Board Members

President:
Michelle O. Stewart
Communications Chair:
Jasmine Anderson
Vice-President:
Megan Lawson
Social Media Chair:
Chambord Benton-Hayes
Treasurer:
Natasha Allen
Strategic Partnerships Coordinator:
Suzy Pringle
Secretary:
Candace B. Neal
Law School Liaison:
Courtney Cornwell
Membership Coordinator:
Alessandra Givens
Immediate Past President:
Nakeena Taylor

President
Michelle O. Stewart
Michelle O. Stewart is an Associate in the Corporate and Transaction Advisory Group at Reed Smith LLP. Her practice includes a broad range of corporate transactions, including mergers & acquisitions, private and public securities offerings, venture capital finance, corporate formation and governance, and other general corporate representation. Michelle received her law degree from the University of Chicago in 2010, where she was on the Executive Board of the Black Law Students Association. Michelle received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology with minors in Economics and Chinese from Duke University in 2007.  Michelle speaks Mandarin at a comfortable conversational level and often brings her language skills and broad international perspective to her legal solutions.  When not at work, Michelle can be found cooking up a storm with her husband, singing and dancing with her baby girl, or laughing at her labradoodle’s antics.

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Vice-President
Megan LawsonMegan Lawson is an employment law attorney at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP. At Orrick, she is a member of the diversity committee, the summer associate committee and the committee for Orrick’s Diversity & Inclusion Day in Silicon Valley. Megan attended Northwestern University School of Law, where she was the Executive Editor of the Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, President of the Black Law Students Association, Co-chair of the Class of 2013 Graduation Committee and a student associate for the MacArthur Justice Center and the Investor Protection Complex Civil Litigation Centers at Bluhm Legal Clinic.

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Treasurer
Natasha AllenNatasha Allen is an attorney in the Corporate and Securities group at Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP.  She advises a variety of clients, including startups, later stage technology companies and public companies.  Natasha works closely with her clients to help them achieve their key objectives by designing pragmatic, business oriented solutions.  To that end, her practice encompasses general corporate matters, tax, debt financing, investment funds, venture financing and M&A transactions. Before joining Pillsbury, Natasha worked in the legal group of a San Francisco based software startup, advising on and negotiating software licensing and strategic partnership deals.  Natasha also worked at a combination of Big Four professional services firms and law firms, and served as a clerk at the Tax Court of Canada.  Natasha has a Master of Taxation degree, and received a J.D. from a top ranked Canadian law school.

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Secretary
Candace B. Neal
Candace B. Neal, Esq. is a native of Bakersfield, California, 2012 graduate of University of Berkeley, School of Law, a lover of all things Bay Area and a rising star in Real Estate Transactional law.  Ms. Neal is currently a mid-level Associate at in Reed Smith’s U.S. Real Estate Group. Her practice includes representing private clients in a wide array of commercial and residential real estate transactions including leasing, purchase and sales, construction, condemnation and land use and corporate acquisitions and dispositions.  Ms. Neal also recently became a licensed Real Estate Broker by the California Bureau of Real Estate. Before her transition to real estate law, Ms. Neal was an associate in Reed Smith’s Complex Litigation Group.  Ms. Neal is a Board Member of the Center for Youth Development Through Law that hosts a Summer Legal Fellowship program at Berkeley Law. Ms. Neal is a member and former Board member of the Black Women Lawyers Association of Los Angeles, Inc.

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Membership Coordinator
Alessandra Givens
Alessandra Givens is a litigator in the financial service litigation group at McGuireWoods LLP in San Francisco. A native of North Carolina, Alessandra attended The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and received a B.A. in Women’s Studies and a B.A. in Afro-American Studies. After graduation, Alessandra spent two years as a paralegal before attend attending The George Washington University Law School, where she was Senior Articles Editor of the Forum on Law, Economics, and Finance Journal and President of Corporate Business Law Society.

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Communications Chair
Jasmine Anderson
Jasmine L. Anderson is an associate in Hopkins & Carley’s San Jose office.  Her practice focuses on all aspects of labor and employment matters, including litigation, advice and counsel, investigations, and trainings. Jasmine regularly represents, advises, and trains clients, from small businesses to Fortune 500 companies, on a variety of employment-related issues, including: Hiring, Performance management, Terminations and reductions in force, Leaves of absence, Accommodations, Wage and hour practices, Independent contractor status. Prior to joining Hopkins & Carley, Jasmine served as in-house employment counsel for a publicly-traded technology company in the Silicon Valley.

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Social Media Chair
Chambord Benton-Hayes
Chambord Benton-Hayes is an associate at Olgetree Deakins’ Sacramento office. Chambord specializes in the defense and counseling of employers in all aspects of labor and employment litigation. She also handles constitutional law and catastrophic injury litigation matters. Her clients include public entities, universities, hospitals, and even small businesses. Chambord is also a motivational speaker for non-profits, high schools, and community organizations. A native of San Francisco, Chambord received her B.A. in both Politics and Philosophy from University of San Francisco in 2007. She then received her J.D. from University of California, Hastings College of the Law in 2010. While at UC Hastings, she served as the co-president of the Black Law Students Association, which received the Organization of the Year Award.

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Strategic Partnerships Coordinator
Suzette Pringle
Suzette Pringle is a managing associate in Orrick’s San Francisco office and a member of the White Collar, Investigations, Securities Litigation & Compliance Group. Her practice focuses on the representation of major financial institutions, corporations, and individuals in securities and complex commercial actions and internal investigations. Additionally, Suzette devotes a portion of her practice to providing pro bono services to veterans seeking VA benefits, homeless individuals seeking the resolution of open criminal warrants, and low income individuals seeking criminal record remedies (including expungements) and occupational licenses. Prior to joining Orrick, Suzette was a litigation fellow in the Office of General Counsel for The Regents of the University of California, where she practiced general, commercial and probate litigation, and handled mandamus actions.

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Law School Liaison
Courtney Cornwell
Courtney Cornwell is an associate in the San Francisco office of Reed Smith LLP. Courtney’s practice focuses on healthcare transactional and regulatory matters, labor and employment, and commercial litigation. Courtney’s healthcare work has included complex health care regulatory, business transactions and enforcement matters for health care providers and life science companies. With respect to labor and employment and commercial litigation, her experience has ranged from single plaintiff matters alleging discrimination and overtime claims to agency charges and investigations as well as various aspects of pre-trial procedure. Courtney is also active in the firm’s pro bono practice. She has represented clients referred to the firm by the East Bay Community Law Center as well as minors through the Special Immigrant Juvenile Status and petition for guardianship procedures along side the Legal Services for Children organization. Courtney received her undergraduate degree in Communications from Pepperdine University in 2011 and received her J.D. from the University of San Francisco School of Law in 2014.

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Immediate Past President
Nakeena Taylor
Nakeena Taylor is corporate counsel at Pandora. As part of the Business Transactions Group, Nakeena is responsible for product compliance, advising internal clients on legal strategies and risk management, and supporting related legal needs.  In addition to BWLNC, Nakeena is a member of the California Minority Counsel Program Ambassador Council and a mentor for the Silicon Valley Urban Debate League. Nakeena received her J.D. from Northwestern University School of Law, and an M.A. in Media, Culture and Communication and a B.A., with a concentration in Cultural and Performance Studies and Entertainment Business, from New York University.


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