March 3, 2024

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Here are the finalists for the 2022 Arizona Corporate Counsel Awards

Each year, Az Business magazine — in partnership with the Association of Corporate Counsel, the State Bar of Arizona, and title sponsors Cresa and Ogletree Deakins — recognizes the important and vital role in-house counsel plays with the Arizona Corporate Counsel Awards.

Finalists for the Arizona Corporate Counsel Awards represent the finest legal expertise across all industries in the private, public and nonprofit sectors.


READ ALSO: The Top 100 Lawyers in Arizona for 2022


Winners and finalists will be celebrated at an in-person awards dinner on March 24, 2022 at The Scottsdale Plaza Resort. For details, click here.

Finalists for the 2022 Arizona Corporate Counsel Awards

Here are the finalists for the 2022 Arizona Corporate Counsel Awards, in alphabetical order:

Arizona State University Office of General Counsel

The Office of General Counsel (OGC) fosters the dynamic educational environment of Arizona State University in support of its mission as The New American University. Its goals are to provide, manage and coordinate quality legal services for the university; minimize legal risks and costs; reduce litigation; and ensure legal compliance and do so efficiently, reliably and professionally. The office also represents ASU in litigation matters, administrative proceedings and significant transactions.

Edwin ‘Ted’ R. Ashton

Co-founder //  Arete Financial Solutions

Ashton is a pioneer in providing legal services in Arizona. In 2020, a modification to the Arizona Rules of Professional Conduct allowed attorneys to combine their efforts with non-lawyers in a combined practice offering legal and other professional services. With the new rules in place, Ashton helped create Arete Financial Solutions, which allow clients to receive complete financial care from a team of professionals acting in concert for the client’s benefit.

Cory Barnwell

Chief legal officer

VensureHR

Vensure Employer Services provides PEO solutions and human resource outsourcing to small and mid-market businesses across the country. Through its subsidiaries, including VensureHR, the company processes more than
$9 billion in payroll and supports more than 300,000 worksite employees. With services including payroll, medical and voluntary benefits, workers’ compensation, risk management and HR administration, Vensure companies support a broad spectrum of industries, allowing small business owners to cost-effectively manage HR functions.

Stephen Beaver

Senior vice president, general counsel and chief legal officer

Benchmark

Beaver leads Benchmark’s global legal, compliance, ethics and intellectual property matters. He also serves as Benchmark’s corporate secretary. Beaver has more than 20 years’ experience in managing legal matters including litigation, contracts, labor and employment matters, trade secret and intellectual property matters, corporate controls, governance and business processes. Beaver joined Benchmark from Aspect Software in Phoenix, where he held the position of senior vice president and general counsel.

David Bixby

Chief legal officer and general counsel

Banner Health

Bixby joined Banner (then Samaritan Health System) in 1998 as senior vice president, chief legal officer and general counsel for the organization. He came to Banner with nearly two decades of service at Lewis and Roca (now Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie). Bixby earned a bachelor’s degree in history and literature from Harvard University and a law degree from Yale Law School. He is a member of the Arizona Bar, the American Health Lawyers Association and the American Corporate Counsel Association.

Steve Burdumy

Managing director and chief legal officer

Footprint

Burdumy brings extensive legal experience in corporate, securities, M&A, divestiture and financing transactions to Footprint. His role as chief legal officer includes managing all legal affairs on behalf of Footprint, including intellectual property matters. Prior to Footprint, Burdumy served as the executive vice president, chief operating officer and chief legal officer of Transformative Pharmaceutical Solutions (TPS), where he oversaw all business, financial and legal operations.

Malisa Cagney

Senior corporate counsel

Freedom Financial Network

Cagney has more than 10 years of progressive legal experience serving highly regulated financial services clients from both outside and in-house counsel perspectives. Her prior experience includes collections, bankruptcy, insurance, advanced legal research and general practice. Cagney’s specialties include building and leading legal teams; managing outside counsel; litigation; negotiation; compliance; risk management; escalated lawsuits and complaints; writing, reviewing, and litigating contracts; strategy, policies, procedures, training, and oversight; and legal audits.

Marina Carpenter

General counsel

Arizona Coyotes

Carpenter has achieved — and continues to achieve — excellence in her field and has made significant, observable changes to the culture for the Coyotes. She has broken barriers as a woman and mother in sports and touched and enriched the lives of many employees by serving as a role model and mentor. She is a 2021 recipient of the Women Influence & Power in Law Award and was recognized in 2018 as one of Hockey’s Top 40 Under 40.

