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Tesla, CBS and United See New General Counsel: February 2019 In-House Moves

Pictured, from left, are Lawrence Tu, CBS Corp.; Robert S. Rivkin, United Airlines; and Jonathan Chang, Tesla.

Still recovering from the sexual misconduct scandals around former CEO Les Moonves, CBS Corp. announced that its chief legal officer will retire in April. Also recovering from a scandal sparked by Twitter-related securities issues around its current CEO Elon Musk, Tesla last week introduced its new general counsel, who's taking over after a Williams & Connolly partner only lasted on the job for two months.

Other corporations such as United Airlines and Kinder Morgan named a general counsel at the end of the month, with United hiring the deputy mayor of Chicago to take the legal reins while Kinder Morgan found a successor after its previous top lawyer suddenly died in December.

The education space appeared to be very active this month in general counsel hiring. Amid separate scandals, Georgia Tech gave its new legal chief the title of vice president for ethics and compliance and Michigan State University replaced its general counsel for the fourth time in a year. Vanderbilt University decided to grant its interim general counsel a permanent post.

As for other top companies, food services provider Aramark promoted its associate general counsel to take over for the retiring general counsel while the shopping network parent of HSN and QVC US named a general counsel for its commerce arm.

Along with these major moves occurring in February, the companies below announced the appointments of their legal heads along with adding their backgrounds and comments about their career moves.


PLH Group Inc., a private portfolio construction services company in Irving, Texas, appointed Kirsten "Kerry" David as chief legal officer and corporate secretary.

David previously was the executive vice president, chief legal officer and corporate secretary of Chicago Bridge & Iron Co.


Hunter College, a part of the City University of New York system, named Carol Robles-Román as general counsel and dean of faculty.

She most recently served as co-president and CEO of the ERA Coalition/Fund for Women’s Equality, where she led legal and advocacy efforts to advance constitutional equality for women and girls. Before this position, she spent 12 years as New York City’s deputy mayor for legal affairs and counsel to former Mayor Michael Bloomberg. She also had been a CUNY trustee for 14 years.

“I am passionate about championing public higher education and equal opportunity for New York’s students, and I can’t imagine a better place to do that than Hunter,” said Robles-Román in a statement. “It’s a privilege to be part of the team at one of our nation’s most-forward looking colleges, and one that has been a primary gateway to life-changing educational opportunity in New York City for nearly 150 years.”

Tuskegee University in Alabama named Charles S. Johnson as its new vice president for external affairs and general counsel.

Johnson's legal career spans nearly 50 years, according to Tuskegee's press release, with his most recent position as partner at Holland & Knight in Atlanta.


Forum Energy Technologies Inc., a global oilfield products company based in Houston, announced the promotion of John C. Ivascu to senior vice president, general counsel and secretary. James L. McCulloch, who had held the position since 2010, will serve as chief compliance officer and adviser to the CEO.

“John has been an integral part of Forum’s development, including its initial public offering in 2012,” said C. Christopher Gaut, Forum’s president and CEO, in a statement. “In addition, he has served as Forum’s internal legal counsel on a wide array of corporate matters, including over 20 merger and acquisition transactions, during his tenure. His leadership, experience, and high ethical standards will ensure his success as our general counsel. I have the highest level of confidence in his ability to protect Forum’s interests and provide sound commercial counsel.”


Michael Solomon will start at Rockefeller Capital Management in New York as general counsel for its firm’s broker-dealer, Rockefeller Financial, in March.

Prior to Rockefeller, Solomon was most recently the senior regional director of Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s New York, Philadelphia, Boston and Woodbridge, New Jersey, district offices, where he was responsible for the Examination and Surveillance Programs in the Northeast and overseeing a staff of 350 employees.

Before working at FINRA in 2011, he served as general counsel for litigation, regulatory and employment law at Jefferies & Co. He has also held senior positions with UBS Financial Services and Merrill Lynch.

