Leadership

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NCAJ Officers

Valerie Johnson

President

Valerie Johnson

President

Valerie Johnson has been a trial lawyer since she graduated from the University of North Carolina School of Law with honors in 1994. Her firm, Johnson & Groninger PLLC, practices statewide in the areas of workers’ compensation law, personal injury, and bicycle crash law and has offices in Durham and Charlotte.

Johnson teaches trial advocacy at the University of North Carolina School of Law and has taught workers’ compensation law at the Wake Forest University School of Law. She is an editor of North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Law: A Practical Guide to Success at Every Stage of a Claim published by LexisNexis. Johnson is a member of the National Academy of Social Insurance and a fellow of the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers. She is the 2021 recipient of the Charles L. Becton Award for teaching from the North Carolina Advocates for Justice.

She serves as a director on the Board of Lawyers Mutual Insurance Company.

Andy Banzhoff

President-elect

Andy Banzhoff

President-elect

Andrew B. Banzhoff is a partner in the firm of Devereux & Banzhoff, PLLC, located in Asheville, NC.  His practice is focused primarily on criminal trial and appellate litigation.  He graduated cum laude from the University of Tampa in 1995 with a BA in Political Science and obtained a JD from Wake Forest University in 1999. 

He is a Board Certified Specialist in State and Federal Criminal Law by the N.C. State Bar.  He has served as president of the Buncombe County Criminal Defense Attorney’s Association, as Chair of the NCAJ Criminal Defense Section, as a member of the NCAJ Board of Governors, a member of the NCAJ executive committee, as a legal affairs vice-president for NCAJ and as Chair of the NCAJ PAC.  He continues to serve as a member of the CJA Panel Selection Committee for the Western District of North Carolina.

John McCabe

Immediate Past-President

John McCabe

Immediate Past-President

John M. McCabe is the founder and president of The Law Offices of John M. McCabe, P.A., which is located in his hometown of Cary, North Carolina. John graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 1991 with a degree in economics, and in 1994, he graduated, cum laude, from Campbell University School of Law, where he served as Articles Editor of the Campbell Law Review and was named to several national moot court teams.

Over the last 27 years, John has developed a statewide practice, devoted largely to representing the victims of trucking and auto collisions, on-the-job accidents, animal attacks, and nursing home neglect.

John is AV-rated by Martindale-Hubbell, and he has earned numerous recognitions, including: (1) Tier 1 Best Law Firms and Top Lawyers in America by U.S. News & World Report; (2) The Best Lawyers in America; (3) North Carolina Super Lawyer (Top 100), (4) North Carolina’s Legal Elite, (5) Best Lawyers in North Carolina, and (5) Top 100 Trial Lawyers.

John has remained active in NCAJ through his career. He has served on the Executive Committee since 2014, and last year, he chaired NCAJ’s Advocacy Strategic Plan Task Force, the Finance Committee, and the Nominations & Awards Committee. He was also appointed to the Chief Justice’s COVID-19 Task Force. John previously chaired the Auto Torts Section and the New Lawyers Division, and in 2015, he received the Ebbie Award.

John frequently presents at CLE’s and law schools throughout the State, and he serves on the Board of Visitors at Campbell Law School. He also authored The Analysis and Investigation of Personal Injury Cases” in the book Personal Injury Practice in North Carolina.

In his spare time, John enjoys playing tennis, traveling, and going to concerts with his wife, Rebecca.

Margaret S. Abrams

Past President Appointed by the President & AAJ State Delegate*

Margaret S. Abrams

Past President Appointed by the President & AAJ State Delegate*

Anna Pishko Kalarites

Education Vice President

Anna Pishko Kalarites

Education Vice President

Anna Pishko Kalarites’ practice focuses on fighting for individual’s rights in nursing home, medical malpractice, and employment issues. Anna grew up in Winston-Salem, and upon graduating from Duke University, moved to Washington, DC. After living and working in DC for 7 years, Anna decided to go to law school. Anna graduated from the University of Baltimore School of Law in 2014.

After law school, Anna and her husband moved back to North Carolina where she joined the Law Office of David Pishko. David Pishko also happens to be her father. Together, they help those who have been harmed in nursing homes or hospitals, as well as those harmed in their places of work. Anna is a past chair of the North Carolina Advocates for Justice Nursing Home Section and currently serves on the Board of Governors and is Vice-Chair of the Women’s Caucus.

Outside of work, Anna enjoys spending time with her husband and 2 daughters, Abigail and Emma. When not busy shuttling them from dance class to swim class, she volunteers with Back Pack Buddies through the Junior League of Raleigh and is on the Edenton Street United Methodist Church Preschool Council.

