Board Member Spotlight – Cindy Cintas Pilon, CLM



I am pleased to introduce you to Cindy Cintas Pilon, CLM who is on her second stint of being a SVALA Board Member. Cindy served as Treasurer a few years ago and, yes, we talked her into serving again! She is currently serving as the Law Firm Leadership and Holiday Luncheon Chair.

It is wonderful to have Cindy back on the Board and even more wonderful learning a bit more about her. I think you will enjoy “meeting” Cindy too!

Cindy Cintas Pilon, CLM
Law Firm Leadership and Holiday Event Chair


Cindy Pilon (left) with Julie Denker (right) at the 2016 CLI Conference

Cindy Cintas Pilon (left) with Julie Denker (right) at the 2016 CLI Conference

Tell us about your professional life. I have been working as the Office Manager for Johnson, Greene & Roberts LLP for close to five years. This spring we moved our offices to Capitol Mall and I love being downtown again. During my career, I have worked for two other law firms and in between had the opportunity to work as a manager for an administrative unit at UC Davis with architects and engineers. I ended up coming back to the legal field after encouraging others to follow their heart in their career (and wanting to keep mine intact with my long, scary commute over the Yolo Causeway!). I am drawn to the legal profession’s interesting work, talented professionals, challenging situations, and the sense of accomplishment when overcoming those challenges.

Last fall I earned the designation as a Certified Legal Manager. The entire experience of studying and sitting for the exam was demanding yet extremely rewarding. Pass or fail, I knew the journey was going to be very worthwhile. I enjoyed every moment and have created life-lasting bonds with those who participated in our study group (you know who you are!). Navigating the hurdles that I encountered made the outcome even more gratifying. And the achievement feels absolutely wonderful!

Cindy's container garden

Cindy’s container garden

Why did you choose to serve on the SVALA Board? This is my second time to serve on the SVALA Board. The first time I distinctly remember Ken Sockolov and Craig Price convincing me at a holiday luncheon (no doubt after a glass or two of wine!) that the time commitment for the Board position of Treasurer would consist of just writing a couple of checks a month. Ha! Not even close! They got me hook, line, and sinker, but I am so glad they did. I soon came to realize that I received a great deal more from my volunteer role than I could ever give back. I am pleased to be serving again this year as the Law Firm Leadership and Holiday Event Chair. Paula Lee is our co-chair and you will not want to miss the holiday luncheon she organized for December 7th at the Empress Tavern.

Cindy and her granddaughter, Makeena

Cindy and her granddaughter, Makenna

Tell us a little about your personal life/passion. On the personal side, one thing that most people do not know about me is that I grew up on a ranch in Santa Clara when the valley still had orchards, well before it became known as the Silicon Valley. All four of my grandparents came from Spain and they farmed the valley like they did in the Mediterranean. I have fond memories of climbing cherry trees, cutting apricots, defending myself from walnuts used as weapons by my older cousins, and checking on the rabbits, goats, and chickens. My grandfather would give us a tour of his large garden and always shared his bounty of delightful fruits and vegetables and my grandmother her flowers. I think this is why I love being outdoors and truly appreciate lush green spaces. I think too this is where I learned my strong work ethic and my strong sense of family.

This summer I planted a raised container garden for the first time and made plum jam from the tree in our backyard. I hope to expand my garden this coming year with the help of my teenage granddaughter, who came to live with us over the summer. A delightful challenge…it is funny how things work out!

Thank you for sharing a bit about yourself, Cindy! Earning the CLM is quite an accomplishment and I am sure those hard-working grandparents would be proud!





Business Partner Spotlight: Pacific Records Management


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Richard Steed, Vice-President of Pacific Records Management, took a few minutes out of his busy day to answer a few questions about why Pacific Records Management supports the SVALA as well as to tell us a little bit about what they do.

