2019 Speakers

Tsan Abrahamson

Cobalt LLP

Tsan Abrahamson’s practice focuses on strategic counseling in the areas of social media, sweepstakes, intellectual property, advertising, trademark clearance, trademark and copyright prosecution, licensing, and other business transactions. She also manages the adverse proceedings practice at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Trademark Trial and Appeal Board.
Tsan has an extensive practice in the area of marketing promotions, including social media promotions, such as on Facebook and Twitter, gift card and gift certificate marketing, print and online sweepstakes, contests, give-aways, warranties, rebates, and coupon promotions. She also advises on corresponding privacy issues related thereto.
Tsan’s advertising practice includes working with regulatory agencies to comply with federal guidelines, including new FTC guidelines regarding affiliate marketing, CAN-SPAM. and the Deceptive Mail Prevention and Enforcement Act. She also advises on ad campaigns, including script review, storyboard clearance, and network media placement.

Melissa Bailey

Shareholder, Ogletree Deakins

Melissa Bailey focuses her practice on occupational safety and health issues, and also serves on the Firm's Board of Directors. She litigates OSHA cases before federal and state agencies and courts, and also represents employers during government inspections and investigations. Her practice also includes providing compliance advice and conducting privileged audits on complex workplace safety issues.
Melissa represents employers in a wide range of industries, including electric utilities, chemical manufacturing/refining, retail, food processing, construction, and drug manufacturing. Melissa also regularly represents clients before OSHA in connection with rule-making and policy formation. She has testified before Congress regarding OSHA issues, and has advocated for management interests with regard to OSHA enforcement and compliance policies.
Melissa has practiced occupational safety and health law for over 15 years and, as a result, she understands the legal issues as well as the practical issues confronting employers. She routinely assesses both the current and future liability that may result from significant OSHA citations, and identifies the most effective approach – whether that is a strategic settlement or litigation – in each case.

Stephanie Becker

Sr. Vice President, General Counsel and Chief Legal Officer, Associated Wholesale Grocers, Inc.

Ricardo Carvajal

Director, Hyman, Phelps & McNamara, P.C.

Ricardo Carvajal is a Director at Hyman, Phelps & McNamara, P.C., a law firm based in Washington DC that specializes in FDA and related regulatory and litigation matters.  From 2002 to 2007, he served as an Associate Chief Counsel at FDA, where he counseled the agency on a variety of food-related enforcement and rulemaking activities.  Drawing on that expertise, he now counsels clients on managing inspections, responding to warning letters and other enforcement actions, resolving import detentions, and conducting product recalls. 
He advises clients on the regulatory status of ingredients and finished products, and provides guidance on compliance with labeling and advertising requirements, as well as representation in advertising-related disputes.  He helps clients interpret and comment on the implementation of new requirements, such as those arising from the Food Safety Modernization Act, and those applicable to the production and marketing of hemp and its derivatives.  He applies his subject matter expertise to corporate transactions, issuing opinions and conducting due diligence for acquisitions and initial public offerings.  He is a member of the Food and Drug Law Institute, the American Bar Association, and the European Food Law Association.

Samantha Dietle

Associate, Hogan Lovells US LLP

Sam Dietle provides practical legal solutions and regulatory guidance to all segments of the food industry, including manufacturers, restaurants, retailers, animal producers and processors, and their trade associations.

She advises clients on federal and state regulatory issues that arise throughout the entire food supply chain, including labeling and advertising compliance and claim substantiation issues, enforcement actions by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), litigation support, and drafting comments on proposed regulations and agency guidance. Sam also counsels clients in consumer products industries on compliance with Consumer Product Safety Commission (CSPC) requirements.

Matthew Gardner

Partner, Wiley Rein LLP.