Steve Cook

Head of legal

Nikola Corporation

Cook became head of legal for Nikola in October 2021. Prior to that, he served the company for two years as senior corporate counsel, contract. Nikola Corporation is an American company that has presented a number of zero-emission vehicle concepts since 2016. The company has stated on several occasions that it intends to take some of its concept vehicles into production in the near future. Nikola Corporation is based in Phoenix.

Martin Demos

Senior vice president and general counsel

Valleywise Health

Demos faced unprecedented challenges and stresses as the health care system was overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients during three surges. Since the outset of the pandemic in early 2020, Demos has been working up to 16 hours a day, often seven days a week. He’s had to keep the hospital in compliance with an array of executive orders and policies and become intimately involved in the health system’s decision to dramatically increase the use of telehealth.

Tracy Donahue

Senior director, associate general counsel, global head of litigation

PayPal

Donahue is global head of litigation at PayPal and is part of a team that manages disputes, regulatory inquiries and litigation. She initially joined eBay in January of 2014 as part of its litigation team and went to PayPal in July of 2015 when PayPal became its own public company.  She handles a wide variety of matters involving consumer protection, state and federal financial laws and regulations, and commercial disputes.

Mick Dragash

Executive vice president, general counsel, chief compliance officer, corporate secretary

Cavco Industries

Dragash leads both Cavco’s legal and compliance functions. Dragash brings years of experience to Cavco. From June 2015 to September 2017, he was general counsel of Swift Transportation Inc. Before that, he was general counsel and chief compliance officer for Gordon Trucking. Dragash also had stints as associate general counsel at DHL Supply Chain Solutions and Walmart Stores from 2004 to 2010.

Chad A. Freed

General counsel, executive vice president and secretary

STORE Capital

As a senior legal and business executive with comprehensive experience in delivering business-oriented solutions to complex legal, real estate, corporate development and compliance matters, Freed serves as STORE Capital’s general counsel, executive vice president and secretary. Throughout his corporate legal experiences, Freed has overseen SEC compliance, corporate governance, risk mitigation, and corporate contractual lease relationships with institutional real estate landlords.

Melanie Hansen

Chief legal officer and executive vice president, people

Source Global

Hansen has worked with Source Global since 2019. Prior to that, Hansen served as the general counsel of Massage Envy Franchising for approximately six years, where she led the development of the company’s commitment to safety and helped grow the national franchisor to over $1.5 billion in system-wide revenue. Hansen began her in-house career as the general counsel for Cold Stone Creamery.

Stephanie King

Chief legal officer and chief of staff

Paradox AI

King joins Paradox from DLA Piper, where she was a corporate and securities partner. King has been recognized as an emerging leader in the Arizona legal community, leading more than $1 billion in strategic transactions and serving as outside general counsel to dozens of growth-stage technology companies across the country, managing all aspects of their legal representation from formation to scale to exit.

David Koeninger

General counsel

Arizona Cardinals Football Club

Koeninger has served as general counsel for the Cardinals for more than 13 years, but his path to the NFL was an unexpected one. He was originally headed toward a career as a professor of English literature when he realized it wasn’t for him and dropped out of a PhD program at Loyola University in Chicago, after completing his master’s degree. A year later, he entered Stanford Law School.

Melissa Goldenberg

Senior vice president and general counsel

Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury

Goldenberg’s work behind the scenes helped both the Suns and Mercury make it to the finals in 2021. An advocate for voting access Goldenberg worked with state officials and officials at Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum to secure that the state-owned venue would be open to the public in 2020 as a voting center. She previously served as corporate counsel for Western Alliance Bancorporation.

Michelle Guina Alarid

Senior counsel — store operations and services

PetSmart

Alarid has led this retailer’s COVID-19 response for the past two years, which is a huge challenge with operations in all 50 states and given the proliferation of local and state issues in this ever-changing situation. Alarid accomplished this by becoming an OSHA guru in her own right, while also handling other major compliance areas of responsibility. She is also active in Retail Industry Leaders Association, as well as other activities.

