Committee Chairs 2017-2018

Giovanna Abreu

Giovanna (“Gia”) A. Abreu co-chairs the Table for Eight/Lunch with the Judges Committee. An attorney with Marko & Magolnick, P.A., Gia is a commercial litigator practicing in state and federal court. Gia has experience in estate, trust, and guardianship litigation and administration, minimum and overtime wage disputes, professional liability defense, complex business litigation, property disputes, contractual disputes, fraud investigation and litigation, and insurance claims.

Gia received her undergraduate degree and her law degree from Florida International University. While at FIU Law, she was the Vice President of the Women’s Law Society, Graduate Assistant to Dr. Stanley Fish, and Dean’s Fellow to the Assistant Dean of Development. Gia also interned for the Honorable Arthur L. Rothenberg, Circuit Court Judge in the Probate Division of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit in Miami-Dade, Florida.

In addition to her duties as a MDFAWL Committee Chair, Gia is a member of the FIU Law Alumni Board and serves as a Supervising Attorney at the FIU Law Clinic.

Claire Armagnac

Claire Armagnac is an Assistant State Attorney in the criminal division of the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Offices, where she focuses her practice on prosecuting felonies. She is Chair of the Young Lawyers Committee of MDFAWL. Claire graduated with honors from Florida State University College of Law in 2014. While in law school, Claire was a member of the Florida State Law Review and interned for Justice James E.C. Perry at the Florida Supreme Court. Outside of work, Claire enjoys fitness and traveling.

Angela Benjamin

Angela Benjamin serves as Co-Chair of MDFAWL’s Membership Committee, Judicial Reception Planning Committee, and Sponsorship Committee. She also serves as a member of MDFAWL’s Leadership Committee and Elections Committee. Angela practices in the Commercial and Construction Section of the Broward County Attorney’s Office. Her practice focuses on complex litigation, all aspects of construction law, and general local government law. In addition to her activities with MDFAWL, Angela also serves as a member of The Florida Bar’s Code & Rules of Evidence Committee and The Florida Bar’s Annual Convention Committee. Angela is a proud magna cum laude graduate of the University of Florida Levin College of Law, where she served as Student Works Editor for the Florida Law Review.

Tammi Calarco

Tammi A. Calarco is a shareholder and the managing partner of Tammi A. Calarco, P.A. Tammi’s practice focuses on all types of disputes, including consumer protection, landlord/tenant, condominium, and debt negotiation matters. Prior to receiving her law degree, Tammi was a paralegal and legal assistant for over 16 years. She worked on cases concerning labor and employment, litigation, corporate, contracts, healthcare corporate, real property, and other areas of law. Tammi previously served on the board of directors of a condominium association, giving her experience in handling homeowner matters with condominiums.

Tammi gives back to the community as a child advocate by volunteering her time with the State of Florida’s Guardian ad Litem program as a Certified Guardian ad Litem, which looks out for the best interest of the child in dependency cases. During law school, she served as a Guardian ad Litem for Kids’ Voice of Indiana in family law cases. She has also provided pro bono work with Dade Legal Aid’s Put Something Back Program. Tammi has volunteered her time with numerous organizations including Miami Children’s Home Society, Family Resource Center, Wildlife Care Center, and the American Red Cross.

Gabriela E. Castillo

Gabriela E. Castillo is an associate attorney at Llorente & Heckler, P.A., where she focuses her practice on all phases of the government procurement process, including identifying contracting opportunities and assisting with proposal preparation and compliance. In addition to her position at Llorente & Heckler, Gabriela is also a senior associate at LSN Partners and LSN Communications, where she assists clients with issue advocacy, strategic communications and media relations, as well as grassroots campaigns and community outreach efforts.

Gabriela graduated from Florida International University College of Law, receiving a Pro Bono Service Excellence Award for her work serving communities in Florida. She was part of the Moot Court Team, and served on the executive board of the FIU Law Board of Advocates as Vice President of Public Relations. She was also a Certified Legal Intern for the Immigrant Children’s Justice Clinic, where she represented unaccompanied immigrant children in juvenile court.

Gabriela was selected to the Florida Supreme Court’s Internship Program for Distinguished Florida Law Students. There, she was a central staff law clerk working for all of the justices. She also served as a judicial intern for the Honorable Barbara Lagoa of the Florida Third District Court of Appeal, and a legal intern at the City of Miami Attorney’s Office and the Miami-Dade County School Board Attorney’s Office. Originally from Caracas, Venezuela, Gabriela earned her Bachelor of Science in Communications from Florida International University.

