August 10, 2023

Summer 2023 Alumni Newsletter

As August brings those end-of summer vacations and a return to the rhythm of the school year, we’re bringing you the latest news from Faegre Drinker and our alumni.

We encourage you to subscribe to Alumni News & Events, share what’s new with you in our LinkedIn alumni group, or email us at Let us know what you think of this latest edition and how we can better serve your needs as alumni. Our inbox is always open.

Announcing Two New Alumni Benefits

Exclusive ACC Membership for Faegre Drinker Alumni

Faegre Drinker is proud to support our people, past and present, through their career journeys and professional development. If you are transitioning in-house or are currently in-house, we are offering you a complimentary six-month individual membership to the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC). The ACC offers a wide variety of resources to help maximize success in-house, including opportunities to connect with other in-house counsel in similar industries or roles, specialized surveys and programs, sample forms and best practices, and local and online CLE accredited programs. Once the six-month period is over, your membership is renewable for a full 12-month membership at a special, discounted price.

To take advantage of this alumni benefit, send an email to that includes your name, current employer and confirming interest in signing up for the complimentary six-month ACC membership. You must also complete the application at Law Firm Alumni: Alumni Application Page (

Access Faegre Drinker’s On-Demand Library of CLEs

Faegre Drinker is excited to offer you another new alumni benefit. We are extending access to our exclusive library of on-demand CLEs to all our valued alumni. New CLE programs are added each month and older courses are removed after two years. A wide variety of topics are covered and can be accessed from the comfort of your home or office. If you would like access to Faegre Drinker’s library of CLEs, complete this survey and we will send you instructions to log in to the library.

Our People

Alumni Spotlight

We’re learning more about two of our distinguished former colleagues in this month’s alumni spotlights. Read on to find out how Kooshan Nayerahmadi decided he was destined to be an attorney at the age of 12 and how Peggy Steif Abram is staying connected to the profession in retirement as president of a national professional association.

Alumni News & Moves

Whether they left us yesterday or several years ago, they’re never truly gone — we take pride in keeping in touch with all of you  and highlighting your updates and accomplishments. It’s an honor to be part of your stories as our firm alumni continue thriving in their communities and the legal (or not!) professions. See what your fellow alumni have been up to since our last newsletter.

New Faces

We are glad to welcome several new colleagues to the Faegre Drinker family:

  • Betsy Olson* | Counsel, Benefits & Executive Compensation | Los Angeles
  • Olivia Pantoja | Senior Director, Government & Regulatory | Chicago
  • Aaron Szabo | Senior Director, Government & Regulatory | Washington, D.C.
  • Lionel Weaver* | Counsel, Government & Regulatory | Chicago
  • Emily Weissenberger | Counsel, Product Liability & Mass Torts | San Francisco

*We are thrilled to welcome Betsy and Lionel back to the firm.


As new friends joined us, we also had to say goodbye to several close friends and colleagues over the past few months. Please join us in sending our best wishes to those who recently retired from the firm:

  • Elaine Kumpula, partner, Minneapolis
  • Kate Levering, partner, Philadelphia
  • David Stark, senior counsel, Denver

Des Moines Alumni Event

On Wednesday, June 7, local alumni, current attorneys and operations professionals gathered at the Republic on Grand at the AC Hotel in Des Moines, Iowa for a spring alumni social. Attendees, including in-house counsel from Corteva Agriscience, Principal Financial Group and California Pellet Mill enjoyed a fun evening full of good food and drinks and great conversation. The smiles and laughter that filled the room were contagious and guests appreciated the opportunity to reconnect with former colleagues, mingle with industry peers and expand their networks while taking in wonderful views of downtown Des Moines. Many stayed from beginning to the very end. Enjoy some photos from the event.

Alumni-Client Panels

We were honored to welcome back several alumni over the past few months as they participated in firm panel discussions. The first panel was held during Faegre Drinker’s 2023 Summer Associate Summit on June 13 in Philadelphia. Vanguard’s Assistant General Counsel, Head of Business Unit Litigation Ginene Lewis and M&T Bank’s Senior Vice President, Associate General Counsel Marita Erbeck were joined by Corteva Agriscience’s Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary Cornel Fuerer for a panel moderated by partner Nick Guzman. Panelists provided our 95 summer associates with insight into their time with the firm, their career trajectories and current roles. They also shared tips for making the most of your time at the firm. We were also proud to have General Mills’ Assistant General Counsel, Pet Segment Jana Gaffaney, Cargill’s Senior Counsel Dadri-Anne Graham, and Wells Fargo’s Lead Counsel and Assistant Corporate Secretary Sam Rosenbaum join us on July 13 in Minneapolis, Minnesota during Faegre Drinker’s Senior Associate Summit. Partner Kate Razavi moderated a discussion with Jana, Dadri-Anne and Sam where they shared their experiences at the firm, responsibilities as in-house counsel and the ways they interact best with outside counsel.

Opt-In Requirement for Emails

We officially migrated our email distribution system, which requires that you actively opt-in through our subscription center to receive your alumni-related communications, benefits and resources (including invitations to alumni social and networking events; the latest alumni newsletters, alumni news and moves, in-house job opportunities with clients, alumni and other friends of the firm; complimentary CLEs; membership to exclusive industry knowledge-sharing groups; access to an exclusive alumni portal; and more). We are judicious about when and how many alumni emails we send and do our best to only send those that are relevant, useful and valuable. If you have not yet subscribed to alumni news and events, please visit our subscription center, and check the box for “Alumni News & Events” after inputting your contact information. Then, add our new sending email addresses, and, to your safe sender list to ensure receipt of our emails.

