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2020-2021 Slate of Officers Announcement

Friday, January 31, 2020   (0 Comments)
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Per the Bylaws of the Chicago Chapter of the Association of Legal Administrators, the Nominating Committee presents the attached slate of nominated candidates and their respective offices for the 2020-2021 Board term, which commences April 1, 2020.

Any additional nominations, with appropriate biographies, must be made by e-mail to the Chairperson of the Nominating Committee with the endorsement of five (5) voting members of the Chicago Chapter Board within ten (10) days of this announcement.  Submit any nominations to Michael P. Motyka, Nominating Committee Chair, at, by 5pm Thursday, February 13, 2020.

Board Slate for ALA Chicago
for Fiscal Year 2020-2021

Position Candidate Email Phone
President Ken Koehn, CLM (312) 899-1620
Vice President / President-Elect Mary Ann Rojas, CLM (312) 656-0024
Vice President-Elect & Treasurer Jose Cheesman, CLM (312) 267-6974
Secretary Patricia Winter, CLM, PHR, SHRM-CP (312) 863-5006
Past President & Historian Laura Sears, CLM (312) 899-1660
Business Partner Relations Director Kat Denk (312) 602-5035
CLM Director Rita Nielsen, CLM, PHR, SHRM-CP (312) 201-2220
Communications & Newsletter Director Betsy Kopczynski (312) 499-1475
Membership Director Maria Black (312) 558-1259
Professional Development Director Suzanne Florez Bonville, CLM (312) 422-9967
Special Events Director Logan R. Handibode (312) 589-6788
Survey Director Barbara Javorcic, CLM (312) 474-9533


Ken Koehn, CLM
Gould & Ratner LLP
(312) 899-1620

As Chief Financial Officer of Gould & Ratner, Ken Koehn has two top priorities: provide strategic counsel to the firm’s Management Committee and direct the firm’s daily accounting and financial activities.  Ken and his team further ensure the firm’s success and growth by providing a variety of financial reporting and analytics, as well as facilitating efficient billing and collection processes that drive client satisfaction and retention.

Ken’s experience includes over 25 years in senior financial executive positions for Chicago law firms such as Vedder Price and Much Shelist, as well as other firms in the professional services and trading industries such as Jump Trading, Sun Trading and Valuemetrics.

Ken earned a BBA in Accounting from the University of Notre Dame.  He is a Certified Legal Manager, a Certified Public Accountant with a CGMA designation and a Certified Management Accountant.

An active member of the Association of Legal Administrators, Ken is currently President Elect of the group’s Chicago Chapter, after serving as the Chapter’s Treasurer and Vice President Elect in prior years.  At the national level, Ken is the incoming Chair of the CLM Certification Committee, and a member of the Association Nominating Committee.  He is also a member of the American Institute of CPAs, the Institute of Management Accountants and the Illinois CPA Society.


Mary Ann Rojas, CLM
Pugh Jones & Johnson, P.C.
(312) 656-0024

Mary Ann has spent her entire career in the legal field.  She began as a legal secretary with the Office of the Solicitor, followed by a position as legal secretary and paralegal with Bell, Boyd & Lloyd (now K&L Gates).  Mary Ann is currently the Office Administrator at Pugh, Jones & Johnson, and has been at the firm almost since its inception 25 years ago.   She is responsible for overall finance, human resources, marketing and office services.  Mary Ann is a strong advocate for her staff at Pugh Jones because she understands the challenges they face, having held the positions of legal secretary and paralegal for many years.  She is also very proud of the diversity and inclusion that is part of the fabric of Pugh Jones, a minority-owned and managed law firm since its inception.

Mary Ann has held the position of CLM Director for the Association of Legal Administrators in prior years.  She obtained her CLM designation in 2007, and then went on to earn her Professional in Human Resources and Senior Professional in Human Resources certifications.  She enjoys the position as CLM Director, especially tutoring and encouraging individuals interested in sitting for the exam.

Mary Ann is an active member of the Legal Marketing Association, and has a passion for legal marketing.  She prepares the firm’s collateral materials, designed its website, and participated in many of the firm’s marketing/business development events.


