Four New AWI Directors Elected


Teresa Abad Levenfeld, Monica Jeffrey, Emily Kaufer and Debra Schroeder have been elected as new members of the AWI Board of Directors. When they take office on November 2, 2016, they will join re-elected directors Karen Kramer, Elizabeth Rita, Sue Ann Van Dermyden, and eight other continuing directors on the AWI Board.

137 of AWI's 750 members voted in the annual election, which took place between September 27 and October 6, 2016. Each candidate received at least 118 affirmative votes. Click here for the complete election results.

Ms. Abad Levenfeld is an attorney with Spinielli, Donald & Nott in Sacramento, California, USA. Ms. Jeffrey is an attorney with JMJ Workplace Investigation Law LLP in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Ms. Kaufer is Manager of Human Rights, Harassment and Privacy Compliance for Air Canada in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Ms. Schroeder is Vice President, General Counsel, Corporate Secretary and Ethics and Compliance Officer at the RAND Corporation in Santa Monica, California, USA.

The four newly-elected directors will replace outgoing directors Margaret Michaels, who founded the Canadian Association of Workplace Investigators, Amy Oppenheimer, who founded AWI and is currently serving as Chair of the AWI Institute Committee, Susan Woolley, who serves as the Editor of the AWI Journal, and Julie B. Yanow, who Chaired the AWI Institute and the Guiding Principles Committee.

Photos and biographical summaries of the recently-elected directors are below. Click here to view photos and biographical summaries of the current AWI directors.

Terri Abad Levenfeld: Collaboration, education, networking and friendships - AWI is a professional association at its best, and it provides valuable benefits to its members. I am honored to be considered for a position on AWI’s Board of Directors.

I have enjoyed being an active member of AWI since its inception in 2009.  AWI has grown from a small group of investigators who sought to collaborate with, and learn from, one another into a large organization intent on providing its members with quality educational opportunities and valuable networking events.  In that time, I have been a Sustaining Member, served on the Steering and Conference Committees, and most recently became a Co-Convener for the Sacramento Local Circle. I have also had the privilege of attending every annual conference and the AWI Training Institute. 

Professionally, I am a bilingual attorney who conducts impartial workplace, education and Title IX investigations in both English and Spanish. My clients include public entities, private employers and educational institutions. Prior to dedicating my practice to investigations, I spent over 15 years representing both plaintiffs and defendants in employment, civil rights and personal injury cases.

AWI has been an important part of my professional development over the past 7 years. I would welcome the opportunity to serve its members on the Board of Directors to help continue the important contributions AWI has made to the investigation industry. 

Thank you for your consideration.

Monica Jeffrey:  I am very excited to be a candidate for the AWI Board.  I was one of the first Canadian members of AWI and have been involved since I attended the 2013 Training Institute in Santa Barbara.  Since then, I have been a co-convenor of Toronto’s local circle and served as full-time faculty for the east coast Training Institute in 2015.  In addition, I was honoured to serve as local chair and full-time faculty at the first AWI/CAWI Training Institute in Niagara, Ontario in 2016.

I am extremely dedicated to AWI and its mission to enhance the quality of impartial workplace investigations.  The AWI Guiding Principles and the organization’s generous, knowledgeable members have been instrumental to me in my practice.  I am a founding partner in one of the first law firms in Canada to exclusively conduct third party neutral workplace investigations. 

Previously, I worked as an associate lawyer at a boutique labour and employment law firm in downtown Toronto.  I represented and advised both employers and employees in all matters relating to the workplace.  I have conducted workplace investigations throughout my career specifically relating to complaints of human rights discrimination and harassment, bullying and other employee misconduct.   Over the past few years, I have gained significant experience dealing with numerous complex investigation issues including: multiple, anonymous complainants, multiple respondents, reciprocal complaints, and investigating matters at the highest level in very politicized and sensitive workplaces. 

Emily Kaufer: I am thrilled and honored to be a candidate for the 2017 AWI Board.  I joined AWI in 2015, and that year attended the Training Institute in Mystic, Connecticut.  I was thoroughly impressed by the caliber of educated faculty members and the Institute’s well-rounded curriculum, and knew quickly thereafter that I wanted to get more involved with AWI.  I returned to the Institute in 2016 in Niagara, Ontario as one of the full-time Canadian Faculty members at the first AWI/CAWI Institute.