We are pacific-storage-logopleased to have them as one of our original Platinum Business Partners and are looking forward to partnering with them at the October SVALA luncheon. The luncheon will be held on Wednesday, October 26 at Casa Garden Restaurant (which has ample parking!). Our speaker, Nitza Medina-Garcia, CRM is a Certified Records Manager and will talk about “Managing Law Firm Records,” even giving us tips on designing and implementing records retention schedules.

The program starts promptly at 12:45 but feel free to arrive a few minutes early to visit with fellow administrators and our Platinum Business Partners. Please RSVP to our Programs and Education Chair, Kellie B. Narayan.

Let’s get back to Richard and Pacific Records Management! After all, they are in the SPOTLIGHT this week!

Thank you for being a Platinum Business Partner of the Sacramento Valley Legal Administrators Association. Please tell us why you chose to support our organization.

We are fortunate to work with many in the legal community. We work with more legal firms in the SVALA than any other competitor. We value our association with the SVALA and feel it is an important partnership. The SVALA is a wonderful opportunity for us to visit with our current customers and meet with new ones. The relationships we have made over years are invaluable.

Please tell us about Pacific Records Management and the services you provide.

Pacific Records Management is a complete provider of records management services including storage, retrieval, and web based inventory management.


Cheri Blethen and Richard Steed at the 2015 Labor Update Breakfast

Alternately, we can scan files and electronically return them; or host them in a secure web environment.

Our shredding division offers the peace of mind knowing your documents will be properly shredded ensuring compliance and security. We have recently added hard drive and media shredding as a service.

Our four hour fire rated vault designed to offer you the latest in protection for your back up media and vital records. Our vault is equipped with the latest in security protection, climate and temperature controls, and 24/7 access availability to assist with any potential disaster recovery needs.

Give us a little background about yourself. How long have you been in the business? How long have you been with Pacific Records Management?

I was born in Salt Lake City, but have lived most of my life in Northern California including Fremont, Rohnert Park and the Sacramento region.

I started with Pacific in 1985, first in sales. My initial thought was a four year venture while I completed graduate school. After finishing graduate school, and enjoying what I was doing, I decided to stay and have been with Pacific ever since! My first area of focus was records management. Several years later, I was asked to be Sacramento Branch Manager. About 17 years ago, we had a change in our company leadership, and we separated our company along product lines. I was asked to lead the records management team and have been focused on this ever since.

How is it different working with law firms than other non-legal businesses?

I find that law firms are well managed and organized. Usually, there is a documented records retention policy in place and procedures are followed. We also tend to see a lot more paper in law firms!  Also, more law firms are managing their electronic media with clear procedures in place vs. non-legal business.

We find that the legal community understands the importance of document security.

Tell us how you would describe your working style. What makes you successful at what you do?


Richard and his wife, Lora, volunteering at the 2015 Community Connection Event

I truly value and appreciate our customers and the trust we are given to protect their documents. We strive very day to not take this for granted. Our goal is to be exact in everything we do and ensure security and professionalism. We invest in technology, staffing, facilities and equipment that helps us accomplish this.

We are fortunate to have a wonderful team of employees who work together with this common goal. Many of our employees have been with us a long time. We strive to foster camaraderie among our employees and a place they want to work.

Tell us something fun you enjoy doing outside of work.

My wife and I are blessed with eight grandchildren and a fairly new addition to the family, a black Cocker Spaniel! We enjoy spending time with them including camping, family dinners and T-ball games!

We also enjoy traveling, spending time at the beach, baseball games and the outdoors. Recently we purchased a couple of hammocks and enjoying hanging around!!

What do you want the SVALA members to know about you and Pacific Records Management?

Richard and Lora enjoying Paris

Richard and Lora enjoying Paris

I hope that the members of the SVALA will think of Pacific Records Management as a quality, safe and secure provider of records management services. To those who we currently work with; we are grateful and never want to take for granted the trust and confidence placed with us. We are always striving to provide this service in a more effective manner.

Many thanks to Richard for not only answering our questions but for his involvement in the SVALA. Richard can always be found at luncheons, at our special events (such as the Law Firm Leadership lunch) as well as our Community Connection Event. One of the few times Richard missed a luncheon was because he and his wife traveled to Paris! I guess we will let that slide . . .

