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Great Lakes Legal Conference 2024: Speakers

Headshot of John W. AllenJohn W. Allen

Varnum LLP, Kalamazoo

John W. Allen practices in the areas of commercial law, litigation, family law, and professional responsibility. He is board certified as a civil trial advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocacy and has completed the University of Windsor (Stitt Field Handy Houston) ADR program and the ICLE Family Law Certificate. Mr. Allen has more than 40 years of experience in law office management, practice groups, engagement, fees and fee disputes, quality control, and other issues. "Michigan Lawyers Weekly" named him as one of the Top 25 Michigan Leaders in the Law for 2012. He is also recognized by “Best Lawyers in America” and as a Top 100 Michigan Super Lawyer. Mr. Allen has served in many capacities with the American Bar Association, including the governing council of the Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section. He is a member of the State Bar of Michigan Business Law, Litigation, and Administrative and Regulatory Law Sections and has served on and chaired many committees, including the Michigan ethics and grievance committees. Mr. Allen is a fellow of the Michigan State Bar Foundation, a member of the Michigan Defense Trial Counsel, a member of the Michigan Supreme Court Advocates Guild, former director of the Kalamazoo Bar Association, and a former advisory board member for the International Centre for Healing and the Law at the Fetzer Institute.

Headshot of Aaron V. BurrellAaron V. Burrell

Dickinson Wright PLLC, Troy

Aaron V. Burrell focuses his practice in the areas of complex commercial litigation, labor and employment law, appellate law, and minority business enterprises. Mr. Burrell is a member of the Board of Commissioners of the State Bar of Michigan (SBM) and the American Bar Association's Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession. He is also a member of the boards of directors of Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School and the Oakland County Bar Association; a past president of the D. Augustus Straker Bar Association; a foundation fellow of the Oakland County, Michigan, and American Bar Foundations; and prior co-chair of the SBM's Equal Access Initiative. Mr. Burrell has been named a 40 Under 40 honoree by "Crain's Detroit Business," an Up and Coming Lawyer by "Michigan Lawyers Weekly," and a Michigan Super Lawyer. He is an active member of the Detroit Bar Association and the Wolverine Bar Association. In addition to his contributions to ICLE, Mr. Burrell is a contributor to "Employment Discrimination Law" (BNA 2015) and a coauthor of the "Michigan Class Action Compendium" (Defense Research Institute).

Headshot of John G. Cameron, Jr.John G. Cameron, Jr.

Dickinson Wright PLLC, Grand Rapids

John G. Cameron, Jr., practices in the areas of real estate and construction law. Mr. Cameron is admitted to practice in Michigan, Illinois, Colorado, and North Carolina. He attended the U.S. Naval Academy, received his AB in economics and business administration from Albion College in 1971, and graduated cum laude from Wayne State University Law School in 1974. He has written numerous chapters and articles and is the author of the five-volume treatise "Michigan Real Estate Forms and Practice" (Aspen Publishers) and "A Practitioner's Guide to Construction Law" (ALI-ABA). He is also author of ICLE's "Michigan Real Property Law." Mr. Cameron is listed in "Who's Who in American Law" and "The Best Lawyers in America" and has been named a Michigan Super Lawyer annually since 2006. He is an elected member of both the American Law Institute and the American College of Real Estate Lawyers, served as the public director on the board of the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards, and for six years served on the National Board of Editors of "The Practical Real Estate Lawyer." A former instructor on real estate law at Grand Valley State University's Seidman School of Business and at Grand Rapids Community College, Mr. Cameron lectures frequently on real estate law throughout the United States and teaches real estate transactions as an adjunct professor of law at the University of Michigan. He served as law clerk to the Honorable William H. Webster, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, in 1974-1975. As a specialist in real estate transactions and construction law matters, Mr. Cameron represents a wide variety of clients in a variety of real estate and construction law matters. He was awarded an LLM degree from the University of Michigan.

