February 14, 2018

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.

After a rigorous review process, the Awards Committee selected 33 highly qualified winners from across the country. The “Top Lawyers Under 40” Award honors accomplished lawyers who have demonstrated professional excellence, integrity, leadership, commitment to the Hispanic community, and dedication to improving the legal profession.
“We are incredibly proud to honor 33 of our best Latino and Latina lawyers and community leaders from across the nation,” said Erica V. Mason, HNBA National President and Partner at Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete, LLP.  “Once again this year, the HNBA received the largest number of nominations in history, surpassing even last year’s record. The number of both nominees and honorees exemplifies the depth and strength of our community in the areas of law and leadership.
“I want to thank the HNBA Awards Committee for their diligent work during the selection process, and I offer my hearty congratulations to the award winners.  Keep trailblazing and making us proud!”
The awards will be presented during the 2018 HNBA Corporate Counsel Conference in San Francisco, CA on Friday, March 16, 2018. The attorneys to receive the 2018 HNBA “Top Lawyers Under 40" Award (listed in alphabetical order) are:

2018 HNBA Top Lawyers Under 40 Recipients

Andrés Acebo, Partner, DeCotiis, FitzPatrick, Cole & Giblin, LLP

Township of Washington, NJ
Andrés Acebo is a partner with the law firm of DeCotiis, FitzPatrick, Cole & Giblin LLP. He counsels and represents governmental entities, higher education institutions and public-school districts, and closely-held corporations. His practice focuses primarily on the areas of employment and labor, education law, and government/public entity law. Andy is regularly retained by governmental entities to conduct independent special investigations into alleged public official and employee misconduct and adverse employment actions. Prior to entering private practice, he clerked for the Honorable Jonathan N. Harris, J.A.D. (retired) in the Appellate Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey. Andy has published several articles concerning the cross-section of race, law, politics, and public policy with the Columbia Journal of Race and Law, The Brown University Policy Review, the Seton Hall Legislative Journal, and the Rutgers Race and the Law Review. Andy has also been recognized as a Rising Star in the area of Labor and Employment by New Jersey Super Lawyers, and has held leadership roles within local and national bar associations. He currently serves as a Deputy Regional President (Region III) of the Hispanic National Bar Association.

Sonia A. Antolec, Director of Legal Hiring & Recruiting, Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office
Chicago, IL
Sonia A. Antolec is Director of Legal Hiring and Recruiting for the Cook County State's Attorney's Office in Chicago, Illinois. She maintains a caseload as a criminal prosecutor and is charged with diversifying the second largest prosecutor’s office in the country. Before joining the State's Attorney's Executive Staff, she served as Chief Administrative Law Judge for the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services. Before joining HFS, she started her career as a Cook County Assistant State's Attorney directly out of law school. Ms. Antolec is an adjunct professor at DePaul University and at Loyola University Chicago School of Law, coach of the Loyola HNBA Uvaldo Herrera Moot Court Team, and coach of the St. Ignatius College Prep Mock Trial team. She received her J.D. from Loyola University Chicago and her B.A. from DePaul University. 

Marcelo M. Blackburn, Partner, Winston & Strawn, LLP
New York, NY
Marcelo M. Blackburn is a partner in Winston & Strawn's New York office and a member of its litigation practice. He represents clients in a broad range of complex commercial litigation and international arbitration, including cases involving claims of securities fraud and corporate governance, RICO violations, contract disputes and business torts, and various transnational legal issues such as the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act and Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. A fluent Spanish speaker, Marcelo also advises Latin American clients how to successfully achieve their strategic goals in U.S. litigation in a cost-effective manner. He previously served as a law clerk to the Honorable Alvin W. Thompson, U.S. District Judge for the District of Connecticut.  Marcelo received his J.D. from Yale Law School and his B.A. from Baylor University.

