February 3, 2016                                                                                                               

Washington, D.C. – The Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA) is proud to announce the exceptional attorneys who have been selected to receive the prestigious “HNBA Top Lawyers Under 40 Award,” during the 2016 HNBA Corporate Counsel Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada.  After a rigorous review process and an unprecedented number of nominations, the Awards Committee selected twenty highly qualified winners from across the country.  The “Top Lawyers Under 40” winners are accomplished lawyers, who have not only distinguished themselves professionally but exemplify the highest ethical standards and a commitment to their communities, to the legal profession, and to the HNBA’s mission.

“We are exceedingly proud to honor twenty of our best Latino and Latina lawyers and community leaders,” said Robert T. Maldonado, HNBA National President. “This year the HNBA received the largest number of nominations in recent history, and I want to thank the HNBA Awards Committee, led by Steve Flores of Winston & Strawn, for their service during the selection process.  The award recipients stand out from their peers as leaders and role models in the Hispanic legal community.  We are proud of their individual accomplishments, and that they are part of our HNBA family.  We congratulate them and wish them much success.”

The HNBA has selected the following attorneys to receive the 2016 HNBA “Top Lawyers Under 40" Award (listed in alphabetical order):

To download HNBA press release, please click here.

The 2016 HNBA Top Lawyers Under 40 recipients are:

Neysa Alsina, Counsel, New York City Bar Association (New York, NY)
Neysa Alsina is Counsel to the New York City Bar Association, which was established in 1870 and has over 24,000 members. Prior to this position, she was in-house counsel with the Municipal Credit Union, the oldest credit union in New York State. Neysa currently serves as the New York Regional President of the Hispanic National Bar Association. In addition, she is a Vice President of the Sonia & Celina Sotomayor Judicial Internship Program, which focuses on exposing underserved high school students to careers in the law through judicial internships in state and federal courts throughout New York City. Neysa is a member of the New York City Bar Association’s Committee to Enhance Diversity in the Profession, the New York State Bar Association, the Puerto Rican Bar Association, and the Council of Urban Professionals. She has served on numerous panels discussing diversity in the legal profession. 

Neysa is a graduate of Rutgers College at New Brunswick and Fordham University School of Law, and is a member of the New York and New Jersey bars.

Vilma Arce Stark, Attorney, Organization of American States (Washington, DC)
Vilma T. Arce Stark is counsel of the Organization of American States (OAS) in Washington, DC. As a member of the Department of Legal Services at the OAS, Vilma is responsible for delivering all litigation, transactional, and advisory legal services to the General Assembly, Permanent Council, General Secretariat, and the other organs, agencies, and entities of the OAS. All of her legal work is conducted in the Spanish and English languages, and occasionally French and Portuguese. Vilma started her legal career at the New York and San Francisco offices of the law firm Latham & Watkins, LLP, where she served the litigation and corporate transactional practice groups for almost four years. Vilma was the recipient of the Pro Bono Advocate Award of Legal Services for Children in 2009 for her creative and zealous work on an asylum matter, and she received Latham’s Pro Bono Award in 2006, 2007, and 2008.  In 2009, Vilma left Latham to serve as law clerk of the Honorable Matthew F. Kennelly of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. Upon concluding her clerkship, Vilma became associate of Williams, Montgomery & John, Ltd, a boutique litigation law firm in Chicago. Vilma received her J.D. from New York University, and her B.A., magna cum laude and with honors, from the University of Southern California.

Luis Avila, Associate General Counsel, U.S. Foods (Chicago, IL)
Luis Avila is Associate General Counsel at US Foods, Inc., a $23 billion dollar privately held foodservice distribution company, where he leads the Purchasing & Operations team of the legal department. He and his team support the Merchandising, Marketing, Supply Chain, IT, Product Innovation and Food Safety functions in transactional and compliance matters. Prior to joining US Foods, Mr. Avila was Assistant General Counsel at Heidrick & Struggles International, Inc., an executive search and leadership consulting company. Mr. Avila began his career as an associate in the Corporate Department at Lord, Bissell & Brook, now known as Locke Lord LLP. Thereafter, he opened his own practice before joining Kluever & Platt LLC as an associate.   He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign and his J.D. from Columbia University School of Law. In 2013, Mr. Avila was appointed President of Region IX for the Hispanic National Bar Association, representing Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin. He was elected for a second term in 2015

