Attorneys explore 'Unexpected Pitfalls in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Initiatives' at seminar

The Association of Corporate Counsel, Michigan Chapter, will present the seminar “Practice Makes Perfect: Avoiding Unexpected Pitfalls in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Initiatives” sponsored by Zausmer PC on Thursday, April 28, from 3:30 to 7 p.m. at the Lexus Loft, Henry Ford Pistons Performance Center, 6201 Second Avenue in Detroit.

Panelists for the seminar include:

• Richard Haddad, chief operating officer & chief legal officer, Pistons Sports & Entertainment and the Detroit Pistons.

In his current role, Haddad oversees human resources, finance, IT, risk management, corporate and real estate development, and legal, business and government affairs for PSE, the Pistons, Motor City Cruise, Pistons Performance, and related entities and properties.  He also serves as general counsel to 313 Presents and its venues and properties, including Little Caesar’s Arena, the Fox Theatre, Pine Knob Amphitheatre, Freedom Hill Amphitheatre, and Meadow Brook Amphitheatre

Prior to joining PSE in 2012, Haddad practiced law at Proskauer Rose LLP in New York, where he represented a broad base of corporate and individual clients in sports, finance, media, entertainment, aviation, real estate and other sectors and industries.  He also served as a law clerk to U.S. District Court Judge Barbara S. Jones, Southern District of New York.

Haddad graduated from the University of Michigan and Columbia Law School. 

• Gabrielle (Gaby) McKee, associate counsel at Pistons Sports & Entertainment and Detroit Pistons, executive director of the Detroit Pistons Foundation.

McKee focuses on drafting and negotiating vendor and sponsor agreements, assisting with NBA compliance issues, and managing collections matters. She also assists with real estate projects, employment matters, grant-making and other legal affairs for PSE, the Detroit Pistons, the Detroit Pistons Foundation and related properties and companies.

Before joining PSE in January 2019, McKee specialized in estate planning & administration at Dickinson Wright PLLC where she focused on counseling domestic and international high net-worth individuals and families on business succession planning, estate planning, charitable giving, and domestic and international tax planning. McKee graduated from Duke University and University of Michigan Law School.

• Gretchen Kaplan, senior associate general counsel, Brookfield Properties.

As Brookfield Properties Retail’s employment counsel, Kaplan advises Human Resources on employment-related matters and federal, state, and local employment law. She also handles litigation and manages the Company’s Asset Recovery subgroup. Before joining Brookfield Properties, Kaplan worked in private practice litigating complex commercial disputes, including at Willkie, Farr, & Gallagher in New York where she focused on white collar defense.  

Outside of work, Kaplan sits on the Board of Directors for Connections for Abused Women and their Children, a Chicago organization committed to ending domestic violence using a self-help, empowerment approach. 

• Cinnamon A. Plonka, shareholder with Zausmer.

Plonka handles an array of civil litigation matters, including first-party no-fault and third-party automobile negligence claims, premises liability, employment litigation, fraud, and insurance coverage disputes, both at the trial level and before appellate courts. Her clients include State Farm, Farmers Insurance Exchange, Geico, and the State of Michigan handling matters through the Michigan Automobile Insurance Placement Facility. She is also currently litigating employment cases for TCF Bank and Piston Group.  

In 2015, Plonka was named to the list of Michigan Top Lawyers, and in 2017, Michigan Lawyers Weekly named her to its prestigious list of “Women in the Law.” She is dedicated to serving the community through mentoring youths, serving with the State Bar of Michigan’s Attorney Discipline Board, and as a Member on the Board of Directors of the Black Women Lawyers Association, as well as serving as co-chair of the firm’s Diversity Committee. 

Plonka earned her undergraduate degree from Eastern Michigan University and received her law degree from Western Michigan University Cooley Law School.

• Michael A. Schwartz, shareholder with Zausmer.

Schwartz is a commercial litigator, handling business and commercial disputes, insurance, real estate, employment, civil rights, and general liability claims. His experience includes the representation of Fortune 500 insurers, national restaurant franchisees, real estate owners and developers, one of the Midwest’s largest banks, the Detroit Pistons, and numerous other businesses and non-profits. He has previously served as a panelist for the Association of Corporate Counsel Michigan and regularly presents at the Insurance Alliance of Michigan’s annual seminar. He regularly supports the firm’s community efforts, including City Year Detroit, Gleaners Community Food Bank, and the Detroit Pistons’ Season of Giving.  

Schwartz earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and his law degree from the University of Georgia.

• Moderator Mischa M. Boardman, shareholder with Zausmer.

Boardman focuses her practice on eminent domain and commercial litigation around issues involving trade secrets, real property, construction, and business torts at the trial and appellate levels in state and federal courts. Her clients include road commissions, transmission companies, municipalities, state transportation departments, publicly traded REITs, Fortune 500 corporations, small enterprises, and individuals.  She frequently speaks on right-of-way topics, appearing at industry and bar association conferences across the United States.  

Boardman earned her undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Michigan and has been recognized as a Michigan Super Lawyer and a Michigan Top Lawyer.  In 2015, Michigan Lawyers Weekly named her to its elite annual list of “Women in the Law.”

After the seminar, the ACC Michigan Scholarship Committee will host a brief presentation followed by a networking reception. 

To register for the seminar, visit