Jon Moore

Legal Affairs Vice President

Jon Moore

Legal Affairs Vice President

Jon Moore grew up in the Kansas City, Missouri area before graduating college from Northwestern University.  After a year of teaching high school, Jon went on to law school at Georgetown University.  After briefly working in Missouri following law school, Jon moved to North Carolina when his wife accepted a job as a reporter at a local television station.  Jon focuses his practice on personal injury and medical malpractice.  He has been named a “Super Lawyer” by North Carolina Super Lawyers magazine from 2017 through 2021.  Jon has served as Chair of the Product Liability section, and also Chair of the Auto Torts and Premises Liability section.  During his tenure as Chair of the ATPL section, Jon launched the popular monthly trial de-briefs.  Jon has served on the NCAJ’s Legal Affairs committee for several years, and authored multiple amicus briefs and served on multiple moot court panels.  His favorite part about being an NCAJ member is the collegiality and the willingness of members to share their knowledge and expertise.

Kevin Bunn

Legislative Vice President

Kevin Bunn

Legislative Vice President

Kevin Bunn graduated from the University of North Carolina with a Bachelor of Arts in 1986, and received his Master of Public Administration degree from UNC in 1989.  He graduated from the UNC School of Law in 1993. Kevin has practiced law in Cary, North Carolina, since graduating from law school. Kevin has been a Board-Certified Specialist in North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Law since 2013. He is a frequent presenter at workers’ compensation continuing education programs. Kevin is a Fellow of the National College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers. Kevin is a former Chair of the Workers’ Compensation Section, and currently serves on the Section’s Executive Committee and as Chair of the Section’s Legislative Committee. He also serves on the NCAJ Board of Governors, Executive Committee and Finance Committee. He is the Chair of the NCAJ Political Action Committee.

Kevin joined NCAJ for the continuation education, but he stays for the friendships.

Kristen Dewar

Membership Vice President

Kristen Dewar

Membership Vice President

Kristen Dewar is an associate attorney at Minick Law, P.C.’s Concord location, focused on DWI, criminal defense, and traffic law in Cabarrus, Iredell, Rowan, and Stanly County. A native of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, she holds an honors B.A. in Political Science from the University of Toronto, and a J.D., cum laude, and Certificate in Advocacy from Charlotte School of Law. As an active NCAJ member since 2014, she has held a series of leadership positions, including currently serving as the Immediate Past Chair of the Criminal Defense section, and on the Board of Governors.

Sheila Chavis

Diversity & Inclusion Vice President

Sheila Chavis

Diversity & Inclusion Vice President

Attorney Sheila White Chavis of Brent Adams & Associates is a graduate of Duke University and was a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Institute of Public Policy and International Affairs at the University of California-Berkeley. When she’s not hard at work on workers’ compensation litigation, she spends time with her family. Her husband is an active equestrian and the manager of Triangle Horse Sports in Raleigh. They have three sons: Kyle, Mekhi and Logan.

Attorney Chavis has been admitted to practice before all North Carolina trial and appellate courts as well as the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina.

Carma Henson

At Large

Carma Henson

At Large

Carma Henson is a partner at Henson Fuerst, where she practices with her husband, David Henson, as well as her brother-in-law Thomas, and Rachel Fuerst. Carma is currently serving as the Treasurer of the American Association for Justice’s Nursing Home Litigation Group, and is Vice-President of the North Carolina Advocates for Justice’s Nursing Home Section.

Carma joined Henson Fuerst after graduating from UNC School of Law in 1999, and has spent her career fighting to protect the rights of people who have been hurt, abused, or neglected through no fault of their own. Carma’s practice is focused on handling nursing home abuse and neglect cases—always battling the large corporations that put profits over people, risking the health and safety of our most vulnerable and frail population in order to make a large profit.  

Carma is married to David Henson, also an attorney and partner at Henson Fuerst (son of founding partner Tom Henson, Sr.). They have 2 sons, Caleb and Parker, who bring lots of laughter to the dinner table, as well as a sweet goldendoodle, Bailey. Carma and her family spend much of their free time with extended family, and love spending as much time as possible at the beach.

Jason Orndoff

Political Action Committee Chair

Jason Orndoff

Political Action Committee Chair

Jason has been an NCAJ member since 2001 and has had the privilege to serve as Chair of the Auto Torts & Premises Liability Section, as a PAC Trustee, and on the Executive Committee. Membership in NCAJ continues to give me lasting friendships, cutting edge education, professional growth, and an unparalleled group of colleagues to help me in my practice.  I cannot imagine practicing law in NC helping injured folks without being a member of NCAJ and having access to all of its combined knowledge and resources.  With a solo practice in Hickory, I am a member of the Catawba County Bar, a past President of the 36th Judicial District Bar (Burke, Caldwell, Catawba), and greatly enjoy involvement in my local community.

