Partner, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP
Special 2021 Committee: Task Force on Development Chair
Rachel S. Brass is a partner in the San Francisco office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher and co-chair of the Firm’s Antitrust and Competition Practice Group. She is a member of the firm’s Litigation Department where her practice focuses on investigations and litigation in the antitrust, labor, and employment areas. Ms. Brass has extensive experience representing international and domestic clients in high-stakes appellate litigation in the Supreme Court, as well as Federal and state appellate courts throughout the United States. Ms. Brass’s extensive antitrust and competition experience includes litigation and trial of indirect and direct purchaser claims, international cartel matters, mergers and acquisitions, grand jury investigations, and other antitrust investigations by the Federal Trade Commission, United States Department of Justice, European Commission, Canadian Competition Bureau, Korean Fair Trade Commission, Japan Fair Trade Commission and Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, as well as litigation in trial and appellate courts. Ms. Brass has represented clients in a number of industries, including semiconductors, disk drives, communications, display panels, and other high technology, auto parts, package delivery, transportation, agriculture, and retail, among others. She has special expertise in international matters and teaches an upper-level course in International Antitrust Law at Berkeley Law School. In addition to her international competition practice, Ms. Brass has successfully represented companies in single plaintiff and class action Title VII, ADA, FEHA and Unruh Act discrimination claims, as well as wage and hour class actions. Representative matters include persuading the United States Supreme Court to reverse the certification of the largest class action brought under Title VII; litigating the scope of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and Sarbanes-Oxley whistleblower protections; persuading the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit to vacate the certification of the largest class action brought under the Americans with Disabilities Act on interlocutory review; obtaining clarification of the standards for the business necessity defense and vacatur of a district court’s adverse post-trial rulings under the Americans with Disabilities Act from the en banc Ninth Circuit; and obtaining and sustaining a favorable district court ruling rejecting plaintiffs’ counsel’s claim for attorney’s fees in a California Fair Employment & Housing Act case. In its annual Top Verdicts of California 2018 feature, the Daily Journal recognized Ms. Brass for her complete defense jury verdict, a first of its kind class action trial of direct and indirect purchaser antitrust claims. In 2018, she was selected by The American Lawyer as a Litigator of the Week based on that same win. Ms. Brass has been recognized by Best Lawyers in America® in Litigation-Antitrust since 2013, identified in the Antitrust category by Super Lawyers, and ranked in the California Antitrust category by Chambers USA. Women Competition Professionals in Americas selected Ms. Brass among its 2019 “40 in their 40” list. Concurrences Review recognized Ms. Brass at its 2017 Antitrust Writing Awards for her article “Practical Advice for Avoiding Hub-and-Spoke Liability,” which was selected as the winner in the Business category, Concerted Practices section. The article originally appeared in the October 2016 issue of The Antitrust Source. Ms. Brass speaks regularly on antitrust and complex class action issues, including programs for the United States Department of Justice, Bridgeport, the American Bar Association, the State Bar of California, American Conference Institute, ALI-ABA, CLE International, and the Bar Association of San Francisco. She is President of the Northern California Chapter of the Association of Business Trial Lawyers and serves on the Board of Directors of Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), an organization that protects unaccompanied children who enter the US immigration system alone to ensure that no child appears in court without an attorney. She is on the Advisory Board of the University of Minnesota Law School. She served as Editor-in-Chief of the Antitrust Report from 2008 to 2016. Ms. Brass received her law degree, magna cum laude, from the University of Minnesota in 2001. She was Editor-in-Chief of the Minnesota Journal of Global Trade, a member of the Order of the Coif, and recipient of the Ralph M. McCareins Antitrust Prize. Prior to joining the firm, Ms. Brass served as a law clerk for the Honorable James M. Rosenbaum, United States District Court, District of Minnesota. Ms. Brass graduated summa cum laude from Washington University in St. Louis, where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree and was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. Ms. Brass is admitted to practice in the State of California. She is a member of the firm’s Hiring, Professional Development, and Bay Area Diversity Committees.
Partner, Troutman Pepper LLP
Chair of the Advisory Board
An experienced trial attorney, Cassirer’s varied litigation practice has included many business, banking, insurance, real estate, employment and professional liability matters. She has had substantial experience in securities fraud class actions, breach of contract, qui tam, fraud, and valuation actions. She has counseled companies experiencing financial difficulties and has represented various financial institutions, including foreign and domestic banks, seeking to restructure debt. In the area of professional liability, she has defended professional liability claims against actuaries, attorneys and consultants. Cassirer served as Receiver for Starr & Co., LLC. and Starr Investment Advisors, LLC in the SEC v. Kenneth Ira Starr matter, and has served as the Chapter 11 Trustee in a complex bankruptcy case, The Estate of David Schick (1996—2004) which generated various litigations and reported decisions. She has also represented a number of creditors in a number of bankruptcy cases.
