Ann Hollenbeck moderates fireside chat with groundbreaking Michigan leaders

Ann Hollenbeck, Partner-in-Charge of the Firm's Detroit Office, recently moderated a live fireside chat with groundbreaking Michigan leaders on shattering barriers in their professions, managing change, and developing resiliency in the face of significant challenges.

Held at the Detroit Athletic Club, the panel discussion included University of Michigan Law Professor Barbara McQuade, who was the first woman to serve as a U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan; Muna Hamza, Director of the Innovation Accelerator and Corporate Purpose at General Motors; University of Michigan's Milan "Mimi" Bolden-Morris, the first female graduate assistant football coach in the Big Ten and Power Five college football conferences; and Firm partner Amanda Rice, who clerked at all three levels in the federal judiciary, including for Justice Elena Kagan at the U.S. Supreme Court.

"These were important conversations with truly inspiring leaders," said Ms. Hollenbeck. "All of them brought unique perspectives on their success and the skills, traits, and decisions that supported that success."

"I believe it is especially important to give lawyers a deep sense of the importance of the rule of law and ideas about equal justice under law," said Professor McQuade, reflecting on her decision to become a law professor after many years in public service.

As a leader of innovation who does not hold an engineering degree, Ms. Hamza encouraged those who might be tentative about changing career trajectories to take a leap of faith in their core abilities. "My role was not to know the innovation lingo—I could learn enough to be competent—but my role as a leader was to align the team, make sure that we have the capabilities we need to do the work, and to hold people accountable, which is something that's really easy to say, but hard to do."

Ms. Bolden-Morris shared insights on earning the respect of Michigan football players. "My biggest struggle was having them see me for who I am… that we are the same, we're working towards the same goal."

Ms. Rice's practice focuses on appellate advocacy, with particular experience in the U.S. Supreme Court. She is also is the Detroit Office's pro bono partner. "Taking away some of the in-person interactions that are a little bit more difficult for people who don't always look how you expect them to look in the position they're in," she said, was one of the few positive consequences of the pandemic, because it allowed a lawyer's writing and work to "speak for itself."

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