ERA Board of Directors
Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati
Colleen Bal is a partner and litigator in the San Francisco office of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati. Colleen sits on the board of directors of the WSGR Foundation and is a member of the firm’s Pro Bono Committee. She was recognized by the Daily Journal as one of the “Top 100 Women Lawyers in California” for 2015, and was a recipient of the WSGR 2014 Pro Bono Award. She currently represents WSGR in the Women in Law Hackathon, a competition involving law firms, advisors, and law students aimed at generating practical and actionable ideas to further gender parity in law firms. Since joining ERA’s Honorary Steering Committee in 2015, Colleen has been actively involved in ERA’s Strong Girls Initiative.
Barbara S. Bryant
Mediation Law Offices of Barbara S. Bryant
Barbara S. Bryant has specialized in employment, sexual harassment and discrimination law for 30 years, as a litigator, speaker, author, workplace investigator, discovery referee and mediator. She has taught sexual harassment law at UC-Berkeley’s School of Law since 1989, and since 2001 has been on its Thelton E. Henderson Center for Social Justice Advisory Council. She has been an executive board member of California Women Lawyers, Alameda County Bar Association, Earl Warren Inn of Court, Alameda Contra Costa Trial Lawyers and Bar Association of San Francisco Labor and Employment Law Section. Prior to law school, she was a professional house carpenter and class member in a successful sex discrimination class action case challenging the union/employer practice of denying apprentice carpenter positions to women. Equal Rights Advocates was instrumental early co-counsel in this case. She was elected to ERA’s board in 2014.
Eve H. Cervantez
Altshuler Berzon LLP
Eve H. Cervantez is a partner at Altshuler Berzon LLP, where she represents workers and consumers in class action lawsuits, with a particular emphasis on civil rights, employment discrimination, wage and hour, and privacy cases. She has prosecuted several class action lawsuits for women challenging discriminatory hiring, promotion, and compensation policies, and has also assisted female professors vindicate their right to a discrimination-free tenure process. Eve is currently on the Senior Editorial Board of The Fair Labor Standards Act and is a chapter author and contributor to Employment Discrimination Law (Supplement) and Wage and Hour Laws, a State-by-State Survey. Eve also lectures regularly on wage and hour, employment discrimination, and class action law. Prior to joining Altshuler, Eve worked as a staff attorney at the Prison Law Office representing inmates challenging unconstitutional conditions of confinement, and was a partner at Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann & Bernstein, LLP, where she represented plaintiffs in class action employment and consumer lawsuits. She is a graduate of Washington University and Harvard Law School, where she was an editor of the Harvard Law Review. Eve has been selected to Northern California Super Lawyers every year since 2010, has been named one of the Top 50 Women Lawyers in Northern California, and is a “Leading Lawyer” listed in The Legal 500 United States. Eve is a longtime supporter of ERA, and has served on its Luncheon and Litigation Committees for several years.
Simona A. Farrise
The Farrise Firm, P.C.
Simona A. Farrise, Esq., LL.M., founder of the Farrise Law Firm, P.C., is among the top lawyers in the country and a sought after national public speaker on a variety of legal topics. She has been featured in Southern California’s Best Lawyers®, and for each year from 2004 through 2012, San Francisco Magazine named her one of Northern California’s SuperLawyers™ and recognized her as one of the top 50 female lawyers in California. She has been co-counsel with ERA in a landmark class action employment case alleging sexual harassment, hostile work environment, and wage and hour violations for the approximately 2000-person workforce at the Thunder Valley Casino located north of Sacramento, California. In 2007, she received the prestigious Distinguished Alumnus Award of Golden Gate University School of Law.
Angel Plus LLC
Shirley Gee is the Founder and Managing Partner of Angel Plus LCC, a third-party validation firm for later stage, start-up corporations in anticipation of capitalization. She is active in the investor/capitalization arena in Silicon Valley and San Francisco and previously served as an Executive Senior Member and Department Head for Stanford University’s international research laboratory, where she provided technical guidance to 200 senior managers in the area of equal employment, employee relations, and affirmative action. Her duties included pre-litigation investigations into discrimination issues and administering programs that promoted diversity in the scientific and technical field. She is committed to mentoring women CEOs and working with organizations supporting the advancement of women as CEOs and Board Members. She has served on a number of corporate boards in the life science and medical device sectors and numerous non-profit boards including the League of Women Voters working on public policy and governance issues.