The AWI Guiding Principles support my ongoing mission of conducting impartial and thorough investigations, as an internal workplace investigator at Air Canada, located at the Headquarters office in Montreal, Quebec.  In my capacity as the Manager of Human Rights, Harassment and Privacy Compliance, I conduct multifaceted workplace investigations, involving allegations of harassment, bullying, discrimination, workplace misconduct and violations of policy.  I also deliver training to employees and managers on human rights, harassment and conflict resolution, and manage employee privacy requests. 

Prior to my employment at Air Canada, I practiced entertainment and labor law at a multimedia company in Montreal, Quebec.

Karen Kramer: I welcome the opportunity to continue serving AWI members as a Board member in the position of Treasurer.  Since joining AWI in 2009, I have been an active member, participating on the Annual Conference committee to make each conference more successful than the previous ones.  I served as Chair of AWI’s Nominating committee for two years, and am currently the Co-Chair of the Training Institute committee.  I received AWI’s (then-CAOWI) first “Volunteer of the Year” award at the 1st Annual Conference in 2010.  I am an employment law attorney whose practice since 2000 has been devoted almost entirely to conducting workplace investigations.  I am amazed by what AWI has accomplished in such a short time and feel very fortunate to have been a part of its tremendous success.  I look forward to keeping that momentum moving forward as a member of the AWI Board of Directors.    

Liz Rita:  I have been conducting workplace investigations since 1994, when I met and was trained by long term AWI member Keith Rohman.  I developed a love for this work and a determination to create a career from it.  I successfully escaped my law practice to start my business doing investigations full time, and in surfing the Internet one night in search of some kind of community/organization/association for workplace investigators, I discovered AWI's website – and it was love at first click.  I quickly became an active member and a cheerleader for the organization.  I helped to get the Denver area circle off the ground, and participated in conferences and publications as a contributor.  I now serve as the Chairperson for the Annual Conference, with the best and most hard working committee.  I bring my enthusiasm and commitment to the organization, and hope to serve the Board as a passionate advocate for AWI and its mission.

Debra Schroeder:  I am delighted to be considered for a position on the AWI Board.  I attended the 2015 Training Institute in Mystic Connecticut and last year’s Annual Meeting in Los Angeles.  I am impressed and inspired by the knowledge, dedication, and enthusiasm of AWI’s leaders and members, and I would be thrilled to have the opportunity to contribute to the organization as a Director.

I am Vice President, General Counsel, Corporate Secretary, and Ethics and Compliance Officer at the RAND Corporation in Santa Monica, California.  I have conducted and overseen workplace investigations for over twenty years, both as in-house counsel at manufacturing, health care, and non-profit organizations and in large law firms, including as Senior Counsel at Littler Mendelson, PC.

As in-house counsel at the senior executive level, I will bring another perspective to the AWI Board, representing a key stakeholder group in the field of workplace investigations.  In addition, my knowledge of non-profit corporate governance will bring value to the organization.  I would particularly like to focus on membership outreach to in-house counsel, who I believe could benefit greatly from the training and resources offered by AWI.

Sue Ann Van Dermyden. It has been my humble honor to serve as the third President of AWI since November 2015. I welcome the opportunity to continue to serve you in this capacity through November 2017.  I remain passionate about AWI and its purpose.  I commit to you to bring the same level of dedication and vision that I have brought to AWI since it was founded in 2009.  I want to continue to build on the solid foundation of past Presidents before me – education, publications, inclusivity, awareness, and networking.  Based on our strategic plan, I also intend to expand our focus to advocacy, external recognition and a certificate program.  My professional world continues to be all things investigations. As I lead a team of 10+ lawyers in my firm, I will continue to extend my experiences to AWI.  I feel fortunate to work with such a dedicated team of volunteers in AWI.  Thank you for the opportunity to serve you for two more years.  I will not take your vote lightly.

Last Updated on Sunday, October 09, 2016 01:53 PM

2017 Institutes2017 Training Institutes for Workplace Investigators

February 20-24, 2017 ♦ Monterey, California, USA
May 1-5, 2017 ♦ Baltimore, Maryland, USA
September 11-15, 2017 ♦ Austin, Texas, USA
A four-day course, and a half-day series of tests,
with a certificate for students who pass the tests.