Joseph J. Samarias will take over the role of executive vice president and general counsel at Ocwen Financial Corp. from Timothy M. Hayes, who is set to retire March 31.

Samarias, currently the senior vice president, deputy general counsel of litigation and government affairs, and chief ethics officer, is scheduled to start his new position April 1 at the West Palm Beach, Florida-based company.

“Joe has extensive experience in many legal and regulatory areas, as well as deep knowledge of the mortgage industry," Glen A. Messina, president and CEO of Ocwen, said in a statement. "He has demonstrated outstanding leadership while establishing himself as a trusted adviser and counselor to the management team.”

Messina added he wishes Hayes the best in retirement. “Tim has provided invaluable legal expertise and insights to Ocwen during his tenure with the company," he said in the statement. "He has built an exceptional legal organization and has always performed his duties as general counsel with devotion and the highest level of integrity.”


Andrea DiFabio of Codiak Biosciences.

Andrea DiFabio has been appointed to chief legal officer of Codiak BioSciences Inc., an exosome therapeutics company based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

DiFabio most recently served as executive vice president, chief legal officer and secretary of Bioverativ Inc. through its acquisition by Sanofi in March 2018. Prior to Bioverativ, she held multiple counsel positions over the course of 11 years at Biogen Inc., leading the U.S. legal team there with supporting the company’s global product portfolios as senior vice president, chief research and business development counsel.

“The Codiak team has built an exciting company, grounded by exceptional translational science, a significant manufacturing capability and a drug discovery platform with broad therapeutic potential,” DiFabio said in a statement. “I am delighted to join the team and look forward to helping to shape the company’s trajectory as we seek to bring forward a new class of biological medicines.”

Palo Alto, California-based Eiger BioPharmaceuticals Inc. named Dr. Stephana Patton as its general counsel, corporate secretary and chief compliance officer.

Patton was most recently general counsel, corporate secretary and chief compliance officer at BioTime Inc., a regenerative medicine pharmaceutical company in Alameda, California. Prior to BioTime, Patton served as vice president, general counsel and commercial compliance officer at BioDelivery Sciences International Inc. based in Raleigh, North Carolina. Patton began her in-house career at Salix Pharmaceuticals Inc. based in Bridgewater, New Jersey, as the vice president of intellectual property and licensing until the company was acquired by Valeant Inc. in 2015.

"This is an exciting time as Eiger prepares to transition into a commercial stage biopharmaceutical company with multiple late-stage pipeline programs," Patton said in a statement. "Eiger is poised for significant growth in the future, and I look forward to working alongside such a talented and passionate team to deliver first-in-class therapies for serious rare and ultra-rare diseases to patients."

PetIQ Inc., a pet medication and wellness company, has hired R. Michael Herrman as general counsel.

Herrman spent the last 16 years at pharmaceutical giant Boehringer Ingelheim, with a dozen of those years in its animal health business, the second largest biological and pharmaceutical animal health company in the world, according to PetIQ. While at Boehringer Ingelheim, the statement said Herrman grew the animal health business from the 10th largest global biological and pharmaceutical animal health company to the second largest in the world. Herrman most recently served as head of legal for Boehringer Ingelheim’s Latin America Animal Health region since 2017 and held the same position in the United States Animal Health business since 2007.

Josh A. McCreary has been appointed to senior vice president, general counsel and secretary for National HealthCare Corp., a nursing center operator in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. He will start April 15.

McCreary is a partner at Hudson, Reed & McCreary in Murfreesboro, where he has practiced since 1998. He also serves as the county attorney for Rutherford County, Tennessee.

“I am honored and thankful to join NHC as general counsel and as a member of its executive team,” McCreary said in a statement. “It is a humbling and extraordinary opportunity to join great people to carry out NHC’s commitment to being the nation’s leader in senior care.”

Karen Harris will become the senior vice president and general counsel for the Illinois Health and Hospital Association, effective March 1.

