AWI Board of Directors



Van DermydenSue Ann Van Dermyden, President. Ms. Van Dermyden is a licensed California attorney who has specialized in employment law since 1993 as a litigator and workplace investigator. She also provides expert witness testimony on employment matters; advises clients on complex employment-related matters; and, conducts interactive and entertaining training seminars. Ms. Van Dermyden was listed in Northern California Super Lawyers in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014. Her professional affiliations include the American Bar Association – Employment Law Section, American Bar Association – Workplace Investigations Sub-Committee, Association of Workplace Investigators – Board of Directors, Executive Committee member, Strategic Committee member, Certification Committee member, chair of Annual Conference Committee, Local Circle convener (October 2009 – present), ASIS Investigations Standards Technical Committee, Anthony M. Kennedy Inn of Court (September 2006 – present), American Inns of Court, Program Awards Committee (2010 – 2011), Street Law International, volunteer instructor for high school students (2008), University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law, Board of Directors, Alumni Association (1995-1997), State Bar of California, Labor & Employment Section, Sacramento County Bar Association Membership Committee, and California Chamber of Commerce.

Michael Robbins

Michael A. Robbins, Immediate Past President. Mr. Robbins is president of EXTTI, Incorporated—a company he founded more than 17 years ago. EXTTI provides expert testimony, training and investigation services in employment matters. He is a frequent lecturer and author on employment issues. Mr. Robbins has conducted and/or supervised over 500 workplace investigations and has served as an expert witness in 500 employment cases—mostly on workplace investigation and interactive process issues. In addition, he has served as a Consent Decree Monitor in discrimination cases in Federal District Court. Prior to forming EXTTI, he was a labor & employment attorney for 20 years—including 4 years as in-house counsel and 16 years in two nationally recognized law firms. Mr. Robbins graduated Phi Beta Kappa from San Diego State University and received his JD degree from UCLA School of Law. He is a long–time member of the Executive Board of the Los Angeles County Bar Association Labor & Employment Section and is an officer of that Section. In addition, he is a Fellow of the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers, a founding member and past president of the Society of Independent Workplace Investigators (SIWI), and is a charter member, and sustaining member of the Association of Workplace Investigators.

Keith RohmanKeith Rohman, Vice President. Mr. Rohman is the president of Public Interest Investigations, Inc. (PII) in Los Angeles, a firm with over 30 years’ experience assisting corporations, government entities and attorneys. He has been involved in many high-profile cases, including litigation related to the torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib, allegations of shootings of Iraqis by Blackwater, Inc., the trial against Los Angeles police officers accused of beating Rodney King, and numerous capital murder cases. Mr. Rohman is an adjunct professor of law at Loyola Law School, where he teaches fact investigation. Mr. Rohman served as the court appointed Monitor in the matter of Pierce v. Orange County, et al., a federal ADA class action case filed on behalf of disabled inmates at the Orange County Jail. He was appointed by the L.A. County Board of Supervisors to the Equity Oversight Panel (EOP) of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, a civilian oversight board that oversees Internal Affairs investigations of discrimination allegations at the LASD. PII was contracted to investigate discrimination complaints against elected officials and high-level County executives with the County of Los Angeles, and was selected by the City of Los Angeles as an investigator for the Special Committee on Investigative Oversight which handles similar investigations. Mr. Rohman served as the executive director of Los Angeles City Office of Discrimination Investigation, which conducted more than 300 employment discrimination investigations, and provided recommendations to the City Council on restructuring how the city handled these matters. Mr. Rohman is a sustaining member of AWI and has been a popular speaker at AWI annual conferences, seminars, webinars, and Institutes.

Karen KramerKaren Kramer, Treasurer. Ms. Kramer is an employment law attorney specializing in workplace investigations. Since forming Kramer-Wiese in 2000, Ms. Kramer’s practice has focused primarily on conducting personnel investigations involving allegations of discrimination, harassment and retaliation, as well as misconduct and disciplinary matters. She previously litigated employment law matters with Porter Scott and worked as an employment law attorney with LexisNexis. Ms. Kramer’s experience includes testifying during administrative and judicial proceedings regarding completed investigations. Ms. Kramer has conducted hundreds of workplace investigations for public agencies, and is well versed in the Public Safety Officers Procedural Bill of Rights and the Firefighters Procedural Bill of Rights. She has also conducted many complex and high profile investigations involving high level public employees and elected officials. Ms. Kramer is a graduate of the University of California, Irvine (1989) and University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law (1992).

Marilou F. MirkovichMarilou F. Mirkovich, Secretary. Marilou Mirkovich is a partner in the Cerritos office of Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo. Ms. Mirkovich represents employers in all aspects of labor relations and employment law. She focuses on defending discrimination claims in federal and state courts and handles matters pending before the EEOC, DFEH, and FEHC. In addition to her employment practice, Ms. Mirkovich serves as the firm's lead investigator on numerous public and private sector matters. Ms. Mirkovich has served as President of the Board of Directors for the Community Family Guidance Center. Ms. Mirkovich has also been on the Board of Directors for the Friends of the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts.

