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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