Diana Castiov

Diana co-chairs MDFAWL’s CLE Programs Committee. Diana is an associate at Wargo & French, LLP in Miami and focuses her practice on commercial litigation. She represents banks and national insurance carriers in state and federal court actions involving claims for breach of contract, negligence, conversion, and petitions for declaratory relief. She is also an active member of the Junior League of Miami and serves on the Women Who Make a Difference Luncheon Committee. Diana received her law degree from the University of California Hastings College of the Law, where she was a semi-finalist in the regional Jessup International Moot Court Competition.

Dana Chaaban
Madelin D’Arce

Madelin D’Arce serves as Co-Chair of MDFAWL’s State Court Judicial Liaison. Madelin is an attorney at Goede, Adamczyk, DeBoest & Cross, PLLC. She counsels individuals, corporate entities and community associations concerning a broad range of general, real estate and litigation matters, as well as real estate closing and title services. Madelin earned her law degree from the University of Florida Levin College of Law.

Liana De La Noval

Liana De La Noval is an associate at Marko & Magolnick, P.A. She has experience in the areas of condominium law, real estate law, residential foreclosures, first party insurance litigation, and negligence claims. Liana has handled matters throughout various counties Florida.

Liana was admitted to practice law in Florida in May of 2011 and received her law degree from Florida International University, College of Law. While in law school she worked full time at a local pretrial diversion program in Miami and interned at the Law Offices of the Public Defender in Miami-Dade.

Liana graduated from Florida International University in 2004 with a Bachelors in Criminal Justice and a Certificate in Law, Ethics and Society and was placed on the Dean’s List for most semesters.

Tiffany-Ashley Disney

Tiffany-Ashley Disney was born and raised in Miami. She has an undergraduate degree in Business from Florida International University and graduated cum laude from the University of Miami School of Law in May 2016.

Tiffany-Ashley was a staff writer for the National Security and Armed Conflicts Law Review where her article on women’s equality in the military was published. She is admitted to the Florida Bar. She is the owner and managing partner of The Law Office of Tiffany A. Disney. Her firm focuses on providing coverage counsel and other services for attorneys. In addition, she also serves as a volunteer bar prep coach, assisting students at UM Law adequately prepare for the bar exam.

Amanda L. Fernandez

Amanda L. Fernandez serves as the Co-Chair of the State Court Judicial Liaison of MDFAWL. Amanda is an associate at Damian & Valori LLP and practices in the areas of complex business litigation, receivership, bankruptcy and securities litigation. In addition to her duties with MDFAWL, Amanda is an active member with The Florida Bar Business Law Section, where she serves as Vice-Chair of the Membership Committee. Amanda received her J.D. from Villanova University School of Law in 2013 and was a member of the Villanova Law Moot Court Board, for which she served as Director of External Competitions. Upon graduation, Amanda was awarded the Moot Court Distinguished Service Award and the Dorothy Day Pro Bono Award. Amanda was also the President of the Hispanic American Law Student Association.

Maite Garcia

Maite Garcia co-chairs MDFAWL’s Pro-Bono Committee. Maite is a staff attorney at a non-profit law firm, Americans for Immigrant Justice (“AI Justice”), in their Children’s Legal Program. Ms. Garcia represents unaccompanied immigrant children living in the community before the Immigration Court and the Department of Homeland Security.

Prior to joining AI Justice, Matie worked as private criminal defense handling matters ranging from DUIs to Life Felonies. In addition to her involvement with MDFAWL, Maite is an active member of the Junior League of Miami.

Keri T. Joseph

Keri T. Joseph serves MDFAWL as Chair of the Scholarship Committee. Keri is an appellate attorney at the Florida Office of the Attorney General. Her practice involves representing the State of Florida in criminal appellate and civil federal habeas corpus litigation. She received her bachelor’s degree from Rollins College in Political Science with a minor in Writing, and her law degree from Nova Southeastern University, where she was a member of the Nova Law Review. Keri also serves on The Florida Bar’s Appellate Court Rules Committee (2015-2018).