Headshot of Mary ChartierMary Chartier

Chartier & Nyamfukudza PLC, Okemos

Mary Chartier is a criminal defense litigator and partner at the firm. Ms. Chartier has extensive experience litigating serious and complex criminal defense cases and has successfully defended clients in numerous federal and state trials. She has served as lead counsel and defended people of numerous crimes, including those involving terrorism, racketeering, drug dealing, human rights violations, crimes against the United States, bank robbery, criminal sexual conduct, and homicide, as well as white-collar crimes, such as money laundering, mortgage fraud, and health care fraud. Ms. Chartier has argued and won cases at the Michigan Supreme Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Ms. Chartier is a fellow of the American Board of Criminal Lawyers, the American Bar Foundation, the Michigan State Bar Foundation, and the Ingham County Bar Foundation. She is also a member of the Criminal Defense Attorneys of Michigan (CDAM) and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. Ms. Chartier is the past president of the Ingham County Bar Association. She taught law school students for over 10 years, including teaching the nation's first medical marijuana class. Ms. Chartier has been recognized for her criminal defense work, including being named one of the Leaders in the Law by "Michigan Lawyers Weekly," receiving the Distinguished Barrister’s Award by the Davis-Dunnings Bar Association, being honored as the 2020 Leo A. Farhat Outstanding Attorney of the Year, and receiving the Michael Franck Award from the State Bar of Michigan. The firm also won the 2022 international Legal Impact Reisman Award for their work in defending and exonerating those wrongfully accused and wrongfully imprisoned.

Headshot of Tanya Cripps-SerraTanya Cripps-Serra

Olympia Development of Michigan, Detroit

Tanya Cripps-Serra serves as associate general counsel at the company. Ms. Cripps-Serra’s practice involves all aspects of real estate with a focus on developing The District Detroit, including the University of Michigan Center for Innovation along with affordable housing, office, retail, hotel, and public spaces. She serves as chair-elect of the State Bar of Michigan Young Lawyers Section. She previously served as chair of the New Lawyers Committee for the Oakland County Bar Association where her contributions were recognized with the Bonnie L. Beutler Outstanding New Lawyer Award.

Headshot of Hon. B. Chris ChristensonHon. B. Chris Christenson

7th Circuit Court, Flint

Hon. B. Chris Christenson joined the 7th Circuit as a Family Division judge in January 2021. Previously, he practiced in the areas of criminal law, business and contract litigation, real estate and construction law, general civil litigation, and probate administration. Active in the State Bar of Michigan (SBM), Judge Christenson served on its board of commissioners from 2007 to 2010 and was recently reelected for a term expiring in 2023. He is also a member of the Centennial American Inn of Court and the Friends of Berston Field House's board of commissioners. Judge Christenson is a past president of the Genesee County Bar Association, a former chair of the SBM's Young Lawyers Section, and a former board of directors member of both the Centennial American Inn of Court and Legal Services of Eastern Michigan. In addition, he is a licensed real estate salesperson in Michigan and was formerly a licensed residential builder and limited licensed appraiser.

Headshot of Hon. Elizabeth T. ClementHon. Elizabeth T. Clement

Chief Justice, Michigan Supreme Court, Lansing

Hon. Elizabeth Tripp Clement joined the court on November 17, 2017, becoming the 113th justice and the 11th woman to serve on the bench. Before her appointment by Governor Rick Snyder, she served as chief legal counsel for the governor, advising him on a wide variety of legal, legislative, and policy matters. Her duties as chief legal counsel also included working with the Attorney General’s Office on litigation affecting the State of Michigan, negotiating tribal compacts and settlement agreements, and interviewing and recommending appointees to Court of Appeals and Supreme Court judicial vacancies. Judge Clement previously held the positions of cabinet secretary and deputy chief of staff, as well as deputy legal counsel in the governor’s office. She previously served as legal counsel for Senate Majority Leader Michael Bishop in 2010, where she provided legal research, analysis, and advice on legislation and management of the office. In addition, she was responsible for the State Senate advice and consent process, including providing reports and recommendations on appointees. As a policy advisor in the Senate Majority Policy Office from 2006 to 2010, Judge Clement provided analysis and research to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senate Health Policy Committee, and Senate Local and State Affairs Committee. She owned and operated Clement Law PLLC from 2002 to 2006, where she represented individuals and businesses primarily in the areas of family law, adoption, probate, estate planning, and criminal law. Prior to working in private practice, Justice Clement worked as a legislative aide to State Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Rogers.

Headshot of Kim A. CogginsKim A. Coggins

Coggins Law, Marinette, Wisconsin

Kim A. Coggins practices in the areas of municipal law, civil litigation, commercial law, real estate law, and domestic relations. He practices in both Michigan and Wisconsin. He is a 1977 graduate of Michigan State University and a 1981 graduate of Thomas M. Cooley Law School. Mr. Coggins is a member of the Michigan and Wisconsin State Bar Associations and the Menominee and Marinette County Bar Associations and has served as a member on several committees for the State Bar of Michigan.