Hope to see you all at the luncheon later this month!

Trish Hughes Kreis





Community Connection Event: Connections, Advocacy and Alzheimer’s


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The Sacramento Walk to End Alzheimer’s took place on Saturday, October 1 and several SVALA members had the privilege of helping at the registration tables.


Meg Wilson and Joan Gabrielson

Joan Gabrielson, Community Connection Event Chair, did a fabulous job coordinating the volunteers and even arranging parking for us. This was our second year working the event and several of the volunteers from last year were back this year. That means we were the seasoned pros!

Joan chose to support the Walk to End Alzheimer’s again this year through our Community Connection Event because it was so rewarding last year and means so much to so many of our members.

The Walk to End Alzheimer’s is a successful annual fundraising event which not only funds research to get rid of this devastating disease but also goes toward “Alzheimer’s care, support, awareness and advocacy.”

A few facts about Alzheimer’s from the Walk to End Alzheimer’s website before getting back to our day:

  • It’s the only cause of death in the top 10 in America that cannot be prevented, cured or slowed;
  • One in three seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or another dementia;
  • There are more than 15.9 million caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias in the United States;
The "flower girls"

The “flower girls”

It isn’t difficult to figure out why people volunteer for this event. Aside from greeting and registering 2,600 walkers, processing credit card contributions and ringing cowbells for the grand champions, we shared a connection and stories of how Alzheimer’s has wormed its way into our lives.

Just how insidious is this disease? These are just a few of the volunteers impacted by Alzheimer’s:

  • Yvonne and Mark Moore, volunteered as a way to honor Mark’s mom, Betty Moore, who they had cared for before she died.
  • Sue Nielsen volunteered to support her mom who is the caregiver to Sue’s grandmother who is living with dementia and, of course, to also honor her grandmother.
  • Cheri Blethen, SVALA President, and her daughter Meagan, were involved to honor Cheri’s beloved mom (and Meagan’s grandmother) who died from Alzheimer’s.
  • Joan was there to honor her mother, Doris Johnson, who had dementia and her sister-in-law, Barbara Beattie, who is currently living with Alzheimer’s and her brother, Steve Beattie, who is the caregiver for his wife, Barbara.
  • Rachel Hughes and I, along with my husband and brother, were there to remember and honor Rachel’s grandmother and my former mother-in-law, Betty Hughes, who also died from Alzheimer’s.
Richard Kreis, Richard Steed and Rachel Hughes (l-r)

Richard Kreis, Richard Steed and Rachel Hughes (l-r)

We shared stories with one another (such as how Betty, even through the fog of her dementia, frequently asked for her favorite adult beverage (beer) at the memory care unit where she lived).

These are just a few of the people who have been affected by Alzheimer’s. The 2,600 walkers and the other volunteers each have their own story of how this brutal disease has impacted their life.

Event registration started at 8:00 a.m. but the volunteers were at the event getting some pre-event training at 7:00 a.m. As Joan said, “Everyone arrived with smiles!” (Although, I suspect this had something to do with the gallon of coffee most of us were guzzling at this hour.)

The SVALA had 22 volunteers this year which included nine members, ten guests and two Business Partners! We so appreciate Richard Steed of Pacific Records Management and his wife, Lara, for helping again this year and welcomed and appreciated the assistance of Karla Jackson of CMA Insurance Services.

Joan shared that “when registration ended, Tally Kingsnorth, the Sacramento Alzheimer’s Association Volunteer Engagement Manager, stopped by with personal thanks for our time and attention to detail.”

Hey, we’re legal administrators. Attention to detail is our middle name!

Only some of the volunteers!

Only some of the volunteers!

Aside from volunteering at the event, SVALA is also collecting donations to give to the Walk to End Alzheimer’s. So far, Joan and the SVALA members have donated $1,500! It isn’t too late to donate so please consider asking your firm for a donation to help end Alzheimer’s.