Jason Barraza, Associate Director, Veridus LLC (Phoenix, AZ)
Jason Barraza is the Senior Associate Director for Veridus LLC, a lobbying, public affairs, communications, campaign consulting and strategic business consulting firm. He represents internationally recognized clients in their government relations needs, and assists in the development of political advocacy plans that include political campaigns, polling, and community outreach. Prior to joining Veridus, Jason spent multiple stints assisting the coordinated campaign of the Arizona Democratic Party during the 2002, 2006 and 2008 campaign cycles. Jason also worked security, logistics and similar roles as part of each Democratic National Convention between 2000 and 2012. He graduated with a bachelor’s from the University of Southern California (2001), and a law degree from the James E. Rogers College of Law at the University of Arizona (2006). Jason is Chairman of the Board of Directors of Leading for Change, a non-partisan, political leadership training organization; Vice President of Los Abogados, the Arizona Hispanic Bar Association; is an appointed Member of the Legislative and Government Affairs Committee of the Hispanic National Bar Association; was recently elected Vice Chairman of the City of Phoenix’s North Mountain Village Planning Committee; and serves on the Board for Friends of the Phoenix Public Library.

María Coor, Partner, BakerHostetler (Washington, DC)
María R. Coor is a litigation partner in BakerHostetler’s Washington, DC office, where her practice encompasses both environmental and international work.  As a member of BakerHostetler’s Environmental Team, María advises clients on compliance and liability associated with various federal environmental statutes in both a civil and criminal context. María represents clients in litigation, federal and state administrative environmental law matters, and she also conducts environmental due diligence for both domestic and international corporate transactions. María is a native Spanish speaker, which, combined with her fluency in Portuguese, enables her to effectively work on a range of international matters. In addition to her environmental work, María represents clients in investigations involving Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) compliance, with a focus on Latin America and Brazil, in particular. She has represented corporations making voluntary disclosures to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Maria received her J.D. from Duke University School of Law, a Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School at Tufts University, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science from Brown University. 

Cindy Duque Bonilla, Partner of Counsel, Weinberg Wheeler Hudgins Gunn & Dial (Orlando, FL)
Cindy Duque Bonilla is a Partner of Counsel at Weinberg Wheeler Hudgins Gunn & Dial’s Orlando office and focuses her practice in the areas of construction law, product liability defense, catastrophic injury cases, and commercial litigation. She has extensive experience representing general contractors, owners and design professionals in a variety of construction litigation matters. In the area of product liability defense, Ms. Duque Bonilla represents product designers and manufacturers in product defect cases, foodborne illness, personal injury matters, wrongful death matters and class action litigation. She also has widespread experience in representing business entities in a wide array of commercial disputes.  As a trial attorney, Ms. Duque Bonilla has extensive experience handling bench and jury trials successfully with a focus on delivering creative solutions for difficult litigation problems. Throughout her legal career, Ms. Duque Bonilla has demonstrated a commitment to making a positive difference in her community. She served on the Board of Directors of the Hispanic Bar Association of Central Florida (“HBACF”) for five years and was the organization’s President in 2009-2010. Under her leadership, the HBACF established the first ever law student scholarship fund in Central Florida which continues to give annual scholarships to local Hispanic law students. Ms. Duque Bonilla has volunteered as a guest speaker in education programs “Conozca Sus Derechos” for the Hispanic community speaking on construction law and other consumer protection issues.  She has a passion for children and education and serves as a volunteer with the Teen Court Program. Ms. Duque Bonilla received her J.D. from the University of Miami School of Law in 2002, and her B.A. in International Relations from Rollins College. Ms. Duque Bonilla is fluent in Spanish and helps clients conduct business in Latin America. 