Headshot of J. J. ConwayJ. J. Conway

J. J. Conway Law, Royal Oak

Principal attorney and owner of the firm, J. J. Conway has been in law practice since 1999, handling a wide range of litigation matters. He represents clients in matters involving ERISA, employee benefits, and other general litigation throughout the United States. Mr. Conway previously worked for the Michigan Court of Appeals as a prehearing attorney. Active in the American Bar Association, he is a past member of the Young Lawyers Division Council and a member of the Litigation Section and the Labor and Employment Law Section, where he serves on the ERISA and Employee Benefits Litigation Subcommittee of the Employment Rights and Responsibilities Committee. Mr. Conway is also active in the State Bar of Michigan, where he is a former member of its Board of Commissioners, a past chairperson of the Young Lawyers Section, and a current member of the Litigation and Labor and Employment Law Sections. A fellow of the American Bar Foundation and Michigan Bar Foundation, he has also participated in many community and alumni organizations. In 2010, Mr. Conway was awarded the State Bar of Michigan's Champion of Justice award for his work in securing health care benefits for children with autism and was named a Leader in the Law by "Michigan Lawyers Weekly" for his work in employee benefits law.

Headshot of Peter CunninghamPeter Cunningham

State Bar of Michigan Executive Director, Lansing

Peter Cunningham is the executive director of the State Bar of Michigan. He also serves on the executive committees for the Justice for All Commission; the Commission on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Michigan Judiciary; the Well-Being in the Law Commission; and the Institute of Continuing Legal Education. He also is a board member for the Michigan Supreme Court Historical Society, fellow with the Michigan State Bar Foundation, and member of the National Association of Bar Executives and the American Bar Association. Cunningham was named the sixth executive director of the State Bar of Michigan in 2022. He first joined the bar as director of governmental relations in 2012 and became assistant executive director in 2015. He previously served as executive director of the Michigan Campaign for Justice, a nonprofit created to promote improvement in Michigan's indigent defense system, and worked for the Michigan Legislature in various roles including chief of staff for the speaker of the House of Representatives.

Headshot of Darin A. DayDarin A. Day

State Bar of Michigan Director of Outreach, Lansing

Darin A. Day supports law-related education programs throughout Michigan and helps ensure that the state’s 120 voluntary bar associations and 44 state bar sections continue to have an effective voice within the profession. He is also the State Bar of Michigan liaison to the Michigan Center for Civic Education (MCCE) and Michigan Association of Bar Executives (MABE). Before joining the SBM staff in 2016, Mr. Day served 10 years as general counsel of a logistics company located just outside Philadelphia. Before that, he was a large-firm litigator in Boston, executive director of a community-based nonprofit in Flint, and a field instructor at the University of Michigan School of Social Work in Ann Arbor. He holds a BA in social work from MSU and a JD from the University of Chicago.

Headshot of Molly FloodMolly Kilmer Flood

Associate Director, American Bar Association, Center for Bar Leadership

Molly Flood is a staff member in the American Bar Association’s Center for Bar Leadership. Since joining the Center in 2005, she has maintained the division’s Information Clearinghouse, managed the division’s social media efforts, speaks nationally on bar association best practices and directs programming and planning for the annual ABA Bar Leadership Institute. Prior to her work with CBL, Ms. Flood researched, wrote and presented on technology trends for the ABA Legal Technology Resource Center.

Ms. Flood also plays a prominent role with the Center’s Consulting Services Program. For the past 9 years, she has worked with a variety of bar associations and foundations on strategic planning, bar association operational audits and board orientations.

She is a member of the Special Libraries Association, the Association Forum and the National Association of Bar Executives. She is a graduate of Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, IN and the School of Information Sciences at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She can be reached at or (312) 988-5362.

Headshot of Thomas FuentesThomas Fuentes

Michigan Supreme Court MiFILE Delivery Manager | Judicial Information Services, Lansing

As MiFILE Delivery Manager Tom focuses on expanding and enhancing the MiFILE product for all stakeholders. Tom began working in the courts over 14 years ago; starting as a law clerk in the Third Circuit Court—Juvenile Division, where he later also served as adoptions coordinator. He then transitioned to district court administration, as court administrator for 52-3 District Court in Rochester Hills. He has been with the Michigan Supreme Court, focusing on the MiFILE project since 2019. Tom holds a J.D. from Wayne State University Law School and is a certified scrum master and product owner.

