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Melissa A. Peña

  • Jun 17, 2020Norris McLaughlin Elects Melissa Peña to Management Committee

    Melissa A.  Peña, a Member of law firm Norris McLaughlin, P.A., has been elected to the firm’s Management Committee. She succeeds Robert C. Gabrielski who has served on the committee for the past eight years and has stepped down to allow the next generation of leaders to play a more active role in managing the firm.

    About the Norris McLaughlin Management Committee

    Peña will join John N. Vanarthos, Chairman of the firm, and the other esteemed Management Committee members, including David S. Blatteis, Dolores A. Laputka, Bruce S. Londa, Robert Mahoney, and David C. Roberts, to collaborate and oversee the day-to-day operations of the firm with the goal of preserving the firm’s values, mission, and culture, as well as implement strategic growth plans for the firm’s future success.

    “I am humbled by the trust my colleagues have placed in me by selecting me to join the management team, particularly during such an unprecedented time for the legal industry and our clients,” said Peña. “The committee has already successfully navigated the firm through the early stages of the pandemic, focusing on our clients’ evolving needs and the safety of our staff. I intend to contribute to our progress and focus on strategic planning to ensure the firm’s future growth.”

    Chairman John Vanarthos added, “Melissa brings a wealth of business acumen and years of leadership experience. She has shown that she possesses a strategic vision and has a proven track record of success. Her focus on the firm’s clients, their needs, and the firm’s best interests, along with her many other contributions to the firm reflect her deep commitment and understanding of the firm’s core values. She will contribute a unique perspective to the Management Committee and we look forward to benefiting from it.”

    About Melissa Peña 

    Peña serves as the Chair of the Norris McLaughlin Bankruptcy & Creditors’ Rights Practice Group, which is well suited to assist clients as the impact of the pandemic takes its toll on the economy.

    Peña is also a member of the firm’s Women’s Forum and its Diversity Committee, and is committed to mentoring and developing female and minority attorneys through their careers. Peña joined Norris McLaughlin as a summer associate and, upon graduation from law school, returned as an associate and was then promoted to member. “Over the years,” Peña said, “I have been fortunate to be mentored by many attorneys at Norris, and I attribute my career path to the development efforts of this firm. It is important to me to continue to focus on women and diversity, and to support the firm’s values.” Active in the legal community, she is a member of the Asian Pacific American Lawyers Association of New Jersey, the International Women’s Insolvency and Restructuring Confederation, the Turnaround Management Association (New Jersey), and New York County Lawyers’ Association.

    Peña serves on the Board of Directors of Meritas, an established global alliance of more than 180 independent, full-service law firms in every U.S. state and in 90 foreign countries. She is also a member of the Meritas Quality Assurance Committee and the Chair of the Meritas Financial Services Group.

    Peña concentrates her practice in the areas of bankruptcy, commercial litigation, and mortgage foreclosures. Her practice covers all aspects of litigation and insolvency matters in both state and federal courts. She frequently represents secured lenders, creditors’ committees, debtors, trustees, landlords, and other creditors in Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings pending in New York, New Jersey, and Delaware. Peña also has extensive experience litigating cases involving UCC matters, actions to enforce promissory notes and guarantees, inter-creditor agreements, lien priority disputes, equipment leases, fraudulent conveyance actions, preferences, and various creditor enforcement matters.

    Peña earned her J.D., cum laude, from The American University Washington College of Law in 2003 and her B.A., magna cum laude, in Political Science, from George Washington University in 2000.

    Posted in: Melissa Anne Peña, News | Tags:

  • Nov 21, 2019Norris McLaughlin Appoints Diversity Committee Chairs

    The law firm Norris McLaughlin, P.A., is pleased to announce that it has named Chairs of its Diversity Committee. The newly appointed chairs will continue the firm’s efforts to develop an initiative for the recruitment, support, retention, and advancement of diverse attorneys at the firm. The committee includes Members of the firm, Daniel R. GuadalupeSaleem Mawji, Melissa Anne Peña, and Annmarie Simeone.

    “Commitment to diversity is no longer measured simply by the adoption of equal employment opportunity and affirmative action policies. It is now integral and essential to successful overall business strategies. We are excited to have these Co-Chairs coordinate and lead a number of efforts to advance and retain diversity within our firm and the community. We are committed to recruiting, retaining, and promoting a diverse workforce that reflects the world in which we live and the clients that we serve,” said John N. Vanarthos, Chairman of the firm.