Please make your donations payable to SVALA and we will present one check to the Alzheimer’s Association, Greater Sacramento.

Please mail donations to:

Joan Gabrielson
c/o Cook Brown
555 Capitol Mall, Suite 425
Sacramento, CA  95814

Special thanks to Joan for coordinating this volunteer effort and for getting so many people downtown at 7:00 a.m. on a Saturday. Oh! And for the free t-shirt!

Again, many thanks to the SVALA members, their families and friends and our valued Business Partners for your continued support of the Community Connection Events and the Walk to End Alzheimer’s!

Trish Hughes Kreis


Board Member Spotlight: Julie and Karen


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It has been a while since we ran a Board Member Spotlight but who can forget that Lindsey and Susan love to travel and Joan loves to do some ballroom dancing! Or that Paula loves both dogs and Star Wars and Kellie is who you want with you in Hawaii and when going out for sushi!

We have several more board members to feature over the next few months. We also would love to feature a member or two! It is fun to find out a little bit more about our fellow administrators so let me know if you are interested in answering a few questions.

Today, let’s see what surprises Julie Denker and Karen Wilhelmi have up their sleeves!

Julie Denker, President-Elect

Julie's three grandkids - taken before grandbaby #4 arrived!

Julie’s three grandkids – taken before grandbaby #4 arrived!

Tell us about your professional life. I am currently putting my Legal Administrator career on hold to enjoy being a grandma! I help take care of my new grandson, Nixon, and will get back into the legal world after the first of the year. Before taking time off, I was a Firm Administrator at a Roseville firm. Prior to that, I was Firm Administrator/Legal Secretary for a small boutique firm in Auburn for 12 years. My introduction to the legal field started almost 25 years ago as a receptionist for a real estate, bankruptcy law firm in San Luis Obispo. As a young single mother of three without a college degree, the legal profession seemed to provide greater growth and financial opportunities for me at the time. Through the years my skill set and experience have grown by doing almost every job there is in a law firm setting except be an attorney. Though a difficult and challenging industry I can’t imagine doing anything else. As far as certifications, several years ago I obtained my paralegal certificate and I intend to sit for the SPHR exam at the end of this year.

Why did you choose to serve on the SVALA Board? As a junior administrator working far from downtown I needed to find a way to surround myself with seasoned administrators and network. That is when I discovered ALA and then SVALA. Looking back on my first couple of meetings, boy was I scared and shy. But before long I found myself surrounded by a group of administrators who were more than willing to share their knowledge, experience and friendship. Soon I found myself serving two years as Law Firm Leadership Chair. Serving on the board has provided me the opportunity to strengthen my project and team management skills, help increase my business knowledge, and build a network that are ready whenever I need to call upon the people in it.

Tell us a little about your personal life/passion. Oh my goodness. Well, some might be surprised to learn a very long time ago I drove (yes, I really drove) a semi-truck across country and back. Was I a licensed truck driver you ask? I plead the 5th! Also, in another lifetime, I lived on a ranch in North Eastern British Columbia south of the Yukon border where we farmed wheat and raised cattle. There I learned to live off the land, which means moose, elk and deer hung in the meat shed (no worries about spoilage winters get well below zero)! I learned to can and pickle vegetables from the bountiful summer garden and pick summer berries in the spring while keeping a watchful eye out for bears. While my (then) husband maintained a trap line, mined gold in the Yukon, worked the ranch, and guided hunters in the mountains (actually called the bush), I was home on the ranch tending to our newborn daughter, canning, sewing, knitting (yes, I actually sewed his western denim shirts and knitted sweaters) and sometimes I was the fill-in cook for the 13 ranch hands. I learned rather quickly the ranch hands expected three square meals that included homemade bread, meat and potatoes at every meal. What? You mean you don’t like Cornflakes for breakfast? I was so young and had so much to learn! It was a rough, tough beginning but soon I fell in sync and love with the lifestyle and I am more than grateful for the experience. When the time came, sunny California never looked so good!

