Excellence in corporate counsel
ACC Awards honor Arizona’s most accomplished in-house attorneys
Az Business is recognizing the vital role that in-house counsel plays in business with the Arizona Corporate Counsel Awards. The 15 finalists and winners were honored Thursday, January 10 at the Ritz Carlton Phoenix.
Here are the ACC 2013 Finalists:
Andrejs K. Bunkse
Redflex Traffic Systems, Inc.
Bunkse joined Redflex in 2009 to create a legal department for the company, which has customers in 22 states and Canada, representing more than 250 cities — each operating under its own unique set of laws. Redflex’s products have been scrutinized and have been subjected to a heavy defense litigation practice. Under Bunkse’s management of a staff of six and a wide network of lobbyists, lawyers and consultants, his department furthers Redflex’s efforts in setting positive legal precedent, improving legislative positioning, as well as defending a diverse set of external and internal legal challenges.
Associate General Counsel
General Dynamics C4 Systems
Winner: Public Company of the Year – Large
Collins was responsible for all employment law aspects in establishing General Dynamics C4 Systems — which has its roots in Motorola’s military business — as a separate legal entity. Through the last decade, Collins has handled the employment law aspects of approximately eight acquisitions, along with major internal reorganizations. Combined with organic growth, this resulted in the workforce increasing to almost 11,000 employees. Collins has managed the significant employment law challenges associated with rapid growth and is now managing the issues associated with workforce reductions necessitated by economic conditions and reductions by the Department of Defense.
Associate General Counsel
Winner: Non-Profit of the Year
Dinner has been an integral part of the Arizona health community for the past 27 years. As in-house counsel for Samaritan Health, now Banner Health, she has been responsible for key operational components of the hospital system, including working with 13 Banner medical staffs in Arizona and with Banner facilities in other states to improve medical staff bylaws and their peer review processes; addressing hospital regulatory issues; serving as a legal and strategy advisor to the compliance department, risk management and to other attorneys within the legal department. As a resource to Banner’s lobbyist, she has proposed legislation and has analyzed the impact of legislation that has been introduced.
General Counsel and Vice President of Product Development
Winner: Private Company of the Year – Small
Fay is responsible for drafting and negotiating all software agreements for LawLogix, a leading provider of I-9 compliance, E-verify and immigration case management software. Fay plays an integral role at LawLogix, lending his considerable legal and technical expertise to ensure that both the company and its products are in compliance with constantly changing laws and regulations. Fay is responsible for interfacing with members of the Department of Homeland Security to ensure regulatory compliance and overseeing product design and functionality. Since he joined the company, Fay has standardized and simplified all licensing contracts to vastly improve the procurement process with large client organizations.
Senior Vice President, Business Development and General Counsel
Universal Technical Institute, Inc.
Winner: Public Company of the Year – Small
Freed has been general counsel of Universal Technical Institute since shortly following its initial public offering in 2003. Freed now presides over the development of a sophisticated law department, which includes five lawyers and 18 people dealing with general legal matters as well as the complex regulatory framework governing companies within the for-profit education industry. The last two years have included significant challenges relating to industry-wide scrutiny by regulators and legislators. Freed has become a subject matter expert with respect to federal and state governmental regulations as they affect the company, and serves as a value-added business counselor to senior management.
Vice President and Corporate Counsel
The Dial Corporation
Gazaway is a former corporate and securities attorney for Snell & Wilmer (1998-2003) and a 1992 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. He graduated in 1998 from the University of Iowa law school. While working with Gazaway, other attorneys are impressed not only with his professional demeanor and practical approach, but also with his passion for the company and the pride he takes in the company’s accomplishments. Both Gazaway and Dial value community involvement, opening their headquarters for a United Way tour, with Gazaway sharing his personal interest in helping those less fortunate with those who toured.
COO and General Counsel
Esio Beverage Company/Esio Franchise
Winner: Intellectual Property Attorney of the Year
Hansen is recognized for her skill in taking complicated legal issues and boiling them down into a format that allows her company to move its business plan forward. Hansen recently oversaw the Esio Beverage Company’s national retail launch in 2,400 Walmart stores. During the process, Hansen dealt with nearly every major beverage company — including Kraft, Campbell’s, Brisk and Apple & Eve — and negotiated deals with Walmart, both international and domestic manufacturing partners, and oversaw technology patents. “Melanie is both a brilliant legal and business mind and is uniquely gifted at balancing business and legal decisions without stifling business flow,” says Esio Co-Founder Lyle Myers.