Claudia Romo Edelman
Founder, We Are All Human, Co-host, Global GoalsCast, and Editor in Chief, Thrive Hispanics
Claudia Romo Edelman is a recognized speaker, panelist and media contributor. With an extraordinary background in the most recognized global organizations such as the United Nations and the World Economic Forum, she has collaborated for more than 25 years in the communication, marketing & advocacy for humanitarian causes and the Sustainable Development Goals. It was through this experience that she recognized a lack of humanity and the need to raise her voice for inclusion, equity and representation for all humans. Claudia is the founder of We Are All Human, co-host of the Global GoalsCast, a podcast about stories that are changing the world, and Editor in Chief of Thrive Hispanics. Prior to this, the Mexican-Swiss diplomat was seconded to the Executive Office of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, to lead communications and advocacy for the Sustainable Development Goals. Claudia holds degrees in Communications, Philosophy and Photography as well as a Masters of Political Communications from the London School of Economics. Claudia is married and has two children. She enjoys sports and speaks six languages.
Kurt W. Hansson
Partner, Litigation Department, Paul Hastings LLP
Kurt Hansson is the global vice-chairman of the Paul Hastings Litigation department and leader of the GE relationship team. He is based in the firm’s New York office. Mr. Hansson has extensive first chair experience having handled multiple trials for GE and other clients, several of which lasted for over six months. His practice is concentrated in complex litigation matters and he has handled a wide variety of matters including breach of contract, fraud and breach of fiduciary duty claims, securities, mass torts, class actions, trade secrets and tax matters. Mr. Hansson also has extensive knowledge and experience in various forms of alternative dispute resolution matters. He has successfully handled numerous domestic and international arbitrations, recovering hundreds of millions of dollars for clients in those proceedings. He was also instrumental in establishing GE’s Early Case Assessment program and has helped develop similar programs for other significant clients such as J.P. Morgan Chase. The ECA program is specifically designed to help reduce litigation costs and liability for the client, by identifying litigation risks and potential business solutions early in the dispute process. Mr. Hansson is known for his creative and practical approach to resolving complex legal disputes for some of the most important companies in the world. Representative clients, in addition to General Electric include ABC, Apple, IBM, GlaxoSmithKline, Plaza Realty, UBS and Wolters Kluwer. Mr. Hansson is a member of the state and federal bars in the states of Connecticut and New York, as well as, the District of Columbia. He is also a member of the bars of the New York Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and the United States Supreme Court.
Pro Bono Director, Microsoft Corporation
Beth Henderson is a Senior Attorney in the Office of the General Counsel at Microsoft, where she leads the company’s Pro Bono program. Prior to joining Microsoft in 2012, she practiced US immigration law in Philadelphia and proudly accepted her first pro bono case through KIND in 2009. From 2006-2007, she served as an Attorney Advisor for the New York City Immigration Court through the U.S. Attorney General’s Honors Program. In addition to leading Microsoft’s Pro Bono program, Beth is an active pro bono volunteer and has a passion for working with individuals in immigration proceedings who have complex cases. She also serves on the Board of Directors for the Campaign for Equal Justice, which raises, manages, and distributes funds to provide civil justice to low-income individuals in the state of Washington.
Senior Fellow and Co-Founder, Migration Policy Institute
Kathleen Newland is co-founder of the Migration Policy Institute and directs MPI’s programs on migrants, migration, and development and comprehensive protection for refugees and internally displaced people. Her work focuses on the relationship between migration and development, governance of international migration, and refugee protection. Previously, at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, she was a Senior Associate and then Co-director of the International Migration Policy Program (1994-2001). She sits on the Board of the International Rescue Committee, and is a Chair Emerita of the Women’s Refugee Commission. She is also on the Board of the Foundation for the Hague Process on Migrants and Refugees. Prior to joining the Migration Program at the Carnegie Endowment in 1994, Newland worked as an independent consultant for such clients as the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the World Bank, and the office of the Secretary-General of the United Nations. From 1988-1992, Newland was on the faculty of the London School of Economics. During that time, she also co-founded (with Lord David Owen) and directed Humanitas, an educational trust dedicated to increasing awareness of international humanitarian issues. From 1982 to 1988, she worked at the United Nations University in Tokyo, Japan. She began her career at the Worldwatch Institute in 1974. Newland is the author or editor of six books, including the first State of the World’s Refugees for UNHCR in 1993, and No Refuge: The Challenge of Internal Displacement for the United Nations in 2003. She has also written eleven shorter monographs as well as numerous articles and book chapters. Newland is a graduate of Harvard University and the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University. She did additional graduate work at the London School of Economics.