Headshot of Hon. Kameshia D. GantHon. Kameshia D. Gant

6th Circuit Court, Pontiac

The Hon. Kameshia D. Gant was appointed to the Oakland County Circuit Court bench by Governor Gretchen Whitmer on April 30, 2019. She is assigned to the Family Division and also presides over an Adult Treatment Court docket.

Judge Gant is a graduate of the University of Michigan and Wayne State University Law School.

Prior to her judicial appointment, Judge Gant tirelessly fought for justice and equality for the voiceless while working as a Consultant for the Neighborhood Legal Services of Michigan's Children's Justice Center for 15 years; and a Trial Lawyer with her own general practice law firm, Gant Law, PLLC, for 13 years. She also served the judicial system as a Probation Agent for the Michigan Department of Corrections, Judicial Court Clerk at the Oakland Circuit Court and a Judicial Intern at the Theodore Levin U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.

Judge Gant has a dedication to the legal community and civic organizations. She is active in several legal organizations that she maintains membership. She is an Oakland County Bar Foundation Fellow and the Chancellor for the Oakland County Inns of Court for 2023-2024. Judge Gant serves on the Board of Directors for the Women Lawyers Association of Michigan and D. Augustus Straker Bar Association; she is on the Executive Board for the Michigan Judges Association; and is the Immediate Past President of the Association of Black Judges of Michigan.

In 2021, Judge Gant was elected to the State Bar of Michigan, Board of Commissioners representing District I (Oakland County) and nominated to serve on the Michigan Judicial Council. In 2023, she was nominated to serve on the Michigan Center for Civic Education Board of Directors.

Judge Gant is dedicated to public service and is passionate about her mentorship of youth and social justice issues.

Headshot of Jennifer GriecoJennifer Grieco

Alitor Law PC, Birmingham

Jennifer M. Grieco concentrates her practice in the area of complex commercial litigation. Her experience encompasses a broad range of commercial disputes with a particular emphasis on business tort claims including professional malpractice, contract claims, construction litigation and coverage claims. Ms. Grieco possesses more than 20 years of trial experience and has been awarded multiple high-profile verdicts and arbitration awards. She has also been granted summary judgment/disposition on numerous occasions in favor of her clients as both the plaintiff and the defendant. Ms. Grieco is a 1993 graduate of the University of Toledo and a 1997 cum laude and order of the coif graduate of the University of Toledo College of Law, where she served as Note and Comment Editor of the University of Toledo Law Review. Routinely recognized for her accomplishments and contributions to the legal profession, Ms. Grieco was named one of only five Up & Coming Lawyers for 2004 by Michigan Lawyers Weekly. She has been recognized by Super Lawyers in 2007, 2010-2018, including recognition in 2011-2018 as one of the Top 50 Women Lawyers; as one of the Top 100 Lawyers in 2013-2018; one of the Top 50 Business Lawyers in 2013-2018; and one of the Top 25 Women Business Lawyers in Michigan, 2013-2018. In 2010-2011, Ms. Grieco was also named to Crain's Detroit Business annual '40 Under 40' list, based on business achievements and community impact; a dbusiness Top Lawyer in 2012-2018 and in 2011 by Michigan Lawyers Weekly Woman in the Law. In 2011, the Legal Aid and Defender Association Inc. presented Ms. Grieco with the Pro Bono Service Award of the Oakland County Bar Association (OCBA) for her work in establishing the OCBA Mentor Match Program. The OCBA Mentor Match Program won both the LexisNexis Community Education Outreach Award at the American Bar Association's annual meeting in August, 2011 and the State Bar of Michigan Kimberly M. Cahill Award for Bar leadership in September, 2012. A frequent speaker and published author, Ms. Grieco is past President of the Oakland County Bar Association and won a contested seat on the State Bar of Michigan Board of Commissioners in District I, representing Oakland County where she currently serves as the 84th President, having served as President-Elect, Vice-President, Treasurer and Secretary. She also served as a member of the State Bar of Michigan Negligence Council, American Bar Association, and Michigan Association for Justice. She previously served as President of the Oakland County Region of the Women Lawyers Association of Michigan from 2003-2004.