Vice-President Elect & Treasurer
Jose Cheesman, CLM
Hall Prangle & Schoonveld, LLC
(312) 267-6974

Jose has been a legal industry professional since 1995 and brings 25 years of experience working in various areas for large and mid-size firms. He is currently the Controller for Hall Prangle & Schoonveld, LLC, and handles all aspects of the day-to-day Financial operations of the firm’s offices across the United States.  He has also served in various roles within the Finance departments of the firms Kirkland & Ellis, Greenberg Traurig, Hinshaw & Culbertson, and Baker & McKenzie.

Jose received his Bachelors in 1999 from Florida International University, with a major concentration in Psychology and a minor in Sociology and Anthropology.  He then pursued his Masters in Legal Administration (MSLA) from the University of Denver’s Sturm College of Law, and graduated Summa Cum Laude in 2010, where he received the Student of the Year Award for his involvement, participation and highest GPA of the graduating class.  To continue his education and deeper understanding of the business of law, Jose attained the designation of Certified Legal Manager in April 2012, and has retained his certification since then.

Jose has been an involved member of the ALA National and Greater Chicago Chapters since 2009 and has served various roles including being a member of the GCCALA Diversity and Inclusion Committee, a member of the GCCALA Professional Development Committee and a member of the GCCALA Board Member Nominating Committee.  He has also volunteered as a session manager for the National Conferences he has attended in Washington DC and Los Angeles.  Jose previously served on the Greater Chicago Chapter board as the CLM Director for the 2012-2014 cycles, as the secretary for the 2018-2019 board and as both secretary and treasurer for the 2019-2020 board.

Jose was born and raised in Guatemala City until the age of 13 when he moved to Miami, Florida.  After college, he moved to the windy city and spent two years here before a brutal Chicago winter sent him shivering back to Miami.  Serendipity would then have him move back to Chicago six months later and he has called this great city home since 2001.  He enjoys spending time with his wife, kids, family and friends, and is an avid bicycle and motorcycle rider.


Patricia Winter, CLM, PHR, SHRM-CP
Foran Glennon Palandech Ponzi & Rudloff
(312) 863-5006

Patricia (Patti) Winter is currently the Executive Director at Foran Glennon Palandech Ponzi & Rudloff, a mid-size firm with 8 offices headquartered in Chicago. Patti’s legal career began in her birthplace home of Chicago in 1976 and has continued to the present time in progressively more responsible roles in small, mid-size and large firms. In 2012 she earned her Professional in Human Resources (PHR) certification and in 2015 she added her SHRM-CP credentials. In 2017, she achieved her Certified Legal Manager (CLM) certification.

Patti has also been an avid ALA member for more than two decades, serving the organization in multiple ways. Included among her National level contributions are as a Regional Representative and a member of the Chapter Resource Team, a member of the 2014 HR Conference Planning Committee and her service as a member of the 2016 and 2017 Annual Conference Committees. Previous Greater Chicago Chapter Board roles are as Acting Membership Chair, Mid-Size Firm Director (twice), Professional Development Director (twice) and Operations/Communications Advisor. She has served on various committees such as the Chapter Nominating Committee (twice), the Chapter Website Development Committee, the National Conference Planning Committee for the host city (Chicago) the Region 3 Conference Planning Committee as the host city (Chicago) and most recently the Bi-Annual Education Conference (twice). She has been a panelist in member discussions and served in multiple ways behind the scenes by manning booths at conferences, being a session manager, judging the Chapter Awards and volunteering time for events.

In her free time, Patti is enjoying her home in Streamwood with Bill Mech as well as traveling and spending as much time as possible with her family and friends.  


Past President & Historian
Laura Sears, CLM
Gould & Ratner LLP
(312) 899-1660

Laura Sears is the Chief Administrative Officer of Gould & Ratner LLP. She has been a member of ALA for over twenty-five years and served on the Chicago Chapter Board of Directors as President, Vice-President, Past President, Membership Chair, Secretary, Business Partner Relations Director, Special Events Director, Communications Chair, and Newsletter Director. Laura is the Chair of the Association’s 2020 Annual Conference Committee and served on the 2017, 2018, and 2019 conference planning committees.  She is a former member of ALA's Business Partner Relations Committee and Region 3 Representative.  Laura holds a B.A. from Knox College.


