AWI Board of Directors

Sue Ann Van Dermyden, President. Ms. Van Dermyden is a founding partner of Van Dermyden Maddux Law Corporation (VMLC).  Since 1993, she has focused on employment law.  After years of litigating employment cases in state and federal courts, her practice primarily focuses on conducting workplace and Title IX campus investigations.  Ms. Van Dermyden also serves as an expert witness in employment matters, regularly conducts training seminars on employment matters and Title IX workplace investigations, and provides employment-related advice and counsel.  She has handled hundreds of workplace investigations on all types of employment matters.  Ms. Van Dermyden is experienced in testifying during administrative and judicial proceedings relating to her own investigations and as an expert witness on the adequacy of the investigation.  She is also an experienced investigator in Title IX sexual assault claims, and a founding member of T9 Mastered, a training firm for Title IX investigations.  Her commitment to and passion for improving the quality of investigations extends beyond her team of ten attorneys at VMLC.  Ms. Van Dermyden was listed in Northern California Super Lawyers in consecutive years from 2010 to 2015. In 2015, she was elected as a Fellow to the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers. Election as a Fellow is the highest recognition by one’s colleagues of sustained outstanding performance in the profession, exemplifying integrity, dedication and excellence.  Ms. Van Dermyden is a graduate of CSU Chico (1990) and the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law (1993).

Michael Robbins

Michael A. Robbins, Immediate Past President. Mr. Robbins is president of EXTTI, Incorporated—a company he founded more than 17 years ago. EXTTI provides expert testimony, training and investigation services in employment matters. He is a frequent lecturer and author on employment issues. Mr. Robbins has conducted and/or supervised over 500 workplace investigations and has served as an expert witness in 500 employment cases—mostly on workplace investigation and interactive process issues. In addition, he has served as a Consent Decree Monitor in discrimination cases in Federal District Court. Prior to forming EXTTI, he was a labor & employment attorney for 20 years—including 4 years as in-house counsel and 16 years in two nationally recognized law firms. Mr. Robbins graduated Phi Beta Kappa from San Diego State University and received his JD degree from UCLA School of Law. He is a long–time member of the Executive Board of the Los Angeles County Bar Association Labor & Employment Section and is an officer of that Section. In addition, he is a Fellow of the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers, a founding member and past president of the Society of Independent Workplace Investigators (SIWI), and is a charter member, and sustaining member of the Association of Workplace Investigators.

Keith RohmanKeith Rohman, Vice President. Mr. Rohman is the president of Public Interest Investigations, Inc. (PII) in Los Angeles, a firm with over 30 years’ experience assisting corporations, government entities and attorneys. He has been involved in many high-profile cases, including litigation related to the torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib, allegations of shootings of Iraqis by Blackwater, Inc., the trial against Los Angeles police officers accused of beating Rodney King, and numerous capital murder cases. Mr. Rohman is an adjunct professor of law at Loyola Law School, where he teaches fact investigation. Mr. Rohman served as the court appointed Monitor in the matter of Pierce v. Orange County, et al., a federal ADA class action case filed on behalf of disabled inmates at the Orange County Jail. He was appointed by the L.A. County Board of Supervisors to the Equity Oversight Panel (EOP) of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, a civilian oversight board that oversees Internal Affairs investigations of discrimination allegations at the LASD. PII was contracted to investigate discrimination complaints against elected officials and high-level County executives with the County of Los Angeles, and was selected by the City of Los Angeles as an investigator for the Special Committee on Investigative Oversight which handles similar investigations. Mr. Rohman served as the executive director of Los Angeles City Office of Discrimination Investigation, which conducted more than 300 employment discrimination investigations, and provided recommendations to the City Council on restructuring how the city handled these matters. Mr. Rohman is a sustaining member of AWI and has been a popular speaker at AWI annual conferences, seminars, webinars, and Institutes.

Karen KramerKaren Kramer, Treasurer. Karen Kramer is an employment law attorney specializing in workplace investigations. Since forming Kramer-Wiese in 2000, Ms. Kramer’s practice has focused primarily on conducting personnel investigations involving allegations of discrimination, harassment and retaliation, as well as misconduct and disciplinary matters. She previously litigated employment law matters with Porter Scott and worked as an employment law attorney with LexisNexis. Ms. Kramer’s experience includes testifying during administrative and judicial proceedings regarding completed investigations. Ms. Kramer has conducted hundreds of workplace investigations for public agencies, and is well versed in the Public Safety Officers Procedural Bill of Rights and the Firefighters Procedural Bill of Rights. She has also conducted many complex and high profile investigations involving high level public employees and elected officials. Ms. Kramer is a graduate of the University of California, Irvine (1989) and University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law (1992).

Marilou F. MirkovichMarilou F. Mirkovich, Secretary. Marilou Mirkovich is a partner in the Cerritos office of Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo. Ms. Mirkovich represents employers in all aspects of labor relations and employment law. She focuses on defending discrimination claims in federal and state courts and handles matters pending before the EEOC, DFEH, and FEHC. In addition to her employment practice, Ms. Mirkovich serves as the firm's lead investigator on numerous public and private sector matters. Ms. Mirkovich has served as President of the Board of Directors for the Community Family Guidance Center. Ms. Mirkovich has also been on the Board of Directors for the Friends of the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts.

