In recent years since the 2008 financial crisis, the legal environment of corporations has changed significantly, namely with regard to increased regulation, technology advances, globalization and more. Increasingly, General Counsel has a seat at the governance table, to avoid corporate legal mistakes. Determining General Counsel’s level of independence, reporting structure, resources and remuneration are as important to their function as the decisions it makes.
Join NACD Philadelphia as we discuss the benefits, best practices and procedures for including General Counsel in the boardroom.
Deputy Corporate Secretary and Senior Corporate Counsel
Tara L. Smith is the Deputy Corporate Secretary and Senior Corporate Counsel for Campbell Soup Company. Tara provides legal and strategic advice to Campbell’s board of directors, CEO and senior management team on a wide range of issues relating to corporate governance, securities law, executive compensation, compliance and enterprise risk. She is also responsible for managing the company’s communication efforts and ongoing engagement with certain long-term investors, and manages the company’s enterprise risk management program. Tara serves as Global Co-Chair/Business Advisor for the Women of Campbell network, and was included on the 2016 list of “Women Worth Watching” by Profiles in Diversity Journal.
Prior to joining Campbell, Tara was an Assistant Vice President in the legal department at Toll Brothers, Inc., a publicly-traded luxury homebuilding company based in Horsham, PA. At Toll Brothers, Tara’s responsibilities included: securities law and related regulatory compliance; corporate governance; executive compensation; and ethics and compliance. Tara began her career as an associate in the Philadelphia office of Morgan Lewis, advising large companies in the areas of corporate and securities law.
Tara attended Duke University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology and political science. At Duke, Tara was on the Dean’s List, and inducted into Alpha Kappa Delta – the International Sociology Honor Society. She was also a member of the Black Student Alliance. Tara received her law degree from the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where she was a two-time regional semi-finalist in the Frederick Douglas Moot Court Competition, and a member of the Black Law Students Association, Penn Law Democrats and Entertainment and Sports Law Society.
Tara serves on the Board of Directors for the Philadelphia Chapter of the National Association of Corporate Directors and on the Board of Trustees of the Mariana Bracetti Academy Charter School. She is an active member of the Philadelphia chapter of the Duke Black Alumni Association and has served on a Headmaster’s Advisory Committee at Moorestown Friends School, the high school she attended. Tara previously served on the Board of Directors of the Delaware Valley chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel, the Board of Directors of the AIDS Law Project, and the planning committee for Toll Brothers’ annual fundraising gala for the American Cancer Society.
Tara resides Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania with her husband Greg, and their 11-year old son, Nigel.
Jannie K. Lau is the Chief Legal Officer of InterDigital, Inc., an S&P 400 mobile technology company (NASDAQ: IDCC). Reporting to the President and Chief Executive Officer, Ms. Lau manages the company’s legal and government affairs functions, including a worldwide team of approximately 50 legal professionals, and advises the Board of Directors on legal, governance and compliance matters.
Prior to joining InterDigital, Ms. Lau served as securities and transactional counsel at IKON Office Solutions, Inc., then a Fortune 500 technology company. Before beginning her in-house career, she was a corporate associate at leading global law firms in New York and Boston, where she represented public and pre-IPO companies, primarily in the high technology sector, with respect to securities regulation, mergers and acquisitions, financings and corporate governance matters and counseled private equity and venture capital fund managers on capital formations, portfolio investments and general governance issues.
Ms. Lau has been honored as one of Pennsylvania’s “Most Powerful & Influential Women” by the National Diversity Council, as a “Best Under 40” by the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, as a “Top Ten 30-Something” by the Association of Corporate Counsel, as one of “40 Under 40” by the Philadelphia Business Journal and as a “Woman of the Year” and a “Lawyer on the Fast Track” by The Legal Intelligencer, and her team has been honored as a “Legal Department of the Year” by The Legal Intelligencer. She serves on the Board of Trustees of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and on the Comcast NBCUniversal Joint Diversity Advisory Council.
Ms. Lau is an honors graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where she served as Executive Editor of Volume 150 of the University of Pennsylvania Law Review and as an Arthur Littleton and H. Clayton Louderback Legal Writing Instructor and was admitted to the Order of the Coif. She currently serves as President of the Penn Law Alumni Society. Ms. Lau earned a Bachelor of Arts in English and Comparative Literature from Columbia College of Columbia University. She lives in Villanova, Pennsylvania, with her husband, Todd C. Longsworth, and their two young children.
SVP, General Counsel, Secretary & Chief Compliance Officer
Chris Parisi has served as Senior Vice President, General Counsel, Secretary and Chief Compliance Officer of Armstrong Flooring, Inc. (NYSE: AFI) since March 2016 when AFI was spun-off from Armstrong World Industries, Inc. (NYSE: AWI). Mr. Parisi joined AWI in October 2011 and served as Vice President, Corporate Governance until June 2014, at which time he was appointed Vice President, Associate General Counsel and Secretary of AWI. Mr. Parisi came to AWI from Toll Brothers, Inc., a luxury home builder (NYSE: TOL). Prior to Toll Brothers, Mr. Parisi provided similar public company corporate governance, commercial and transactional legal support at Orthovita, Inc. (now Stryker), an orthobiologics medical device manufacturer, and IKON Office Solutions, Inc. (now RICOH Americas), an office equipment distributor and services provider. Mr. Parisi began his legal career in August 2000 at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He holds a bachelor’s degree from La Salle University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and a J.D. from Widener University Delaware Law School in Wilmington, Delaware.
Jill Garfinkle Weitz is General Counsel of Merakey USA (formerly NHS Human Services, Inc.), one of the largest community-based health and human services providers in the United States. In that role, Ms. Weitz is responsible for all legal affairs of Merakey and its affiliated entities. Prior to joining Merakey in 2015, Ms. Weitz served as Vice President for Human Resources and General Counsel at the Community College of Philadelphia from 2005 until 2015. Prior to joining CCP, Ms. Weitz practiced labor and employment law as a partner in the law firm of Klett Rooney Lieber & Schorling and as an associate at Pepper Hamilton. Ms. Weitz also served as a law clerk to the Honorable John P. Fullam in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Ms. Weitz earned her Bachelor's Degree, magna cum laude, in criminal justice from The American University and her Juris Doctorate, magna cum laude and order of the coif, from Villanova University School of Law. At Villanova, Ms. Weitz served as managing editor on the Villanova Law Review.
Ms. Weitz lives in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania with her husband Eric, and her two children Margot and Zachary.