ALA Conference Recap: Cindy Snook


Even though many of us were not able to attend the ALA Annual Conference and Expo we can live vicariously through various local administrators who were able to attend.

Karen Wilhelmi recently shared her first-time attendee experience and we have a few other recaps from Sacramento administrators coming up which will be posted over the next week.

Cindy Snook and Michele Tracy “enjoying” the snow

Today we are sharing the experience of Cindy Snook who is a seasoned conference attendee! Cindy has the unique perspective of having served on the Region 6 Board of Directors from 2011 – 2013 as the Region 6 Projects Officer, even helping to plan two Regional Conferences as well as be the point person for the Exhibit Hall.

Cindy tells us about a couple of classes that stood out for her at the recent ALA Annual Conference and Expo:

The ALA Annual Conference this year had good and not so good aspects to it. We were situated in downtown Denver, Colorado and there were many interesting places and restaurants that you could walk to.  The not so good part was the weather in April.  We had a couple days of sunshine and several days of snow and rain.  I thought the hotel and the conference rooms were very accommodating with respect to walking distance, exhibit hall, etc.

One of the classes that I really was not anticipating attending but somehow ended up in due to the overbooking of another class was the “Surviving an Active Shooter” class.  The three police officers that presented during this class were all involved with capturing the shooter at the Columbine massacre.  They provided a great deal of insight into how to protect our law firms should we encounter such an unfortunate event. Some of the tips they gave were (1) run, (2) stay behind locked doors, (3) silence your cell phones so they cannot hear them ringing and, (4) the use of pepper spray. One of the things they told us not to do is to pull the fire alarm. The reason for that was that you don’t want the firemen interfering with the police officers who are hunting down the shooter. I found this class to be very interesting and hope that this never happens to any of us but it is nice to have a plan of action.

Another class that I really enjoyed was “Executive Presence: How to Achieve Greater Influence in your Firm,” presented by Elizabeth Fried, Ph.D.  She was an excellent speaker and had us go through several activities/exercises that I found to be very helpful. I liked the way she broke it down into how people see you and your executive presence: (1) How you Act, (2) How you Speak and, (3) How you Look.  One of the books that she suggested we buy was one titled “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There” by Marshall Goldsmith. I’ve already ordered my copy!

Joelle, Penny, Cindy, Tammie (l-r)

I would say the highlight of my trip was being able to spend some quality time with the other members of our chapter going to various events and dinners.  We are lucky to have so many talented individuals in the SVALA to bounce ideas off of from time to time.

Many thanks to Cindy for sharing her conference experience with us and for being such a valuable resource to SVALA members.

For those planning ahead, information about future conferences can be found here. The 2018 Conference will be held in National Harbor, Maryland. Hopefully, the weather cooperates!  

Also, don’t forget to check out the Virtual Conference Sessions!



Board Member Spotlight

Board Member Spotlight: Cindy Snook

I am delighted to spotlight another member of the 2016 – 2017 Board of Directors! (We’re almost done with the Board Member spotlights and will need to move on to general members – please let me know if you want to answer a few, painless questions).

Back to Cindy . . . I have long admired Cindy Snook for her professionalism, intelligence, willingness to give back to others as well as her ability to be tough when the situation calls for it. She has successfully managed several local law firms and has several stints of SVALA Board service under her belt. The board appreciates and relies on her leadership and experience.

Cindy and her mom
Cindy and her mom

She not only is a stand-out administrator but also a genuinely nice person who adores her family and is a kick to hang with at conferences or luncheons.

I loved learning about Cindy’s start in the legal community and hope you do too!

Cindy Snook, PHR
Director of Human Resources
Downey Brand
SVALA Board Position: Director at Large

Tell us about your professional life. After graduating from college I worked in a small law firm in my home town of Alturas, California as a legal secretary. That was my first exposure to the legal profession. I was offered a position with the County of Modoc as their Administrator for their Mental Health, Alcohol and Drug programs which I managed for five years before relocating to Sacramento in 1985.

The State Mental Health system had no openings at the time I moved to Sacramento so I applied for a legal secretary position at the largest law firm in Sacramento; Greve, Clifford, Diepenbrock & Paras and was hired on the spot. I quickly advanced up the ladder at that firm and became the assistant to the Administrator and managed their Records Department.  When George Paras decided to leave the firm and do private judging he asked me to go with him and become the Administrator for Grossfeld and Dougherty.

Cindy and her HR team
Cindy and her HR team

That is where my law firm management quest began. I managed several law firms in Sacramento before settling in at Downey Brand, LLP. I went back to school at UC Davis to study for the Professional in Human Resources exam (PHR) and became certified in 2007.  I have been a guest lecturer at American River College for the past seven years in their Paralegal studies program. One of my former partners at Kronick Moskovitz volunteered me to do this a long time ago and they keep asking me to come back and I really enjoy teaching students about the hiring process and how law firms really work!

At my current firm, I am the Director of Human Resources and I oversee the IT, Records, Office Services and staffing and I have been here for two years and this is where I plan to retire.

Cindy with her mom and daugher
Cindy with her mom and daughter

Why did you choose to serve on the SVALA Board? I was always fascinated with ALA as both of my former bosses at Greve Clifford were chapter presidents and I would help them prepare for their meetings, etc. I told myself that one day I would like to be the President! Boy, did I take that task to hand. I have served two terms as President, Past President, Director at Large and President-Elect.

I was appointed Regional Officer of ALA in 2012, where I served two terms. I love the people in our organization and every time I talk to one of my colleagues I always learn something fascinating about their firms and/or their leadership skills. We have such a talented group.

Tell us something about your personal life/passion. Well, let’s see….. I’m married to a local doctor who specializes in taking care of those patients who live in chronic pain and he was recently elected Speaker of the California Medical Association. Together we have a blended family of six (yes I said six) children. Around Mother’s Day we will be blessed with our first grandchild so I’m going to assume that will become my next passion in life. I can’t wait!

Cindy and her husband, Lee
Cindy and her husband, Lee

I also serve on another Board as Secretary to the Sierra Sacramento Valley Medical Society Alliance, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of health in our community through education, funding and volunteer support. I love spending time with my family and traveling with my husband when we get the opportunity to take a breather.

Many thanks to Cindy for taking the time to tell us about her career path and why she has chosen to serve on the SVALA Board of Directors. She told herself she would be the President of the SVALA and far surpassed that goal. She is clearly a force!

Also, in case you missed it, please check out the most recent Business Partner Spotlight of Sierra Office Supplies and Printing!