Shannon Leskin

Interim Executive Director

Shannon Leskin

Interim Executive Director

Shannon Leskin began her tenure with NCAJ in 2019. She is a management and governance expert with over 40 years of experience in the nonprofit sector. Over the course of her career, Leskin has been privileged to work with some of our country’s finest nonprofit institutions in the arts, health and education sectors: The Smithsonian Institution, Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America, The United Way of America and Duke University, among others.


Highlights of her career include being the youngest managing director in the country of a fully professional LORT Theater. She was also a founding member of the creative team that launched the Non-Profits and Technology Conference Series, a national program teaching non-profits early adoption of digital technology. Leskin is proud to have coordinated APPEAL (AProgressive Palliative care Educational curriculum for African Americans at Life’s End), a national training program of Duke University Divinity School’s Institute on Care at the End of Life.

As NCAJ’s compliance & operations administrator, Leskin oversees compliance and operations for all NCAJ entities and works closely with the executive director on budgetary and financial management. She is also staff liaison to NCAJ’s Nursing Home Litigation and Products Liability, Class Action & Mass Torts sections.

Leskin earned a bachelor of fine arts in theatre from Virginia Commonwealth University. Since moving from Los Angeles to the Triangle 27 years ago, she has served in board leadership positions for NC Child, Triangle Day School, Mallarme Chamber Players, SEEDS and The Rotary Club of Durham.

Shannon enjoys life in the Trinity Park area of Durham with her husband, Will, and rescue border collie mixes, Gracie and Murr.

NCAJ Governors

Doug Abrams

AAJ Governor*

Doug Abrams

AAJ Governor*

Doug Abrams has been a practicing trial lawyer for more than 40 years. Doug is a partner in the firm of Abrams & Abrams, P.A. in Raleigh, North Carolina. Doug currently represents plaintiffs in catastrophic personal injury cases, tractor trailer wrecks, plant explosions and fire cases, products liability or defective products cases, fifteen passenger van rollover cases, business tort litigation, and other tort cases.

Doug has given numerous lectures and has written extensively on the subject of personal injury and tort law. Doug served as the President of the North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers (now the North Carolina Advocates for Justice) for 1995-1996 and has remained on the Board of NCAJ in numerous capacities both before and after that time. Doug has also been active in the American Association for Justice and currently serves on their Board of Governors. Doug has been selected for inclusion in a leading publication entitled The Best Lawyers in America, as well as the publication Super Lawyers. Doug and Peggy were jointly recipients of the Founders Award given by the North Carolina Advocates for Justice in June 2012.

Helen Baddour

Helen Baddour

Helen is a personal injury lawyer, advocating for people who have been wrongfully injured, with a special interest in representing victims of bicycle crashes. Helen grew up in Goldsboro, North Carolina. She sharpened her writing and public speaking skills in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. These skills, combined with her desire to advocate for others, led Helen to law school at North Carolina Central University School of Law where served as Editor-in-Chief of the 2013-2014 North Carolina Central Law Review

Helen was selected to the North Carolina Rising Stars list, published in Super Lawyers® Magazine, for 2020 and 2021. Each year, no more than 2.5 percent of lawyers in NC are selected by the research team at Super Lawyers® to receive this honor.

Helen is an active member of the North Carolina Advocates for Justice. She currently serves as past chair of the Women’s Caucus and co-legislative chair of the Auto Torts and Premises Liability Section. Helen also serves as co-diversity and inclusion chair of the North Carolina Bar Association Litigation Section.

An avid long distance runner, Helen has run a number of marathons and half marathons, including the Boston and the Chicago Marathons. Helen also enjoys writing her blog, Chasing Helen, a platform to motivate, educate and encourage others about running, fitness and overall well-being.

Allison Garren

Term Expires 2024

Allison Garren

Term Expires 2024

A native of Rutherford County, North Carolina, Allison Brook Garren received her B.A. in Political Science with Distinction from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, her J.D. from Northeastern University School of Law, and her Masters in Public Health from Tufts University School of Medicine.

Her work since graduating from law school has truly been a labor of love as it has been focused on working to conduct research on poverty, work, opportunity and meaningful access to the legal system. She has been an advocate in the courtroom for survivors of domestic violence, helped obtain affordable housing and pursued claims for life-saving federal benefits. On why she wanted to practice law, “To hold those with power accountable; to level the playing field; to ensure that money and power doesn’t trump what is just and fair.”

