Elections

Candidate Statements

I am humbled by the opportunity to serve on MDFAWL’s Board of Directors. If elected as Director, I pledge to prioritize inclusion, diversity, mental wellness, mentoring, and the advancement of women in our profession. My community involvement prepared me for this role. I was an MDFAWL Director and Law School Liaison Committee Co-Chair in 2021-22. I helped plan several events and focused on reengaging with and supporting our local law school chapters. Prior to that, I served as Co-Chair of MDFAWL’s “Table for Eight” Committee for two years, which taught me the value of human connection in our profession.
My experience as a professor at FIU Law highlighted the importance of helping young lawyers cultivate skills, relationships, and balance to propel their success. I am committed to developing programming to strengthen human connection, sharpen our legal skills, and foster mental wellness. As Chair of the FIU Law Alumni Community Outreach Committee, I facilitated access to pro bono estate planning and organized a “seal and expunge” event. As an MDFAWL Director, I will strive to bridge gaps between our profession and the community, and promote inclusion and diversity.
I lead the Miami office of RMO LLP, where I handle trust, estate, and guardianship litigation matters. I have worked at boutique to large firms, and am well-acquainted with the challenges women face in balancing our professional and family obligations. I welcome the opportunity to pay forward the mentorship, community, support, and inspiration MDFAWL has given me, and respectfully ask for your support.

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Giovanna Abreu O'Connor

I am interested in serving on MDFAWL’s board in the coming year because I would like to take an active role in advancing the organization’s mission and goals. I first joined MDFAWL in the year 2014 when I had just passed the bar. I have co-chaired several committees and, for the past two years, I have served on the board. Over the years I have taken part in planning multiple events including Speed Mentoring, the Installation Gala, and the Good Guys event. As an attorney with experience in both the public and private sectors, I am able to relate to many members and ensure that their interests are appropriately represented. I look forward to the opportunity to serve on the board again in the coming year and I thank you in advance for your support.  
 

Claire Armagnac-Rodriguez
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Carmen Contreras-Martinez

It is with great pleasure that I seek re-election as a Director for the 2022-2023 MDFAWL Board of Directors.  I have been an active member of  the Board for 4 years. In addition to my commitment as a Board member,  I co-chaired the Annual Judicial Reception Committee and now serve as Board liaison for the Programming and Events Committee. In this internal leadership role, I assist in the Committee’s strategic planning, including event operations support.  For 4 years,  I have also helped plan and coordinate the Women Making History event, a platform for the award of scholarships to exceptional women law students. The time I dedicate to reviewing applications is substantial but particularly rewarding in that it allows me to directly impact the legal career of future female members of the Bar.

I am a partner in both the Litigation and Bankruptcy practice groups at Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr.  I proudly serve on the firm’s Women’s Development Initiative Committee as part of my ongoing efforts towards advancing women attorneys in the legal profession and promoting gender equality.  I also serve on the firm’s DEI Committee in my efforts to advance diversity, inclusion and equality in the Firm and the legal community, a mission carried over into my work on the MDFAWL Board.

If elected, I commit to continuing to devote considerable time and energy to ensuring the success and ongoing growth of MDFAWL through active and regular participation in Board meetings and organized events. 

Thank you for your consideration.

As a new lawyer who didn’t attend law school in Florida, I joined MDFAWL as a way to network and make friends in the Miami legal community. As I got more involved, MDFAWL became so much more to me, as it is for others: a way to connect and advocate for women. I am grateful to have served on the Board of Directors for the 2021-22 term, helping to oversee the organization as a whole, as well as serving on committees to plan some of our large-scale events, including the Judicial Reception.

While serving on the Board, I have maintained my role as Public Relations Committee Chair, where I have the responsibility of maintaining and improving the chapter’s brand and presence throughout South Florida and the state, in a time where most everything is virtual. I promote MDFAWL’s message through our various social media platforms, increasing the organization’s visibility. I utilize our online presence to ensure that the chapter is heard on critical issues, to secure appropriate recognition for our members’ accomplishments, and to help spread accurate and important information consistent with MDFAWL’s mission.

I was thrilled to be recognized as an MDFAWL’s Leader in the Law and touched to receive the Rising Star Award, which is now named for my mother, Lynn Futch, a star lawyer in her own right and whose legacy is my daily inspiration. I would be honored to serve on MDFAWL’s Board for another year to continue serving the organization, its members, and its mission.

