Women’s Initiative (WAVE)


Women’s Initiative (WAVE)

A central component of Wilson Elser’s diversity and inclusion initiative, WAVE (Women Attorneys Valued & Empowered) exemplifies the firm’s progressive approach to advancing the professional and personal well-being of its women attorneys. Its mission, embraced by the entire organization, is simple and straightforward:

“To attract, develop and retain women attorneys by enhancing and strengthening their skills and by providing career-advancing opportunities in client service, business development and leadership.”

As of June, 2020, Wilson Elser ranks #21 on the National Law Journal (NLJ) 500 Women’s Scorecard, representing a year-over-year increase of 10 points.

Guided by a Steering Committee of experienced women partners, WAVE is facilitated by 12 rotating members throughout Wilson Elser’s office network, representing more than 300 women attorneys. WAVE recommends, implements and monitors efforts related to supporting this important constituency while attracting and developing future leaders – inclusive of associates, of counsel and partners.

National Programs
WAVE implements and oversees related programming at the national and local/regional levels. Programs, while varied, are mutually reinforcing and combine to serve the single purpose of advancing WAVE’s mission. Examples in 2016 include:

  • WAVE Makers highlights and celebrates on a monthly basis the many
    professional achievements of our women attorneys.

  • Pathway to Success” provides a forum for Wilson Elser committee members and others to share information with women attorneys on compensation and advancement within the firm.

  • Leadership Development includes a speaker series with subject matter experts discussing challenges women face in the workplace.

  • Mentoring matches women associates with senior attorneys who can provide valuable information and insights on strengthening client service and enhancing their practices

Women attorneys at Wilson Elser are represented at disproportionately high percentages relative to many other law firms of similar size and stature. Most notably, we have more female than male
associates. In addition, substantial percentages of our partners and of counsel are women. WAVE is committed to further bolstering these numbers and empowering the women behind them.

Local Programs and Outreach
Taking advantage of grassroots enthusiasm, many Wilson Elser offices are developing and implementing related initiatives on a local level. Building on our national programs, local activities include panels, guest speakers, networking opportunities and community service. In addition, several of our women attorneys hold senior positions in local bar associations and charitable organizations.



Carolyn O’Connor
New Jersey | Regional Managing Partner

Regional/Office Representatives

Nicole Haimson
Albany | Associate

Tawana Johnson
Atlanta | Of Counsel

Angela Russell
Baltimore | Regional Managing Partner

Christine Knipper
Boston | Partner

Lisa Handler Ackerman
Chicago | Of Counsel

Carla De Leon Stafford
Dallas | Of Counsel

Kristina Oropeza
Dallas | Of Counsel

Elvia Hague
Houston | Associate

Karen Bashor
Las Vegas | Partner

Valeria Granata
Los Angeles | Associate

Yoora Pak
McLean | Partner

Tanya Suarez
Miami | Associate

Jana Simmons
Michigan | Of Counsel

Joanna Piorek
New Jersey | Partner

Kerry Ayala
New York | Associate

Judy Selmeci
New York | Partner

Jennifer Walsh
New York | Of Counsel

Erin Zecca
New York | Associate

Noelle Sheehan
Orlando | Of Counsel

Erin Siciliano
Pennsylvania | Of Counsel

Kelly Van Nort
San Diego | Of Counsel

Lisa Passalacqua
San Francisco | Of Counsel

Lauren Gibbons
Washington, DC | Associate

Rachel Budofsky
White Plains | Associate

Emily Fernandez
White Plains | Partner

Christina Marshall
White Plains | Partner

Jana S. Farmer
White Plains | Partner

Sun Ah (Michelle) Park
White Plains | Associate

Aviva Stein
White Plains | Partner