She began practicing law at Pisgah Legal Services before practicing eight years with Teddy, Meekins & Talbert, PLLC in Shelby, NC where she carried a significant court-appointed caseload.  In 2020 she became a Board Certified Specialist in State Criminal Law, the same year she was chosen and selected by the NC Bar Association to attend their annual leadership academy.

Ms. Garren served as the chair of NCAJ’s Criminal Section from 2021-2022, and previously as vice-chair and co-chair of education. She had the honor to serve briefly as a Commissioner for North Carolina Indigent Defense Services before deciding to help raise her judicial district’s new public defender office by joining as a felony defender in May of 2022. When she is not sharing her clients’ stories in court, she can often be found hiking in the woods and traveling the globe.

Scott Harris

Term Expires 2023 & AAJ State Delegate*

Scott Harris

Term Expires 2023 & AAJ State Delegate*

Scott C. Harris is a senior partner at Milberg Coleman Bryson Phillips Grossman LLP, and has been with the firm since its inception. Scott’s practice focuses on fighting for individuals, homeowners, homeowners’ associations, and small businesses in complex litigation, including construction defect, mass tort, and product liability.  

Scott earned his Bachelor of Arts from Hampden-Sydney College in 2001 and his law degree from Wake Forest University School of Law in 2006. Scott was admitted to the North Carolina Bar in 2006 and to the Florida Bar in 2013. He is also admitted to practice before the United States District Court for the Eastern, Middle and Western Districts of North Carolina, the United States Court for the Middle District of Florida, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.  

Scott’s success has been recognized by numerous professional associations. He was named a Super Lawyer in 2010, and every year since 2012. In addition, he has consistently been named a member of the Legal Elite by Business North Carolina. Scott is also an active member of several trade organizations including American Association of Justice (AAJ), North Carolina Advocates for Justice (NCAJ), Public Justice. 

Darrin Jordan

Term Expires 2023

Darrin Jordan

Term Expires 2023

Jordan earned his BA from Catawba College in political science and accounting in 1987, and his JD from Campbell University School of Law in 1990.

A partner of Whitley Jordan, Inge & Rary, PA, he has been a board certified specialist in criminal law since 2004. He maintains a state and federal criminal law practice in Salisbury and he is admitted to the federal district courts in both the middle and western districts where he also is a member of the Criminal Justice Act Panel. 

Jordan was a member of the North Carolina State Bar Council representing Judicial District 19C from 2010–2018, during which time he served as chair of the Ethics and Communications Committees as well as the Lawyers Assistance Program Board.

Jordan currently serves as chair of the NC Indigent Defense Services Commission and has been on the commission  since 2014.  In 2012, he was presented with the Professor John Rubin Award for Extraordinary Contributions to Defense Training Programs, which is awarded each year by the Indigent Defense Services Commission in honor of its namesake at the UNC School of Government. He has  coordinated annual continuing legal education programs in Rowan County for the last 12 years in the areas of criminal law and family law.

Jordan is a member of the North Carolina Advocates for Justice, where he currently serves on the Board of Governors, and was a commissioner of Chief Justice Mark Martin’s Commission on the Administration of Law and Justice where he served on the Criminal Adjudication and Investigation Committee.

In addition to his numerous professional activities, Jordan formerly served on the Board of Directors for Elizabeth Hanford Dole Red Cross and the Rowan Helping Ministries. For six years he was the cub master of Cub Pack 254 of Bethpage United Methodist Church in Kannapolis. In 2011 he received the District Award of Merit for service to the Kannapolis District, Central North Carolina District of the Boy Scouts of America.

He resides in Kannapolis with his wife and two adult children and attends Harvest Community Church. He enjoys spending time in Cullowhee, North Carolina, fly fishing in the North Carolina mountains, and raising vegetables in his garden. He is also an amateur beekeeper.

Rachel Matesic

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Rachel Matesic

Term Expires 2024

Rachel Matesic is an attorney with the Sasser Law Firm in Charlotte. Rachel helps individuals recover employer-sponsored benefits like long-term disability insurance and health insurance. Rachel also represents individuals in claims for privately-purchased disability insurance and insurance bad faith claims. Rachel joined NCAJ as a brand new attorney who had recently moved to North Carolina. As a new attorney, Rachel found NCAJ to be invaluable for developing a network and receiving substantive guidance from more seasoned practitioners on the listserv and at CLEs. Rachel is a past chair of NCAJ’s employment section, and is currently the membership co-chair for NCAJ’s Women Attorney’s Caucus. She has presented at several NCAJ CLEs on ERISA claims and how they interact with other practice areas, including employment law and workers compensation.