Emily Katz got an early start in marketing, growing up in rural California where she rode door-to-door selling her school’s fundraising gift wrap by horseback. She’s spent the interceding decades helping organizations find their voices to make the world a better place and ruthlessly slaying the demons of jargon. She’s focused her management positions on advancing the rights of people to live dignified lives and fulfill their greatest potential.
Autumn McDonald has nearly two decades of experience working with foundations, nonprofit organizations, government agencies, and associations on strategy, advocacy, program design, and civic innovation. She served as a Senior Advisor for Women’s Policy to San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee through the FUSE Corps Executive Fellowship. Autumn helped shaped policies, programs, and public/private initiatives to improve economic and social opportunities for women and families throughout the Bay Area. Previously Autumn worked with FSG, a social impact focused consulting firm, where she led a range of strategy and evaluation projects. Autumn has worked in the social sector at both the state and national level with organizations including Genesys Works, the American Institutes for Research, the Center for Reform of Schools Systems, and Teach for America. She received her B.A. from Stanford University, and Masters degrees from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and Northwestern University School of Education and Social Policy. She lives in the Bay Area with her husband and two children.
Nisha Nanda is the VP of Development Strategy at Loxo Oncology, a biotechnology company focused on developing targeted therapies for cancer. Nisha has a PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics from UNSW, Sydney, Australia. Nisha has held multiple roles in research and development positions across medium to large multinational biotechnology companies, resulting in the approval of new treatment options for patients with cancer.
Marja-Liisa (Mari) Overbeck
Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP
Marja-Liisa (Mari) Overbeck is a litigator at Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP. She focuses her practice on general civil litigation and employment law, and also maintains an active pro bono practice providing assistance to minors in school disciplinary matters (in conjunction with Legal Services for Children), and serving as co-counsel with the ACLU in a lawsuit against the Department of Defense challenging its policy excluding women from combat service. Mari also works as an Adjunct Professor at UC Hastings College of the Law, where she teaches Appellate Advocacy and also coaches Hastings’ Jessup International Moot Court Team. Before joining Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP, Mari clerked for the Honorable Bernard Zimmerman of the Northern District of San Francisco. She received her B.A. from Middlebury College, and her J.D. from UC Hastings College of the Law. Before law school, Mari worked as criminal investigator for the Legal Aid Society in Manhattan.
Kristen Palumbo, Vice Chair
Kristen is a partner at Morgan Lewis and was elected to the Board in January 2013 after serving on the Development Committee. Kristen Palumbo’s practice primarily focuses on antitrust litigation and counseling and complex commercial litigation, including breach of contract, fraud, unfair competition, copyright, trade secret and bankruptcy-related matters. She works extensively on high-stakes litigation before state and federal courts and before various arbitration tribunals. Kristen also advises clients in connection with antitrust investigations and subpoenas issued by the U.S. Department of Justice. She has represented clients in a wide range of industries, including energy, freight forwarding, accounting, medical products, biometric authorization and payment solutions, microprocessors, printers and related supplies, and enterprise software and support services. She has also represented pro bono clients in a variety of matters.
Lucia Corral Peña
Blue Shield of California Foundation
Lucia Corral Peña is Senior Program Officer for Blue Shield Against Violence at Blue Shield of California Foundation, and manages the portfolio of grants focused on ending domestic violence in California. Prior to her role at the Foundation, Ms. Corral Peña was principal of Corral Peña Consulting where she worked with foundations and nonprofit clients to design and implement programs and strategies to address the needs of diverse populations, including immigrant, low-income, and vulnerable residents. Previously, Ms. Corral Peña served as director of the Western Region for Hispanics in Philanthropy (HIP), managing the organization’s award-winning Funders’ Collaborative for Strong Latino Communities in five states. Ms. Corral Peña received her B.A. from the University of California, Los Angeles and her law degree from University of California, Hastings College of Law. She has served as pro bono counsel, and on a variety of nonprofit boards, including Equal Rights Advocates and Centro Legal de La Raza.
