New York City Chapter

Diversity Group

2018 Program Information Coming Soon!


  • October 26, 2017

    Baker Botts and ACC-NYC Diversity Group Present
    "Channeling Change:Exploring Advocacy as In-House Counsel"
    Sponsored by Baker Botts


  • Murad Awawdeh, Vice President of Advocacy at the
    New York Immigration Coalition
  • Michelle A. Caiola, Director of Litigation New York Office
    Disability Rights Advocates (DRA)
  • Nicole Triplett, Policy Counsel in the Advocacy Department
    New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU)
  • Lilian Sepulveda, Vice President of Global Legal Program
    Center for Reproductive Rights
  • Rachel B. Tiven, Chief Executive Officer of
    Lambda Legal
  • Moderator: Lynn A. Neils, Partner
    Baker Botts


2018 Sponsor


baker botts200







Mission Statement

The purpose of the ACC New York City Diversity Group is to facilitate members’ development of plans, strategies and initiatives that increase diversity and the involvement of diverse individuals at all levels of our Association and the legal profession. 

Policy Statement

ACC New York City is committed to supporting and promoting both diversity and inclusion within the legal community, based on the following:
•    the belief that diversity and inclusion improve the quality of our work and workplaces;
•    respect for individual differences;
•    interest in involving diverse and non-diverse practitioners in meaningful dialogues about diversity and inclusion
•    the belief that every practitioner has relevant experiences and insights from which others will benefit; and
•    the benefits of law practitioners becoming more culturally aware in a diverse and inclusive work environment.

Steering Committee Members

Pauline Arnakis
Executive Director

Morgan Stanley
Diversity Group Chair

Frank M. Clark II
Principal Legal Counsel

Infosys Limited
Diversity Group Co-Chair

David W. Brown

Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP

Terence Rozier-Byrd

Baker Botts LLP 

Charles Chen
Deputy General Counsel


Ernest Chung

Nixon Peabody LLP

Lisa Coar
Managing Director
Goldman, Sachs & Co.

Joseph M. Drayton

Cooley LLP

Paula T. Edgar, Esq.
Principal, PGE LLC, Coaching, Consulting and Public Speaking
President, Metropolitan Black Bar Association

Tia Gilford
ACC-NYC Secretary


Dennis C. Hopkins
Perkins Coie

Christina Reyes
Senior Privacy Officer

Christine  Rivera
General Counsel
Optima Fund Management LLC

Jeffrey Stern
Executive Director
  Morgan Stanley


Rossie E. Thurman III
  Skadden, Arps, Slate,
Meagher & Flom LLP

Elizabeth (Lisa) Vicens
Cleary Gottlieb


Pauline Wen
Senior Vice President


Leadership and loyalty

November 9, 2016 - Sponsored by Mayer Brown

On November 9, 2016, the Diversity Group and Mayer Brown hosted a dynamic General Counsel panel--Moderated by, Nate Saint-Victor, Executive Director, Morgan Stanley; Sonia Low, General Counsel, The ONE Group Hospitality, Inc., Richard Meade, Vice President & Chief Legal Officer-International, Prudential Financial; LaTanya Langley, General Counsel for Latin America, Caribbean, Middle East, Africa & Asia-Pacific, BIC International Co. The panel discussed what it takes to be an effective leader and what drives loyalty within the in-house legal environment. There is often a disconnect between how high potential employees perceive their Leadership Quotient (LQ) and how their leadership abilities are viewed by senior executives.  This program focused on the traits that differentiate employees with high LQ from their peers, including how to develop and strengthen trust and loyalty. This program was inspired by the following quotes:

  • “Leadership is a two-way street, loyalty up and loyalty down. Respect for one’s superiors; care for one’s crew.”    - Grace Murray Hopper
  • “You can buy a person’s time; you can buy their physical presence at a given place; you can even buy a measured number of their skilled muscular motions per hour. But you cannot buy enthusiasm… you cannot buy loyalty. You cannot buy the devotion of hearts, minds, or souls. You must earn these.”  –Clarence Francis
  • “The greater the loyalty of a group toward the group, the greater is the motivation among the members to achieve the goals of the group, and the greater the probability that   the group will achieve its goals.”    –Rensis Likert

Branding: A Key Element to Ascension to the c-suite

June 7, 2016 - sponsored by Cooley, LLP 

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On June 7, 2016, the ACC NYC Diversity Group presented a dynamic program entitled “Branding: A Key Element to Ascension to the C-Suite” that was sponsored, hosted and moderated by Cooley LLP.  The program featured panelists David Flavell, Senior Vice President & Deputy General Counsel at PepsiCo and General Counsel for Latin America & Frito Lay North America; Terri D. Austin, Chief Corporate Policy Officer at S&P Global; and Laura Alemzadeh, General Counsel in transition and previously General Counsel at Kawasaki Rail Car Inc., and Natural Markets Food Group.  The event was moderated by Joseph M. Drayton, Partner at Cooley LLP and an avid advocate for diversity in the legal profession.  The panelists offered audience members guidance in owning and evolving their own authentic personal brand, forging relationships and strategically building their brand while ascending the "corporate ladder". At the event, audience members were also provided a Branding checklist, prepared by Paula Edgar, Principal at consulting firm PGE Inc., which the audience could use to assess and track their own branding efforts to help them achieve their career goals.