Managing Partner, Brookfield Asset Management
Mark Srulowitz is a Managing Partner at Brookfield and Head of Legal in Brookfield’s Private Funds Group, where he is responsible for private fund formation and structuring for all private investment funds sponsored by Brookfield. Mr. Srulowitz’s role also includes both product development and regulatory matters. Prior to joining Brookfield in 2011, Mr. Srulowitz worked as an attorney in the Investment Management Group of Debevoise & Plimpton, where he advised private fund sponsors in connection with the formation, structuring and negotiation of their investment funds, as well as economic, governance and related issues. Mr. Srulowitz serves as a committee member of the Private Investment Funds Committee of the New York City Bar Association, which addresses issues, trends and regulations relating to private investment funds. Mr. Srulowitz also serves on the Advisory Board of Kids in Need of Defense. He holds a J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School.
Catalina Joos Vergara
Partner, O’Melveny & Myers LLP
Catalina Joos Vergara, a partner in the firm’s Financial Services practice group, specializes in crafting perceptive and responsive solutions to complex disputes. She believes that an effective litigator must first be a mindful listener—that clients are best served by individualized, cost-efficient strategies, not a one-size-fits-all playbook. Catalina is also a skilled trial lawyer and appellate advocate who recognizes that a successful representation calls for a comprehensive trial and appellate strategy, even at the earliest stages of a case. Her guidance has helped financial services, insurance, pharmaceutical, and consumer goods companies navigate high-stakes nationwide litigation. ERISA matters are a significant part of Catalina’s portfolio. She represents retirement plan sponsors and service providers in class actions brought by plan participants alleging the plan’s fiduciaries breached their fiduciary duties or committed “prohibited transactions” in selecting and monitoring plan investment options, or in causing the plan to pay excessive fees. At present, Catalina is representing a number of major financial, energy, and entertainment companies in ERISA fiduciary breach cases pertaining to the companies’ 401(k) plans. Outside of the ERISA context, Catalina represents financial institutions in a range of complex civil matters, including claims brought by borrowers against mortgage servicers and claims brought by account holders challenging bank overdraft fees. A native Spanish speaker and a member of the Pacific Council on International Policy, Catalina also brings a global perspective to her practice. She has counseled clients facing litigation and government investigations abroad, including in Latin America. She has also devoted significant time to representing Spanish-speaking immigrants pro bono, both before the Ninth Circuit and in the immigration courts. Catalina was O’Melveny’s 2012 Leadership Council on Legal Diversity Fellow, and she speaks regularly on diversity in the legal profession. Within O’Melveny, she serves on the Women’s Advisory Board and the Diversity Council, and co-founded both the Women Attorneys’ Network and the Community Involvement Committee in her office. For her contributions, Catalina was awarded a Warren Christopher Values Award, an honor bestowed on those who exemplify the Firm’s legacy of excellence, leadership, and citizenship.
Elpidio (“PD”) Villarreal was the Senior Vice President of Litigation of Allergan. Prior to joining Allergan, PD was Senior Vice President, Head of Global Litigation at GlaxoSmithKline, where he had responsibility for all of the Company’s non-patent litigation. He was also Vice President of Litigation at Schering Plough from 2005 to 2009. From 1995 to 2005, PD was Senior Litigation Counsel for the General Electric Company. Before GE, PD was a partner at what is now the Dentons firm in Chicago. He is a 1982 graduate of Columbia University (Magna Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa) and a 1985 graduate of the Yale Law School. He clerked on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago for the Late Honorable Luther M. Swygert. PD has been a quest lecturer at the Harvard Business School, Stanford Law School and Notre Dame Business School, and he is a frequent speaker on ADR, Litigation Management and Diversity topics. He has won numerous awards for his work in ADR, Litigation Management and Diversity. He is one of only two lawyers ever to be the subject of a Harvard Business School case study. In 2012, he was named one of the 10 Most Innovative Lawyers in America by Law360. He has served, in the past, on numerous non-profit boards including the CPR Institute for Dispute Resolution, the Latino Justice Fund and the Midwest Immigrant Rights Center. He is currently on the board of the National Book Foundation. He is a Six Sigma Green Belt and a graduate of executive education courses at GE and Wharton.