Lauren McAndrew

Term Expires 2024

Lauren McAndrew

Term Expires 2024

Lauren grew up in Winterville, North Carolina. Lauren graduated cum laude from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2009 with a B.A. in Journalism and Mass Communication (Public Relations) and a minor in History. She earned her law degree from Campbell University’s Norman Adrian Wiggins School of Law in 2012.

At Campbell Law, Lauren competed on Mock Trial Team, representing Campbell Law School in competitions across the country. Lauren was recognized for her advocacy during the 2012 South Texas Mock Trial Competition with an Outstanding Advocate Award. Upon graduation, Lauren received the International Academy of Trial Lawyers Student Advocacy Award, the Robert A. Jenkins Award, and was inducted into the Order of the Barristers, a National honorary organization that recognizes graduating law students who have excelled in advocacy.

Lauren joined Blanchard, Miller, Lewis, and Isley in 2012. She focuses her practice on complex civil litigation, personal injury, and nursing home negligence, having tried cases to verdict in North Carolina Superior Courts.  In addition to her trial experience, Lauren has argued in front of the North Carolina Court of Appeals. She is licensed to practice in all state and federal courts of North Carolina.

Lauren is member of the North Carolina Advocates for Justice, having held leadership positions in both the Women’s Caucus and the Professional Negligence Section.  Lauren is also a member of the NCAJ Auto Torts Section.

In 2013, Lauren was appointed to the North Carolina Courts Commission, a non-standing legislative committee that seeks to bring solutions to various issues facing the North Carolina court system.

In addition to her law practice, Lauren serves on the Board of Directors for Military Missions in Action, a nonprofit dedicating to assisting veterans in need, members of all armed forces, and their loving and supporting families.

Amanda Mingo

Term Expires 2024

Amanda Mingo

Term Expires 2024

Amanda Mingo is an experienced trial lawyer who represents families who have lost a loved one and people who have been seriously hurt. She helps clients hold accountable those that caused them harm. Amanda’s compassion and ability to address each client’s fears and individual needs sets her apart. Her clients appreciate Amanda’s responsiveness, timely case updates, and the ease with which they can get answers to their questions. Amanda is a dedicated professional. She has received the highest “AV” rating by her peers and has earned the trust and respect of those working throughout the court system. Amanda is committed to getting to the root cause of the system failures that injure people and preventing future harm by achieving the best results for her clients.

In addition to injury claims, Amanda represents whistleblowers in reporting and prosecuting claims of fraud against our state and federal government. She also handles home and business insurance coverage disputes, ABC permitting and violations, zoning issues, professional licensing issues and other administrative matters. She defends claims of alienation of affection and criminal conversation and contract disputes.

Following law school, Amanda worked as an Assistant District Attorney with the Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s Office, prosecuting drug crimes, and violent felonies. In 2003, Amanda left the D.A.’s office and began handling personal injury cases. She finds personal injury and wrongful death work to be much like her work as a prosecutor: to ensure the seriously injured and their caretakers are not left behind when they have been blindsided by the negligence of others. Amanda takes great satisfaction in the service and support RSCM provides to each client and in making a positive difference in their lives.

Charles Monnett, III

AAJ Governor*

Charles Monnett, III

AAJ Governor*

Charles “Chuck” Monnett received his JD from the University of North Carolina School of Law in 1983.  Since that time he has been engaged in private practice in Charlotte, North Carolina with the firm of Charles G. Monnett III & Associates.  

Mr. Monnett has also served in a number of leadership positions within the legal profession.  He is a past president of the Southern Trial Lawyers Association and the Melvin Belli Society.  He currently serves on the Board of Governors of the American Association for Justice, the Southern Trial Lawyers Association and the North Carolina Advocates for Justice.  He is past chair of the AAJ Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group.  Mr. Monnett is also an invited member of The Summit Council. 

He previously served on the Board of Directors for the Brain Injury Association of North Carolina for over 10 years and was appointed by the Governor of North Carolina to serve 2 terms on the North Carolina Traumatic Brain Injury Advisory Council.  The Council advises state government on issues relating to traumatic brain injury.  

He received the inaugural Randy Evans Advocacy Award recognizing his years of work on behalf of brain injured individuals in the state of North Carolina  in 2009.  He received the Tommy Malone Great American Eagle Award from the Southern Trial Lawyers Association in 2019.  

He has an “AV” rating by Martindale-Hubbell, has been continuously recognized as a Super Lawyer since 2009, and is listed in Best Lawyers in America. 

When not practicing law, he restores and collects classic cars and is an avid water skier. 