What Else Is Happening?

General Firm News

Faegre Drinker Opens Office in Florida

On June 5, 2023, we expanded our footprint into the Southeast with a new office location in Fort Myers, Florida. This move is a strategic one for the firm and is led by product liability partner Traci McKee. Chair Gina Kastel adds that “we already have strong relationships in the area, and now can better serve clients with needs in the rapidly expanding Southeast region.” Read more about our new office.

Faegre Drinker Practices and Attorneys Ranked Among Leaders in Chambers USA 2023 Guide

Chambers USA has recognized Faegre Drinker in its 2023 edition, highlighting the firm in 75 practice area categories and 176 attorney designations on its list of America’s leading lawyers for business.

Of the 75 total practice ratings for excellence, including 15 nationwide sections, the firm earned “Band 1” designations — the publication’s highest ranking — in 18 categories across practice areas in Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Nationwide. View all of the 2023 rankings here.

Faegre Drinker Recognized in Two China Business Law Award Categories

The firm was honored with two practice-based honors by the China Business Law Journal, one in the category of automotive, industrials and manufacturing, and another in media, entertainment and sports. These awards are based on thousands of votes and recommendations provided by in-house counsel and legal professionals. Read more about our attorneys in China.

Faegre Drinker Named a 2023 ‘Legal Services Innovation’ Finalist by The American Lawyer

The firm is thrilled to be recognized as a “Legal Services Innovation” finalist for our client diversity (D&I) dashboard. This award highlights law firms that have made significant strides in the last two years to innovate how it delivers legal services and have found innovative ways to enhance the way it does business and deliver higher value to clients. Read more about our nomination.

Pro Bono

Faegre Drinker and Attorneys Receive The Advocates for Human Rights’ 2023 Awards

The Advocates for Human Rights recognized the firm with the 2023 “Law Firm Pro Bono Award” for our efforts to ensure legal representation for Afghan evacuees. The firm has a long history representing asylum seekers, and in this instance we collectively (along with Lathrop GPM) represented 36 families seeking asylum. Read more about the award.

Philadelphia Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts Honors Faegre Drinker With 2023 ‘Law Firm of the Year’ Award

Faegre Drinker has been recognized as a “Law Firm of the Year” by the Philadelphia Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts (PVLA) for the exemplary pro bono work done by attorneys Robert Cannuscio, Charlotte Damico, Elizabeth Diffley, Sabra Drummond, Robin Sampson, Steven Schwartz and David Woolf. These seven attorneys have provided a considerable amount of pro bono services to arts clients through PVLA over the past year spanning multiple practice areas, including corporate, labor and employment and intellectual property. Read more about this recent honor.

Diversity & Inclusion

Faegre Drinker Recognized by Seramount as ‘2023 Best Law Firms for Women and Diversity Winner’

Faegre Drinker has been recognized by Seramount as a “2023 Best Law Firms for Women and Diversity” winner. Each year, Seramount surveys law firms to assess how they utilize best practices to recruit, retain, develop and advance attorneys who are women, people of color and those from under-represented groups.

Seramount’s “2023 Best Law Firms for Women and Diversity” application included more than 300 questions about attorney demographics at different levels, flexibility, paid time off and parental leaves, and development and retention of women, people of color and those from other underrepresented groups. Questions about family-friendly benefits and mentoring and sponsorship participation were also included. Read more about this recognition.

2023 Faegre Drinker Celebrates Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month

In May, Faegre Drinker hosted our 2023 AAPI Heritage Month program featuring Target Executive Vice President and Chief Legal Risk Officer Don Liu. Don shared the important advocacy efforts of the Alliance for Asian American Justice, a nonprofit organization offering pro bono legal services to victims of anti-Asian hate. Through his experiences as a co-founder and a board member for the Alliance, Mr. Liu detailed the organization’s genesis and its commitment to standing up for victims and preventing future acts of anti-Asian hate. The program also included a poignant, live testimonial from a client of the Alliance who benefited from the outstanding advocacy efforts of the organization.

2023 Faegre Drinker Juneteenth Program

On June 13, we hosted a live performance featuring award-winning artist, Avery R. Young. Throughout the live performance, Avery shared with us spoken word focused on Juneteenth and celebrating African-American culture.

Faegre Drinker Celebrates Pride Month

In June, our 2023 Pride Program featured National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) Legal Director Shannon Minter. NCLR is one of the nation’s leading advocacy organizations for the LGBTQ+ community. Shannon discussed current legislation impacting LGBTQ+ rights and the greater effect on the LGBTQ+ community.

Faegre Drinker Celebrates Disability Pride Month.

We were thrilled to host an inaugural firm wide program in celebration and recognition of Disability Pride Month in July featuring Indiana Disability Rights Policy Director Emily Munson and Faegre Drinker’s own Katrina Gossett Kelly. The presentation brought a better understanding of disability rights and the experiences of people with disabilities. The full presentation recording is available online.

We appreciate your continued participation in and support of our alumni network. We look forward to sharing more news from the firm and our valued alumni in the next edition!

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