Headshot of James Harrington, IIIJames Harrington, III

Law Offices of James J. Harrington III PLC, Novi

James J. Harrington III, the managing member of Harrington Law PLC, concentrates his practice solely upon complex family law cases, with a significant portion of his practice involving family law mediation and divorce arbitration. He also consults with other family law lawyers in complex matters and is frequently added to family law litigation teams as co-counsel. He has been a member of the State Bar of Michigan and its Family Law Section for 49 years and in 2021 he received the Family Law Section Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2021 he also was admitted to the "Michigan Lawyers Weekly" Family Law Hall of Fame. He is a Fellow in the Michigan Chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and was the first Michigan lawyer to receive family law certification from the National Board of Trial Advocacy. Mr. Harrington has also received the AAML divorce arbitration certification. He is former chair of the State Bar of Michigan Family Law Section, has held every officer position, and has testified on behalf of the section on multiple occasions before the Supreme Court of Michigan and the Michigan Legislature. He has been published in “Michigan Bar Journal,” SBM’s “Family Law Journal,” and “Michigan Dispute Resolution Journal.” In addition, Mr. Harrington is co-editor of the national LexisNexis practice guide 2016-2023 “Michigan Family Law” and author of the Alternate Dispute Resolution, Attorney Fees, Marital Property, Pretrial Discovery, Motion Practice, and Spousal Support chapters. Mr. Harrington is a frequent presenter at many family law seminars including the Family Law Institute and the Upper Michigan Legal Institute. He presented on Family Law issues in 2022 and 2019 at the National AAML-Business Valuation Resources Seminars in Las Vegas, Nevada. He is a recipient of the Blaine Johnson Award for outstanding contributions to continuing legal education. He graduated from the University of Michigan Law School in 1973, after having served two years of active duty in the United States Navy, at the Law Center Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

Headshot of Dennis M. KennedyDennis M. Kennedy

Dennis Kenndey Advisory Services LLC, Ann Arbor

Dennis M. Kennedy is executive director and chief innovation officer of Kennedy Idea Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the firm. Mr. Kennedy offers advisory services and consulting on innovation, legal technology, and productization. A fellow of the College of Law Practice Management, he has chaired the board of the ABA's Legal Technology Resource Center and has been a pioneer in the digital legal landscape since the 1990s. Mr. Kennedy serves as director of the Center for Law, Technology & Innovation at Michigan State University College of Law and also teaches courses at the University of Michigan Law School. A prolific author and sought-after keynote speaker, Mr. Kennedy has written several influential books on legal innovation, including "Successful Innovation Outcomes in Law: A Practical Guide for Law Firms, Law Departments and Other Legal Organizations" and "The Lawyer’s Guide to Collaboration Tools and Technologies" (Work from Home Edition, 2022).

Headshot of Barton W. Morris, Jr.Barton W. Morris, Jr.

Law Offices of Barton Morris, Troy

Barton W. Morris, Jr. has focused his practice in the area of criminal defense for more than 20 years with an emphasis on DUI defense. As Michigan’s only ACS-certified forensic-lawyer scientist, Mr. Morris holds a particular interest in scientific evidence related to breath and blood alcohol testing, as well as administering and evaluating field sobriety tests. He has taken extensive training in those subjects and has successfully challenged blood alcohol, drug tests, and breath alcohol measurements in court. He is president of the Michigan Association of OWI Attorneys and board member of several distinguished legal associations including the Trial Lawyers College Alumni Association, Attorney General Dana Nessel’s Marijuana Legal Workgroup, the Marijuana Law Section of the State Bar of Michigan, and the DUI Defense Lawyers Association Justice Foundation (of which he is also a charter member). He was voted a top attorney for DUI defense in 2012-2014 by “dBusiness” magazine and named a Super Lawyer in criminal defense for 2014-2018. He was trained at Gerry Spence's Trial Lawyers College in Dubois, Wyoming.

Headshot of Nathan R. PiwowarskiNathan R. Piwowarski

McCurdy Wotila & Porteous PC, Cadillac

Nathan R. Piwowarski is a shareholder of his firm, practicing in the areas of elder law, estate planning, and estate administration. Contested probate matters makes up a significant portion of his practice. Mr. Piwowarski is the public administrator for Wexford and Lake Counties, serving as personal representative of decedent estates with no known heirs. He is also a special assistant attorney general for the Department of Health and Human Services, representing the department in contested guardianship and conservatorship proceedings throughout northwest Lower Michigan. A member of the Probate and Estate Planning Section of the State Bar of Michigan, Mr. Piwowarski serves on the section's council and has served as the chair of its Legislative Development and Drafting Committee and Committee on Special Projects.

