Political Action Committee

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2022-2023 Political Action Committee Trustees

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.

Philip A. Baddour, Jr.

Philip A. Baddour, Jr.

Phil Baddour, a graduate of UNC and UNC School of Law, has been practicing in his hometown, Goldsboro, North Carolina since 1967. He has been a member of NCAJ for more than fifty years. In 1989, Phil was elected to the Board of Directors and has not misseda Convention since then. After he was elected to the NC House in 1992, Phil was the primary sponsor of many bills recommended or strongly supported by NCAJ including the bills that wrote 97(10)(2)(j), that gave the District Attorneys the discretion not toseek the Death Penalty in capital cases, that established mediation in Workers Compensation, and Equitable Distribution cases and established Family Court.

When Phil was the majority leader, NCAJ recognized him as Legislator of the Year. After leaving the General Assembly, Phil served for six years as Legislative Vice President followed by President Elect and President of NCAJ. While NCAJ President his projects included the publication of a Practical Guide to Workers Compensation Law and the Personal Injury Practice Manual. Phil continues to serve as a PAC Trustee.

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.

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.

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.

Bartina Edwards

Bartina Edwards

Bartina L. Edwards, a member of the NCAJ Board of Governors, is an employment lawyer who is MD-110 Certified and Collaborative Law trained. Her special focus is on navigating the workplace, workplace issues and business disputes. She is a graduate of The College of Charleston and received her Juris Doctor cum laude from North Carolina Central School of Law. She has a corporate and entrepreneurial background giving her a unique ability to advise companies while being an employee advocate. As an extension of her legal practice, she sees her role as an employee advocate while helping businesses understand the strategic benefits of helping their employees navigate the workplace by replacing symptomatic responses with equity, inclusion and collaborative principles. This led to her vision of a transformative workplace culture redesign firm, CP3 Paradigm, LLC, where she is a co-founder. In addition to volunteering in various capacities and access to justice initiatives, she is a founding board member of the N.C. Civil Collaborative Law Association, a member of the College of Charleston Alumni Board, and the N.C. Bar Association Employment Law Council. She is published and speaks on such topics as Equity, Bias and Resolution through Collaboration. 

Gagan Gupta

Gagan Gupta

Gagan Gupta leads Paynter Law’s insurance disputes division. Presently, he is helping businesses navigate their insurance policies to secure coverage due to COVID-related business losses. Prior to joining Paynter Law, Gagan graduated from Stanford Law School and then clerked for the Honorable Pierre N. Leval of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in Manhattan. Thereafter, he joined a large national law firm where he handled litigation on behalf of Fortune 500 clients with a focus on technology disputes and federal appeals. His most notable case was a $1 billion jury trial in Silicon Valley which resulted in a favorable settlement for his client during the middle of trial. Gagan’s lead insurance case –captioned North State Deli, LLC et al. v. The Cincinnati Insurance Company, et al., No. 20-cvs-02569 (Durham County, North Carolina) –was the first among thousands across the nation to achieve a summary judgment ruling in favor of policyholders. This landmark victory was a powerful win for policyholders during an era of economic devastation for small businesses everywhere.

Gagan grew up in Belmont, NC and went on to receive his undergraduate degree in political science from Davidson College, where he received a full merit scholarship. Prior to law school, Gagan received a masters degree in economics from The London School of Economics and served as White House political appointee in President Obama’s administration.

Gagan is committed to civil causes and social justice and spent his first year after college in New Orleans assisting with the disaster recovery effort following Hurricane Katrina.

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.

David Henson

David Henson

David Henson is a partner with Henson & Fuerst Attorneys and manages the firm’s eminent domain land condemnation division. David represents individuals, families, businesses, churches and other property owners across the state of North Carolina who are having their land taken by the government or other private condemnors. David received his bachelor’s degree with academic distinction from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1995 and his Juris Doctor from University of North Carolina School of Law in 1998. 

A member of NCAJ since 1998, David has actively participated in the Eminent Domain and Auto Torts sections and the Hispanic-Latino Division. Since 2012, he has served on numerous committees and task forces as a member or chair of: Finance, Building, Strategic Planning, Advocacy Strategic Planning, PAC, Governance Review, Ethics, Personnel, Nominating, and others. Further, he has served on the Executive Committee in the roles of Education VP, Communications VP, Legal Affairs VP, Fundraising and Development Officer, and at-large. He served as President-elect from 2019-2020, and then President from 2020-2021.

David is an ardent supporter of and believer in NCAJ and its mission.

Meredith Hinton

Meredith Hinton

Carol Huffman-Kendrick

Carol Huffman-Kendrick

Carol Huffman Kendrick was born and raised in Monroe, NC. She graduated from Monroe High School before attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. After receiving her undergraduate degree from Carolina, she attended law school at Wake Forest University and received her law degree in 1996. Since 1996, she has practiced law in Monroe, NC and has served thousands of clients in Union, Anson, Stanly and Richmond Counties. Ms. Kendrick has a wide-ranging practice, helping clients in the following areas: criminal defense, Driving While Impaired (DWI), traffic, personal injury, wills, estate administration, and family law.

Ms. Kendrick is active in the North Carolina Advocates for Justice (formerly the North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers) and was previously elected to the Board of Governors for the North Carolina Advocates for Justice. She has served this organization in numerous capacities, including past-Chair of the Criminal Defense Section. Ms. Kendrick is also active in the North Carolina Bar Association and the North Carolina Association of Women Attorneys. In addition, Ms. Kendrick was appointed to serve two terms as a Commissioner on the North Carolina Indigent Defense Services Commission, which is charged with the responsibility of overseeing the delivery of criminal defense representation to the indigent in North Carolina. Ms. Kendrick is AV Preeminent Peer Review Rated by Martindale-Hubbell® for her professionalism and ethics.

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.

Tom Maher

Tom Maher

Doug Maynard

Doug Maynard

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.

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.

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. 

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.

Brian M. Ricci

Brian M. Ricci

Isaac L. Thorp

Isaac L. Thorp

After graduating from New York University School of Law in 1986, he began his legal career as a prosecutor in the sex crimes unit of the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office. He then returned to North Carolina to practice law with his father Bill Thorp in 1990. Isaac is now the managing partner at Thorp Law, in Raleigh, and focuses the firm’s practice on personal injury and eminent domain.

Isaac has been a member of NCAJ since 1990. He has lectured at NCAJ’s continuing legal education seminars on various topics. He has served as Chair for NCAJ’s Eminent Domain and Auto Torts and Premises Liability sections and is on NCAJ’s Board of Governors.

Shannon Leskin

Executive Director

Shannon Leskin

Executive Director

Shannon Leskin began her tenure with NCAJ in 2019 and has served as interim executive director since June 2022. 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 oversaw compliance and operations for all NCAJ entities and worked closely with the executive director on budgetary and financial management.

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.

Learn More About the 2022 NCAJ PAC Endorsements

The NCAJ PAC Trustees represent a diverse group of NCAJ members in gender, race, age, practice location, practice area, section membership, and political affiliation. In July, the NCAJ PAC Trustees met to consider endorsements in statewide judicial races on the November 8, 2022 ballot.

Following a rigorous and in-depth analysis of the candidates which is detailed below, the NCAJ PAC believes these candidates merit support in the upcoming election, and will be making further efforts to promote the endorsements and empower NCAJ members to communicate with clients, friends and family in support of these endorsements.

2022 NCAJ PAC Judicial Endorsements

NCAJ members may choose to give to the NCAJ PAC to support candidates running for legislative or statewide judicial office.

Support the NCAJ PAC Today