Drucilla (Dru) S. Ramey, Chair
Drucilla (Dru) S. Ramey is the former executive director of the National Association of Women Judges and former executive director and general counsel of the Bar Association of San Francisco, as well as a former tenured member of the GGU School of Law faculty. Dru’s career has been devoted to the achievement of equal opportunity and access in the justice system. She has chaired the ACLU of Northern California and the San Francisco Commission on the Status of Women and served as a co-founder and board leader of a wide variety of groups devoted to diversity and equality, including California Women Lawyers, the California Minority Counsel Program, and the Immigrant Legal Resource Center. Her many honors have included the ABA Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Award, the American Jewish Committee’s Learned Hand Award, the Anti-Defamation League’s Jurisprudence Award, the National Bar Association’s Wiley Branton Award, and the National Lesbian and Gay Law Association’s Allies for Justice Award. She serves on the board of directors of the American Judicature Society, the board of directors of the Habeas Corpus Resource Center, and the editorial advisory board of California Lawyer magazine. She received her BA magna cum laude from Harvard University and her JD from Yale Law School. Dru was elected to ERA’s board in 2013.
The Sturdevant Law Firm
James Sturdevant, the principal of The Sturdevant Law Firm, is one of the nation’s most respected consumer rights and class action attorneys. He was named 2004 Trial Lawyer of the Year by the Consumer Attorneys of California, 2002 Trial Lawyer of the Year by the San Francisco Trial Lawyers Association, and has received numerous other awards for his outstanding advocacy on behalf of consumers and workers. Mr. Sturdevant specializes in representing plaintiffs in class actions involving consumer protection, financial and insurance fraud, employment discrimination and a wide variety of unlawful, unfair and fraudulent business practice cases. During his thirty-five-plus year career, he has represented plaintiffs and plaintiff classes in cases involving federal and state benefit rights, housing, employment discrimination, institutional conditions at prisons, jails, and mental institutions, school desegregation, consumer protection, and binding, mandatory arbitration clauses. He has tried and settled many multi-million dollar class action cases and is known as well for his appellate advocacy. He serves on numerous national, state and local boards and committees concerned with civil litigation and amicus curiae work, and he and his firm have authored a significant number of briefs and amicus briefs on the issues of mandatory arbitration, federal preemption, the interpretation of consumer protection statutes and attorneys fees, among others. James was elected to ERA’s board in 2013.
Gilda R. Turitz, Secretary
Sideman & Bancroft LLP
Gilda R. Turitz is the head of the Litigation Practice Group in the woman-owned law firm Sideman & Bancroft LLP in San Francisco, concentrating on complex commercial, professional liability, intellectual property and other civil cases, as well as serving as an arbitrator and mediator for such matters. Gilda’s support of ERA began in the 1980’s when she served on the Development Committee and helped establish the strategy of broadening ERA’s support from corporations as well as law firms. Throughout her legal career of over 30 years, Gilda has been active in bar associations and groups for the advancement of women and civil rights. She has held numerous leadership positions in the American Bar Association (ABA), including the Section of Litigation’s Woman Advocate Committee, its Dispute Resolution Section’s group Women in Dispute Resolution (WIDR), and the Women Rainmakers group of the Law Practice Management section, for which she received the Golden Hammer Award for her efforts to shatter the glass ceiling. Gilda presently serves on the boards of The Mediation Society and the Anti-Defamation League, for which she chairs its Civil Rights Committee for the Central Pacific Region, and is a past board member of Leadership California. Gilda has been recognized by her peers as an AV-rated attorney and as a Northern California’s SuperLawyer™ for business litigation. She received her J.D. from the University of California, Davis, School of Law, her B.A. from the University of Michigan, and a M.L.S. degree from the University of California, Berkeley.
As President of Whitaker Communications, Carl Whitaker assists law firms and non-profits with public relations and marketing matters. With 25 years of law firm and consulting experience, Carl provides focused, practical advice on public relations, positioning, marketing and communications planning, and website development. He has special expertise in the area of litigation public relations and advises lawyers on case-specific public relations strategies. A skilled writer and story-teller, Carl helps clients distill and communicate their key messages. Carl also has extensive experience developing strategic marketing initiatives for law firms at the firm, office, industry and practice group levels. He was Director of Marketing at Morrison & Foerster, a 1,000 lawyer international law firm, from 1992 to 2003. Carl received a Bachelor of Arts, with Distinction, from Sonoma State University and his Masters degree from the School of Library and Information Science at the University of California, Berkeley.