Christie Hammerle

Director-legal //  GoDaddy

Hammerle is a legal process management guru and continually strives to process improve and streamline functions to provide her internal clients with the most cutting-edge service. She studies the law and practical implementation issues and challenges closely and strives to meet staffing challenges for the business in creative ways, including through mastering and improving leave and accommodation processes through a stretch assignment. Before joining GoDaddy, she was a member of GoDaddy’s outside employment and litigation team.

Eric Krich

In-house counsel and vice president of risk and compliance

Integrate

Krich serves as in-house counsel  for Integrate, a rapidly-growing marketing software company that provides a SaaS-based platform to streamline, automate and orchestrate demand marketing. He works with Integrate’s employees, customers and global partners to ensure that compliance, governance and data privacy are not only in place, but to help them navigate this complex challenge. While initially focusing on data protection in North America, over the past several years focus shifted to global data protection with an emphasis on the European Union.

Nona Lee

Executive vice president and chief legal officer

Arizona Diamondbacks

Lee is in her 22nd season with the Arizona Diamondbacks and serves as executive vice president and chief legal officer, overseeing all legal issues for the organization. Before dedicating her time solely to the D-backs, she served as associate general counsel (2000-04) and vice president and associate general counsel (2004-05) for the Phoenix Suns, D-backs, Phoenix Mercury, Arizona Rattlers, Chase Field, US Airways Center and Dodge Theater.

Cherry Malichi

Corporate Counsel

Progress Residential

Malichi is a highly accomplished senior professional with years of experience practicing law with Fortune 500 financial companies. She has demonstrated the ability to lead and direct legal staff including lawyers, paralegals and operational units. Malichi is a well-respected member of the Indiana and Arizona Bar with outstanding legal expertise and has a talent for fostering strong relationships with colleagues and industry stakeholders. She is also known for her ability to anticipate and deal with unexpected events.

Michael McCoy

General counsel and chief legal officer
Avnet

For over a decade, McCoy has lent his legal expertise to Avnet, a leading global technology distributor and solutions provider. Serving more than 40 countries and a variety of industries, Avnet yields close to $19 billion in annual sales. Prior to being named general counsel and chief legal officer in 2020, McCoy was an ex-pat living in Brussels Belgium, where he served as general counsel, international, overseeing Avnet’s legal teams in EMEA and Asia Pacific. Now, McCoy oversees Avnet’s legal operations, trade compliance, ethics and security.

Jay McGrath

Chief legal officer

Troon

With 25-plus years of legal and hospitality industry expertise, McGrath’s focus centers on the golf and hospitality markets. Since joining Troon in 2001, he has aided the company’s growth including expanding from golf management services for 30 facilities (when he started) to now more than 625 locations as the world’s largest golf management company. Today, McGrath continues to manage oversight of Troon’s legal, human resources, compliance functions and execution of company acquisitions.

Stephanie McRae

General counsel

TGen

McRae is part of a powerhouse team at Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), a local nonprofit medical research institute engaged in groundbreaking research in genetic components of complex diseases. In addition to providing her legal expertise to TGen, McRae also serves on the Board of Directors of the Ben and Catherine Ivy Foundation, an organization dedicated to improving diagnostics and treatment options for patients with brain cancer.

Whitney Meister

Senior corporate counsel

Best Western Hotels & Resorts

Named one of the Best Lawyers in America, Employment Law – Management during her time in private practice, Meister now provides legal advice, training and risk management strategies relating to all aspects of the employment relationship, including outside counsel for Best Western Hotels & Resorts. Additionally, Meister manages public accommodation issues hotel-industry-wide, supports and advises the human resources department on effective strategies to minimize risk, and provides direct support to Best Western’s other corporate departments and hoteliers.

Rachel Molina

Senior counsel — labor and employment

PetSmart

Working for Swift Transportation, a national employer with more than
20,000 employees, gave Molina invaluable experience that parlayed perfectly into her role at PetSmart, which she started in May 2019. For the first year and a half of her time at PetSmart, Molina was the only solely dedicated employment attorney, handling all employment-law-related matters for a national employer with
more than 50,000 associates.

Carmen Neuberger

Executive vice president of legal affairs, general counsel

Phoenix Children’s Hospital

In the 14 years since joining PCH, Neuberger has played an integral role in its growth from a single hospital in Phoenix to one of the nation’s largest and most respected pediatric health systems with more than 40 sites of service across Arizona. With Neuberger serving as strategic adviser, the organization has undertaken massive expansion projects across Metro Phoenix, including new freestanding hospitals in Gilbert and Glendale, and facilities in Avondale.

