Let’s start this monthly SVALA luncheon recap with a huge THANK YOU to Kellie Narayan, our Programs & Education Chair. We would not have these terrific luncheons and topics if it were not for her hard work in hunting down dynamic speakers and interesting topics.
Thank you, Kellie!
Back to the luncheon recap: no, the August luncheon was not really about sex – it was about gender (did I get that right?). Samson Elsbernd, an attorney with Wilke Fleury, explained there is a difference between the two and it can make quite a difference when using one word or the other on a job application.
Samson’s presentation on “Simply Sex . . . Sex, Gender, Gender Identity, Gender Expression in the Workplace, and Tips for Eliminating Bias” showed us not only how well-versed he is on the topic but also how a sensitive subject like this can be handled with maturity and grace. Not only that, but Samson’s pop-culture acumen was impressive! I mean, how often do you go to a luncheon that somehow ties together Twisted Sister, The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Mrs. Doubtfire?
There were more questions than usual from the audience which indicated to me we were engaged in learning more about this topic. One interesting question was about the seeming increased prevalence of transgender individuals today than in previous generations. Are there more transgender individuals now or are people just more willing to express who they are than they were fifty years ago? Samson didn’t have a definitive answer to that question but it is very likely people are more willing to “come out” as their true selves today.
However, the social issues and our personal beliefs about this topic are of no matter when it comes to the law. While I personally think it is a step in the right direction when we allow people to freely express who they truly are, others may disagree or have some level of discomfort with it.
When it comes to the law and managing our firms, our personal beliefs need to be set aside. What is important is that we are following the rules and treating employees equally, fairly and with respect. Not every employer does, though, as evidenced by Samson’s statement that he is kept very busy with FEHA claims.
Whether a firm is currently dealing with these gender identity and transgender issues in the workplace now or will be in the future, Samson advised training and educating managers and employees now so they will be well-prepared for when the situation does present itself.
Many thanks to Samson for sharing his knowledge on this important topic.
Coming up: The September 28 luncheon will feature Mary Grandy of EPIC Insurance Brokers & Consultants who will present on 360° Risk Management for Law Firms.
In our last Board Member Spotlight, we learned Lindsey is anything but a homebody; Susan loves traveling, the ocean, her granddaughter and rescue dog (not necessarily in that order) and Joan probably surprised us all with the revelation that she has a past that includes competitive ballroom dancing!
Join me in learning about two more of our board members, Paula Lee and Kellie Narayan. Let’s see what surprises they have in store for us!
Paula Lee, Law Firm Leadership and Holiday Event Chair Sacramento Operations Manager Klinedinst PC
Tell us about your professional life. I have the exciting life of an Operations Manager. I have loved my firm and its people for 24 years. I started my career with Klinedinst PC as a production clerk right out of college (BA in Communications from UC Santa Barbara) and was promoted to the accounting department almost immediately. When I started in the accounting department there were three of us. The other two moved on and I was left to build and manage the accounting department up to an eight person team. I transferred up from the Klinedinst’s San Diego office and I helped open the Sacramento office in 2004 with one attorney and myself. The Klinedinst’s Sacramento office now has 11 attorneys and six support staff.
Why did you choose to serve on the SVALA Board? I decided to serve on the board to hang out with a couple of friends and put my spare time to good use. My very first time on the board was in 2012 as the Newsletter Editor and I also served as the Community Connection Event Chair in 2013. This year I am co-chairing the Holiday Party and Leadership Luncheon with Cindy Pilon. Save this date: Wednesday, December 7 for the Holiday Party at Empress Tavern. Jolly times ahead!
Tell us a little about your personal life/passion. I love Star Wars and have attended San Diego’s Comic-Con for the past four years and I am very blessed to have a husband and two nephews that tag along. I also have an adorable golden retriever named Delilah who is so sweet and very spoiled.
My favorite SVALA event to attend is the Community Connection Event. The charities that we sponsor are always so appreciative and thankful and it’s such a great way to serve our community. What a fun way to support others and do some good.