Julie's husband, Randy

Julie’s husband, Randy

Marrying my husband seventeen years ago is one the greatest joys of my life. Without a doubt he is my rock!  He retired from law-enforcement nine years ago and has morphed into quite the house-husband running the entire household – even having dinner on the table when I walk through the door from work! In addition to Randy, my greatest loves are my four grandchildren. Peyton is 8, the two boys just turned two and Nixon was just born September 1! We are blessed beyond measure they live close by and that allows my husband and me to be active and involved in their lives and activities. Home life, grandkids and work is all I have time for at this stage of my life. However, retirement is oh-so-close.🙂 Our country is rich in history and holds some beautiful natural wonders all of which I want to take in at a leisurely pace behind the wheel of our car.

Karen Wilhelmi, Chapter Website Chair
Chief Operating Officer/Chief Financial Officer
Weintraub Tobin

Karen attending an Adele concert

Karen attending an Adele concert

Tell us about your professional life. I am the COO/CFO at Weintraub|Tobin and have been here three years! I didn’t choose the legal field (this is my second go-around at a law firm) but I certainly enjoy it and there isn’t a slow day. I am a Chico State graduate and Coopers & Lybrand (yes, I am dating myself) alumni and have a CPA license.

Why did you choose to serve on the SVALA Board? I always had considered getting more involved but never offered – I am a first time board member. Cindy Snook and Cheri Blethen asked if I would and so I said yes!  It is a good way to get involved (at least behind the scenes with the website) and I have been enjoying it.

Tell us a little about your personal life/passion. What personal life?  No, that’s right, we all have great work/life balance. Sometimes time flies and I don’t know where the month went. A little of this and a little of that. My highlight this year might have been going to the ADELE concert at Staples Center this month (picture attached).

Many thanks to Julie and Karen for sharing a little bit about themselves.

If I had to choose between driving an 18-wheeler or feeding a bunch of hungry ranch hands and going to an Adele concert – well, Adele would have to be the winner! No one wants to see me drive an 18-wheeler (or cook for that matter).🙂

I am constantly amazed at how the board is comprised of people from so many different backgrounds and with such a variety of life experiences.

I look forward to learning even more about the rest of the board members and, hopefully, some members!

Trish Hughes Kreis




Community Connection Event: Walk to End Alzheimer’s



Several SVALA members and a Business Partner or two helped at the Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s registration booth last year and it was so much fun we are doing it again!

CCE Walk to End Alzheimer's (2015)

CCE Walk to End Alzheimer’s (2015)

Every year our Community Connection Event chairperson plans an event for the SVALA members to participate in and make a difference in our community. Members have helped refresh the Sacramento Children’s Home, cleaned up landscaping at the Ronald McDonald House and even mended dog kennels for a local dog rescue organization.

Joan Gabrielson is the current Community Connection Event Chairperson and because the event last year was such a rewarding experience she planned for members to do it again! Not only do we meet hundreds (if not thousands) of people walking for a worthy cause but we are able to work as a team with our fellow members, laughing and giggling the whole time – even at 7:00 a.m.!

Plus, we get a free t-shirt!

Landscaping with Ronald McDonald

Landscaping with Ronald McDonald

The walk is this Saturday, October 1 and we while we do have enough volunteers for the registration table we definitely need more donations!

Please consider asking your firm for a donation to help end Alzheimer’s. Many of our members have a personal story about Alzheimer’s or who care for a family member who suffers from it or any of the other dementias. Let’s support our fellow members by showing our commitment to stopping this brutal disease.

Please make your donations payable to SVALA and we will present one check to the Alzheimer’s Association, Greater Sacramento.

CCE - Mending kennels

CCE – Mending kennels

Please mail donations to:

Joan Gabrielson
c/o Cook Brown
555 Capitol Mall, Suite 425
Sacramento, CA  95814

Many thanks to Joan for coordinating this effort and for somehow talking us into coming back to downtown on a weekend! (Did I mention we have to be here by 7:00 a.m.?)

Also, many thanks to all SVALA members for your continued support of the Community Connection Events!

Trish Hughes Kreis