Olivia Kelman

Olivia Kelman focuses her practice on financial institutions and services litigation, compliance, and enforcement matters, with a concentration on fair and responsible lending. She has successfully litigated on behalf of clients in federal district and circuit courts, as well as in state trial and appellate courts. Olivia frequently defends investigations, examinations, and enforcement actions by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Federal Reserve Board, and various state regulators, including the Florida Office of Financial Regulation. Her experience includes matters arising under various federal laws, including the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, Fair Housing Act, Community Reinvestment Act, and Home Mortgage Disclosure Act. Olivia represents clients large and small, including residential mortgage lenders, small-business lenders, banks, mortgage insurers, loan servicers, broker-dealers, and industry trade groups. Olivia is also a subscribing member of the Florida Grand Opera and holds season tickets to Miami Hurricanes football.

Amber Kornreich

Amber Kornreich, the 2016-2017 recipient of the MDFAWL Rising Star Award, practices Marital and Family Law at Kornreich & Associates. Amber also previously co-chaired the MDFAWL Mentoring Committee. Amber is actively involved in the Miami-Dade legal and philanthropic communities and serves on the boards of the Dade County Bar Association Young Lawyers Division, KidSide Miami, and Chapman Partnership NextGen Council. Amber is a member of the Legal Services of Greater Miami Young Professionals Committee, the Miami Pro Bono Roundtable, and the First Family Law American Inn of Court.

Christine Louissaint
Vannessa Mari-Milhem
Liana Matthews

Liana Matthews chairs MDFAWL’s Government Attorney Liaison Committee. Previously, she has served as a committee member of MDFAWL’s Elections Committee. Liana is currently an Assistant Public Defender at the Law Offices of Public Defender Carlos J. Martinez, where she zealously advocates for indigent criminal defendants in the felony division. She is a proud alumna of the University of Miami School of Law, where she was awarded the Order of the Barristers, the Roger Sorino Award, and was tapped into the Iron Arrow Honor Society. Liana is a member of the Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, a graduate of The Florida Bar Leadership Academy Class II, and she is currently appointed to The Florida Bar’s Criminal Procedure Rules Committee and the Standing Committee on Diversity and Inclusion.

Sheila Oretsky

Sheila Oretsky is an attorney at Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC, and focuses her practice on complex commercial litigation. Sheila was selected as a top “Up and Comer” in Florida Trend’s Florida Legal Elite 2010, as an honoree for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s 40 Under 40 Outstanding Lawyers of Miami-Dade County Award in 2012; and a “Rising Star” in Florida by Super Lawyers Magazine in 2015-2016. She is Co-Chair of the Corporate Counsel Liaison Committee in MDFAWL.

She has litigation experience across diverse industries, including real estate, healthcare, construction, money transmitters, moving and mobile storage, automobile dealerships, professional services, and hotels. Previous representative matters include disputes regarding partnership and business, director and officer liability, motor vehicle dealership law, consumer fraud, bank litigation, commercial landlord/tenant disputes, commercial foreclosures, trademark disputes, condominium law, entertainment law, and public adjuster compliance nationwide. Sheila also has experience in assisting clients with general corporate and contractual matters.

Cristina Pérez Soto

Cristina Pérez Soto is the co-chair of the MDFAWL Leadership and Quality Control Committees. She has significant experience in defending corporate investigations and white collar crime matters, with a particular emphasis on Latin America. She also Cristina served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Criminal Division of the Southern District of Florida, focusing on major fraud cases, including securities, investment, mortgage, tax, and other large-scale fraud matters. Cristina practices in all areas of cross-border litigation and disputes before United States federal and state courts, international arbitration institutions, and other tribunals, representing clients in the United States and abroad.

Cristina was recently selected as a “Leader in the Law” by FAWL. Cristina is a member of the American Bar Association and the Federal Bar Association and she serves as a Board Member of Future of Arbitration: Miami. Cristina graduated from Princeton University and the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

Carolina Sofía Piñero

Carolina Sofía Piñero, is an Attorney-At-Law at Hans Burgos P.A. in Coral Gables, Florida, where she practices immigration law. She has worked extensively in matters involving family and employment-based visa petitions for foreign nationals, as well as providing pro bono immigration counsel to foreign nationals contesting orders of removal.

Carolina is an active member of the Miami-Dade County Florida Association for Women Lawyers (MDFAWL) and the South Florida Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). She is a Co-Chair of MDFAWL’s Character and Fitness Committee. She is also on the AILA South Florida Chapter’s Entertainment Committee. Carolina also enjoys fundraising for charities across the United States and working as an Independent Wine Advisor for Wines for Humanity.

