Executive Officers


Valissa Turner Howard, Esq.
President
President@nsmba.org

 

Valissa Turner Howard, Esq. is a Deputy Inspector General in the Cuyahoga County Agency of Inspector General, where she primarily focuses on ethics and compliance issues. Valissa also investigates complaints and initiates debarment and suspension proceedings.

Prior to joining the AIG, Valissa was an Associate Attorney with a legal and consulting firm in the San Francisco Bay Area where her practice was focused on business, personal injury, and workers' compensation law, with a particular emphasis on employment discrimination law.

Valissa also served as a federal judicial law clerk in Akron, OH, worked as a law firm diversity manager and law school senior administrator in Cleveland, OH, and practiced with a mid-size law firm in San Diego, CA.

Throughout her professional life, Valissa has been an engaged and resourceful community leader. In her first year of practice Valissa was appointed co-chair of the San Diego County Bar Association inaugural Diversity Fellowship Program, and participated as a Big Sister in the San Diego County Big Brother/Big Sister program. Later, she served as an Alumni Member of the Case Western Reserve University ("CWRU") School of Law Diversity Committee; Co-Chair of the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association ("CMBA") Diversity Career Fair; Chair of the Norman S. Minor Bar Association ("NSMBA") Annual Trailblazer Luncheon; and Membership Secretary of NSMBA.

Additionally, Valissa served as a panelist for the CMBA 5th Annual Diversity and Inclusion Conference, and the Women of Color Foundation 11th Annual Personal and Professional Development Retreat for Women of Color. She currently serves as the 2016 - 2018 President of NSMBA, is an Active member of the Junior League of Cleveland, a Writing Counselor for Minds Matter Cleveland, and on the Board of Directors for Women of Color In Law, Inc.

Valissa obtained her B.A. from the University of California at Irvine, and received an M.S. and Certification in Diversity Management from Cleveland State University. She received her J.D. from CWRU School of Law where she was awarded a three-year Merit Scholarship and a 3L Leadership Award. Valissa is married to Mr. Karrie D. Howard, Esq. and lives in South Euclid, Ohio. They have three children.

Brandon D. Cox, Esq.
First Vice President
FirstVP@nsmba.org

Brandon D. Cox is an Associate in the Cleveland office of Tucker Ellis LLP.  He focuses his practice on the representation of drug and device companies in nationwide, multi-district litigation. Brandon's experience includes researching and briefing Daubert challenges and the various legal issues regarding the viability of summary judgment for drug and device companies.

Brandon is actively involved with the Tucker Ellis pro bono program, representing economically disadvantaged clients with housing and probate disputes.

Representative Cases

  • Obtained the exclusion of Plaintiff's medical and regulatory experts' testimony under Daubert, resulting in summary judgment for pharmaceutical manufacturer in case involving alleged injuries from prescription biologic (N.D. Ohio 2014)

Civic & Professional Involvement

  • Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association
    • 3Rs Instructor
    • Cleveland Mock Trial Competition Legal Advisor
  • Norman S. Minor Bar Association, Treasurer (2014-2016)
  • Federal Bar Association
  • Cuyahoga County Debarment Review Board
  • Cleveland Young Professional Senate, Civic Affairs Commissioner
  • Cleveland-Marshall College of Law
    • Black Law Students Association, Mentor
    • Minority Outreach Committee
    • Alumni Association Board of Trustees (2014-2017)
  • Frederick Douglass Moot Court Competition, National Advisory Board
  • Gilmour Academy, Mock Trial Legal Advisor
  • Kappa Alpha Psi Scholarship Foundation, Board Member

Speaking Engagements

  • "Objectives versus Means: The Lawyer-Client Relationship & Settlement Negotiations," Tucker Ellis Ohio Professional Conduct Program, Cleveland, Ohio (December 2015)
  • Midwest Black Law Students Association Career Panel (2013, 2014)

Publications

Awards & Professional Recognition

Dolores Garcia Prignitz, Esq.
Second Vice President
SecondVP@nsmba.org

Lola Garcia Prignitz is a commercial litigator in the Cleveland office of Jones Day, with particular experience in antitrust matters.

Lola has experience with multijurisdictional and multiparty matters, including work on antitrust investigations involving state attorneys general, as well as investigations by the Department of Justice and follow-on civil litigation. She also has experience counseling clients on compliance and internal investigation matters.

Lola is committed to an active pro bono practice and participating in public service activities. She has represented several clients on behalf of the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland. Lola also has represented asylum applicants before U.S. Immigration Courts and Board of Immigration Appeals, and she is currently leading the representation of multiple women and children who were detained in response to the surge of Central American immigrants in the summer of 2014.

She volunteers for the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association and is a member of the CMBA's 3Rs Steering Committee. Lola has served on several nonprofit boards and currently serves on the Minds Matter of Cleveland Board.

She is a member of the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association and Norman S. Minor Bar Association.

Ludgy A. LaRochelle, Esq.
Membership Secretary
MembershipSec@nsmba.org

LUDGY A. LAROCHELLE is an Associate in the Cleveland office of Weston Hurd LLP. He focuses his practice on counseling entrepreneurs, small businesses, and nonprofit organizations in matters involving commercial real estate, e-commerce and Internet law; employment; intellectual property; mergers, acquisitions and divestitures; and regulatory compliance.