 Terri Abad Levenfeld, Director. Terri Abad Levenfeld is a bilingual attorney who conducts impartial workplace, education and Title IX investigations in both English and Spanish.  Ms. Abad Levenfeld's clients include public entities, private employers and educational institutions.  Her workplace investigations involve all employee positions and elected officials, from entry-level laborers to leaders of large organizations.  In her Title IX and education investigations, Ms. Abad Levenfeld works with elementary schools through post-graduate programs.  She is experienced and adept at navigating the diverse and often complex issues that arise in the workplace, school and campus environments.  Prior to dedicating her practice to investigations, Ms. Abad Levenfeld spent over 15 years representing both plaintiffs and defendants in employment, civil rights and personal injury cases.  This multi-faceted background provides her with a distinct degree of impartiality when conducting investigations.

Elizabeth GramignaElizabeth Watson Gramigna, Director. Ms. Gramigna is an employment lawyer with a practice located in Short Hills, New Jersey. Her firm’s approach is client-centered, providing professional services that support a respectful, productive, and practical manner of eradicating harassment and discrimination in the workplace through impartial investigations, mediations, and education. In addition to her legal training, Ms. Gramigna is certified as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR), and has a Bachelor in Science degree in Management and Industrial Relations. She is a frequent lecturer, having lectured in New York, New Jersey, and Philadelphia about workplace investigations, including ethical issues presented in investigations, and has authored several publications relating to investigations. Ms. Gramigna is a member of the New Jersey State Bar Association, Section on Labor & Employment Law as well as the American Bar Association, Section on Employee Rights and Responsibilities, where she serves on the Workplace Investigations and Employee Privacy Sub-Committees. Ms. Gramigna is a graduate of the 2013 AWI Institute. An active member of AWI, she is the local convener of the Greater New York Local Circle, she spoke at the 2013 Annual Conference, served on the Faculty at the 2015 Institute in Mystic, CT, and has been selected to present at AWI’s 2015 Annual Conference. Ms. Gramigna authored "Recent Employment Law Decisions Impacting Workplace Investigations," which was in the April/July 2014 AWI Quarterly. She has also been selected as faculty for the 2016 Institute. Ms. Gramigna is also an active member of the Society of Independent Workplace Investigators (SIWI), which recently published a Code of Ethics for Workplace Investigators, and she serves as a co-chair of the Grants Committee for the New Jersey Women Lawyers Association.

Lindsay Harris

Lindsay Harris, Director. Ms. Harris brings considerable employment law and investigative experience to her current practice focused on conducting independent investigations of suspected workplace misconduct. Prior to founding West Coast Workplace Investigations in 2009, she spent nearly five years as senior counsel at Speer Associates/Workplace Counsel, where her practice focused on conducting internal investigations of alleged workplace misconduct, with an emphasis on high-level, complex, and sensitive matters. Among other employment law-related claims, Ms. Harris has examined allegations of discrimination retaliation, harassment, and sexual favoritism. Ms. Harris has investigated allegations affecting senior and executive management, and her clients have included companies across a variety of industries, Fortune 500 companies, and public-sector organizations. Prior to joining Speer Associates, Ms. Harris practiced employment law at the international law firm of Morrison & Foerster. She currently serves as Chair of AWI's Marketing and Recruitment Committee. 

Monica Jeffrey, Director. Monica Jeffrey is a founding partner at JMJ Workplace Investigation Law LLP one of the first law firms in Canada to devote its practice exclusively to conducting third party impartial workplace investigations.  Prior to specializing in workplace investigations, Monica practiced in employment and labour law for 10 years, working with public and private organizations across multiple industries and sectors, including unionized and non-unionized workplaces.  She represented both employees and employers in the past.  Since launching the firm in early 2013, Monica has gained vast experience in workplace investigations involving grievances and complaints of human rights discrimination and (sexual) harassment, bullying, retaliation and employee misconduct.  She has also been retained in matters involving multiple and anonymous complainants, multiple respondents, reciprocal complaints, senior executives and Boards of Directors, highly politicized and sensitive matters. Monica is a sustaining member of AWI, previously co-convened the Toronto local circle and has been a faculty member at the 2015 and 2016 Institutes.  

Emily Kaufer, Director. Emily Kaufer is a graduate of McGill University, Faculty of Law, in Montreal, Quebec.  She currently works at Air Canada, in the Human Resources department, as the Manager of Human Rights, Harassment and Privacy Compliance. Ms. Kaufer heads the Harassment Office at Air Canada, and conducts formal workplace investigations involving allegations of harassment, workplace misconduct and violations of policy. Ms. Kaufer delivers training to employees and managers on human rights, harassment and respect in the workplace. Ms. Kaufer also supports Management in dealing with workplace conflict. Prior to her employment as a workplace investigator, Ms. Kaufer was an attorney at a multimedia company, where she practiced entertainment and labour law. Ms. Kaufer is an active member of AWI, including in her role as a member of the Board of Directors and Chair of the newly established Canadian Committee. Ms. Kaufer received her Certificate of Completion from the 2015 Training Institute in Mystic, Connecticut, and participated as faculty member in 2016 at the first Canadian Institute in Niagara on the Lake, in Ontario, Canada.