Business Partner Relations Director
Kat Denk
Bryan Cave LLP
(312) 602-5035

Kat Denk is the Office Manager at Bryan Cave LLP. She has been with the firm since 2004. She started as a Litigation Secretary and then created the position of Secretarial Services Coordinator in December 2013, to which she applied for and was promoted. She has since taken on more responsibility, eventually leading to her current role. Kat has been in the legal field since she graduated college in 2000.

Kat has been an active member in ALA since 2014.  She has found the ALA to be an excellent resource in light of her expanding role with becoming part of the management team. Kat has served on the Newsletter committee since 2015. She looks forward to being able to serve the Greater Chicago Chapter in a bigger capacity as part of the Board.

Kat lives with her two daughters and dog on northwest side of the city and when she’s not working or momming, you can find her hanging out with friends or trying to keep her house from falling apart.


CLM Director
Rita Nielsen, CLM, PHR, SHRM-CP
Locke Lord
(312) 201-2220

Rita Nielsen is the Office Administrator of Locke Lord’s Chicago office. She is PHR and SHRM-CP certified through HRCI and SHRM. In 2007, she earned her CLM designation.

Rita became a member of the ALA in 1997. She has volunteered in numerous local activities, including HR advisory roles, positions on Professional Development committees, Community Challenge committees and has assisted with bi-annual conference planning for the Greater Chicago Chapter. At the national level, Rita served has served on the Annual Educational Conference Committee, the 2005 Association Nominating Committee, Chaired Region 3's Nominating Committee, has co-hosted at HR Roundtable sessions at annual conference, and most recently served on the Certification Committee.  


Communications & Newsletter Director
Betsy Kopczynski
Epstein Becker Green
(312) 449-1475

Betsy began her career in the legal industry while attending college, as a part-time Finance Analyst for a 12-attorney law firm, and she now has over 35 years of legal experience, including 25+ years as a Legal Administrator. Betsy is currently the Legal Administrator for the Chicago office of Epstein Becker & Green, a national law firm founded in 1973 as an industry-focused firm, with a primary focus on health care and life sciences; employment, labor, and workforce management; and litigation and business disputes.

Betsy joined ALA National and the Greater Chicago Chapter of ALA in 1997 and has served on the Greater Chicago Chapter Board of Directors as follows: Newsletter Director 2019-present; President 2017-2018; Vice President-Elect 2016-2017; Business Partner Relations Director 2014-2017; Communications/Website Director 2011-2014. Concurrent with her Board service, Betsy has served on various Chapter committees including, Strategic Task Force 2016-2017; the 2013, 2015 and 2017 Educational Conference Planning Committees; Community Relations Committee 2010-present; Co-chair of the Chapter’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee; Business Partner Committee for the Region 3 Conferences in Chicago; Scholarship Committee; Awards Committee; Nominating Committee. And also at a National level Betsy served three terms on the Business Partner Relations Committee.

In addition to her involvement with ALA and the Greater Chicago Chapter, Betsy is also an active volunteer for The Magnificent Mile Association’s Lights Festival Planning Committee and Events Planning Committee for the American Theater Company. Additionally, Betsy has been an active volunteer and supporter of the AIDS foundation of Chicago; the Breast Cancer Network of Strength and Deborah’s Place, a shelter for homeless women.

When Betsy is not working or volunteering her time, she enjoys traveling and spending time with her daughter Lauren, family and friends. She is a devoted fan of (most) professional sports, but first and foremost of the World Series Champions Chicago Cubs. Also an avid fan of music, most genres, in particular live music, she is a great proponent of the Chicago music and theater scene. Betsy also enjoys running; she has successfully completed 4 marathons.


Membership Director
Maria Black
Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C.
(312) 558-1259

Maria Black has spent 14 years of her career dedicated to the legal field and works as an Office Administrator with Ogletree Deakins, an international labor and employment firm. She is responsible for human resources, staffing, planning of marketing events, budget management, office services, and facilities for the firm’s Chicago office.

Since joining ALA, Maria has been an active member of the Chicago chapter, regularly attending social and educational events, and prioritizing building relationships with chapter members. For the 2019-2020 year, Maria served on the Small and Mid-Size Firm Committee, sharing the responsibility of planning and providing substantive monthly lunch and learn sessions with pertinent educational topics.

Maria looks forward to serving the Chicago chapter as a Board member and contributing to the continued development of the chapter’s objectives.  Maria understands the importance of engaging current members, increasing diversity and inclusion initiatives, and finding creative ways to introduce new members to the Chicago chapter to recruit the next generation of legal management.  