Matt advises clients on a wide range of cybersecurity issues, including preparing for and responding to cyber incidents and interacting with regulators and law enforcement. He has extensive experience working with critical infrastructure companies to manage cyber risk, and he routinely advises clients on complicated issues involving the intersection of law and emerging technologies. Matt frequently helps clients prepare for and respond to network vulnerabilities, including working with the U.S. Departments of Justice (DOJ) and Homeland Security (DHS) to find creative solutions to challenging security issues. Prior to joining Wiley Rein, Matt was a federal prosecutor with a focus on investigating and prosecuting computer crimes.

Sara Kalis

Shareholder, Littler Mendelson, P.C.

Sara Kalis represents management in all aspects of labor law, with a particular focus on matters involving union organizing campaigns, organized labor and labor relations counseling. She has handled collective bargaining negotiations, labor arbitrations and grievance proceedings, mediation and matters involving the National Labor Relations Act before the National Labor Relations Board. She has successfully represented companies throughout the country in union organizing campaigns. Littler clients have benefited from Sara’s expertise in assisting clients in preventive strategic planning, vulnerability audits, supervisory training, and aggressive representation. Fortune 500 companies nationally as well as local employers across various industries (including manufacturing, healthcare, services, and others), seek Sara’s expertise in remaining union-free and in managing their union-represented workplaces.

Jackie E. Kalk

Shareholder, Littler Mendelson, P.C.

Jacqueline E. Kalk represents and counsels management clients in a wide variety of industries, including manufacturing, construction, crowd sourcing and virtual companies. Jacqueline’s practice encompasses a broad range of employment law matters, with a particular focus on independent contractor classification and wage and hour litigation and analysis. She litigates individual, class and collective claims of all types, appearing in state and federal courts and before administrative agencies on matters such as:Independent contractor classification, Wage and hour, Equal pay, Equal employment matters.

Jacqueline's expertise extends to counseling management on how to properly classify workers, avoid litigation and develop necessary policies and practices. She also has implemented training classes for employers in a wide variety of venues targeted at understanding the litigation process and avoiding litigation.

Alyssa Rebensdorf

Counsel, Faegre Baker Daniels LLP

Alyssa Rebensdorf leverages more than a decade of experience to help food industry clients solve litigation and regulatory challenges. She provides client-centered counsel during litigation in state and federal courts nationwide and advises clients on risk management and compliance to avoid litigation. She also helps clients, including entrepreneurial natural and organic food companies, sort through the many business issues faced by small and emerging companies, ranging from how to comply with product labeling regulations to effective contracting with suppliers.

Amber Roller

Shareholder, Ogletree Deakins

Amber Roller is a shareholder in the Labor and Employment and Disability Access practice groups in the firm’s Los Angeles office. In her employment litigation practice, Amber focuses on defending employers on the full range of employment claims, including discrimination and harassment, wrongful termination, and family and medical leave laws. Amber also counsels clients regarding disciplinary decisions, workplace accommodations, leaves of absence, wage and hour compliance, and other employment-related transactions.
Amber also has extensive experience advising and defending clients, both big and small, in matters involving access for individuals with disabilities under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the California Unruh Civil Rights Act. She frequently represents retail stores, restaurants, stadiums, and other places of public accommodation in litigation and by providing compliance guidance and best practices.

Leslie G. Sarasin

President and CEO, FMI

Leslie G. Sarasin is the president and chief executive officer of  FMI, the food industry association, which represents more than 1,500 member companies in the United States and around the world. Under Sarasin's leadership, FMI has become a forward focused and member centered organization committed to help supermarkets excel in their role of feeding families and enriching lives. Her synergistic style and determined spirit of collaboration has infused FMI with a renewed commitment to help its members address the critical industry issues of the day - food safety and the emerging importance of health and wellness. Prior to coming to FMI, Sarasin was president and CEO of the American Frozen Food Institute.

Mark Schneider

Shareholder, Co-Chair, Traditional Labor Practice Group, Littler Mendelson, P.C.