Kellie B. Narayan, Programs and Education Chair
Tell us about your professional life. I am the Executive Director at Wilke Fleury in Sacramento. I have been with Wilke Fleury since January 1, 2015 when I joined the firm after relocating from the Bay Area to move closer to family.
I have worked in the legal field for 25 years and done absolutely every job there is to do in a firm except become an attorney, which I decided at the last minute not to do after taking the LSAT, and applying and being accepted to Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco. I decided to go into personnel management instead and obtained my SPHR certification. I let it lapse a few years ago since H.R. is just one (vital) part of the overarching operational management roles required by an E.D. That said, effectively managing Human Resources is always close to my heart and informs so many of the issues we manage on a daily basis.
I have a B.A. in Communication and minor in Sociology from the University of Hawaii, Manoa. I returned to college as a 27-year old single mother with an 8 year old. Kayla Joy, who is now 27, lived on campus with me in Hawaii for 3 years while I attended college. I walked her to school each day, went to my classes, then picked her up and we went to the beach in Waikiki. It was amazing! I also studied Japanese for 3 years while attending UH and traveled to Kyoto, Japan for summer study my second year. Unfortunately, I have forgotten most of the Japanese I learned, but I can still order food and say “Good morning!” if necessary. I received several scholarships while attending UH, and won the Best Public Speaking award in my first-year Public Speaking class.
Why did you choose to serve on the SVALA Board? I have a sickness – I am obsessed with being better, learning more and making law firms better. I absolutely love how incredibly smart, savvy, interesting, capable and strong law firm administrators must be, and I am always hungry to learn from others who daily navigate the incredibly challenging positions we all hold. Cheri Blethen and I got together for lunch one day and she mentioned that there was a position coming open and asked if I would be interesting in serving. I told her I would be thrilled to be considered, and she nominated me to the Board.
Tell us a little about your personal life/passion. After 16 years as a single mother, I married my husband, R.D. (who I actually dated when Kayla Joy was 3!). Our tale travels down a long and winding road, but we are happy to have been married for 11 years and added two beautiful children to our family. Elaine is now 10 and Daniel is 6. We also just recently adopted a beautiful 2.5 year old German Shepherd named Brando. Our families are all in the Folsom/Sacramento area and we are thrilled to be so close to family now that we see everyone so much more often. We attended the same church in the Bay Area for 20+ years and enjoyed a rich circle of friends with so much love and support, so now that we are in the Sacramento area, we are thrilled to have found a great new church and have met some wonderful new friends and families.
I spend all of my off-work time with family. We love just to be together, watch the kids jump on the trampoline in the backyard, enjoy outdoor bbqs with the neighbors and friends, sip a great glass of (red) wine and enjoy the amazing summer nights outside Sacramento. I love the rolling hills, the cows out by where we live, and the fresh strawberry stands along Grant Line Road — the poetry of nature sings to me as I drive home from work each night; drawing me gently away from the stress of the day and ushering me into peace. I love it!
Anything else you’d like to share? I am extremely competitive. In college, several of the top students and I would compete to see who had the highest “A” on a test or in the class. #NerdFun. Confession: When I was raising my eldest as a single mom, I wouldn’t even let her win at Candyland. I would be like, “Boom, Yeah! You GO to that Gumdrop Forest!!” I’m happy to say I’ve matured since then and take the kinder, gentler route with my young ones.
I am also in the process of writing a novel, which I hope to finish by the end of the year. No, it is not at all about law firms!
Many thanks to Paula and Kellie for sharing a little bit about themselves.
It is so much fun to learn new things about people we work with, whether it is in the office, on the Board of Directors or just socializing at a member luncheon. I encourage you to consider joining the Board of Directors at some point in your career. I guarantee you won’t regret it! (Well, you might regret it once you realize you have to participate in an interview with the Editor but it will only be slightly painful . . .)