JK Moser

Term Expires 2023

JK Moser

Term Expires 2023

John Kenneth Moser practices with the firm of Comerford Chilson & Moser, LLP, in Winston-Salem. He handles cases involving catastrophic injury or death resulting from commercial and private motor vehicle wrecks, medical negligence, defective products, and premises liability. He has extensive experience in all aspects of litigation, including depositions, mediation, and trial. A lifelong native of Winston-Salem, John Kenneth (or “JK” as many call him) is a proud “Double Deacon” having attended Wake Forest University and Wake Forest School of Law, where he served as Managing Editor of the Wake Forest Law Review.

Kevin Murphy

Term Expires 2023

Kevin Murphy

Term Expires 2023

Kevin began his private practice career at the nation’s leading management-side labor and employment firm. In 2016, Kevin left his career as a management-side attorney to represent individuals because people deserve the same quality of representation enjoyed by Fortune 500 companies.

Kevin now represents individuals in all types of employment disputes, including discrimination, retaliation, whistleblower actions, severance negotiations, equal pay violations, sexual harassment and assault, non-compete contracts, labor rights, wage and hour violations, leaves of absence, workplace safety, and executive compensation matters.

Kevin has won trial victories for clients in federal jury trials, state court trials, and arbitration. Kevin has fought employers who discriminated against clients based on their race, gender, age, disability, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, and military service. Kevin has fought back against retaliation based on his clients’ reports of unsafe working conditions, nuclear safety threats, and illegal overtime and wage practices. Kevin represents victims of sexual harassment and sexual assault at work. Kevin also regularly defends individuals accused of violating overbearing non-competition agreements or trade secrets laws. Kevin represents whistleblowers in actions filed on behalf of the government against companies guilty of fraud.

Kevin has served as Chair of the Employment Law Section and as a member of the NCAJ’s Strategic Planning and Nominating Committees. 

Lauren Newton

AAJ Revitalization Governor*

Lauren Newton

AAJ Revitalization Governor*

Lauren O. Newton has been fighting on behalf of the injured for more than 12 years. Right out of law school, Lauren worked as a defense attorney representing employers and insurance companies. This background as a defense attorney gives her special insight during negotiations with insurance companies and while fighting for her injured clients. Lauren handles a wide array of cases, including car wrecks, workers’ compensation, premises liability, sexual assault, police misconduct, and medical malpractice cases. 

Lauren is a fierce advocate for her clients and is not afraid of a fight. In addition to success for her clients in jury trials, she has had success at the North Carolina Court of Appeals for two workers’ compensation clients in Myers v. Ben Mynatt Chevrolet Cadillac and Campbell v. Garda USA, Inc. 

Lauren graduated from Elon University and worked as a political consultant prior to law school. Lauren graduated from the University of North Carolina School of Law and is licensed to practice law in both North and South Carolina. In addition, Lauren is an active member of the North Carolina Advocates for Justice in which she currently serves on the Board of Governors. Lauren is also the founder and former President of the NCAJ Women’s Caucus and serves as the North Carolina Revitalization Governor on the Board of Governors for the American Association for Justice. Lauren is also an active member of the North Carolina Association of Women Attorneys and has previously served as that organization’s Nominations Chair in addition to serving as the Secretary for the local Charlotte Women’s Bar. 

Lauren is a proud wife and mother who enjoys spending her time reading, trying new foods, running, and doing Crossfit. 

Ann Ochsner

Term Expires 2024

Ann Ochsner

Term Expires 2024

Ann Ochsner practices with the Whitley Law Firm in Raleigh. Well versed in civil litigation and appellate advocacy, she concentrates in automobile collisions, slip and fall cases, dog bites and general negligence. Ochsner has been an NCAJ member since 2011 and has previously served as NCAJ’s education vice president. She is a graduate of Methodist University and Campbell University School of Law.

Paige Pahlke

Term Expires 2023

Paige Pahlke

Term Expires 2023

Paige Pahlke believes that injury victims deserve fair compensation. When the system fails those victims, Paige vigorously advocates on their behalf, in and out of the courtroom. 

For over a decade, Paige has represented injured people and their family members in personal injury, medical malpractice, and employment litigation.

She is an Associate Fellow with the Litigation Counsel of America and has been named a “Rising Star” by North Carolina Super Lawyers® Magazine from 2014 to 2022, in the field of Personal Injury. Paige is a member of the North Carolina Bar Association, the Mecklenburg County Bar Association, North Carolina Advocates for Justice, South Carolina Association for Justice, the American Association for Justice, and the Charlotte Women’s Bar. Paige is admitted to practice in all state and federal courts in North Carolina and all state courts in South Carolina. 