She earned her J.D. in 2015 from Florida International University College of Law, and her B.A., cum laude, in 2012 from Fordham University. She is admitted to practice in Florida.

Deborah Ross-Ocariz

Debbie Ross-Ocariz serves as the Chair of the Diversity Committee of MDFAWL. Debbie is Senior Attorney at The Law Offices of Aliette H. Carolan, PA, handling family and marital law matters. She handles complex financial and emotional issues using a combination of strong advocacy, objectivity, and compassion. In addition to her duties with MDFAWL, Debbie is an active volunteer and leader in her community. Debbie holds a B.S. from the University of Florida and a J.D. from Nova Southeastern University.

Geri Satin

Geri Satin is a senior trial consultant at Focus Litigation Consulting, LLC. Geri specializes in juror behavior and decision-making as well as the analysis of complex evidentiary and witness issues in civil and criminal cases. Through the use of mock trials and focus groups, Geri assists in the development of persuasive case themes and strategies, jury selection, and case valuation. Geri’s clients include the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Ford Motor Company, and State Farm, as well as an array of national and regional law firms.

Geri has a Master of Science in Legal Psychology from Florida International University, and is currently a legal psychology Ph.D. Candidate. Previously Geri graduated magna cum laude from the University of Miami School of Law, serving as an editor of the UM Law Review and, beforehand, graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Florida with a dual degree in English (Linguistics/Writing) and Criminology.

Prior to joining Focus Litigation Consulting, LLC, Geri spent a number of years practicing complex commercial litigation in the trial practice group of one of Florida’s premier and largest law firms.

In addition to serving as the Co-Chair of MDFAWL’s CLE committee, Geri is a Board Member of the Dade County Bar Association and a Past-President of the DCBA, YLS. Geri is also a member of the American Society of Trial Consultants, the American Bar Association, and City Theatre.

Schuyler Smith

Schuyler co-chairs the Table for Eight/Lunch with the Judges Committee. An attorney with Hamilton, Miller & Birthisel, LLP, she represents hotels, international businesses, physicians and medical providers, major cruise lines, product manufacturers and distributors, transportation companies, and underwriters, including major marine domestic and international underwriters, in state and federal court in Florida and the US Virgin Islands.

Schuyler also serves as an elected representative on the Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division Board of Governors for the 11th Circuit.

Marycarmen Soto

Marycarmen Soto earned her undergraduate degree in political science with a minor in criminology from the University of Florida and her law degree from St. Thomas University School of Law, where she was a member of the Moot Court Board, competing in the ABA National Appellate Advocacy Competition. While in law school, Marycarmen participated in an International Human Rights Study Abroad program in Ireland hosted by Chief Justice John Roberts. She also served as a research assistant in the Legal Writing Department and interned with Citibank N.A. Latin America Legal Regional Office in Miami, FL. Marycarmen was awarded dean’s list commendation and earned the highest grade award for Art of Lawyering.

Prior to joining Rivero Mestre, Marycarmen worked for the Florida Department of Children and Families, Children’s Legal Services. She litigated child welfare cases in the juvenile division of Florida’s Eleventh Judicial Circuit and was later assigned high-conflict cases addressing issues in family, child custody, and domestic violence before the Unified Family Court/Complex Litigation Division.

Marycarmen was born in Havana, Cuba and is fluent in English and Spanish.

Alice Sum

Alice Sum is the Co-Chair of the Corporate Counsel Liaison Committee. She is a shareholder with Fowler White Burnett, PA in its Miami office. She represents business entities and individuals in complex, commercial litigation matters. Alice assists clients with a wide range of business disputes, involving corporate governance issues, partnership and joint venture agreements, director and officer liability, errors and omissions, and shareholder derivative claims. Alice also handles intellectual property matters. She is experienced with copyright and trademark infringement, trade secret misappropriation, unfair competition, false advertising and domain name disputes. A portion of Alice’s practice is devoted to financial services litigation representing banks, mortgage lenders, auto finance companies in disputes involving unfair deceptive trade practices, consumer fraud, and consumer protection issues. Alice has been recognized by several publications and organizations as a “top” lawyer in business litigation. Alice is active in the legal community and the Florida Bar. She is a recent graduate of Class II of the Florida Bar’s Leadership Academy, is a member of the Annual Convention Committee for the Florida Bar, and is a founding member, past President and served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Asian Pacific American Bar Association of South Florida. Alice is a “double Gator” having received her B.A. and J.D. from the University of Florida.