Sara Johanna Bolden, 
Senior Labor and Employment Counsel

Minneapolis, MN
Sara Johanna Bolden is an attorney specializing in all aspects of Employment and Wage & Hour Law. Sara most recently managed all employment counseling and litigation for Target’s West Coast stores, where she provided practical and strategic advice to Human Resources and Business Leaders on a full range of employment law issues including performance management, leaves of absence, accommodations, terminations, internal investigations, wage and hour compliance and other employment related issues. In that role Sara also led the team responsible for nationwide wage and hour compliance at the retailer’s stores, distribution centers and headquarters. Prior to going in-house, Sara was a Labor & Employment attorney at Foley & Lardner LLP where she represented employers in labor and employment matters across the country. Sara has been recognized as a 2014 Leadership Council on Legal Diversity Fellow as well as a Rising Star by the First Chair Awards which recognizes top in-house counsel across the country. A native of Miami, Sara received her J.D. from Northwestern University School of Law, where she served as President of the Latino Law Students Association, and her B.S. from Florida State University.


Jennifer Cadena, Vice President of Land & Legal,
Incremental Oil & Gas
Denver, CO
Jennifer Cadena is a seasoned attorney who is responsible for all legal, land and environmental matters at Incremental Oil & Gas. As VP-Land & Legal, she advises the company on acquisitions and divestitures and issues related to domestic exploration and production, land, regulatory, federal and fee royalty matters, and public land issues. As an attorney who understands oil and gas operations, in addition to methods by which to mitigate legal risks, she provides practical solutions for difficult and complex issues. Practicing as an energy and environmental attorney for the last decade, Jennifer has spoken and written significantly about energy issues affecting oil and gas operators and landowners. Raised in the oil and gas industry, Jennifer recognizes the importance of energy development, but also strives to balance this development with environmental concerns.

Recently, Department of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke appointed Jennifer to the federal Royalty Policy Committee. Ms. Cadena is one of only 12 members and alternate members across the nation selected to represent the energy industry. The Royalty Policy Committee advises the Department of Interior on current and emerging issues related to energy and mineral resources on Federal and Indian lands, potential impacts of proposed policies and regulations, and whether a need exists for regulatory reform. 

In addition to her natural resources practice, Jennifer is an experienced board member and has served on multiple local and national boards since moving to Colorado. She is motivated by forward thinking and strategic planning, especially taking a vision and fashioning it into reality based on concrete steps and strategy development. Those boards on which she serves typically serve the disadvantaged or Hispanic community. Some of her previous and current board positions in Colorado include educational institutions and professional organizations, specifically Open World Learning, Southwest Early College, Rocky Mountain – SER, Latinos for Education Reform, Colorado Hispanic Bar Association, and Hispanic National Bar Association. In addition, Jennifer was appointed to the Law Committee by the Colorado Supreme Court. 

Salvador Carranza, Partner, Freeborn & Peters, LLP
Chicago, IL
Salvador Carranza is a Partner in Freeborn & Peter’s Chicago office and a member of the commercial litigation and cybersecurity and data privacy practice groups. He represents a variety of clients in matters involving commercial disputes, director and officer litigation, shareholder and member litigation including derivative actions, and trust and estate litigation. Salvador is an IAPP US-law certified privacy professional and advises businesses on best practices and incident litigation. Salvador has extensive experience negotiating cases to successful resolution, handling mediations and arbitrations and has trial experience in both Illinois and Wisconsin. Salvador also sits on the board of directors for Reading in Motion, a non-profit focused on getting every student reading at grade level or above in their early years through an innovative curriculum that is taught in both English and Spanish. Mr. Carranza received his J.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and his B.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Enrique Conde, Shareholder, Greenberg Traurig, LLP
Miami, FL
As a member of the more than 400-lawyer Corporate Practice at Greenberg Traurig, Enrique Conde handles domestic and cross-border mergers and acquisitions, corporate financings, joint ventures and all types of general contractual matters throughout the Americas, the Caribbean, Europe, Asia and Africa. This includes providing strategic advice to CEOs and General Counsels as they navigate the complexities of entering and doing business in multiple global markets. Fluent in Spanish, and licensed in Florida and New York, Enrique has advised Latin American and European companies doing business in the United States.
Enrique serves on the board of the South Florida Chapter of the National MS Society and on the Miami Advisory Board of the Posse Foundation. In addition, Enrique is a Term Member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Vice-President of the Alumni Board at Ransom Everglades School. Enrique received his J.D. and B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania.