Gary M. Wingens
Chairman and Managing Partner, Lowenstein Sandler LLP
Gary Wingens has served as Chairman and Managing Partner of Lowenstein Sandler since 2008, leading its continued expansion as a national firm with over 300 lawyers working from offices in New York, New Jersey, Washington DC and California. Gary believes that what makes Lowenstein Sandler different from other leading law firms is the intensity of the firm’s commitment to its people, its clients and its communities. Under Gary’s leadership, and following his example, Lowenstein Sandler’s lawyers regularly invest their skills and passion to support their colleagues, advance their clients’ businesses and strengthen their communities. Gary successfully inspires this dedication among his firm’s lawyers because he lives each of these values. As a highly experienced and widely respected structured finance lawyer, Gary built Lowenstein Sandler’s mortgage finance practice; he is recognized by his peers as a highly effective dealmaker and negotiator. Focused primarily on a client base of participants in the mortgage finance market (many of which are owned or controlled by hedge funds and private equity funds), Gary’s transactional practice spans the areas of structured finance, mortgage finance and commercial real estate, overseeing acquisitions, dispositions and financings of properties, mortgage loans, and servicing rights valued in the billions of dollars. Early on in his practice Gary made the commitment to immerse himself in the mortgage finance industry and understand every step of the mortgage operations and investor reporting process, in order to provide his clients with service and advice distinguished by pinpoint accuracy and complete relevance to their business needs. Today, he teaches Lowenstein Sandler’s lawyers to make the same personal commitment to understanding their clients’ industries and business processes, in order to ensure they can deliver better and more relevant solutions. Gary is also passionate about the firm’s commitment to public interest and pro bono work. It was his vision that inspired the 2008 creation of the Lowenstein Center for the Public Interest to strategically channel all of the firm’s public interest efforts. He is a member of the board of the Victoria Foundation, a leading foundation that funds programs to break the cycle of poverty, reform education, and revitalize families and neighborhoods. He chairs the strategic planning committee and is a member of the Executive Committee of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest. He has previously served as a member of the Board of Public Media NJ (an affiliate of WNET New York), and the Brandeis University Alumni Association, and has served as Board President of Solomon Schechter Day School of Essex and Union, where he and his wife were honored for their volunteer activities. Gary ensures that Lowenstein Sandler makes the same kind of volunteer commitments in each community to which it expands, most recently in Palo Alto and Washington, DC.
Global Head of Environmental, Social, and Governance, Bank of America
Andrew D. Plepler is Bank of America’s Global head of ESG. In this role, Plepler spearheads the company’s focus on environmental, social and governance issues. He engages with a broad range of internal and external stakeholders, including the company’s executive management committee, investors, clients, consumer advocates and community leaders, to help inform and shape the bank’s strategies, policies, practices, and programs. Plepler is responsible for a range of programs that embody the company’s ESG activities and are aligned with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. In response to the racial wealth gap exacerbated by the coronavirus and the killings of black civilians in numerous communities, Plepler helped develop the company’s $1.25 billion five-year commitment to advance racial equality and economic opportunity for people and communities of color. His team has led work to address challenges brought on by the coronavirus, including philanthropic support and capital investments in CDFIs designed to support small businesses. Plepler is a key driver of the work across the enterprise to transition to low-carbon, and other sustainable businesses through the company’s goal to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions in its operations, supply chain and financing activities before 2050, and $1 trillion environmental business commitment. He also helps advance economic mobility for individuals and families in local communities and ensures strong ESG governance and oversight across the business. He chairs the bank’s National Community Advisory Council, which for more than fifteen years has brought together public, nonprofit, and private sector leaders to provide external perspective and advise the bank on responsible business practices. Prior to joining Bank of America, Plepler served as senior vice president of Housing and Community Initiatives with the Fannie Mae Foundation. Plepler earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in government from Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa., and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Miami School of Law in Coral Gables, Fla. Plepler founded and continues to serve on the board of the Washington, DC-based Urban Alliance Foundation, a nonprofit jobs and mentoring program that works with economically disadvantaged high school students. Plepler has three children and two stepchildren and lives with his wife in Charlotte, N.C.
Kathleen M. Pike, PhD
Professor of Psychology, Columbia University
Dr. Pike is a Professor of Psychology at Columbia University, where she is Director of the Columbia-WHO Center for Global Mental Health, Deputy Director of the Health and Aging Policy Fellows Program, and Director of the Mental Health and Work Design Lab. Dr. Pike has pioneered initiatives on the global stage advocating for expanded mental health services and translating research into practice in under-resourced communities, schools and workplaces. Her scholarship focuses on eating disorders, culture and psychopathology, global mental health, and mental health at work. She completed her BA/MA in international studies and psychology at Johns Hopkins University and her doctoral degree in clinical psychology at Yale University. She is the recipient of multiple honors, including the 2021 American Psychological Association Award for Distinguished Contributions to the International Advancement of Psychology. A passionate beekeeper, when she is not at her desk, Kathy is likely to be in her apiary tending her hives and doting on the thousands of resident honeybees.