Headshot of Daniel D. QuickDaniel D. Quick

President of State Bar of Michigan
Dickinson Wright PLLC, Troy

Daniel D. Quick is the 89th president of the State Bar of Michigan. A trial attorney at Dickinson Wright, Mr. Quick has been a member of the Board of Commissioners since 2013. He is active in the American Bar Association Section of Litigation and is a past president of the Oakland County Bar Association and Oakland County Bar Foundation. Quick previously served as chair of the State Bar of Michigan’s Representative Assembly. He is the author of books on civil procedure, trade secrets, and business torts. He also is a contributor to the Institute of Continuing Legal Education on both civil litigation and business law.

Headshot of Jennifer QuickJennifer Quick

Oakland County Bar Association, Bloomfield Hills

Jennifer Quick is executive director of the Oakland County Bar Association and the Oakland County Bar Foundation. She has spent over 14 years in nonprofit leadership including as executive director of the Northville Educational Foundation and the Ferndale Area Chamber of Commerce. Prior to working in the nonprofit arena, Mrs. Quick specialized in sales and marketing, mainly in the real estate industry. While working for the Ferndale chamber, Mrs. Quick was recognized by the Michigan Association of Chamber Professionals for her collaboration with community partners, advocacy efforts, fiscal responsibility, and innovative and effective programming.

Headshot of Molly RannsMolly Ranns

State Bar of Michigan Director of the Lawyers and Judges Assistance Program, Lansing

Molly Ranns is the director for the State Bar of Michigan’s Lawyers and Judges Assistance Program, where she has been working for the past decade. She is also a licensed professional counselor, a nationally board-certified counselor, and an internationally certified advanced alcohol and drug counselor. Ms. Ranns is passionate about helping legal professionals with issues pertaining to general wellness, mental health, and substance use concerns. She has experience working with impaired professionals, substance use disorders, as well as mental health diagnoses, and presents regularly on topics pertaining to law student and lawyer well-being. Ms. Ranns graduated with a MA in counseling from Michigan State University in 2009.

Headshot of Marjory RaymerMarjory Raymer

Director of Communications, State Bar of Michigan, Lansing

Marjory Raymer is the director of communications for the State Bar of Michigan. She has more than 25 years of experience in communications and marketing. She started her career as a journalist and in 2009 became the first woman to serve as editor of The Flint Journal. She went on to become the director of news for MLive Media Group, overseeing 10 newsrooms and more than 150 reporters, editors, and photographers. In 2015, Marjory took on a new leadership role as the head of communications for the University of Michigan-Flint. Here, she oversaw the university’s marketing, advertising, and public relations work, including crisis communications. While in Flint, she also started a new online magazine called Flintside, which focused on impacting the narrative about Flint by telling positive community stories, and served as director of communications for the City of Flint. She joined the State Bar of Michigan in 2021.

Headshot of Sarah SantaniSarah Santani

Michigan Supreme Court Business Operations Manager | Judicial Information Services, Lansing

With over twenty years of focused experience in court administration, project management, and technology within district courts, Sarah joined SCAO in 2019. Her role involved assisting the MiFILE initiative, contributing to the development and statewide implementation of the e-filing system. As a matrixed participant in support, product, and implementation teams for MiFILE and Case Management projects, her primary goals are to proactively connect with court customers, comprehensively understanding their needs and ensuring they are well-informed and supported throughout their technology journey with JIS. Sarah holds a master’s degree in judicial administration from Michigan State University and is a certified court manager through the National Center for State Courts and ITIL 4 certified in the latest IT service management practices.

Headshot of Hon. Kristen D. SimmonsHon. Kristen D. Simmons

54 District Court, Lansing

Judge Kristen D. Simmons was appointed by Governor Gretchen Whitmer in September 2019 to serve the 54-A District Court. Judge Simmons earned her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia, and Juris Doctor from Western Michigan University, Thomas M. Cooley Law School.