Marlén Cortez Morris, Partner, Cheng Cohen LLC
Chicago, IL

Marlén Cortez Morris is a partner at Cheng Cohen LLC in Chicago and a member of the firm’s litigation practice. She represents and advises clients on a wide range of labor and employment and franchising matters. Prior to joining Cheng Cohen, Marlén practiced in Winston & Strawn LLP’s litigation and labor and employment groups. Marlén has been recognized by Illinois Super Lawyers as a “Rising Star” in the area of employment and labor law. She received her J.D. from the University of Illinois College of Law and her B.S. from The University of Tampa. Marlén is a member of the ABA’s Forum on Franchising (and is an editor of the Forum's Franchise Law Journal) and the International Franchise Association (where she serves on the Diversity Institute Board). She also serves on the National Immigrant Justice Center’s Junior Leadership Board and provides pro bono representation to Spanish-speaking clients in immigration matters.

Miriam K. Crespo, Owner/Lead Attorney, Law Offices of Miriam K. Crespo
Harvey, LA
Ms. Miriam Karyna Crespo started her solo practice in April of 2017, and is also a supervising attorney over Loyola College of Law Immigration Clinic students. She is a New Orleans native and was born to an Honduran mother and a Mexican father. In 2007, Ms. Crespo earned a J.D. from Loyola University College of Law. Ms. Crespo previously worked as the Project Attorney for the Legal Orientation Program for Custodians (LOPC) of Undocumented Alien Children through the Catholic Legal Immigration Network Inc. (CLINIC) in Washington, D.C. The LOPC is a Department of Justice funded program which educates custodians of undocumented children on the legal immigration process. Prior to that position, Ms. Crespo managed the EOIR funded Legal Orientation Program at the LaSalle Detention Facility in Jena, Louisiana and previously served as the Jesuit Volunteer Corp Detention Project Coordinator for CLINIC's Gulf Coast Immigrant Project for in New Orleans.
In addition, Ms. Crespo has provided introductory seminars on immigration law to law students at La Universidad de Rafael Landivar in Guatemala. Her work has earned her many awards, including the Louisiana State Bar Association Student Pro Bono Award, the Gills Long Public Service Award, the Outstanding Clinic Student Practitioner in the field of Immigration Law Award, Top 40 Under 40 National Advocates 2016, and most recently voted top 10 Best in Client Satisfaction by the American Legal Counsel Institute 2016.
Ms. Crespo also served as the Chair of the Hispanic Steering Committee for the Re-election campaign of Senator Mary Landrieu. She is also currently a Hispanic Representative of the Women in Power committee in the senate race campaign for Caroline Fayard. Ms. Crespo currently sits as the Chair of the Immigration Section of the Federal Bar Association and as President of the Hispanic Lawyers Association of Louisiana.

Tomas J. Garcia, Associate, Modrall Sperling
Albuquerque, NM

Tomas J. Garcia is an associate at Modrall Sperling in Albuquerque, NM. He practices in commercial, healthcare, torts/personal injury, and transportation litigation. He has experience representing business professionals in corporate disputes, health care facilities and medical professionals in malpractice and regulatory matters, and commercial transportation companies in actions in state and federal court. Tomas is immediate past chair of the State Bar of New Mexico Young Lawyers Division, and a member of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee of the ABA’s Litigation Section.  He has an AV® rating from Martindale-Hubbell and is recognized by Southwest Super Lawyers® as a Southwest Rising Star. In 2015, he was named “Young Lawyer of the Year” by the New Mexico Defense Lawyers Association. Mr. Garcia received his J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center, his M.P.P. from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and his B.A. from Yale University.