Mallory Cooney
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Marianne is an active member in MDFAWL and currently serves on the Board of Directors. Marianne has earned the respect of many young lawyers who she mentors through a program she has envisioned and implemented entitled: “The Blueprints.” Recognizing the need for additional CLE programming directed at Young Lawyers on essential litigation and professionalism skills, Marianne reached out into the community to recruit accomplished attorneys and judges to speak about deposition preparation, treating opposing counsel and litigants with respect, and other beginning trial skills. Marianne is a positive role model to the young lawyers and also serves as a Director for The Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division for the Eleventh Judicial Circuit.

Marianne Curtis

My name is Demitrianna Grekos (better known as “Demi”), and I would be thrilled to serve on the Board of Directors of MDFAWL. I know I can commit to the duties of Board service because I’ve attended and participated in almost every Board meeting over the last year (even though I was not technically a Director!). I was Social Chair at Vanderbilt Law School, where I planned everything from tailgates to Barrister’s Ball, so I’m incredibly familiar with the hard work that goes into putting on even the smallest gathering.

As a Co-Chair of the Mentoring Committee, I have helped plan numerous MDFAWL events, including the GOOD Guys event, Speed Mentoring, and Women Making History Award and Scholarship Reception. I have also had the pleasure of attending a number of MDFAWL events from the intimate Yoga in the Park to the crowd-gathering Installations and Judicial Receptions. Additionally, I write articles and blogposts highlighting these events to show current and future events what MDFAWL has to offer.

When I’m not compulsively volunteering for things, I do corporate work, focusing on M&A, at Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP. One of my goals for MDFAWL would be to create more events that cater to the needs and interests of transactional attorneys. I think inviting members to provide feedback on our programming could guide us to new or different events for the future—or just tell us what a  great job we’re doing already!

Thank you for your consideration.

Demitrianna Grekos

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For the past few years, I have worked with MDFAWL as a committee co-chair of the Health & Wellness Committee and co-chair of the Young Lawyers Committee before being elected as a boar member. As the committee chair, I organized numerous events promoting health, character development, and mental wellness for the members of MDFAWL, as well as the members of the DCBA, during joint events. As a board member I have assisted committees and other board members in their efforts to create fantastic programming for the members and with the community outreach programs. Most recently, I’ve been the board liaison for the solo & small firm committee and hope to help them continue to create fantastic resources and events.

I have been an active member of MDFAWL for over 5 years, as well as a member of the Dade County Bar Association, Hispanic National Bar Association, the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals, and the Veterans Association of Real Estate Professionals.

Over five years ago, I attended one of MDFAWL’s young lawyers’ events and was taken by the sisterhood and community that MDFAWL had created for the women lawyers of Miami. I was immediately drawn to the organization and soon found myself helping the previous Health & Wellness committee chair plan events. Since that time, I have made an effort to consistently create beneficial programming as well as support MDFAWL in its efforts to promote the advancement of women lawyers. I hope to continue supporting MDFAWL’s efforts for many more years.

Vannessa Mari-Milhem

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I have been a proud member of MDFAWL since 2015, and throughout this time have demonstrated my commitment to the organization by serving on the Leadership Committee for five years, two of which I was the Committee Chair. This year I am the co-chair of the Business Development Committee. I have organized engaging and diverse programming while in these roles that provided useful tools and skills for members’ professional development.

MDFAWL’s efforts to support and advance women in the law is something I feel passionately about. As a shareholder at my firm, I mentor young lawyers and prepare them for their career ahead. I have encouraged young female attorneys to become involved in MDFAWL because of how much this organization has given to me in terms of sharpening my professional skills and building relationships with wonderful women lawyers that have the same objectives as me, and have a genuine desire to see me succeed. The relationships I have made through attending MDFAWL events have been integral to my personal and professional success. In addition, the programming has allowed me the opportunity to get an insider’s perspective from members of the judiciary and corporate counsel. This has made an impact on the way I practice law.  

My experience within MDFAWL and my passion for the organization has driven my desire to serve as a member of the Board. I am excited for the opportunity to make leadership decisions for this organization, and follow the path others have set before me.