Judge Simmons has been a member of the Lansing community since 2009 and has served the public in various capacities. Prior to taking the bench, Judge Simmons served as the Litigation Manager for the Michigan Department of Corrections. She has served as an Assistant Attorney General in the Civil Litigation, Elections and Employment law division; she was an Assistant City Attorney for the City of Lansing and served as a district court prosecutor and legal adviser for the Lansing Police Department and the Lansing Police Board of Commissioners. Judge Simmons has also served Ingham County as a public defender and was an enumerator for the U.S. Census Bureau. She also worked as an adjunct professor for Lansing Community College, where she taught Legal Writing, Business Law and was instrumental in launching a legal clinic in conjunction with LCC and Legal Services of South Central Michigan.

Judge Simmons was named by the Ingham County Bar Association as Top 5 Under 35 in 2017 and a Rising Star in 2015 by the Davis-Dunnings Bar Association.

Headshot of Thomas G. SinasThomas G. Sinas

Sinas Dramis Law Firm, Grand Rapids

Thomas G. Sinas is a shareholder at his firm and specializes in personal injury, auto negligence, and auto no-fault litigation. Following his graduation magna cum laude from the University of Minnesota Law School, he practiced with a national law firm in Minneapolis, where he represented catastrophically injured individuals and their families. Mr. Sinas later worked for Minnesota's premier state prosecution office on a special assignment to prosecute complex financial crimes before returning to Michigan to join the law firm cofounded by his grandfather. He serves as associate general counsel for the Coalition Protecting Auto No-Fault. Mr. Sinas currently serves as chair of the board of directors of the Brain Injury Association of Michigan. He has served as past president of the Legal Assistance Center, trustee of the Grand Rapids Bar Association, and commissioner of the State Bar of Michigan. Mr. Sinas has been named a Michigan Super Lawyer since 2019. He was also previously named a Michigan Top 10 Plaintiff’s Personal Injury Lawyer by "Leading Lawyers Magazine" and Best Personal Injury Lawyer by "Grand Rapids Magazine." Mr. Sinas is a past recipient of the Prevention Award from the Brain Injury Association of Michigan for his work on brain injury awareness and prevention in children. He has lectured extensively and written numerous articles on substantive law and trial practice.

Headshot of Nathan TriplettNathan Triplett

Public Policy Director, State Bar of Michigan, Lansing

Nathan Triplett serves as Director of Governmental Affairs for the State Bar of Michigan. For over 15 years, he has worked in and around state and local government as an attorney, organizer, policy advocate, and elected official. Before joining the SBM staff, Nathan served as Minority Legal Counsel for the Michigan House of Representatives and as the Director of Public Policy and Political Action at Equality Michigan. Triplett served on the East Lansing City Council for eight years. He was elected to serve as the city's youngest Mayor in 2013 and as President of the Michigan Municipal League. Today, Nathan serves as Chair of the Capital Area Transportation Authority Board of Directors, as a commissioner of both the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission and Ingham County Parks and Recreation Commission, and as Vice President of the MML Foundation. Triplett volunteers with Rotary International and the Boy Scouts of America and enjoys spending time outdoors with his two children. He is a graduate of Michigan State University's James Madison College with degrees in Political Theory/Constitutional Democracy and Social Relations. He also holds a Master of Public Policy degree from the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan and a Juris Doctor from the MSU College of Law.

Headshot of Marisa VinskyMarisa Vinsky

Chartier & Nyamfukudza PLC, Okemos

Marisa Ariel Vinsky is a litigator at the firm. Before serving in her current role, Ms. Vinsky worked at the State Appellate Defender Office, specifically in the Juvenile Lifer Unit, where she fought for the rights of juveniles to obtain constitutional sentences. She also worked in the Michigan State University College of Law's Civil Rights Clinic. Ms. Vinsky is president-elect of the Ingham County Bar Association's (ICBA) Young Lawyers Section and cochair of its Criminal Defense Law Section. She is a member of the ICBA, the Davis-Dunnings Bar Association, Criminal Defense Attorneys of Michigan, the Women Lawyers Association of Michigan (WLAM), and the Jewish Bar Association of Michigan. Ms. Vinsky is a recipient of the ICBA's Top 5 Under 35 Award in 2021, the Mid-Michigan chapter of WLAM's Women Lawyer Stars Award in 2021 and 2022, the Davis-Dunning Bar Association's Rising Star Award in 2022, and has been recognized as an Up and Coming Lawyer by "Michigan Lawyers Weekly" in 2022.