Omar Gonzalez-Pagan, Staff Attorney, Lambda Legal
New York, NY

Omar Gonzalez-Pagan is a Staff Attorney at Lambda Legal, the oldest and largest national legal organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of LGBT people and everyone living with HIV. His work spans all aspects of Lambda Legal’s impact litigation, policy advocacy, and public education efforts. As a member of the legal team in Obergefell v. Hodges, Omar helped secure the freedom to marry for same-sex couples across the United States. Omar has also played an instrumental role in advancing the rights of LGBT people under federal civil rights laws in education, employment, health care, and housing. Prior to joining Lambda Legal, Omar worked for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as an Assistant Attorney General, a Special Assistant District Attorney, and an Associate General Counsel to the Massachusetts Inspector General. Originally from Puerto Rico, Omar is a graduate from Cornell University and the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

Christine M. Hernández, Shareholder, Hernández & Associates, P.C
Denver, CO

Christine M. Hernández is an immigration litigator and appellate attorney based in Denver, Colorado. As a partner at Hernández & Associates, P.C., the largest immigration law firm in Denver, Christine is a leader in her local legal community. Her bilingual practice covers nearly all aspects of immigration law including removal defense, family-based immigration, and asylum. She also has years of experience with consular processing, U Visas, VAWA, and SIJS. Her practice includes "crimmigration” cases, which require knowledge of both immigration and criminal law. Christine is Chair of HNBA’s Immigration Section and President-Elect of the Colorado Hispanic Bar Association. She was named a 2017 Top Latino Lawyer by Latino Leaders Magazine and has been named a Rising Star by Colorado Super Lawyers Magazine since 2015. She earned a J.D. from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law and graduated magna cum laude with a B.S.B.A. from American University.

William H. Knight, Deputy Public Defender, Maricopa County
Phoenix, AZ

Will Knight works in the Major Fraud Division of the Maricopa County Public Defender’s Office and teaches business law as an adjunct at his alma mater, Arizona State University, where he graduated second in his class. Before becoming a public servant, Will was a civil and commercial litigator first at Aiken Schenk Hawkins & Ricciardi, PC, then at Ballard Spahr, LLP, where he specialized in white collar and commercial finance litigation. Will has twenty-two trials under his belt, both civil and criminal, five peer-reviewed publications, and one published opinion, but litigating marriage equality in Arizona is his proudest achievement. As a Colombian-American immigrant who would not be here but for a few selfless people, Will considers community service the most important part of the profession. In that spirit, Will volunteers his time coaching ASU’s Hispanic law students in moot court, and he sits on Arizona’s Commission on Minorities in the Judiciary.  

Jaclyn Medina, Managing Attorney & First Assistant Deputy Public Defender, New Jersey’s Office of the Public Defender
Paramus, NJ
Jaclyn Medina is a managing attorney and First Assistant of the Bergen Criminal Trial Region of New Jersey’s Office of the Public Defender where she represents indigent individuals charged with indictable crimes at all phases of trial litigation. She co-chairs the Public Defender’s Ethics and Professionalism Committee and serves on its statewide Continuing Legal Education Committee. She currently serves on the New Jersey Supreme Court’s Committee on Minority Concerns and is the Vice-President of the Northern Region of the Hispanic Bar Association of New Jersey. 
Jaclyn has been an adjunct professor for over a decade at Fairleigh Dickinson University teaching undergraduate and graduate courses to Latino immigrants and diplomatic officials from various Missions to the UN and Latin-American consulates. After graduation from the School of Diplomacy and International Relations at Seton Hall University, she earned her Juris Doctor from Rutgers School of Law.

Norma Nava Franklin, Partner, Garcia Hernandez Sawhney, LLP
Glendale, CA
Norma Nava Franklin is a litigation partner in the Los Angeles office of Garcia Hernandez Sawhney, LLP. She specializes in representing the firm’s corporate, municipal, and education clients in complex litigation matters, including contracts disputes, employment matters, and civil rights litigation. She successfully defended a public utility against a $3 million breach of contract action. She also obtained a $2.1 million jury verdict for her franchisee client in a defamation action against a national real estate company and its CEO.
Norma is passionate about civil rights. She worked as a legal fellow with the American Civil Liberties Union’s Drug Law Reform Project and is Vice President of For People of Color, Inc., an organization providing free law school admissions services to potential law school students. Norma also clerked for the United States District Court, Eastern District of California and is a proud graduate of UCLA School of Law. 