Harris, who will be based in the association’s Naperville, Illinois, office, will oversee and manage issues related to policy, advocacy, business, governance, regulatory and compliance matters. A former general counsel for Aetna U.S. Healthcare, Harris was most recently a partner in the Chicago office of Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr.

“Today’s health care environment is complex and constantly evolving,” Harris said in a statement. “I’m extremely pleased to be joining IHA as it endeavors to assist its members in delivering the best healthcare possible for patients and families in Illinois.”

The association’s current general counsel, Mark Deaton, plans to remain in-house as senior counsel during the transition before his retirement in the summer.


Felice Shapiro of AmTrust Title.

AmTrust Title Insurance Co., which specializes in commercial transactions and agent-driven title insurance solutions, promoted Felice K. Shapiro to general counsel for AmTrust Title and First Nationwide Title.

She had been the company’s executive vice president and chief underwriter for AmTrust Title and was responsible for overseeing all legal and underwriting decisions for the direct and agency sides of the business.

Pan-American Life Insurance Group, a provider of insurance and financial services throughout the Americas, has promoted its deputy general counsel, Jose Corrada, to senior vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary. In the position until March 31, Patrick Fraizer will retire as executive vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary.

“Pat has been planning for this moment and during his long tenure has laid a strong foundation for our legal and compliance functions to continue excelling in the future,” said José S. Suquet, board chairman, president and CEO of Pan-American Life Insurance Group, in a statement about Fraizer. “More importantly, his expertise and counsel were instrumental in guiding PALIG through several major mergers and acquisitions that have transformed the company. I will miss Pat’s partnership and legal acumen, but he has earned the opportunity to enjoy the next phase of his life in the company of his family and friends.”

Corrada joined the New Orleans-based insurer in 2008 as associate general counsel and in 2018 was promoted to the role of deputy general counsel. Prior to Pan-American Life, Corrada served as associate counsel for Peoples Health in Metairie, Louisiana.

United Insurance Holdings Corp., a St. Petersburg, Florida-based property and casualty insurance holding company also known as UPC Insurance, announced Brad Kalter will be its general counsel and chief legal officer.

Kalter most recently worked at Exide Technologies, a global battery manufacturing and energy storage business headquartered in Milton, Georgia, as executive vice president, general counsel, corporate secretary and chief compliance officer. Kalter also had been the corporate secretary and deputy general counsel at Exide.

Prior to Exide from 1999 through 2003, Kalter served as general counsel at Cotton States Insurance Group, a multi-line insurance group based in Atlanta that now is a part of Country Financial in Bloomington, Illinois.


Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings Inc., an iHeartMedia Inc. subsidiary, announced Lynn Feldman will become executive vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary of the company when it becomes a stand-alone public company. IHeartMedia announced the restructuring process in December.

Feldman will also continue to serve as the executive vice president and general counsel of Clear Channel Outdoor Holdings’ Clear Channel Outdoor Americas division.


Mi9 Retail, a provider of omni-channel retail solutions, has appointed Karina DuQuesne as senior vice president of administration and general counsel. She will also oversee human resources and facilities management for the company.

Prior to joining the Miami-based Mi9 Retail, DuQuesne worked as an attorney at DLA Piper, where she focused on private equity, mergers and acquisitions, and other corporate matters across several industries. DuQuesne has also worked as a corporate and real estate attorney for Arnstein & Lehr. She began her career at Goldman Sachs in the Securities Division's Pension, Endowment, & Foundation Group.


San Diego-based workforce management service provider TargetCW hired Erica Ostberg as chief compliance officer and general counsel.

According to a press release, Ostberg will help the company expand its 1099 compliance and audit services while overseeing cybersecurity along with global General Data Protection Regulation and privacy.

Ostberg most recently was a partner at Hanna, Brophy, MacLean, McAleer & Jensen specializing in workers' compensation, civil litigation, insurance and general employment law.