Robert Gonzalez, Partner, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison (Washington, DC)
Roberto J. Gonzalez is a partner in Paul, Weiss’s Washington, D.C. office. He focuses on representing financial institutions and other clients in litigation, enforcement actions, and congressional proceedings. Previously, he was Deputy General Counsel of the U.S. Treasury Department, where he managed significant litigations and congressional investigations and supervised more than 100 lawyers in areas including Dodd-Frank implementation, economic sanctions, anti-money laundering, and cybersecurity. Prior to that, Mr. Gonzalez was the Principal Deputy General Counsel of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, where he oversaw the legal review of all rulemakings, enforcement actions, and significant supervisory matters. He previously served as Associate White House Counsel and Special Assistant to the President, where he advised on financial regulation, criminal justice, and immigration issues, among others. He clerked for Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens and Second Circuit Judge Guido Calabresi. Mr. Gonzalez graduated second in his class from Stanford Law School, and received his A.B. from Duke University.

Rosana Gutierrez, Special Counsel, Foley & Lardner, LLP (Miami, FL)
Rosana Gutierrez is a Special Counsel in Foley & Lardner LLP’s Miami office. Rosana’s practice is focused on cross-border transactional matters, including private equity/venture capital, joint ventures, and M&A. She regularly guides clients through the entire company life cycle – from establishing the right structure for developing an idea to scaling operations to identifying and executing appropriate exit strategies. Prior to joining Foley, Rosana served as advisor to the president of the Government Development Bank for Puerto Rico, where she was responsible for developing key government initiatives such as an $800 million+ loan guaranty program for small and medium-size enterprises. She also co-founded an offshoring firm in Sri Lanka that was subsequently acquired by a leading European IT firm. Rosana holds a Juris Doctor from Columbia Law School, an MBA from IESE Business School, and a BA in Economics and Political Science from the University of Florida.

Hasan Ibrahim, Vice President & Corporate Counsel, Prudential Financial (Newak, NJ)
Hasan Ibrahim is a Vice President and Corporate Counsel for Prudential Financial headquartered in Newark, NJ. Hasan provides oversight for significant regulatory matters for all lines of business and corporate center functions for state, federal and international issues, including regulatory matters and investigations involving the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), as well as other federal and state government agencies and FINRA. Prior to joining Prudential, Hasan was an Associate General Counsel for UBS Financial Services (including serving as a Deputy General Counsel for UBS Bank USA) and practiced securities litigation at Drinker Biddle, where he represented clients during all stages of litigation and arbitration matters. He engages his local community through volunteerism and a strong commitment to community service in working with a variety of community and civic organizations, including being recently appointed to the Bergen County, New Jersey District Ethics Committee. Hasan holds an LL.M. in International Legal Studies from NYU Law and earned his JD from the Seton Hall University School of Law. He earned his undergraduate degree from Rutgers University.    

Gonzalo Martinez, Partner, Carroll, Burdick, McDonough LLP (San Francisco, CA)
Gonzalo C. Martinez is an appellate lawyer representing clients in appellate and trial courts nationwide. He is a Partner and Vice-Chair of the Appellate Practice Group at Carroll Burdick & McDonough, an international law firm headquartered in San Francisco.  His expertise includes constitutional law, products liability, international law and consumer class actions.  Martinez has successfully represented clients on significant cases in the US Supreme Court, including: Daimler AG v. Bauman, which set the new standard for general personal jurisdiction; and Plata v. Brown, where the high court directed California to relieve unconstitutional overcrowding in its state prison system.  He also persuaded the California Supreme Court to hold that public sector contract arbitration was not an unlawful delegation of government power.  He has argued several times before the 9th Circuit, and California appellate courts, overturning million dollar sanctions, and reversing a jury verdict of fraud. The 9th Circuit appointed him pro bono counsel in Krushwitz v. UC Berkeley, thanking him for his work in its opinion. Martinez graduated from Harvard Law School (J.D.), and Harvard University (B.A., magna cum laude with highest honors); he also has an M.A. from Stanford University. He was recently certified as an Appellate Specialist by the California State Bar.