Miguel A. Nieves, Vice President & Corporate Counsel, Prudential Financial
Newark, NJ
Miguel A. Nieves is Vice President & Corporate Counsel for Prudential Financial and a member of the company’s Financial Management Law group. He provides legal support to Prudential’s corporate treasury on a broad range of activities, including capital markets and intercompany financing transactions, and securities law matters. Prior to joining Prudential, Miguel was an associate in Sidley Austin’s Capital Markets group in New York, where he represented issuers and underwriters in a variety of public offerings and private placements of securities, worked extensively on liability management transactions, and provided legal advice to clients under the Securities Act of 1933 and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Miguel received his J.D. from Fordham University School of Law and his B.A. from Princeton University.

J. Carlos Orellana, Senior Assistant Counsel, Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA)
San Jose, CA

Originally from El Salvador, J. Carlos Orellana immigrated to the U.S. when he was a year old.  Carlos is a Senior Assistant Counsel with the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA), where he is the primary attorney responsible for construction contracts—including the $2.3 billion extension of the BART train system into Silicon Valley—and for defending the agency’s $6 billion sales tax measure on appeal. Before joining VTA in 2015, Carlos was an associate at Miller, Morton, Caillat & Nevis, practicing construction and commercial litigation. Carlos began his career at the national firm Fenwick & West. Carlos chairs the La Raza Lawyers of Santa Clara County Charitable Foundation, which awarded $40,000 in scholarships last year. He also co-chairs the Santa Clara County Bar Association’s Judiciary Committee. He graduated from UCLA School of Law and received a BS in Political Science and a BA in Spanish from Santa Clara University. 

Aleida Ortega Conners, Senior Associate, Fredrikson & Byron, P.A.
Minneapolis, MN
Aleida Ortega Conners is a Senior Associate at Fredrikson & Byron, P.A. and works out of the firm’s Minneapolis office. She is a corporate attorney who uses her bicultural background to help businesses expand into and navigate Latin American markets. Aleida’s transactional experience includes cross-border and domestic mergers and acquisitions and venture capital financings in diverse industries such as manufacturing, life sciences, and SaaS. Aleida routinely acts in an outside general counsel role for her clients on a broad range of domestic and international business matters, including corporate organization and establishment of distribution and sales networks. She is also an active member and President-Elect of the Minnesota Hispanic Bar Association. Aleida was born in Cuba and is fully bilingual in Spanish and English. She received her J.D. from the University of Minnesota Law School and her B.A. and B.S. from Florida International University.

Vianny M. Pichardo, Senior Associate, Anderson Kill, P.C.
New York, NY

Vianny M. Pichardo is a commercial litigator in Anderson Kill's New York office. She has been recognized by Super Lawyers as a Rising Star for Insurance Coverage since 2015. Prior to joining the firm, Vianny was an associate in a large international law firm focusing on large corporate transactions. Vianny received her J.D. from Fordham University School of Law and her B.A. from New York University. While in law school, Vianny was a member of the Fordham Urban Law Journal, participated in the Housing Rights Clinic and the Social Justice Clinic, and interned in Bronx Supreme Court for the Honorable Sallie Manzanet-Daniels (Associate Judge, First Department). She received the Archibald R. Murray Public Service Award and recently received the Fordham LALSA’s 2017 Andrew A. Rivera Alumni Achievement Award. Vianny is also the immediate Past President of the Dominican Bar Association promoting the interests of Latino lawyers, judges, and law students. 

Veronica Ramirez, City Attorney, City of Redwood City
Redwood City, CA

Veronica Ramirez serves as the appointed City Attorney of the City of Redwood City. As City Attorney, Ms. Ramirez is chief legal advisor to the City; she oversees four Assistant and Deputy City Attorneys, and is responsible for advising the City Council, its boards, commissions and committees, and City departments in all areas of municipal law. Prior to joining the City of Redwood City, Ms. Ramirez practiced with the law firms of Burke Williams & Sorensen, McDonough, Holland and Allen, and Downey Brand, focusing primarily on representing public agencies in the areas of real estate, land use and planning, environmental law, and redevelopment. Ms. Ramirez received her Juris Doctorate from the University of California, Davis, and her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley. She is active in Hispanas Organized for Political Equality, a nonpartisan organization that serves as the voice for Latinas.