Veronica Meza
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I am an attorney at Nelson Mullins Riley and Scarborough. Prior to joining Nelson Mullins, I was an Assistant Public Defender in Miami. I am currently Co-Chair of the Community Outreach Committee and this year I assisted in planning the Judicial Reception. Since joining MDFAWL I have looked for ways to be as involved as I can and I look forward to continue serving MDFAWL as a director.

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Kayla Quintana

I am excited and honored to resubmit my candidacy as a Director for the 2022-23 MDFAWL Board of Directors. In my five plus years of being involved as an MDFAWL member, I have served as the
Scholarship Committee Co-Chair, the Government Attorney Liaison Co-Chair, the CLE Committee Chair, and for the last four years, as the co-organizer of the annual MDFAWL Trial Skills Workshop.
Additionally, this year I was chosen as our State Chapter Representative and attended FAWL Lobby Days in support of the Lactation Bill, which advocated for lactation space in all Florida courthouses. I was initially elected to the Board in 2019 and I continue to regularly volunteer in MDFAWL events and other leadership roles, including co-moderating MDFAWL January 2022 Florida Bar Town Hall debate with the Florida Bar presidential candidates.
I currently sit as a Director on the MDFAWL Foundation Board of Directors and previously served as the inaugural secretary. Each year, I coordinate with MDFAWL to plan our signature Women Making History event. I will also sit on the State FAWL 2022-23 Board of Directors, which will give MDFAWL a direct line to state resources and fresh ideas to promote and grow membership.
If reelected, I will strive to continue fulfilling the obligations of this position efficiently and effectively. I am confident that I will continue to bring knowledge, experience, passion and commitment to this organization. Thank you for your consideration.

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Melissa Roca Shaw

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I am excited for the opportunity to run for re-election to the Board of Directors for MDFAWL. If re-elected, I will continue to advocate for women in the legal profession, to assist in keeping MDFAWL programming streamlined and inclusive, and to work towards helping provide networking and growth opportunities to our membership.
MDFAWL has become a huge part of my life, from my first experience as a participant in the Trial Skills Workshop in 2017, through the privilege of serving on the Board this past year. In addition, I currently serve as Treasurer of the MDFAWL Foundation, and as the MDFAWL Liaison to the Miami Dade Bar Association. I have had the pleasure to Chair the Website Committee for the past two years, which includes setting up event registrations, keeping the website updated, sending the weekly MDFAWL Messenger, and preparing stand alone emails.
Last year, I was honored by MDFAWL with the Lynn Futch Rising Star Award for service to the chapter, and named as a “Leader in the Law” by State FAWL.
This next year will prove an exciting one as I have been slated to sit on the State FAWL Board as Public Relations Director for 2022-2023. I believe that serving on the MDFAWL Board of Directors is a direct complement to the work we will be doing at the state level.
I thank you for your consideration, and hope that I may earn your vote!

Jessica Saiontz

Schuyler Smith

Friends and Colleagues, I am running for the Miami Dade FAWL (”MDFAWL”)Board of Directors. Since graduating law school 13 years ago, I have held numerous leadership positions in the legal community including serving as a Director for the Dade County Bar Association YLD from 2011- 2014, serving as the youngest President of the Caribbean Bar Association from 2012-2011, serving on the Florida Bar Board of Governors, YLD from 2011-present, and on the Board of Directors for MDFAWL from 2019- 2021. In MDFAWL, I have served as chair/co-chair for the diversity, table for 8 with the Judges, GOOD Guys, and Corporate Counsel committees. I have also worked on various initiatives including the adoption of MDFAWL’s policy on ensuring diversity among speakers for all its programming and organized and facilitated a program on combatting gender pay disparity and MDFAWL’s first implicit bias workshop and training which remains available to members and other partner organizations. I also co-chairing MDFAWL’s first virtual corporate counsel summit in 2021 which exposed members to a diverse set of in house counsel in South Florida. Community involvement is important to me. Advancing diversity and inclusion efforts for women in our practice is also important to me.  Facilitating efforts to ensure women are treated equally, fairly, and with respect is even more important to me. MDFAWL advances these goals and I ask for your support so that I can continue to serve the female attorneys in our legal community and the community at large. Thank you for your consideration.

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WE ARE INCLUSIVE

Lawyers and non-lawyers of all genders who support our mission are eligible for membership in MDFAWL. We are the Miami-Dade Chapter of the Florida Association for Women Lawyers, not of Women Lawyers.

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