Erica Mason, Partner, Constangy & Prophete (Atlanta, GA)
Erica Mason is a partner in the Atlanta Office of Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete, LLP. She serves as regional and national labor and employment counsel to large and medium-sized companies throughout the United States.  In addition to defending employers in complex litigation claims brought under federal and state law, Ms. Mason also provides clients with training on a variety of labor and employment compliance issues, diversity, inclusion, and implicit bias, respectful workplace norms, and leadership development. Erica’s peers, community and clients have consistently recognized her as a preeminent attorney in her field who believes in the power of “giving back,” as shown by her selection for this year’s Best Lawyers in America list, as well as six straight years as on Thompson Reuter’s Georgia Super Lawyers list, three years on Georgia Trend Magazine’s Legal Elite list, Phenomenal Women's Health, Inc.'s 2012 Community Service Award, Georgia Trend’s 2012 "40 Under 40: Georgia's Best & Brightest,” and her prior firm’s 2014 Mentor of the Year and Diversity Awards.  

Ms. Mason has held a number of leadership positions within the Hispanic National Bar Association including serving on the planning team for the Atlanta 2013 Corporate Counsel Conference, serving as the HNBA’s National Finance Director (2013-2014), and Co-Chairing the HNBA’s Latina Commission (2014-present). She is also a Board Member of OnBoard Now, a non-profit organization whose mission is to increase the number of women serving on for-profit corporate boards, and served for three years as the Board Chair of Grow Kids, Inc., a non-profit organization whose mission is to develop exceptional early childhood and school- and home-based programs for children 0-5 years old. 

Jessica Massey, Associate General Counsel, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (Rogers, AR)
Jessica A. Massey is Associate General Counsel at Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., the world’s largest publicly traded employer. As part of the Global Security, Aviation/Travel, and Ethics team, she conducts legally privileged, internal FCPA and financial integrity investigations, primarily in Latin America; additionally, she provides daily client support to Wal-Mart’s Global Ethics & Compliance Department. Prior to joining Wal-Mart, Jessica was a criminal prosecutor for over eleven years. At the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, she investigated, indicted, and tried a variety of fraud, corruption, and narcotics trafficking cases as an Assistant Attorney General in the Criminal Bureau. Before joining the AG’s Office, Jessica prosecuted a wide range of matters as an Assistant District Attorney at the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office in Boston. She has held numerous leadership positions in legal and civic organizations, and has been honored several times for her leadership and volunteerism. Jessica received her J.D. from Suffolk University Law School and her B.A. from the College of the Holy Cross.

Emma Mata, Partner - Litigation, Seyfarth Shaw LLP (Houston, TX)
Emma Mata is a partner in Seyfarth Shaw’s Houston office, and a member of the Commercial Litigation and Health Care practice groups. With over 10 years’ experience as a trial lawyer, she has tried several cases to verdict in Texas and federal courts in addition to counseling clients on pre-suit resolutions and negotiations. Her clients include businesses and individuals in a variety of industries, including energy and healthcare. She serves as the leader of the firm’s Houston office Diversity Action Team and Women’s Network. Emma is dedicated to her pro bono practice, and represents children in immigration proceedings through the KIND (Kids in Need of Defense) organization, honored in February 2012 as Pro Bono Attorney of the Month by the organization for her work in helping three young siblings find care and protection in the United States. Ms. Mata received her J.D. from the University of Houston Law Center and her B.S., also from the University of Houston. She is a certified Lean Six Sigma Green Belt.

Andres Mayor, Partner, Day Pitney LLP (Parsippany, NJ)
J. Andres Mayor is a Partner at the law firm of Day Pitney LLP, having joined the firm in 2006. Mr. Mayor has experience representing businesses with complex commercial disputes in the state and federal courts of New Jersey, New York, and throughout the United States. He has successfully handled product liability, mass torts and insurance coverage claims; real estate litigation; contractual disputes; and defense of claims against mortgage lenders.   