Ludgy received his B.S. in 2001 from the University of Michigan, his J.D. in 2006 from the University of Dayton, and his MBA in 2013 from Cleveland State University. Ludgy gained his Ohio Bar admission in 2007. Ludgy is a member of the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association, the Ohio State Bar Association, and the Norman S. Minor Bar Association on which he serves on the Executive Board as Member Secretary. He is a member of the Fund Development Committee of the Ronald McDonald House of Cleveland, is a former member of the Board of Trustees of Ohio City, Inc., and served as the inaugural Chairman of the Next Generation Council of Cuyahoga County.

Representative Matters

  • Counseled IT services provider into restructuring various services agreements under master service agreement structure (MSA). Drafted and finalized terms for MSA, service addendums, authorized use policies (AUP), service level agreement (SLA), privacy policy, and Business Associate Agreement (BAA).
  • Overhauled and revised all major organization and board governance documents, human resource policies, and professional services agreements for Ohio non-profit organization with annual budget of $1 million in line with organization's strategic plan objectives.
  • Represented Ohio manufacturer in $1.2 million commercial park land purchase with 20,000 square foot facility expansion adjacent to municipal airport in Springfield, Missouri. Responsible for drafting and negotiating all transaction documents including purchase agreements, architecture agreement, construction agreement, easement agreements, FAA compliance protocols and various ancillary documents; coordination of all transaction components and closing.
  • Negotiated and executed three complex PCS license transactions for Ohio telecommunications client requiring authorization from FCC to sell licenses to purchasers totaling more than $20 million.

Lon'Cherie Billingsley, Esq.
Treasurer
Treasurer@nsmba.org

Lon'Cherie' Billingsley is the Treasurer for the Norman S. Minor Bar Association.  She is also an Assistant Prosecuting Attorney (APA) in Cuyahoga county.  She has been an APA since March of 2013.  She has tried over 30 cases during her time with the CCPO.  As a General Felony Unit APA, she handles Burglaries, Robberies, Felony Domestic Violence, Felony Theft, Fraud, and Attempted Murder cases.

She received her Juris Doctor (JD) from Cleveland-Marshall College of Law in 2012.  While in law school, she received numerous scholarships and awards.  She worked at the Spanish American Committee as a Consumer Law Clerk.  As a Consumer Law Clerk, she assisted individuals who had their identity stolen, discrimination issues, and immigration issues.  She also worked with Towards Employment as a Public Interest Fellow to assist with improving the system for background checks.  Additionally, APA Billingsley worked as a law clerk with Cleveland Municipal Court in the Magistrate's Department.  As a law clerk in the Magistrate's Department, she researched various civil legal issues and assisted in writing legal opinions.

APA Billingsley earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in three years from The Ohio State University in 2005 and is fluent in Spanish.  She is a graduate of John F. Kennedy High School where she continues to volunteer.  She is also a founding member of the Max 8 Legacy Group, Inc., a non-profit organization dedicated to giving back to the community.  APA Billingsley frequently participates in other volunteer events in the community, with her church, and through the CCPO.  She is a member of the Consumer Advisory Board with the City of Cleveland.  She is also a member of the American Bar Association, the Ohio State Bar Association, the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association, the National Black Prosecutors Association, and the Norman S. Minor Bar Association.

Karrie D. Howard, Esq.
Recorder
Recorder@nsmba.org

Karrie D. Howard is an Assistant United States Attorney with the United States Attorney's Office, Northern District of Ohio (USAO). Prior to working for the USAO, Karrie worked as an Assistant Prosecuting Attorney for the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office (2013-14) and an Assistant Prosecutor for the City of Cleveland (2007-13). He was also the first Parking Violations Hearing Examiner for the City of South Euclid (2012-13). In addition to being a career prosecutor, Karrie is also an Assistant Staff Judge Advocate in the Air Force Reserves with the rank of Captain.

Karrie earned his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from DeVry University, shortly after he completed active duty service in the United States Marine Corp. Later, he earned a Juris Doctorate from Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, and is currently in pursuit of his dual Master's Degrees in Business Administration and Human Resource Management from the University of Maryland University College.

Karrie is a member of the Masonic Lodge of William T. Boyd, #79, and a member of Zeta Kappa Kappa Chapter of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.

Darlene E. White, Esq.
Immediate Past President
Community Liaison
nsmbacleveland@gmail.com

Darlene White currently is the Deputy Director, Risk Management of the Cuyahoga County Department of Law where she is charged with the responsibility of developing and implementing a new comprehensive risk management program under the new County government.

She was previously a partner at the law firm of Gallagher Sharp where she practiced law in the areas of general litigation and professional liability for twelve years. As an experienced trial attorney, she represented public and private companies, insurance carriers, individuals, municipal entities and law enforcement professionals in civil lawsuits.

Ms. White obtained a B.A. from John Carroll University in 1992 and a J.D. from Cleveland State University, Cleveland-Marshall College of Law "C|M|Law" in 2000. Ms. White was admitted to practice law in the state of Ohio in 2000 and is also licensed to practice in the following courts: United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, and United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

Ms. White is actively involved in various professional organizations, including the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association (Board of Trustees 2011-2014, Executive Committee 2012-2013, & Diversity & Inclusion Committee) and the C|M|Law Alumni Associations (Board of Trustees, Minority Outreach Committee, Dean's Diversity Council and Scholarship Committee).

Hon. Ronald B. Adrine
President Emeritus