Kristin Paiva

General counsel

Massage Envy

Paiva leads the legal and safety teams at Massage Envy. In her role, she oversees legal and risk management concerns, franchisee compliance, and transactions. Paiva’s background includes more than 10 years in private practice litigating disputes on behalf of a wide variety of national, regional and local clients in both federal and state courts, as well as in arbitration and mediation. Paiva embraces the vision of a highly-collaborative, growth-orientated team environment.

Jonathan Perez

General counsel

True Food Kitchen

Perez is general counsel of True Food Kitchen, the innovative health-driven restaurant brand founded by Sam Fox and pioneer in the field of integrative medicine, Dr. Andrew Weil. In his role, Perez leads the legal and compliance function and oversees the human resources department in support of True Food Kitchen and its people. Prior to joining True Food, Perez served as president and general counsel for the Tilted Kilt Franchise.

PetSmart legal department

The PetSmart legal team, led by Senior Vice President and General Counsel Lacey Bundy, handles all legal tasks for the Phoenix-based retailer. As of 2020, PetSmart has more than 1,650 stores in the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico. Its stores sell pet food, pet supplies, pet accessories and small pets. PetSmart also offers dog and cat adoption via in-store adoption centers facilitated by the nonprofit  PetSmart Charities.

Pinnacle West Capital/APS Legal Department

Led by Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Chief Development Officer Robert E. Smith, the Pinnacle West Capital/APS legal department handles all legal matters for the Phoenix-based, investor-owned electric utility holding company. APS is recognized for its strong customer growth, healthy finances, principled environmental, social, and governance focus and innovative energy solutions to meet the changing needs of its customers. APS is committed to power Arizona’s future with electricity that is 100% clean and carbon-free by 2050.

Michael Rafford

Senior vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary

Isola USA Corp.

Rafford has exhibited the highest form of strategic, proactive thinking in managing the various matters – transactional, regulatory and litigation – that come before him. These matters have ranged from active involvement in defending some of the earliest, most aggressive “patent troll” litigation in the country, to managing complex international plaintiff’s patent litigation, to supervising the transition of internal structures, processes, and personnel from publicly-owned to privately held company, to dealing with a wide variety of employee, vendor and other disputes.

Mark Reynolds

Vice president, senior litigation counsel

Meritage Homes

Since joining Meritage Homes in 2009, Reynolds has been instrumental in assisting the organization navigate the fluctuating homebuilding market. As vice president of litigation and claims management, he helps ensure the organization’s brand integrity and is known for his collaborative nature and commitment to lead with integrity above all else. Prior to Meritage, Reynolds served as in-house counsel with Wendy’s International, Inc. (as well as several additional subsidiaries).

Christy Rosensteel

General Counsel and vice president of people operations

Freestar

Rosensteel is an experienced in-house counsel with broad, high-level experience working closely with senior management in human resources, business development, marketing and promotions, operations, finance and sales. She is effective at balancing legal requirements against the needs of the organization, ensuring strong business performance in compliance with applicable laws and regulations.

Clay Scheitzach

Executive vice president, secretary, general counsel 

DriveTime

Scheitzach was named executive vice president, secretary and general counsel for DriveTime in March 2018. Scheitzach, who most recently served as a senior vice president, assistant general counsel and chief compliance officer for Conduent, an international business process services company, has more than 19 years specializing in business and corporate law. He received his bachelor’s of science at the University of Texas and his MBA and JD from Texas Tech University.

Danny Seiden

General counsel

Valor Global

Recognized as one of “Arizona Capitol Times’” 2020 Leaders of the Year in Public Policy, Seiden continues his 16-plus-years legacy in global public affairs and government relations in service to Valor Global. His legal expertise and contributions to Valor Global include handling complex legal matters in private practice and public sector service. Alongside his role with Valor Global, Seiden is an adjunct professor at Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University and is a board member and chair of the Legal and Regulatory Reform Committee for the Arizona Chamber of Commerce.

Timothy Shaffery

Chief legal officer

Smith Bagley

Practicing law for upwards of 26 years, Shaffery has served as Cellular One’s chief legal officer since 2012. Of his many professional accomplishments, he is recognized for his gift in crafting win-win agreements, despite challenging circumstances and socio-cultural barriers. Of note, Shaffery helped raise the telecommunications service reach of Navajo, Hopi, Zuni and Apache tribes from approximately 27% (when the company began 25 years ago) to 80%, enabling tribal residents to have greater access to mobile phone service as well as broadband data.