Eli MakusEli Makus, Director. As an employment attorney, Mr. Makus has conducted, managed, and litigated workplace investigations. He started his practice as a management-side employment law litigator for Hanson Bridgett, a San Francisco law firm. There, he litigated cases where the underlying workplace investigation was a key factor and also conducted workplace investigations as outside counsel. He then moved in-house to a large, northern California health system where he conducted workplace investigations and supervised internal HR investigations and outside investigations. Mr. Makus also advised and trained the company on developing an internal investigations program. Mr. Makus started a firm with two excellent partners which specializes in workplace investigations and employment law compliance. He is passionate about the industry, about law practice management, and about the many opportunities to leverage technology to conduct more thorough and efficient investigations and to better serve clients.

Judy MimsJudy L. Mims, Director. Ms. Mim has been active in AWI since she joined in 2012 and attended the 2013 AWI Training Institute in Santa Barbara. Since then, she has been a speaker about internal investigations at an annual AWI conference, and co-presented an annual AWI Investigations Basics day long training in Seattle, WA. In 2014, she was selected to be a full-time faculty member for the AWI Training Institute and taught at the east coast institute in Mystic, CT. Ms. Mimis values her involvement with AWI as she appreciates conducting workplace investigations as a profession and wants to contribute to AWI’s efforts to continue setting the standard for this body of work. She brings her experience as an EEO internal investigator at the Microsoft Corporation and 20+ years in labor and employment law as in-house counsel and HR for the University of Washington and the State of Washington. In the past, Ms. Mims has served as the chair of the Executive Committee for the Labor & Employment Section of the Washington State Bar Association as well as chair for the Young Lawyers Division Board of Directors for King County in Seattle, WA. Presently, she serves on the Board of Directors for the charity WestSide Baby which provides nearly half a million diapers and essential supplies annually to underserved populations in Western Washington. 

Elizabeth RitaElizabeth Rita, Director. Ms. Rita is a licensed Colorado attorney who has been conducting workplace investigations since 1994. An employment lawyer with more than 20 years of experience, Ms. Rita has conducted hundreds of investigations for clients. She has investigated complaints involving company-wide race discrimination, sexual harassment, rape, assault, ethics violations, ethnic origin discrimination, hostile work environment, age discrimination, retaliation, gender bias, SOX retaliation, public corruption and employee misconduct. Ms. Rita has trained HR professionals and lawyers in conducting investigations, and has spoken and written on this subject for a variety of audiences. She serves on the Workplace Investigations Subcommittee of the American Bar Association and is involved in the national Association of Workplace Investigators, where she serves as the Denver metropolitan area local circle contact. Her firm, WorkPlace Intelligence, LLC, is a Denver based business providing investigations and training to businesses, municipalities and government agencies around the country and in Canada.

Debra Schroeder, Director. Debra Schroeder is vice president, general counsel, corporate secretary, and ethics and compliance officer at the RAND Corporation. As general counsel, she serves as the legal adviser to the Office of the President, providing internal legal advice and counseling for both research and support functions, including but not limited to contracts and leases, human resources, intellectual property and licenses, export controls, human subject protection, memoranda of understanding (MOUs) and of agreement (MOAs), and adherence to regulatory requirements. She also serves as RAND's corporate ethics officer, overseeing our conflict-of-interest avoidance and adjudication process and the overall corporate integrity program. Ms. Schroeder has broad experience as corporate counsel, with special expertise in the areas of labor and employment, intellectual property, health care, risk management, and compliance and training. She was senior counsel at the Aerospace Corporation from 2006 to 2010, where she gained firsthand insights about federally funded research and development centers and government contracting. Her other experience includes time in private law firms and as deputy general counsel of a medical and dental financial services and consulting firm; as corporate counsel and director of risk management at Parkview Health, the largest health care delivery system in northeastern Indiana; and as manager of industrial relations with the Essex Group of manufacturing concerns. Ms. Schroeder is a member of the California and Indiana state bars and a registered patent attorney. She earned her B.A. in chemistry and French and her J.D. from Indiana University, Bloomington.

Allison West

Allison West, Director.  Allison West has a simple approach to employment practices: be proactive. In 2000, after practicing law at a San Francisco labor and employment boutique, Allison West, SPHR, started Employment Practices Specialists, where she uses her employment law background, coupled with sound knowledge of human resource practices, and advises employers in preventing and resolving employment claims. Ms. West specializes in conducting workplace investigations for employers of all sizes and industries, on a variety of topics, including harassment, discrimination, theft, violence, disability, and whistleblower issues. Ms. West also delivers interactive investigations training programs that include mock investigations and are filled with practical tips and tools for beginning to experienced investigators. Her expertise includes delivering one-on-one sensitivity training to executives and managers concerning harassment, discrimination, and disciplinary or behavioral issues and other HR consulting. Ms. West is a frequent speaker on employment law topics at national and local HR and industry conferences.