In keeping with our mission to promote and enhance the quality of impartial workplace investigations, we are presenting three sessions of our intensive Training Institute for Workplace Investigators, the gold standard in our industry. The Institute consists of four days of training, including 10 hours of small group sessions with our experienced faculty, and a half-day series of tests. Students who pass the tests will receive a certificate. The Institutes generally sell out, so register now.

2017 Training Institutes Tuition
AWI Member Non-Member

Monterey Early Registration
$500 deposit by November 5, 2016. Balance due December 15, 2016.

US$2,795 US$2,945

Monterey Regular Registration
Full Payment by December 31, 2016.

US$2,995 US$3,145
Monterey Late Registration
After December 31, 2016
US$3,195 US$3,345

Register for Monterey Institute ♦ With $500 DepositWith Full Payment

Baltimore and Austin Institute Registration Opening Soon

Hyatt Regency Monterey, 1 Old Golf Course Road, Monterey, CA 93940. $179 per night reservations or call (800) 233-1234
Hyatt Regency Baltimore Inner Harbor, 300 Light St., Baltimore, MD 21202. $199 per night reservations or call
Doubletree Austin, 6505 Interstate Highway-35 North, Austin, TX 78752. $135 per night reservations or call

Curriculum Includes

  • Introduction
  • Understanding and Avoiding Bias in Investigations
  • The Law Governing Why, What, and How We Investigate
  • Identifying the Issues and Planning the Investigation
  • Evidence Theory and Practice in Workplace Investigations
  • Interviewing Witnesses in Workplace Investigations
  • Making Credibility Determinations
  • Achieving Excellence in Investigative Report Writing
  • Full Day Small Group Mock Investigation
  • Half Day Small Group Analysis and Report Writing Exercises
  • Ethical Issues for Attorneys, Private Investigators and Internal Investigators
  • Litigation and Other Events After the Investigation
  • Question and Answer Session

Monterey Faculty 

Nancy Bornn
Gary Edwards
Donna Evans
Sydney Howell
Emily Kaufer
Lynn Lieber
Amy Oppenheimer
Cara Panebianco
Stacey Perrin
Michael Robbins
Keith Rohman
Julie Yanow

Baltimore Faculty

Frank Cania
Britt Marie Cole-Johnson
Apryl Evans
Elizabeth Gramigna
Monica Jeffrey
Judy Mims
Reuben Mjaanes
Amy Oppenheimer
Michael Robbins
Keith Rohman
Alex Sperry

Austin Faculty (partial list)

Jeremy Eaves
Karen Kramer
Eli Makus
Vida Thomas
Sue Ann Van Dermyden
Susan Woolley

Last Updated on Thursday, October 20, 2016 11:20 PM

As AWI's management transition progresses, AWI is pleased to announce that Nedra Lindsey has been hired as AWI's new Education & Communications Coordinator. Nedra will be responsible for coordinating AWI's education programs and communications. She will work closely with AWI's Membership & Events Coordinator Joan Hamasu, and will also assist Joan with her duties.

AWI provides a variety of education programs throughout the year, including its Annual Conference coming up this November, several sessions of its week-long Training Institute, and numerous seminars and webinars. Nedra will coordinate the educational aspects of these events and Joan will coordinate the logistics. As AWI members and email subscribers know, AWI provides a steady stream of communications to keep you up to date on developments in the field of impartial workplace investigations, and within AWI. Nedra will be responsible for these and other AWI communications. Nedra has an extensive background in communications and experience running professional education events, so we are delighted that Nedra has found AWI and decided to join our small but growing staff.

As has previously been announced, AWI is in the process of transitioning its management from SBI Association Management, which has managed AWI for the past 18 months, to a stand-alone staff with a permanent Executive Director. The next phase of that transition is now underway, with AWI taking over handling of email, telephone calls, event registrations, publication of the AWI Weekly email newsletter, and other management responsibilities from SBI as of September 19, 2016.

SBI is an accredited association management company located in Seattle, Washington. Andrew Estep, CAE, of SBI, served as AWI's Executive Director while SBI was managing AWI. During this transition Stephen Angelides, JD, MPP, CAE, who previously served as AWI's Executive Director, will again be serving as Executive Director, on an interim basis.

"AWI is grateful to Andrew and the entire SBI team for the growth in membership and programs AWI accomplished over the past 18 months under their guidance," said Sue Ann Van Dermyden, AWI's President. "We are also pleased that Steve has been willing to step back in as Executive Director on an interim basis as we grow our own staff and recruit a permanent Executive Director," Ms. Van Dermyden said.

