1998), has served on the Board of Directors, and is currently active on MWL’s Advisory Board. Judge Miles is currently a Teaching Assistant at the University of Minnesota Center for Spirituality and Health. Hon. Miles earned her J.D. from the Catholic University Columbus School of Law.


Lisa Lodin Peralta is currently an Appellate Staff Attorney at Robins Kaplan LLP. Prior to joining Robins Kaplan, Ms. Lodin Peralta was in practice with her husband. She was lead counsel in all civil and criminal appeals in MN state and federal courts, as well as trial court matters involving criminal defense and family law. She is very involved in the MN Hispanic Bar Association and the Hispanic National Bar Association, presenting and volunteering at local and national conferences, and participating in diversity and pro bono activities seeking to increase the number of Latinos in the legal community. In addition, Ms. Lodin Peralta is an advocate for the education of Latino children. She has served as Board of Directors Chair for Joyce Preschool, a bilingual (Spanish-English) nonprofit preschool successfully addressing the achievement gap for Latino students in Minneapolis. In 2009, she worked with MHBA to found the Barristers’ Breakfast event, an annual fundraiser which hosts speakers and raises thousands of dollars in scholarship funds for the low-income students who attend Joyce Preschool. She earned her law degree from the University of Michigan Law School.


Jenna Perrin is an Assistant Vice President, Corporate Counsel, eDiscovery and Records Management at TCF Bank. Ms. Perrin has served as Project Lead in the implementation and execution of significant data management initiatives. In her position, Ms. Perrin manages multiple active matters by issuing and monitoring legal holds, and preserving, collecting and processing data using Guidance EnCase eDiscovery. She works with outside counsel and internal resources to comply with pending and active litigation and regulatory investigations. Ms. Perrin  governs the Records Management program, which provides guidance for the retention and destruction of documents and data according to legal requirements and business need. She is also involved in the implementation and controls around communication technology at TCF. Ms. Perrin earned her law degree from Mitchell Hamline School of Law.


Rachael Presler is an Associate at Quinlivan & Hughes, focusing her practice on civil ligation including insurance defense, business, and employment matters. Ms. Presler’s insurance defense practice centers on automobile and premise liability. She also represents business clients in counseling and handling a variety of litigation matters. Ms. Presler was admitted to the Minnesota Bar in May 2013 after receiving her J.D. from William Mitchell College of Law. Ms. Presler also holds Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and a minor in Spanish from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.


Denise Rahne is a Partner at Robins Kaplan LLP in Minneapolis. Denise serves corporate and individual clients facing a wide variety of active and potential litigation. She both leads and collaborates on large and mid-size legal teams and has significant experience in traditional and alternative-dispute forums. With a particular practice focus on disputes involving estates, trusts, fiduciaries, and closely-held corporations, her record of results also includes matters involving a range of commercial disputes, including intellectual property. In addition, she serves the broader community as a board member of multiple non-profit organizations: College Possible Minnesota (current Vice-Chair and incoming Chair), The Children’s Law Center (Vice Chair and incoming Chair), Twin Cities Diversity in Practice, Twin Cities Iron Ranger Association (Committee member). Ms. Rahne earned her J.D., magna cum laude, from the William Mitchell College of Law.

Melinda Sanders
is an attorney at Quinlivan & Hughes. She is known for helping nonprofits and employers navigate challenges, new laws and ways to further their mission. Her commitment to community led her to take a position as Director of Donor Relations at the Central Minnesota Community Foundation where she helped the organization develop a new growth structure and launch Community Giving. She returned to the firm in 2015 after realizing how much she missed the law and her clients, and continues to serve the community as an avid volunteer. Serving on the Employment Practice Team, Ms. Sanders represents and advises employers on hiring and firing, leaves of absence, discrimination, reasonable accommodation, performance management and contracts. Ms. Sanders is also a member of the Trusts & Estates Group at Quinlivan & Hughes. She has also served on the Judicial Selection Commission for the Seventh Judicial District, appointed by Governor Tim Pawlenty. Ms. Sanders earned her law degree at the University of Minnesota Law School, cum laude.