 


 

Elizabeth GramignaElizabeth Watson Gramigna, Director. Ms. Gramigna is an employment lawyer with a practice located in Short Hills, New Jersey. Her firm’s approach is client-centered, providing professional services that support a respectful, productive, and practical manner of eradicating harassment and discrimination in the workplace through impartial investigations, mediations, and education. In addition to her legal training, Ms. Gramigna is certified as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR), and has a Bachelor in Science degree in Management and Industrial Relations. She is a frequent lecturer, having lectured in New York, New Jersey, and Philadelphia about workplace investigations, including ethical issues presented in investigations, and has authored several publications relating to investigations. Ms. Gramigna is a member of the New Jersey State Bar Association, Section on Labor & Employment Law as well as the American Bar Association, Section on Employee Rights and Responsibilities, where she serves on the Workplace Investigations and Employee Privacy Sub-Committees. Ms. Gramigna is a graduate of the 2013 AWI Institute. An active member of AWI, she is the local convener of the Greater New York Local Circle, she spoke at the 2013 Annual Conference, served on the Faculty at the 2015 Institute in Mystic, CT, and has been selected to present at AWI’s 2015 Annual Conference. Ms. Gramigna authored "Recent Employment Law Decisions Impacting Workplace Investigations," which was in the April/July 2014 AWI Quarterly. She has also been selected as faculty for the 2016 Institute. Ms. Gramigna is also an active member of the Society of Independent Workplace Investigators (SIWI), which recently published a Code of Ethics for Workplace Investigators, and she serves as a co-chair of the Grants Committee for the New Jersey Women Lawyers Association.

Lindsay Harris

Lindsay Harris, Director. Ms. Harris brings considerable employment law and investigative experience to her current practice focused on conducting independent investigations of suspected workplace misconduct. Prior to founding West Coast Workplace Investigations in 2009, she spent nearly five years as senior counsel at Speer Associates/Workplace Counsel, where her practice focused on conducting internal investigations of alleged workplace misconduct, with an emphasis on high-level, complex, and sensitive matters. Among other employment law-related claims, Ms. Harris has examined allegations of discrimination retaliation, harassment, and sexual favoritism. Ms. Harris has investigated allegations affecting senior and executive management, and her clients have included companies across a variety of industries, Fortune 500 companies, and public-sector organizations. Prior to joining Speer Associates, Ms. Harris practiced employment law at the international law firm of Morrison & Foerster. She currently serves as Chair of AWI's Marketing and Recruitment Committee. 

Eli MakusEli Makus, Director. As an employment attorney, Mr. Makus has conducted, managed, and litigated workplace investigations. He started his practice as a management-side employment law litigator for Hanson Bridgett, a San Francisco law firm. There, he litigated cases where the underlying workplace investigation was a key factor and also conducted workplace investigations as outside counsel. He then moved in-house to a large, northern California health system where he conducted workplace investigations and supervised internal HR investigations and outside investigations. Mr. Makus also advised and trained the company on developing an internal investigations program. Mr. Makus started a firm with two excellent partners which specializes in workplace investigations and employment law compliance. He is passionate about the industry, about law practice management, and about the many opportunities to leverage technology to conduct more thorough and efficient investigations and to better serve clients.

Margaret MichaelsMargaret Michaels, Director. Ms. Michaels operates Margaret Michaels HRC, a human resources consulting firm based in Ottawa, Canada. Her firm conducts workplace investigations and carry out workplace reviews for employers in both private and public sectors. They supply investigative services to the Canadian federal government and the Canadian Human Rights Commission. The firm has delivered customized harassment prevention training to over a thousand employees in both of Canada’s official languages. They have designed and delivered training in how to investigate harassment complaints for the Government of Nunavut. Ms. Michaels has a Masters of Arts in Integrated Studies and is a longstanding member of the Human Resources Professionals Association. Ms. Michaels spearheaded the initiative which resulted in the establishment of the Canadian Chapter of the Association of Workplace Investigators, Inc. (CAWI). She is dedicated to bringing awareness of CAWI to Canadian investigators and employers, and to encouraging investigators to conduct workplace investigations in accordance with AWI’s and CAWI's Guiding Principles.

Judy MimsJudy L. Mims, Director. Ms. Mim has been active in AWI since she joined in 2012 and attended the 2013 AWI Training Institute in Santa Barbara. Since then, she has been a speaker about internal investigations at an annual AWI conference, and co-presented an annual AWI Investigations Basics day long training in Seattle, WA. In 2014, she was selected to be a full-time faculty member for the AWI Training Institute and taught at the east coast institute in Mystic, CT. Ms. Mimis values her involvement with AWI as she appreciates conducting workplace investigations as a profession and wants to contribute to AWI’s efforts to continue setting the standard for this body of work. She brings her experience as an EEO internal investigator at the Microsoft Corporation and 20+ years in labor and employment law as in-house counsel and HR for the University of Washington and the State of Washington. In the past, Ms. Mims has served as the chair of the Executive Committee for the Labor & Employment Section of the Washington State Bar Association as well as chair for the Young Lawyers Division Board of Directors for King County in Seattle, WA. Presently, she serves on the Board of Directors for the charity WestSide Baby which provides nearly half a million diapers and essential supplies annually to underserved populations in Western Washington. 