    About Dan Guadalupe

    Guadalupe, Co-Chair of the firm’s Litigation Practice Group, represents clients in commercial litigation and provides “outside” general counsel assistance with a specialty in business disputes, medical device companies, construction, professional liability defense, arbitrations, will and trust litigation, and international disputes. He is on the exclusive roster of construction arbitrators of the American Arbitration Association and is an arbitrator for the International Court of Arbitration, International Chamber of Commerce in Paris, France. He also served on the Supreme Court of New Jersey Disciplinary Oversight Committee and Lawyers Advisory Committee to the Federal Courts and was a member of the Merit Selection Panel for Selection of U.S. Magistrates, the Local Federal Rules Revision Committee, and the District XIII Ethics Committee for the Office of Attorney Ethics.

    As General Counsel for the Hispanic National Bar Association for two different Presidents, Guadalupe helped lead efforts to lobby for appointment of a Hispanic to the Supreme Court and met with U.S. Senators and White House staff regarding said appointment. Guadalupe was appointed by Governor Christie in 2011 to serve as an advisor to the New Jersey Hispanic Center for Policy & Research until 2013. Guadalupe earned his J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania and his B.A. from Columbia College (President Barack Obama’s graduating class).

    About Saleem Mawji

    Mawji, Co-Chair of the firm’s Litigation Practice Group, devotes his practice to complex commercial litigation matters, focusing primarily on three areas: shareholder disputes, fraudulent investigations, and construction law. He represents business of all sizes, including some of the Lehigh Valley’s largest companies, in state and federal court. His construction practice focuses on litigation, mechanic’s lien claims, construction defects, and contractor/subcontractor payment disputes. He is experienced with Pennsylvania’s Construction Payment and the Prompt Payment Act. Mawji was honored in 2016 as one of the Forty Under 40 in Lehigh Valley Business, which recognizes young professionals who exhibit talent and promise and have a well-documented track record of achievements in business. He was appointed a member of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council for the Lehigh Valley Inter-Regional Networking and Connecting Consortium. A 2014 graduate of Lehigh Valley Leadership, Mawji is also a member of the Board of Associates of Lehigh Valley Health Network and Muhlenberg College. He is on the Board of Community Bike Works and is a member of the Allentown Chamber of Commerce. Mawji earned his J.D., magna cum laude, from Pennsylvania State University Dickinson School of Law, and his B.A., magna cum laude, from Muhlenberg College.

    About Melissa Peña

    Peña, Chair of the firm’s Bankruptcy and Creditors’ Rights Practice Group, concentrates her practice in the areas of bankruptcy, commercial litigation, and mortgage foreclosures.  Her practice covers all aspects of litigation and insolvency matters in both state and federal courts.  She frequently represents secured lenders, creditors’ committees, debtors, trustees, landlords, and other creditors in Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings pending in New York, New Jersey, and Delaware.  Peña also has extensive experience litigating cases involving UCC matters, actions to enforce promissory notes and guarantees, inter-creditor agreements, lien priority disputes, equipment leases, fraudulent conveyance actions, preferences, and various creditor enforcement matters. She also regularly represents lenders in commercial mortgage foreclosure proceedings.  Peña earned her J.D., cum laude, from The American University Washington College of Law in 2003 and her B.A., magna cum laude, in Political Science, from George Washington University in 2000.

    About Annmarie Simeone

    Simeone concentrates her practice on labor and employment counseling and litigation.  She primarily defends management in claims made by employees under state and federal employment laws, including whistleblower claims and claims alleging harassment and discrimination based on race, gender, religion, national origin, and disability.  Simeone’s work includes the defense of corporations, as well as individual officers, directors, and employees, addressing issues unique to small businesses, and challenges faced by larger companies.  She also provides advice and counseling to human resource professionals and in-house counsel on employment issues including employee leaves of absence, workplace investigations, employee discipline, and layoff and termination issues, including the negotiation and design of severance agreements.  Simeone drafts employee handbooks and employment-related policies and procedures, and has significant experience protecting businesses from liability by conducting training for supervisors and employees.

    Simeone, a Past President of the New Jersey Women Lawyers Association (NJWLA) and a Trustee of the Middlesex County Bar Association, received her J.D. from Seton Hall University School of Law in 1993, and her B.A., summa cum laude, from St. John’s University in 1990.  In 2013, she was named Outstanding Woman in Somerset County in the area of Law by the Somerset County Commission on the Status of Women; in 2016, she received the Professional Lawyer of the Year Award from the New Jersey Commission on Professionalism in the Law on behalf of the NJWLA; and in 2018, she received the Presidential Leadership Award from the NJWLA.

    Posted in: Annmarie Simeone, Daniel R. Guadalupe, Melissa Anne Peña, News, Saleem Mawji | Tags: , , ,

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