Leveraging EQ to Identify and Reduce Bias
On October 28, 2015
Angela Vallot and Mitchell Karp of VallotKarpConsulting 


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On October 28, 2015 The Association of Corporate Counsel's Diversity Group presented Leveraging EQ to Identify and Reduce Bias. The guest panelists, Angela Vallot and Mitchell Karp of VallotKarp Consulting discussed the link between EQ and implicit bias, including how bias may impact day-to-day interactions and how individuals and organizations can use EQ to identify and interrupt bias, which is essential for promoting diversity, enhancing employee engagement, and gaining competitive advantage.

Diversity Group
Doing More with Less: Tips for Surviving and Thriving
in Challenging, Resource-Constrained Environments

June 23, 2015 6:00PM – 9:00PM
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On June 23, 2015, the Association of Corporate Counsel-New York City Chapter's Diversity Group presented "Doing More with Less: Tips for Surviving and Thriving in Challenging, Resource-Constrained Environments."  

Latham & Watkins, the law firm selected as our 2015 Sponsor, hosted a lively cocktail reception and panel discussion. And once again, Latham litigation partner Adrienne Eason Wheatley  did a phenomenal job of prepping our panelists, coming up with questions that resonated with our audience, and moderating the panel discussion. Cynthia Bookhart Adams, Managing Director and General Counsel for Litigation, Regulatory and Employment Legal of Jefferies LLC, Damien Atkins, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary, Panasonic Corporation of North America, and Vanessa J. Soman, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary, TheStreet, Inc., each shared thoughtful guidance and easily engaged the audience.

December 11, 2014 7:00-8:00 PM


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"On December 11, 2014, many of you joined us as the Diversity Group presented "Building a Successful In-House Career, Including Navigation of Flat Organizational Structures."

We were thrilled to have Michael D. Fricklas, Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary of Viacom Inc., Sandra Leung, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary of Bristol-Myers Squibb and Anne Robinson, General Counsel, Global Cards of Citigroup Inc. serve as our panelists.

And based on the feedback you provided regarding the exceptional job done by Adrienne Eason Wheatley, a Latham & Watkins litigation partner, at the last Diversity Group panel discussion,  it was our pleasure to have her again serve as the panel moderator."


"Diversity and the Next Generation of General Counsel:  Positioning Yourself and Those You Oversee For Advancement"
June 10, 2014 6:00-9:00 P.M.

Diversity Panel June 2014 






Left to Right (Front):  Neil H. Wilcox, General Counsel – Chase Card Services Legal Department; H. Gwen Marcus, Executive Vice President and General Counsel, Showtime Networks Inc.; Ricardo Anzaldua, Executive Vice President & General Counsel, MetLife, Inc. (Back):  Shea Owens, Chair, ACC-GNY Diversity Group; Reginald Rasch, President, ACC-GNY; James T. Breedlove, Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary, Praxair, Inc.; Jeff Stern, President Elect, ACC-GNY; Adrienne K. Eason Wheatley, Partner, Latham & Watkins LLP; Melba Hughes, Partner, Major Lindsey & Africa, LLC; Pauline Arnakis, Co-Chair, ACC-GNY Diversity Group.

Click here for more event photos

“Diversity as Empowerment”
November 6, 2013 5 – 7 pm
Diversity Group Kick-Off Event in Partnership with Minority Corporate Counsel Association (MCCA)

The ACC-GNY Diversity Group held its inaugural kick-off panel presentation and social, in partnership with the Minority Corporate Counsel Association (MCCA). Featured panelists included: Jeffrey Harleston, EVP and General Counsel of Universal Music Group, Rhonda Joy McLean, Deputy General Counsel, Time Inc. and Hoyt Webb, Vice President and General Counsel of Legrand North America.  Kate Broer, Dentons Partner and Dentons Canada Co-Chair of Diversity and Inclusion moderated the panel discussion.  The Event was sponsored by Dentons, which has received recognition and numerous awards for its diversity initiatives (click here for additional information), and our inaugural event was followed by a Cocktail Networking Social.



















Diversity panel photoSMALL







From Left to Right - Panelist: Jeffrey Harleston, Moderator: Kate Broer, Diversity Group Chair: Shea Owens, Panelist: Rhonda Joy McLean, Panelist: Hoyt Webb, Diversity Group Co-Chair: Pauline Arnakis

 Diversity Member Spotlight


The ACC New York City Diversity Group is pleased to shine the spotlight on chapter member Aisha Christian.

Aisha Christian is the General Counsel of Rent the Runway, a fashion technology company that was founded in 2009, and has since raised $116 million in venture capital.  With over 4.5 million members, 400 employees, 300 designer brands, and 5 retail stores, Rent the Runway is democratizing luxury attire in the sharing economy.   As General Counsel, Aisha oversees all aspects of the company's legal affairs.

Prior to joining Rent the Runway, Aisha was Associate General Counsel at Russell Reynolds Associates.  Before Russell Reynolds, Aisha was Senior Counsel at CNBC, acting as the company's legal advisor during the launch and continuing review of CNBC's stock-picking programs "Mad Money" and "Fast Money." She was also the lead attorney for "Mad Money".  Prior to joining CNBC, Aisha was a securities associate at Davis Polk & Wardwell.   Aisha started her career as a law clerk for the Honorable Barrington D. Parker, Jr., United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (then, Southern District of New York).

Aisha is a member of the board at Inwood House and a Special Advisor and former board member of Promise Project.   Aisha received her B.A., cum laude, from Wellesley College and her J.D., cum laude, from Harvard Law School.

We recently conducted the following interview with Aisha (click here).

*For more information about the ACC New York City Diversity Group, Events or Sponsorship Opportunities, Member Spotlight Submissions, please contact Pauline Arnakis, Chair, and/or Frank M. Clark, Co-Chair,

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