Corporate Secretary, General Counsel, Vice President of Governmental Relations
American Traffic Solutions
Winner: Litigator of the Year
Hittner has overseen more than 150 lawsuits for ATS throughout the country, ranging from minor cases to multi-million-dollar class actions, with a 98 percent win rate since October 2008.
- Under Hittner’s leadership, ATS has never lost a constitutional challenge to one of its programs.
- Hittner led the successful legal strategy which resulted in a decision by the 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals that found the Akron, Ohio, intersection and speed camera safety ordinance legal and constitutional.
- Hittner’s focus on election law has protected the photo enforcement industry from illegal elections, including having three illegal elections declared invalid.
Michael L. Kaplan
Senior Vice President, General Counsel, and CSO
Winner: Private Company of the Year – Large
Kaplan was a partner at Greenberg Traurig before leaving in 2010 to join StandardAero, which is part of Dubai Aerospace Enterprises and specializes aircraft engine maintenance, repair and overhaul, as well as nose-to-tail aircraft services, including airframe, interior refurbishment, avionics and paint services for general, commercial and military aviation. With more than 4,000 employees and customers located across the globe, Kaplan’s job requires that he regularly deal with sophisticated legal matters and manage risk in a wide variety of areas, including negotiating multi-million dollar contracts, commercial litigation, governmental relations, environmental, regulatory matters, and labor and employment.
General Counsel and Secretary
Sprouts Farmers Markets, LLC
Winner: Up & Comer of the Year
Lombardi represented Sprouts while at Greenberg Traurig, going back to when Sprouts was a relatively small, Arizona-only, family-run operation. He developed the trust of its executive leadership so that when the time came in late 2011 that Sprouts’ current ownership — a large New York-based private equity group — determined that Sprouts needed its first in-house counsel, they sought him out. In the 10 months Lombardi has been at Sprouts, he successfully led Sprouts’ merger with Sunflower Farmers Markets, growing Sprouts to a 148-store chain of natural and organic grocery stores, with nearly 12,000 employees and $2 billion in 2012 projected revenue.
Vice President and General Counsel
Winner: Government Contractor of the Year
Since assuming the role of aerospace general counsel in 2005, Mountcastle-Walsh has forged a successful vision for the Honeywell Aerospace, Law, Contracts and Export (LC&E) function.
- Developed policies, procedures and best practices to streamline functionalization and reduce total expenses by more than 35 percent.
- Consistently strives to upgrade talent in her 400-person department through hiring efforts and through a training, mentoring and development process.
- Enabled growth at Honeywell through the development of its patent portfolio and IP licensing.
- Proactive litigation management has helped reduce Honeywell’s spending on outside counsel by more than 50 percent.
Executive Vice President, External Operations
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona
Winner: In-House Law Department of the Year
After serving many years as general counsel, Navran is currently serving in a business role. During her tenure as general counsel, Navran reduced the size of BCBSAZ’s outside counsel budget by hiring qualified counsel; created basic contract templates and parameters; improved communication within department and with customers through regular meetings, updates and intake processes; instituted client satisfaction surveys and improvements based on input; implemented rotation of lawyers to broaden access and knowledge of business; and instituted required reports and a regulatory filing log and follow-up procedure.
Deputy General Counsel
American Traffic Solutions
Colleagues say Rasor has what it takes to create and maintain a well-oiled legal team as an in-house counsel.
Some of her accomplishments include:
- Leading the legal aspects of two company acquisitions and countless lawsuits.
- After joining the legal team at ATS as the first associate general counsel, she was promoted to deputy general counsel the following year. She works with two other attorneys and two paralegals.
- Colleagues say Rasor is unequalled in her ability to foresee potential legal issues and head them off before they become a real problem for the company.
Executive Vice President and General Counsel
Reagan has been Kahala’s general counsel since January 2000. From 1993 to 1995, he served as a senior accountant with Deloitte & Touche in Phoenix in its audit division. He is currently a licensed attorney, as well as a licensed Certifi ed Public Accountant (CPA), in the state of Arizona. Reagan holds a B.S. in accounting from the University of Arizona and a J.D. from Arizona State University. In Reagan’s 12 years at Kahala, the company has grown from a handful of employees to more than 250, from one brand to 14 brands, and the legal department has grown from one lawyer to six lawyers and 10 paralegals.