Veronica Relea, Partner, Latham & Watkins, LLP
New York, NY
Veronica Relea is a partner in the New York office of Latham & Watkins and a member of the firm’s Finance Department. Veronica represents private equity sponsors and lenders in highly structured and complex finance transactions. She has extensive experience in project finance, infrastructure development and leveraged finance transactions, including acquisition financings, asset-based facilities and cross-border financings. Veronica has developed a robust Latin American practice, earning her recognition from Latinvex as one of Latin America's top 100 female lawyers. She has also been recommended for her work in Banking & Finance by The Legal 500 Latin America and The Legal 500 US.
Veronica is a native of San Juan, Puerto Rico, and is fluent in Spanish and proficient in Portuguese and French. She co-founded the firm’s associate-driven diversity initiative, the Multicultural Promotion & Attainment Coalition. Veronica received her J.D. from Harvard Law School and her B.A. from Yale University.

Marcela Robledo, Counsel, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, LLP
Palo Alto, CA

Marcela Robledo is Counsel in Simpson Thacher & Bartlett’s Palo Alto office and focuses her practice on intellectual property and privacy transactions. She has extensive experience in managing all intellectual property, technology and privacy aspects in a wide range of corporate and transactional matters, including mergers & acquisitions, financings, debt offerings, licensing and joint ventures. Current and/or recent clients include Airbnb, Alibaba Group, Blackstone, Dell, Ingersoll-Rand, KKR, Microsoft Corporation, Silver Lake, Skillsoft and TE Connectivity.
Marcela began practicing law in the United States in Simpson Thacher’s Palo Alto office in 2006, and has worked in the Firm’s London and New York offices. Prior to joining Simpson Thacher, she worked for Colombia’s leading law firm on intellectual property, antitrust and consumer law matters. Marcela received her J.D. from Universidad Javeriana (Bogotá, Colombia) in 2001, an LL.M. from Universidad de los Andes (Bogotá, Colombia) in 2004, and an LL.M. in Trade Regulation from New York University School of Law in 2006.
She is admitted to practice in California and the Republic of Colombia. She is a member of the American and California Bar Associations, as well as the International Trademark Association and the Hispanic National Bar Association, and speaks on intellectual property aspects of corporate transactions. During 2012-2013, Marcela was Vice-Chair of the ABA Subcommittee on IP Transactions. She is a 2013 Leadership Council on Legal Diversity Fellow, and a 2015 Leading Women in Technology Willpower recipient.

Richard Saenz, Staff Attorney, Lambda Legal
Jackson Heights, NY
Richard Saenz is a Staff Attorney and the Criminal Justice and Police Misconduct strategist at Lambda Legal, the oldest and largest national organization committed to the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and everyone living with HIV. Prior to Lambda Legal, Richard founded the HIV/LGBT Advocacy Project at Queens Legal Services in New York City.  
Richard coordinates Lambda Legal’s litigation and policy work on behalf of incarcerated people and those engaged with the criminal justice system. He has also trained hundreds of advocates on providing services to marginalized communities, and the intersections of poverty, racism, and LGBT rights. In 2013, Richard received the National LGBT Bar Association Best LGBT Lawyers Under 40 award. Richard received his law degree from Fordham School of Law, where he was a Stein Scholar for Public Interest Law and Ethics, and his B.A. from Georgetown University. Richard is Mexican-American and originally from Houston, Texas and now calls New York home.

Cecilia Sanabria, Partner, Finnegan
Washington, DC
Cecilia Sanabria is a partner in Finnegan’s Washington, DC, office. She focuses her practice on patent litigation and client counseling in the mechanical, industrial, and electrical fields. She represents clients before U.S. district courts and the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC). Mrs. Sanabria also devotes a portion of her time to pro bono matters, having worked on landlord-tenant disputes through Finnegan’s work with the DC Bar, and represented criminal defendants in the Supreme Court of Virginia. She has also been involved with the HNBA, including chairing the IP Section. Mrs. Sanabria received her J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center and her B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Florida. 