Douglas Shamah

General counsel

WebPT

Shamah is an experienced general counsel with a demonstrated history of working in high-growth technology and healthcare companies. He is skilled in privacy law, Software as a Service (SaaS), healthcare, mergers and acquisitions, corporate law, intellectual property and employment law. Earlier this year, he was instrumental helping WebPT, the leading outpatient physical rehabilitation SaaS platform, acquire one of its chief competitors, Clinicient and its subsidiary Keet.

Laura Showalter

Senior attorney

Pinnacle West Capital/APS

With more than a decade of experience in labor and employment, Showalter is known for her leadership and execution of complex projects for Pinnacle West Capital/APS. In addition to handling projects involving multiple internal and external stakeholders, Showalter manages all employment claims and litigation in Arizona, California, New Mexico, Colorado and several other states for Arizona’s largest public utility. She is also recognized for her diplomatic and pragmatic approach as a thought leader in the labor and employment space.

Michael Silhasek

General counsel

Discount Tire

Silhasek was recruited by Discount Tire in 2019 to create an emerging technologies group in the company’s legal department. Silhasek is responsible for managing a wide array of legal matters that touch on intellectual property, robotics, fleet services and the electric vehicle market. Discount Tire operates in 36 states in the United States, and is the largest independent tire and wheel retailer in the world. The company is headquartered in Scottsdale.

Robert E. Smith

Executive vice president, general counsel and chief development officer

Pinnacle West Capital/APS

In addition to 25-plus years of legal experience, Smith’s longevity within the energy industry spans upwards of two decades. In his current role, he oversees all aspects of APS legal affairs and corporate secretary functions, in addition to managing the company’s growth plans and strategies. Smith also serves as chair of the board of directors for Global Action, as well as serving on the board of trustees of the El Faro Ephraim Foundation and the finance committee and advisory board of the Musical Instrument Museum.

Trevor Steege

General counsel

Arrivia

During the pandemic, Steege stepped up to support Arrivia — a travel-based technology company — helping the organization effectively transition to a remote workforce. His forward-thinking and expedient approach to problem solving has been instrumental in additional aspects in his role as general counsel. In his nine years in practice, Steege helped secure prominent mergers and acquisitions and partnerships, as well as navigating and binding an on-site management team and a private equity leadership, earning him the title of “peacemaker.”

Troon Legal Department

It may have begun with one facility, but now, Troon — a professional club management company — has expanded to 625-plus locations and 655-plus golf courses. As part of prioritizing their clients’ needs, Troon provides its own in-house legal team. This highly-experienced, collaborative legal department works tirelessly to cover all legal functions from reviewing documents and contracts to any other task affecting each club and its ability to succeed and prosper.

Trulieve (formerly Harvest Health) Legal Department

Since its inception, Trulieve — formerly Harvest Health — has been recognized not only for specializing in curated cannabis products and dispensaries, but also for its work with charitable organizations. From 2013 to date, the company has donated upwards of $500,000 to local charities involving veterans, seniors and patients in need. Working tirelessly to move the organization’s endeavors forward is Trulieve’s legal department — led be General Counsel Nicole Stanton and consisting of six attorneys (doubling in size from the company’s start). Since going public in November 2018, the Harvest legal team closed 20 transactions in multiple states totaling more than $500 million.

Matthew Walls

Assistant general counsel

HonorHealth

HonorHealth’s journey in Phoenix started in 1927, with rich and robust roots that have led to the expansion of six hospitals in Phoenix and Scottsdale, five of which achieved Magnet status (the gold standard of nursing care designated to only 6% of the nation’s hospitals). In service to  HonorHealth, Walls contributes his legal specialties in employment law and human resources. His expertise and skills set includes wage and hour, discrimination, harassment, human resources advising, insurance litigation, mediation and arbitration.

Peter Witty

In-house counsel

Cable ONE

Witty, who’s legal career spans upwards of two decades, currently manages in-house counsel for Cable ONE, a  leading broadband communications provider, serving more than 1.1 million residential and business customers in 24 states. Witty oversees all of the company’s legal, regulatory and compliance functions. Prior to joining Cable ONE, he served as general counsel and secretary for Gas Technology Institute (GTI) and various positions with Abbott Laboratories.