Sylmarie Trujillo

In 2011, Sylmarie Trujillo graduated from Georgetown University with a major in International Economics. She received her Juris Doctor from Florida International University College of Law in 2014, graduating cum laude. Ms. Trujillo participated in the Price Media Law International Moot Court Competition at Oxford University and was the Managing Editor of the FIU Law Review (2013-14). She also won a book award in International Human Rights Law and the FIU College of Law Award for Outstanding Oral Advocacy Skills. While in law school, Ms. Trujillo was a legal extern for the FIU Law Environmental Clinic.

Ms. Trujillo was admitted to practice in Florida in 2014 and is an active member of The Florida Bar and Florida Association for Women Lawyers. In her practice, Ms. Trujillo handles all aspects of civil litigation and complex fraud provider matters. Born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico, she has native fluency in Spanish.

Courtney Walter

Courtney Walter is the Chair of MDFAWL’s Federal Court Liaison Committee. Courtney is currently serving a two-year judicial clerkship with the Honorable Ursula Ungaro of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida. Upon completion of her clerkship in August 2017, Courtney will be joining Akerman LLP as an associate attorney in the Consumer Financial Services practice group. Prior to her clerkship, Courtney practiced in the areas of products liability, medical malpractice, wrongful death, catastrophic injury, and bad faith insurance litigation. Courtney was born and raised in Philadelphia, PA. She received her Bachelor’s Degree from Pennsylvania State University and her law degree from FIU College of Law, where she graduated as the Valedictorian of her class and served as Editor-in-Chief of FIU Law Review. Courtney is on the Florida Bar Journal/News Editorial Board, is an Adjunct Professor at Florida International University, and is active within the South Florida community.

Alicia Welch

Alicia H. Welch is an Assistant United States Attorney in the Civil Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida, where she represents the Government and federal employees in cases involving the Federal Tort Claims Act, constitutional claims, immigration matters, and defense of agency actions. Alicia previously served as a law clerk to the Honorable Patricia A. Seitz of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. Prior to joining the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Alicia was a litigation associate at Weiss Serota Helfman Cole & Bierman where she focused her practice on representing municipalities and private clients in a variety of matters. During this time, Florida SuperLawyers twice recognized Alicia as a “Rising Star.” Immediately after law school, Alicia served as an Assistant Corporation Counsel in the New York City Law Department Labor and Employment Law Division where she received the Law Department’s “Rookie of the Year” award for outstanding performance during her first year as a lawyer.

Alicia earned her J.D., cum laude, and her Master of Public Policy degrees from the University of Maryland, and her B.A. in political science and public communication, magna cum laude, from American University. In law school, Alicia received the Student Bar Association’s Leader of the Year award for her work co-founding and chairing the Maryland Katrina Project (now Maryland Carey Service Corps), a pro bono legal immersion program to foster public service in law students and lawyers. Alicia currently serves as Co-Chair of the Miami-Dade FAWL Leadership Committee. From 2014-2017, Alicia was a Director of Miami-Dade FAWL and co-chaired the Federal Court Liaison and Social Media Committees. In 2016, FAWL recognized Alicia as a “Leader in the Law.”

Trisha Widowfield

Trisha Widowfield is the co-chair of the Leadership Committee for MDFAWL. She is a partner at Haliczer, Pettis, & Schwamm and handles complex civil litigation, focusing her practice on medical malpractice and personal injury. Her firm recently transitioned to the plaintiff side of medical malpractice, wrongful death, and personal injury after defending hospital clients for 35 years. Trisha also represents Fortune 500 and Fortune 100 companies, including Starbucks, G4S Secure Solutions and Darden Restaurants.

She graduated cum laude in 1999 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology/sociology from Kent State University and cum laude in 2007 from the University of Miami School of Law.

Trisha is admitted to The Florida Bar as well as the U.S. District Courts for the Southern, Middle, and Northern Districts of Florida. Her professional affiliations include membership in MDFAWL, Broward County FAWL, the Dade County Bar Association, Broward County Bar Association, and Miami Law Young Alumni.