When not at work, Maria is likely planning her next international adventure, and has spent time on six continents.


Professional Development Director
Suzanne Florez Bonville, CLM
Donohue Brown Mathewson & Smyth LLC  
(312) 422-9967

Suzie Florez Bonville, CLM serves as the Firm Administrator at Donohue Brown Mathewson & Smyth, LLC. Suzie oversees all aspects in the firm from staff supervision, human resources, benefit plans, payroll, financial management to offices services, IT and marketing. Suzie joined DBMS in 2014 as a paralegal and was asked to join the management team 8 months later. She became the firm administrator in January 2016.

Before coming to Chicago, she was a career paralegal in Kansas. Suzie’s first exposure to the ALA was the GCC Bi-Annual Educational Conference in 2015 and very quickly realized this was an organization she knew would supply resources and education to assist her in her new position as firm administration. ALA became her first professional membership. From that point forward, she has taken any opportunity to glean from its educational opportunities or participate in networking events.

In the fall of 2016, Suzie obtained her CLM designation through the Chicago study group. She has volunteered on several committees and was elected to the Board to serve as Special Events director in 2018/19 and 2019/20.  She believes in the community ALA Chicago provides and how membership can benefit everyone from any position within the legal field at any level of degree or experience.

When she’s not at the office, Suzie spends quality time with her family of 5 soaking in their favorite activities: bike rides, playing at the park, little league baseball games, or a good puzzle. She personally enjoys running, singing and playing piano, and traveling.


Special Events Director
Logan R. Handibode, MBA
Cunningham, Meyer & Vedrine P.C.  
(312) 589-6788

Logan R. Handibode is the Executive Director at Cunningham, Meyer & Vedrine P.C.  CMV Law is a mid-sized firm with 33 attorneys and two offices in Chicago and Warrenville.  Logan oversees all law firm operations from human resources, finance and accounting, facilities, attorney and staff hiring, payroll, and personnel management to offices services, technology and marketing.  He joined CMV Law in 2018 as the firm’s Executive Director and hit the ground running helping to expand to the firm’s insurance defense practice.  Before joining CMV, Logan held a previous Executive Director role at Kovitz Shifrin Nesbit – another mid-sized law firm with 35 attorneys and four offices. Logan has spent his entire career in the legal field working at large national law firms and mid-sized regional law firms.  He began his career as a legal assistant at Kirkland & Ellis, where he served in various capacities as a paralegal, HR coordinator and staff manager before moving onto Schiff Hardin, Kovitz Shifrin Nesbit and CMV Law.

Logan attended University of Iowa where he earned a BBA in Finance.  Then he earned his MBA and Master’s in Human Resources at DePaul University’s Kellstadt School of Management while attending evening classes working full-time at Kirkland & Ellis.  Logan was previously an active member of the International Practice Manager’s Association (2012-2015) but believes in the community the ALA provides and that membership can benefit from knowledge sharing between so many law firm leaders.

When Logan’s not at the office working, he’s spends quality time with his wife, daughter and dog.  They live on the northside of Chicago and enjoy cooking dinner together, walking Hans, swim class on Sundays, playing at the park, reading, playing games, and watching a good movie.  Logan personally enjoys sports, working out, music, traveling and going to Chicago Cubs and Bears games win or lose.


Survey Director
Barbara Javorcic, CLM
Marshall Gerstein & Borun LLP
(312) 474-9533

Barbara Javorcic is the Chief Financial Officer at Marshall, Gerstein & Borun LLP and has been with the firm since 2002. Prior to that, she was the Director of Finance at another law firm, Accounting Manager at Smith, Bucklin & Co., and Senior Manager at Philip Rootberg & Company (now CBIZ-MHM), a Chicago public accounting firm. She has an MBA from the University of Chicago and a B.S. in Accounting and Management from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is a licensed CPA. She is also a CLM.  For the Chicago Chapter of ALA, since 2002 Barb has served in various Board and advisor positions, including Treasurer and Secretary.  She has been an active member of the Salary Survey Committee since 2014 and the Committee Chair since 2017.  She also currently serves as Treasurer for her townhouse association. Barb lives in Chicago with her husband, daughter and two cats.