Amy OppenheimerAmy Oppenheimer, Director. Ms. Oppenheimer has over 30 years of experience in employment law—as an attorney, investigator, arbitrator, mediator, trainer, and administrative law judge. She has trained employees and employers throughout the US in how to prevent harassment, how to investigate workplace harassment, discrimination, and retaliation, and in diversity in the workplace. She has performed impartial investigations for a large range of employers—public and private, large and small. A trial qualified expert in State and Federal court, Ms. Oppenheimer has testified for both the plaintiff and the defense about employment practices in preventing, responding to and investigating workplace harassment. She has testified at deposition, arbitration or trial more than 60 times. Ms. Oppenheimer is the author of numerous articles about harassment and discrimination, and is co-author of one of the few books about the practice of investigations,Investigating Workplace Harassment, How to be Fair, Thorough and Legal, (Society of Human Resource Management, 2003). She speaks frequently on these issues. Ms. Oppenheimer is the founder and past president of the Association of Workplace Investigators, Inc. (AWI), past president of Berkeley Dispute Resolution Services, and an advisor to the Executive Committee of the Labor and Employment Law Section of the State Bar of California.

Elizabeth RitaElizabeth Rita, Director. Ms. Rita is a licensed Colorado attorney who has been conducting workplace investigations since 1994. An employment lawyer with more than 20 years of experience, Ms. Rita has conducted hundreds of investigations for clients. She has investigated complaints involving company-wide race discrimination, sexual harassment, rape, assault, ethics violations, ethnic origin discrimination, hostile work environment, age discrimination, retaliation, gender bias, SOX retaliation, public corruption and employee misconduct. Ms. Rita has trained HR professionals and lawyers in conducting investigations, and has spoken and written on this subject for a variety of audiences. She serves on the Workplace Investigations Subcommittee of the American Bar Association and is involved in the national Association of Workplace Investigators, where she serves as the Denver metropolitan area local circle contact. Her firm, WorkPlace Intelligence, LLC, is a Denver based business providing investigations and training to businesses, municipalities and government agencies around the country and in Canada.

Allison West

Allison West, Director.  Allison West has a simple approach to employment practices: be proactive. In 2000, after practicing law at a San Francisco labor and employment boutique, Allison West, SPHR, started Employment Practices Specialists, where she uses her employment law background, coupled with sound knowledge of human resource practices, and advises employers in preventing and resolving employment claims. Ms. West specializes in conducting workplace investigations for employers of all sizes and industries, on a variety of topics, including harassment, discrimination, theft, violence, disability, and whistleblower issues. Ms. West also delivers interactive investigations training programs that include mock investigations and are filled with practical tips and tools for beginning to experienced investigators. Her expertise includes delivering one-on-one sensitivity training to executives and managers concerning harassment, discrimination, and disciplinary or behavioral issues and other HR consulting. Ms. West is a frequent speaker on employment law topics at national and local HR and industry conferences. 

Susan WoolleySusan M. Woolley, Director. Ms. Woolley has practiced law for 25 years and has extensive experience with discrimination and workplace investigations. She served as the director of Investigations for court-appointed Civil Rights Monitor in the landmark settlements in the Denny's race discrimination litigation, assembling and supervising a team of investigators which conducted workplace investigations in 49 states. She has since served as an expert and consultant in the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, and private corporations to design, implement, and monitor departments to investigate and remediate race discrimination. The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors appointed her to the County Equity Oversight Panel which reviews and evaluates workplace investigations conducted countywide by the County's staff of over 15 EEO investigators. Ms. Woolley conducts workplace investigations of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation for government entities and private businesses. Prior to specializing in investigations, Ms. Woolley worked on complex business and civil rights litigation. Ms. Woolley is an adjunct professor at Loyola Law School, where she teaches fact investigation with Keith Rohman. She practices law and conducts investigations from her office in Pasadena. Ms. Woolley graduated from Stanford Law School and clerked at the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California. She was a Skadden Fellow.

Julie B. Yanow, Director. Ms. Yanow is a workplace investigator and trainer, and expert witness. She has conducted many hundreds of workplace investigations and trained thousands of employees and executives at all levels. Before launching EquiLaw in 2003, Ms. Yanow was employed by Warner Bros., where she was chosen to co-found the Company's Employment Law department and served as Vice President and Senior Employment Counsel. Before joining Warner Bros., Ms. Yanow served as in-house counsel at NBC and in private practice at the law firm of Pepper, Hamilton and Scheetz. Ms. Yanow is a Phi Beta Kappa, magna cum laude graduate of the University of California, Berkeley. Ms. Yanow received her JD from the University of California, Los Angeles. She serves on the Executive Committee of the Labor and Employment Law Section of the Los Angeles County Bar Association. She is president of the Society of Independent Workplace Investigators (SIWI) and is a sustaining member and director of AWI.