Lenor Scheffler is currently General Counsel of the Lower Sioux Community. In 1988, she graduated from William Mitchell College of Law, becoming the first enrolled member of any Minnesota Mdewakanton Dakota Tribe to become a lawyer. Ms. Scheffler is extremely active in the Minnesota legal community. From 2001-2006, she served as the chief judge for the Upper Sioux Community Tribal Court.  In 2003, she was appointed to the Minnesota Commission on Judicial Selection. Ms. Scheffler contributes her time and expertise to the community in multiple ways and recently received the Turtle Award from the Minnesota American Indian Chamber of Commerce for volunteering time, energy and services to support and promote the American Indian business community.


Keiko Sugisaka is a Partner in Maslon LLP’s Litigation Group, and also the chair of Maslon’s Tort & Liability Group. She focuses her practice primarily on product liability defense, complex business, and intellectual property cases, including consolidated and multi-district litigation. She also has extensive experience in all stages of complex and large-scale discovery and e-discovery issues.  At Maslon, Keiko serves as a member of the firm’s Recruiting Committee, Chair of its Technology Committee, Co-Chair of its Diversity Committee, and as Maslon’s Member Representative in Twin Cities Diversity in Practice. She is also an At-large Member of the Minnesota Judicial Selection Commission and the Vice-Chair of the Fourth Judicial District Ethics Committee.  Prior to joining Maslon, Keiko practiced intellectual property litigation with a large national law firm and was an Assistant Attorney General in the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office. Keiko earned her law degree with honors from the University of Minnesota Law School and was a judicial clerk for (Ret.) Justice Alan C. Page of the Minnesota Supreme Court.


Rachna Sullivan is a Business Litigator and Shareholder at Fredrikson and Byron, P.A. Ms. Sullivan has handled litigation around the country for two decades, practicing largely in federal court. Her clients--which include large companies, closely-held businesses and individuals--value her aggressive and strategic defense of cases. Ms. Sullivan is a former Prosecutor in Brooklyn, New York and Law Clerk to the Honorable James M. Rosenbaum--former Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota. A highly regarded and recognized member of the Bar, Ms. Sullivan has been selected by her peers as a Minnesota Super Lawyer and a Rising Star. She is also a Past President of the Federal Bar Association’s Minnesota Chapter, a former Co-Chair of the Magistrate Selection Committee for the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota, and a recipient of the Distinguished Pro Bono Service Award from the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota. Ms. Sullivan earned her law degree from the University of Minnesota Law School, cum laude.


The Honorable Esther Tomljanovich served on the Minnesota Supreme Court from 1990-1998. Previously she had served as a District Court Judge in the Tenth Judicial District from 1977-1990. She had also worked as Revisor for the Minnesota Office of the Revisor of Statutes. She earned her law degree from William Mitchell College of Law.


Lola Velazquez-Aguilu is an Assistant United States Attorney assigned to the White-Collar and Public Corruption Section of the Criminal Division.  Before joining the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Ms. Velazquez-Aguilu was an Associate at Dorsey and Whitney where she represented civil litigants and criminal defendants charged with white-collar crimes.  She also clerked for Retired Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Alan C. Page and U.S. District Court Judge Ann D. Montgomery. Ms. Velazquez-Aguilu is the President of the Infinity Project and an active member of the MN Hispanic Bar Association and the MN Chapter of the Federal Bar Association. She also serves as a Fourth District attorney member of the Minnesota Commission on Judicial Selection. Ms. Velazquez-Aguilu received her law degree from the University of Wisconsin Law School. While in law school, she was the first student of color to serve as the Editor-in-Chief of the Wisconsin Law Review.


Melissa Wright is currently Vice President & General Counsel of Twin Cities PBS. Melissa leads the Legal, Government Relations, and Compliance responsibilities at TPT. In addition, she serves as the Corporate Secretary. Through her various roles at TPT, Ms. Wright provides creative solutions and direction on TPT’s initiatives that align with TPT’s mission and strategic plan. Ms. Wright’s prior experience includes, working in experiential learning as the Externship Director at William Mitchell College of Law, Senior Counsel at Wells Fargo Corporation, and Assistant Attorney General at the Minnesota State Attorney General’s Office. She has served in a myriad of voluntary, leadership positions for community-based organizations, including the Minnesota Women Lawyers, National Asian Pacific American Bar Association – MN Chapter, Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, the Asian Pacific Endowment Community Development Fund, and is a contributor to the Korean Quarterly. Ms. Wright received her law degree from William Mitchell College of Law and her Bachelor of Arts from St. Olaf College.



Back to the Top


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

Membership Software Powered by YourMembership  ::  Legal