Paige graduated summa cum laude from Creighton University and attended the University of Iowa College of Law, where she was a Student Writer and Contributing Editor for the Iowa Law Review. In addition, she was a judicial extern for the Honorable Robert W. Pratt, Senior District Judge for the United States District Court for the Southern District of Iowa. 

Outside of the office, Paige enjoys spending time with her husband and two children, practicing yoga, golfing, and traveling.

Manisha Patel

Term Expires 2023

Manisha Patel

Term Expires 2023

Stewart Poisson

Term Expires 2024

Stewart Poisson

Term Expires 2024

Stewart Poisson is a partner with Poisson, Poisson & Bower, PLLC where she practices law with her brother and father. She practices in the firm’s Wilmington and Wadesboro offices, representing plaintiffs in workers’ compensation and personal injury matters. Stewart has litigated numerous cases before juries and the Industrial Commission and also handles cases before the Supreme Court of North Carolina and the North Carolina Court of Appeals.

Stewart received her B.A. from the University of North Carolina in 2001 and received her J.D. with honors from the University of North Carolina School of Law in 2004. In law school, she was an editor on the North Carolina Law Review and received the William T. Joyner Award for Excellence in Journal Writing.

The North Carolina State Bar certified Stewart as a workers’ compensation specialist in 2009 and recertified her in 2014 and 2019. Stewart served as an advisory member of the North Carolina State Bar Ethics Committee from 2014 to 2020 and currently serves as a member of the State Bar’s Workers’ Compensation Specialization Subcommittee and Authorized Practice Committee.

Stewart presents each year on various topics in the field of workers’ compensation for North Carolina Advocates for Justice CLE programs, is a former Chair of NCAJ’s Workers’ Rights Section and is a former chair of NCAJ’s New Lawyer’s Division. She currently serves on NCAJ’s Executive Committee as the organization’s Diversity & Inclusion Officer; she formerly served on NCAJ’s Board of Governors from 2012 to 2017. She is active on NCAJ’s Legal Affairs Committee and has authored numerous amicus briefs for the organization.

Joel Rhine

Term Expires 2024

Joel Rhine

Term Expires 2024

Anabel Rosa

Term Expires 2023

Anabel Rosa

Term Expires 2023

Anabel Rosa is a Shareholder and personal injury attorney at the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin. She has more than 25 years of legal experience in the areas of personal injury, civil rights, employment discrimination, and sexual harassment. Anabel has a longstanding record of public service advocating for the Hispanic-Latino community in North Carolina and has been recognized for her service to this community on the local, state, and national level.

Rosa is an active member of the North Carolina Advocates for Justice (NCAJ) and earned the NCAJ Order of Service Award in 2017, 2018, and 2019. She was elected to the NCAJ Board of Governors in 2020, and she currently serves on the NCAJ Diversity Committee. She was a contributor to the creation of NCAJ’s Immigration Law Section and its efforts to help Hispanics and Latinos update legal documents pro bono. Rosa has also actively participated in NCAJ’s Hispanic/Latino Division where she has served as executive secretary, chair, and division chair.

David Sherlin

Term Expires 2023

David Sherlin

Term Expires 2023

David Sherlin started his career in the Wake County District Attorney’s office in 2005 where he prosecuted for six years.  While serving as an Assistant District Attorney, David assisted with the prosecution of the former Speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives and other government officials.  David left the DA’s office in 2011 to join Kirby & Holt LLP where he began representing victims of medical malpractice and persons injured in automobile and trucking collisions.  In 2013, Mark Holt and David opened Holt Sherlin where David has continued to represent persons harmed through the negligence of others. In 2022, David joined Jake Epstein in opening Epstein Sherlin — a civil litigation firm focused on personal injury, commercial/business litigation, and administrative law.

One of the most important lessons that David was taught early in his career by his mentors is the importance of giving back to the community.  David has served two terms on the Wake County Bar Association’s Board of Directors, and he served as the WCBA president in 2019.  David has served on North State Bank’s Downtown Advisory Board since 2008 and he currently serves as president of Theatre in the Park’s Board of Directors. 

David and his wife Lise have two children, a daughter Addison (15) and a son Austin (12).  He’d be upset if we didn’t also mention his two dogs, both he calls “beagleish.”  Their names are Sadie and Tilly. 

Brad Smith

Term Expires 2023

Brad Smith

Term Expires 2023

J. Bradley Smith is a Charlotte native who graduated from Charlotte Country School in 1996. Thereafter, he attended and graduated from North Carolina State University with a degree in Political Science. After his undergraduate studies, he attended the Walter F. George School of law at Mercer University, obtaining his JD in 2004.