Juan Felipe Santos, Office Managing Principal, Jackson Lewis, P.C.
San Juan, PR
Juan Felipe Santos is the Office Managing Principal and Litigation Manager of the San Juan, Puerto Rico, office of Jackson Lewis, P.C. Mr. Santos specializes on representing employers in employment law litigation. He has been interviewed and cited in several occasions by the press and television for opinions on current employment law issues in Puerto Rico. Recently, he was the only attorney invited by the Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico to present on the impact to employers in the private sector of the Puerto Rico Employment Law Reform enacted in 2017. His commitment to the Latino community in the legal profession made him implement two years ago a scholarship in the University of Puerto Rico School of Law, where four Latino law school students with low income and high academic achievements have already been awarded the same. Mr. Santos received his J.D. from University of Puerto Rico School of Law and his B.S. from Cornell University. 

Esteban “Steve” Shardonofsky, Partner, Seyfarth Shaw, LLP
Houston, TX
Steve Shardonofsky is a Partner at Seyfarth Shaw and Chair of the Houston office Labor & Employment Department. He represents and counsels Fortune 500 companies, as well as medium and small-sized employers throughout the country, in the entire range of employment law matters, including single plaintiff, multi-plaintiff, and class/collective action cases. Steve is also a trusted advisor to clients on a wide array of Human Resources and employment-law topics and issues. He is a respected litigator, recognized by Chambers and has the distinction of being Board Certified in Labor and Employment Law, an honor that less than 1% of Texas attorneys may claim. He is a frequent speaker on HR topics, and also contributes often to the Firm’s various employment-law blogs. Steve oversaw pro-bono efforts in the Houston office from 2010 to 2014, and continues to be active in pro bono matters. He currently serves as Vice-Chairman of the Houston Center for Literacy.

Marcos Tapia, Associate, Renaud Cook Drury Mesaros, PA
Phoenix, AZ
Marcos Tapia ­­is an associate attorney at the law firm of Renaud Cook Drury Mesaros in Phoenix, Arizona. He counsels clients on commercial, business dispute, construction defect, real estate, insurance, contract and tort litigation matters. Marcos also has experience as a real estate salesperson, loan originator and as a relationship and business banker for a major regional bank. Marcos is equally dedicated to his community and his profession. He currently serves as the Deputy Regional President for the Hispanic National Bar Association and Communications Director for the Los Abogados Hispanic Bar Association in Arizona. Additionally, he has received numerous accolades and most recently was named to The Arizona Republic’s “Who’s Next” list and as a local Rising Star of the Year candidate by the American Cancer Society. Marcos is a graduate of Arizona State University’s Sandra Day O’Conner College of Law.

Mario Treto, Jr., Assistant City Attorney, City of Evanston
Chicago, IL
Mario Treto, Jr. is an Assistant City Attorney for the City of Evanston, Illinois. He provides legal counsel to Evanston elected officials, staff, departments, and boards/commissions. Mario has drafted over 500 City ordinances and other pieces of legislation, including its sanctuary city and gender-neutral restroom ordinances. He collaborates with other municipalities in filing amicus briefs, most recently opposing President Trump’s travel ban. Mario is also the Chairman of the Board of Directors for Howard Brown Health and Vice-President of the Indiana University Latino Law Alumni Board. He provides pro bono counsel to the Saltbox Theatre Collective, Wills for Heroes, and Chicago’s Legal Assistance Foundation. Mario has been named a “Top Forty Under Forty” by the National LGBT Bar Association and Hispanic business publication Negocios Now. Mario holds a J.D. from the Indiana University Maurer School of Law and an A.B. from Washington University in St. Louis. 