"SBI remains grateful for the opportunity to serve AWI, and our team enjoyed meeting members, learning about the emerging profession of Workplace Investigations, and working with leadership to implement growth initiatives. We wish AWI all the best in the future!" said Marlis Korber, President of SBI. 

AWI plans to complete the next phase of the transition, to a permanent Executive Director, within the upcoming year. Further details will be announced on the AWI website and in the AWI Weekly email newsletter as the transition continues to progress. Contact AWI for further details.

Last Updated on Monday, September 19, 2016 10:42 AM

September 2016 AWI Journal Published

By Susan Woolley, AWI Journal Editor



Hello AWI members and friends,

First I’d like to echo Sue Ann’s congratulations to the team for the success of the City of Petaluma (Waters) writ. AWI’s amicus brief was well reasoned and appears to have carried considerable weight with the Court of Appeal. Kudos!

We hope that by providing insight into areas we have not delved deeply into before, this issue of the AWI Journal furthers AWI’s mission to promote and enhance impartial workplace investigations. Religious accommodations take center stage with Meg Matejkovic and John Matejkovic’s examination of the employer’s duties concerning religious beliefs under Title VII. Through a discussion of statutory and case law, the authors outline the sometimes confusing path an employer must tread when confronted with these cases, and in doing so illuminate for investigators the issues that must be addressed when complaints arise. Attorneys and nonattorneys alike will benefit from their careful explanation of federal law concerning religious accommodations.

Our second article was conceived at the AWI Institute in Santa Barbara, when a question came up regarding an investigator’s responsibility if he or she uncovered information about criminal conduct during an investigation. Could the investigator go to the police? The discussion led to a conversation about the differing obligations of attorneys and private investigators and—voilà—licensed private investigators Bob Bell and Bruce Calvin agreed to collaborate with me on an article about the roles and responsibilities of private investigators. We hope this article will serve as a primer on the professional duties of licensed PIs. I’m especially happy that this article arose out of the professional synergy that AWI creates between members; it was because of the institute that I got to know Bob and Bruce and had this opportunity to work with them—and, lucky me, became reacquainted with 1980s television!

Our third article was graciously provided by Andrea Fellion and Patti Perez, who have examined new regulations promulgated by California’s Fair Employment and Housing Agency. These regulations, which took effect on April 1, 2016, touch on all areas of employment law, including an employer’s duty to prevent and correct violations to transgender rights. The world of employment law never stops changing. As investigators, it is critical for us to stay up to date on the developments that frame our investigations practices. Research and writing such as that done by Andrea and Patti is invaluable in helping us all stay current.

I know I speak for the entire publications committee when I say thank you for your terrific response to our calls for articles. We are always interested in seeing proposals for writing about investigations—the law, the practice, and your insights. Please send proposals to

Happy investigating!

Susan Woolley
Editor, AWI Journal

Members Access AWI Journal

Non-Members Subscribe

Last Updated on Friday, September 02, 2016 09:52 AM

Call for Articles

The AWI Journal is seeking proposals for articles to be published in the quarterly publication of the Association of Workplace Investigators. AWI Journal articles focus on the many different aspects of workplace investigations, such as legal issues (how the law applies to the work of investigators), practical matters, similarities and differences between workplace investigations and other fields of endeavor, and developments in the law.

Articles include: 1.) substantive feature articles (3,000 to 5,000 words) usually authored by an attorney or a human resource professional; 2.) case notes (900 words), shorter articles focusing on recent legal decisions or laws and their potential impact; and 3.) articles that examine past employment laws or court decisions that affect workplace investigations today (900 to 2,000 words).

Our readership spans 35 U.S. states and territories, Canada, and a few other countries, so please no local issues unless they have larger implications on workplace investigations.

The AWI Journal is read by all members of the Association of Workplace Investigators, a professional membership association for attorneys, human resource professionals, private investigators, and many others who conduct, manage, or have a professional interest in workplace investigations. Some of our members are internal workplace investigators who work inside a company, and some are external investigators. AWI's mission is to promote and enhance the quality of impartial workplace investigations. For more information, please visit our website

If you would like to write an article, please send a brief one- or two-paragraph description to editor Susan Woolley at If you have URLs to previously published articles that are relevant to your pitch, please include them in your email. Please do not send unsolicited manuscripts.

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