During law school, Mr. Mayor served as Articles Editor for the Rutgers Law Review. He also served as a legal intern for the Hon. Jose L. Linares, U.S. District Judge, District of New Jersey. After graduation, Mr. Mayor served as a law clerk to the Hon. Roberto A. Rivera-Soto, Associate Justice (Retired) of the New Jersey Supreme Court. Mr. Mayor previously served as the Recording Secretary of the Hispanic Bar Association of New Jersey and as the Chair of the organization's Scholarship Committee. Mr. Mayor is also a member of the Hispanic National Bar Association and the New Jersey State Bar Association.

Jessica Ortiz, Assistant United States Attorney, Chief - Narcotics Unit, U.S. Department of Justice, United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York (New York, NY)
Jessica Ortiz is an Assistant United States Attorney in the Criminal Division at the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York. Jessica is currently serving as the Chief of the Narcotics Unit where she supervises dozens of AUSAs responsible for hundreds of narcotics and money laundering investigations and prosecutions. Prior to her supervisory appointment, Jessica handled over 100 investigations into complex federal criminal cases including murders, racketeering, fraud and corruption. Jessica tried 15 jury trials to conviction as lead counsel, including a 3-month quadruple murder RICO trial.  Jessica has also briefed and argued appeals before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Jessica was one of the recipients of the 2015 True American Hero Award from the Federal Drug Agents Foundation for her work in narcotics prosecutions. Prior to joining the U.S. Attorney's Office, Jessica was a law clerk for the Honorable Julio M. Fuentes of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and was an associate at an international law firm. Ms. Ortiz received her J.D. from University at Buffalo Law School and her B.S. from Syracuse University, both magna cum laude.

Richard "Rich" Rosalez, Senior Director of Litigation, Samsung Electronics America (Dallas, TX)
Rich Rosalez is the Senior Director of Litigation at Samsung Electronics America, Inc., the US subsidiary of Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., one of the largest electronics and high-tech manufacturing companies in the world. As the leader of the litigation department, Rich is responsible for all aspects of the company’s litigation docket, responses to regulatory investigations, and related activities. Since joining Samsung in 2011, Rich has been actively involved in some of the most followed and most influential legal matters in the US.  Rich also regularly advises the company on significant strategic issues and public relations matters. Outside of the office, Rich also serves as an advisor to a leading DFW charter school, a youth sports coach, an adventure guides leader, and a school and community volunteer. Prior to joining Samsung, Rich had a diverse practice, including white collar, government enforcement, antitrust, intellectual property, and complex commercial litigation at Jones Day in Dallas, and Latham & Watkins in New York. Rich received his J.D. from Columbia University School of Law, and his B.S. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  

Armando Rosquete, Counselor, Boies, Schiller & Flexner, LLP (Miami, FL)
Mr. Rosquete practices commercial and federal criminal litigation.His commercial practice includes the products liability defense of Philip Morris USA in actions brought for injuries allegedly caused by smoking cigarettes. Mr. Rosquete has extensive experience in representing witnesses, subjects and targets in federal grand jury investigations across the country. Mr. Rosquete began his career as a law clerk for the Honorable Raoul G. Cantero, III of the Florida Supreme Court. Before joining the firm, Mr. Rosquete worked in various law firms in Miami and served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney with the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida, where he served in various divisions, including the Narcotics and Economic Crime divisions. As a federal prosecutor, Mr. Rosquete spearheaded numerous grand jury investigations involving financial frauds, money laundering, and international narcotics distribution networks.

Mr. Rosquete is also involved in his community and is a member of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation's Steering Committee that organizes the event honoring the "Top 40 Under 40 Lawyers” in South Florida. In 2013, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation recognized him as one of the "Top 40 Under 40 Lawyers" in Miami. Mr. Rosquete, a product of Miami Dade’s public schools, also dedicates his time as a presenter at local public high schools as part of Miami Dade County's Ethical Governance Day.