After obtaining his license to practice in law in August of 2004, Mr. Smith joined the Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s Office where over the course of nearly two years he prosecuted a variety of different misdemeanor and felony cases. While serving as an Assistant District Attorney, Mr. Smith attended and graduated from the Trial Advocacy Program at the National Advocacy Center in Columbia, SC.

In 2006, Mr. Smith entered private practice and for the last 15 years he has fought for individuals charged with crimes in both State and Federal Courts across North Carolina. He has also had the honor of arguing cases in front of the North Carolina Court of Appeals, the North Carolina Supreme Court, and the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond Virginia. Mr. Smith also frequently represents individuals in front of state administrative agencies. In developing an extensive criminal law practice and co-founding the law firm of Arnold & Smith PLLC, Mr. Smith has handled all types of state and federal criminal charges, including but not limited to murder, sex crimes, drug offenses, computer fraud, money laundering, wire fraud, tax fraud, conspiracy, financial crimes, embezzlement, assault, domestic violence offenses and DWI.  He also has extensive experience representing students, and teachers at schools and universities for sexual misconduct or Title IX violations.   

Mr. Smith also focuses his practice on Civil Rights cases. He has represented many plaintiffs including a North Carolina District Court Judge who have been injured by the negligent or intentional conduct of a law-enforcement officer, a government entity, or the employee of a government.

Mr. Smith has had several high-profile cases that have appeared in the news and he is frequently called upon by the medial to provide insight for topics pertaining to the criminal justice system in North Carolina. He has spoken at the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center and is a popular lecturer to various civic groups and area organizations.

He has been a member of the North Carolina Advocates for Justice for many years. He has served on the legislative committee and in 2019 was appointed to the Board of Governors.

Joe Tunstall

Term Expires 2024

Joe Tunstall

Term Expires 2024

Karonnie Truzy

AAJ Minority Caucus Delegate*

Karonnie Truzy

AAJ Minority Caucus Delegate*

Karonnie received his Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science and Government from the University of South Carolina Upstate as a basketball player and then earned his Juris Doctor from Wake Forest University School of Law. While at Wake Forest he was a member and Captain of the American Association for Justice Trial Team, was active in the Black Law Students Association, was a member of the Order of Barristers, and was named a 2001 Outstanding Advocate. Karonnie and his wife Ebony have a daughter and twin sons. He enjoys spending his free time serving on the Elder Board of Oak Springs Missionary Baptist Church, grilling in competitions, and watching and playing basketball.

His admissions and memberships include the North Carolina State Bar, the North Carolina Bar Association, the Guilford County Bar Association, and the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina. He is also a member of the American Association for Justice, the American Association for Justice Truck Litigation Group, the Academy of Truck Accident Attorneys, and the North Carolina Advocates for Justice. He additionally serves on the Board of Governors and in the First Chair of Diversity for the North Carolina Advocates for Justice. His recognition by the National Trial Lawyers as a Top 40 Under 40 attorney and by the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum has resulted in numerous written and published articles in the North Carolina Advocates for Justice Trial Magazine and the American Association for Justice Truck Litigation magazine along with various speaking engagements throughout the country through the American Association for Justice Truck Litigation Group. Most recently, North Carolina Lawyers Weekly has selected Karonnie for its inaugural “Power List” of attorneys in North Carolina.

Lauren Walker

Term Expires 2024

Lauren Walker

Term Expires 2024

Jeremy Wilson

Term Expires 2023

Jeremy Wilson

Term Expires 2023

Jeremy is a litigation attorney in the Wilmington, North Carolina office of Ward and Smith, P.A., where he leads the firm’s Personal Injury and Wrongful Death practice. He has extensive experience litigating claims for wrongful death, serious personal injury, and a broad range of civil litigation involving vehicle accidents, professional malpractice, premises liability, products liability, and class actions, among other areas. He also has litigated numerous cases involving complex insurance coverage issues and “bad faith” claims, as well as other areas of litigation, such as trusts and estates and eminent domain cases.

Jeremy earned his undergraduate degree from UNC-Chapel Hill, majoring in political science and economics. He then spent two years teaching high school math through the Teach For America program. After teaching, he concurrently earned a Master of Public Policy from Duke University and his law degree at UNC-Chapel Hill, where he was Editor-in-Chief of the North Carolina Law Review and graduated first in his class.

Jeremy is a native of Wilmington where he lives with his wife and two children, Addie (6) and Calvin (2). In his spare time, he enjoys golfing and being on the water.

Jeremy has been extensively involved with NCAJ’s Auto Torts and Premises Liability Section, serving on the executive committee for multiple years. He has spoken at and chaired multiple CLEs, and also has been published in Trial Briefs.

*All AAJ Delegates are ex-officio members of the NCAJ Board of Governors.

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