Michael Valenzuela, Assistant Attorney General, Arizona Attorney General’s Office
Phoenix, AZ
Michael Valenzuela is an assistant attorney general with the Arizona Attorney General’s Office, Solicitor General Division. He currently represents the State of Arizona in non-capital felony appeals and federal habeas corpus proceedings. Before transferring to the Solicitor General Division, Michael practiced in the Child and Family Protection Division and represented the Arizona Department of Child Safety in juvenile dependency appeals. During his time at the Arizona Attorney General’s Office, Michael has written over 200 briefs and won 9 published opinions. He was named his division’s Emerging Star in 2011 and Outstanding Advocate in 2013.  Michael is also the Vice President of Los Abogados, the Arizona Hispanic Bar Association. He has served on Los Abogados’ Board of Directors since 2014, and he has previously served as the organization’s Golf Tournament Chair, Treasurer, and Communication’s Director. Michael received his J.D., M.P.A., and B.A. from the University of Arizona.

Mauricio Videla, Attorney, U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
Yonkers, NY
Mauricio Videla is an attorney and federal commissioned bank examiner with the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. He is extensively experienced in assessing risk and control frameworks in large, complex financial institutions and contributing to enforcement actions to deter unfair, deceptive, or abusive acts or practices.
Previously, he served in legal and compliance, retail banking, commercial insurance operations, and corporate governance roles at large private and public institutions, including TD Bank, U.S. Bankruptcy Court EDNY, Citibank, Chubb Group of Insurance Companies, and the Office of the Mayor of the City of New York.
Videla is an appointed leader in the ABA Business Law Section where he currently serves as vice chair of the Young Lawyer Committee and young lawyer liaison to the Consumer Financial Services Committee. He is also a frequent speaker and author in the ABA BLS network. Videla earned his JD from Indiana University, MPA from Baruch College, and BA from St. John’s University. 

Cindy Villanueva, Attorney, Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie, LLP
Phoenix, AZ
Ms. Villanueva is an attorney in Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie’s Phoenix, Arizona, office and a member of the Intellectual Property Practice Group. Her practice primarily focuses on trademarks, copyrights, and rights of publicity. Ms. Villanueva assists clients with trademark selection, clearance, registration, and prosecution in the United States and abroad. Her services often involve helping clients implement trademark enforcement programs to strengthen and protect their brands from possible infringers. She also negotiates and drafts license agreements and other contracts involving copyrights, trademarks, rights of publicity, and other intellectual property. Ms. Villanueva received her J.D. from UCLA and her B.A. from the University of California, Irvine.  

Marian Zapata-Rossa, Partner, Snell & Wilmer, LLP
Phoenix, AZ

Marian Zapata-Rossa is licensed in Arizona, California, and on the Navajo Nation. She defends employers against wage and hour, prevailing wage, discrimination, harassment, and retaliation claims, and represents employers in disputes involving employment and arbitration agreements and restrictive covenants not to compete. Marian litigates both single plaintiff and class action employment lawsuits, and helps employers resolve administrative matters before numerous state and federal government agencies.
Marian also advises employers on all aspects of the employer-employee relationship with a focus on providing clients with business-oriented solutions to identify and mitigate risk. To this end, Marian has trained thousands of managers and employees on preventing harassment, discrimination, and retaliation in the workplace. She also counsels employers and human resources professionals on best practices for handling day to day employment issues, including hiring, employee discipline, paid sick time, leaves of absence, wage and hour compliance, workplace investigations, terminations, and whistleblower liability. In addition, Marian drafts employment agreements, policies, and handbooks, and keeps her clients abreast of current trends and the latest developments in local, state, and federal employment laws.

Gabriel Zorogastua, Shareholder, Polsinelli, P.C.
Kansas City, MO
Gabe Zorogastua is a shareholder at Polsinelli P.C. He has a decade of experience helping clients with antitrust, consumer protection, and commercial disputes in state and federal courts. Gabe also regularly provides antitrust counsel regarding mergers, acquisitions, joint ventures, and other combinations. He previously served two terms as the Hispanic Bar Association of Greater Kansas City’s president, and is currently serving as the HNBA’s Liaison to the National LGBT Bar Association and as the HNBA LGBT Division’s deputy chair. As a native of Peru, Gabe is particularly interested in helping Hispanic-owned businesses in the United States. Gabe received his J.D. from the University of Kansas School of Law and his B.S. and B.A. degrees from Wichita State University.

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