Iram Valentin, Partner, Kaufman Dolowich & Voluck (Hackensack, NJ)
Iram P. Valentin is a partner in Kaufman Dolowich & Voluck, LLP’s Hackensack, NJ. Certified by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as a Civil Trial Attorney, Mr. Valentin is a commercial litigator and business counselor. He represents businesses and professionals in varied matters in state and federal court, including matters concerning contract interpretation, commercial real estate, hazardous and toxic material, premises liability, personal injury, professional negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, discrimination and restrictive covenants. Mr. Valentin was selected as a New Jersey Super Lawyers Rising Star in 2009-10, 2011, 2013-2015 and as a New Jersey Law Journal 40 under 40 in 2011. Mr. Valentin represents the Hispanic Bar Association of New Jersey (“HBA-NJ”) on the New Jersey Supreme Court Committee on Complementary Dispute Resolution and previously represented the HBA-NJ on the New Jersey Supreme Court Civil Practice Committee. For the last five years, Mr. Valentin has served as a volunteer board member for the Visiting Homemaker Home Health Aide Service of Bergen County, a not-for-profit, and in 2015, he was appointed Compliance Officer and Chair of the Program, Personnel & Compliance/Quality Assurance Committee.  Mr. Valentin received his J.D. from the Fordham University School of Law and his B.A. from the College of the Holy Cross.

Michele Vargas, Associate, Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP (Coral Gables, FL)
Michele Vargas is an attorney with the national law firm of Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP. She focuses her practice in the areas of insurance coverage, which often involve million-dollar policies in a variety of areas, and litigation throughout the U.S. Prior to joining Hinshaw, Michele was an Associate General Counsel of a national healthcare company providing correctional healthcare. She is currently an HNBA Florida Regional Deputy President and Director of the Human Trafficking Task Force.

Yesenia Villaseñor, Assistant General Counsel, Exelon Corporation (Chicago, IL)
Yesenia Villaseñor is a mother, world-traveler and an advocate for judicial, ethnic and socio-economic justice. Her accomplishments range from achieving asylum relief for a tortured West African political refugee to assisting Central American children facing deportation. Ms. Villaseñor is currently an Assistant General Counsel with Exelon Corporation and was formerly an Environmental, Health & Safety attorney at Caterpillar and an associate at the law firm of Drinker Biddle & Reath. Ms. Villaseñor graduated from Chicago-Kent Law School and earned her MS in Environmental Management from the Stuart School of Business. She serves as a volunteer and pro-bono attorney for organizations including the National Immigrant Justice Center.  She has also served on the board of the Hispanic Lawyers Association of Illinois (HLAI) as well as co-chaired the HLAI’s JD Mentors Program for 5 years. She has received numerous recognitions for her pro bono work including a 2010 award for Excellence in Pro Bono from the Northern District of Illinois and the Chicago Chapter of the Federal Bar Association in a child abduction case under The Hague Convention. Ms. Villasenor currently serves in the capacity as legal advisor to the Illinois State Chapter of The League of United Latin American Citizens. She is the first female to serve in the capacity as legal advisor to the Illinois State Chapter of The League of United Latin American Citizens. 

In addition to her contributions in the legal profession, Yesenia is passionate about the subject of Climate Change and Environmental Sustainability. In 2009, she was selected to join the Climate Reality Project, an organization founded and chaired by former Vice President and Nobel Laureate, Al Gore. The Climate Reality Project is dedicated to unleashing a global cultural movement demanding action on the climate crisis and includes volunteers from around the world. As a volunteer, Yesenia provides free presentations on the issue of climate change, audiences have included middle & high school students at various schools and the FBI Chicago Office as part of Hispanic heritage month. As of late, Ms. Villaseñor has taken on another role as a talk show host for a sustainability pilot produced by Mainstream Media Inc.

About the Hispanic National Bar Association
The Hispanic National Bar Association (HNBA) is an incorporated, not-for-profit, national membership association that represents the interests of Hispanic attorneys, judges, law professors, legal assistants, law students, and legal professionals in the United States and its territories. Since 1972, the HNBA has acted as a force for positive change within the legal profession by creating opportunities for Hispanic lawyers and by helping generations of lawyers to succeed. The HNBA has also effectively advocated on issues of importance to the national Hispanic community. While we are proud of our accomplishments, we are mindful that our mission is as vital today as it was four decades ago, especially as the U.S. Hispanic population continues to grow. For more information, please visit