Mark W. Schneider focuses his international practice on representing management in all phases of labor law and labor relations before the National Labor Relations Board, the Department of Labor, as well as other State and Federal agencies. Mark regularly assists domestic and multi-national companies with strategic planning, negotiates labor contracts, litigates labor arbitration, matters before the National Labor Relations Board, and assists in development and implementation of positive employee relations programs. Mark speaks nationally and conducts training for employer groups and trade organizations, including the Society for Human Resource Management, the Food Marketing Institute, the Grocery Manufacturers Association, as well as other trade associations and private industry. In addition, he has been a lecturer on labor law for the Graduate School of Business at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and has taught labor law for the State Bar of Wisconsin. Currently, Mark serves as co-chair of the firm's Traditional Labor Practice Group, and is a Fellow of the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers.

Steven Steinborn

Partner, Hogan Lovells

Steven Steinborn literally wrote the book on food labeling as a principal author of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) labeling guide. On top of that, he offers clients 28 years of experience in guiding informed business decisions, considering food laws and other regulations, as well as the environment in which companies operate.

Representing food processors, restaurant chains, foodservice operators, ingredient suppliers, and trade associations, Steven focuses on advertising, labeling, and food safety. He is also a strong advocate in enforcement matters brought by the Federal Trade Commission, the Food and Drug Administration, the USDA, and state regulators as well.

Joan Stewart

Attorney at Law, Wiley Rein LLP.

Joan Stewart is Of Counsel with Wiley Rein LLP in Washington D.C.  She counsels clients on issues of regulatory compliance and privacy, including state and federal regulations, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and the General Data Protection Act (GDPR).  Joan evaluates and advises clients on the applicability of various laws to their business and the obligations imposed by state, federal and international regulations relating to their collection, use, and sharing of data.  She assists clients in developing policies—internal and external facing—that clearly communicate their privacy practices.  Joan is CIPP/E certified. 

Hilary Thesmar

Chief Food & Product Safety Officer & VP, Food Safety Programs, FMI

In her role as the Chief Food & Product Safety Officer & Senior Vice President of Food Safety Programs for the FMI, Dr. Hilary Thesmar provides leadership for all safety programs for FMI’s retail and wholesale members and provides support for members on food safety training programs, FSMA training, recall plans and management, crisis management, research, and overall safety and sanitation programs.   She also works with the FMI Foundation on food safety education and research projects.  

Dr. Thesmar has a Ph.D. in Food Technology from Clemson University, a Master of Science degree in Human Nutrition from Winthrop University, a bachelor’s degree in Food Science from Clemson, and she is a Registered Dietitian.  She has over a decade of experience in scientific and regulatory affairs with food trade associations.  

Dr. Thesmar is an active member of the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), the International Association for Food Protection and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.  Dr. Thesmar currently serves as the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Partnership for Food Safety Education.  

Laura Venker

Senior Associate, Alston & Bird

Laura Venker applies years of experience working with manufacturers, suppliers, and distributors in all stages of product life cycle management to provide clients with valuable insight into their FDA regulatory matters. She has advised all sizes of business, from startups to Fortune 100 companies, and her unique experience has given her a deep understanding of her clients’ needs, priorities, and goals, as well as the challenges they may face.

Laura focuses her practice on advising clients on regulatory inspections; assisting in implementing recalls; advocating for clients facing adverse regulatory determinations, including FDA notices of action and detention, USDA notices of violation, 483 inspection observations, and warning letters; and defending clients against advertising challenges brought by class action plaintiffs, competitors, and the Federal Trade Commission.

In addition to the knowledge she provides in food and drug law, she also advises clients in many international trade matters, including country of origin determination, tariff classification, qualification under free trade agreements, and use of bonded warehouses.

George Wood

Shareholder, Littler Mendelson, P.C.

George R. Wood focuses on discrimination and other employment litigation and client counseling. Practicing regionally in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa, he frequently handles matters involving: The Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act,The Family and Medical Leave Act , Compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, Unfair competition, Title VII.
Additionally, George regularly counsels clients on such issues as: Employment terminations, Disciplinary actions, Discrimination and harassment complaints and investigations, Leaves of absence, Wage and hour issues, All other facets of personnel management.