The Fellows Officers
Don Slesnick is Chair of The Fellows of the American Bar Foundation. He is Managing Partner for the Law Offices of Slesnick & Casey, LLP. He has been in private practice specializing in “labor and employment” law since 1978, representing public sector employee organizations. Prior to this he held labor relations management positions with the Miami-Dade County Public Schools and the Miami-Dade County Police Department. In 2011 he concluded ten years as Mayor of Coral Gables, Florida. He served as the 2009-10 President of the Florida League of Mayors.
Don received a B.A. (Foreign Affairs) from the University of Virginia, a J.D. from the University of Florida and a M.P.A. from Florida International University. He was admitted to the Florida Bar in 1972, the U.S. Supreme Court in 1985; is a Florida Bar Board Certified Specialist in Labor & Employment Relations and a Florida Supreme Court Certified Mediator. He is the incoming Vice President of the College of Labor & Employment Lawyers and a member of the Florida Academy of Professional Mediators.
In addition to his law practice, he has recently been named as Dean of the School of Public Administration of the newly chartered University of Southernmost Florida.
Active for many years in his profession, Don has been Chairman of the Florida Bar Labor & Employment Law Section and Co-Chairman of the ABA State and Local Government Bargaining and Employment Law Committee. He is presently serving as a member of the governing council of the ABA Labor & Employment Section and represents that Section in the ABA House of Delegates.
Don is a Vietnam veteran, a former U.S. Army advisor to NATO forces in Germany and retired from the Army as a Lt. Colonel. He currently serves as an Army Reserve Ambassador. He has been active in numerous civic and business organizations which include the Orange Bowl Committee, the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce (Founding Chairman of the award winning program for Ethics in Business & Government). He has served as Chairman of both the Miami-Dade County Cultural Affairs Council and the Coral Gables Community Foundation.
Included among his awards he has received: the Bill Colson Community Leadership Award from Leadership Miami; the Distinguished Service Award - American Bar Association; the Miami-Dade County Medal of Merit for Leadership, in 2007 was included in the Sun Post's list of the “50 Most Influential Persons in South Florida”, was chosen in 2004 by South Florida CEO magazine as one of the “Top 101 Global Leaders of South Florida”, and was recently awarded the Friend of Foreign Service Medal by the Republic of China (Taiwan). Additionally, he has held the Martindale-Hubbel rating of “AV Preeminent” for over twenty-five years. He was included in the Best Lawyers In America”, has been designated as a Florida “Super Lawyer” and named as one of South Florida’s “Top Lawyers
Contact Don at moc.pllcs@kcinselsnod
Cheryl Niro is the Chair-Elect of the Fellows of the American Bar Foundation. She is a principal at the professional responsibility firm of RobinsonNiro, LLC in Chicago, Illinois, and is AV rated by Martindale Hubbard. Ms. Niro’s practice is focused on representing attorneys and law firms in matters involving professional responsibility, ethics, professionalism and consults in those areas as well. Ms. Niro is also a prominent member of the national dispute resolution community, and mediates disputes nationally and internationally. A well-known speaker and lecturer, Ms. Niro travels extensively and delivers keynote addresses and CLE programs to organized bar associations around the country. She has studied and served as a teaching assistant in the Harvard Law School Program of Instruction for Lawyers Mediation and Negotiation Workshops, and is frequently sought as a facilitator for organizational planning, problem solving and dispute resolution. She was the inaugural executive director of the Illinois Supreme Court’s Commission on Professionalism, and the Illinois Supreme Court’s Committee on the Bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution. Ms. Niro has served on selection committees for judicial nominees at the U.S. Court for the Northern District of Illinois, and judicial appointment committees for Justice MaryAnn McMorrow of the Illinois Supreme Court.
Cheryl Niro is the second woman elected president of the 30,000 member Illinois State Bar Association. She is currently serving on the Board of Governors of the American Bar Association and its Executive Committee, chairing the BOG Committee on Programs. Ms. Niro has represented Illinois in the ABA House of Delegates for many years. Ms. Niro served on the ABA Commission on MultiJurisdictional Practice, ABA Standing Committees on Professionalism, Bar Services and Activities, the council of the Dispute Resolution Section, and several leadership positions within the House of Delegates. She is a former president of the National Caucus of State Bar Associations and has received awards for innovative projects serving the organized bar and society. Ms. Niro began her service to the ABF as a member of the Research Advisory Committee. She has been selected as one of American Lawyer Media’s Ten Most Influential Women Attorneys in Illinois, Today’s Chicago Woman magazine’s Women Making a Difference, and its Hall of Fame.
Ms. Niro lives in historic Oak Park, Illinois with her husband, William Niro, an intellectual property attorney in Chicago. She is a classically trained musician, and a founder of the Oak Park/River Forest Children’s Chorus. Her community services includes the Governing Board of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Infant Welfare League of Oak Park/River Forest, the Cook County Legal Assistance Foundation, the Frank Lloyd Wright Historic Preservation Foundation.
Contact Cheryl at email@example.com
Kathleen J. Hopkins is the Secretary of The Fellows. She is a fortunate enough to practice law with five great friends and lawyers, and is a founding member of Real Property Law Group, PLLC, a six attorney Seattle firm. Kathleen concentrates her practice in the areas of real property transactions, real property and personal property finance, workouts and commercial leasing. She is a frequent speaker and writer on real property, financing and leasing issues. In August 2012, Kathleen co-edited The Real Estate Closing Deskbook (3d ed.). She is admitted to practice in Washington State, in Federal Courts for the Western and Eastern Districts of Washington and in the United States Supreme Court.
Kathleen has been active with local, state and national bar associations for over 20 years. She is a Sustaining Life Fellow of the American Bar Foundation, served as a Washington State co-chair for the Fellows of the ABF and in 2011 received the ABF’s Outstanding State Co-Chair Award. Presently, is the Secretary for the Fellows of the ABF and in that capacity represents the Fellows on the ABF Board.
Kathleen’s bar service includes terms (many years ago) as the President of the Washington State Bar Association (WSBA) Young Lawyers Division and member of Board of Trustees for the King County Bar (KCBA) Young Lawyers Section. Way back then, KCBA recognized her with its Outstanding Young Lawyers Award. Kathleen is currently representing WSBA in the American Bar Association (ABA) House of Delegates. In 2010 she also completed service as a member of the American Bar Association’s Board of Governors, representing the ABA members in District 18 (which includes Washington State).
On the ABA Board, she chaired the Investments subcommittee and continues on that subcommittee as one of three non-Governor members. She has been a member of the executive councils for the ABA Business Law Section and the ABA Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division (GP Solo), and recently finished her term as the GP Solo Division’s budget officer. In April, 2013 the ABA Business Law Section recognized her as its Outstanding Woman Business Lawyer of the year with its Jean Allard Glass Cutter Award.
Kathleen also serves presently on the ABA Journal Board of Editors, and chairs the ABA Standing Committee on Publication Oversight. Kathleen is on the Board of Regents of the American College of Commercial Finance Lawyers and a member of the American Law Institute. Kathleen recently completed work as an ABA advisor to one Uniform Laws Commission drafting committee and on a study committee for another ULC project.
Kathleen is also quite active in pro bono and public service projects, locally and nationally. She was on the founding advisory board for Washington Attorneys Assisting Community Organizations and in 2012 organized the Northwest Human Trafficking Summit, which was co-convened by the ABA, the Washington Gender & Justice Commission and the Washington Diversity & Justice Commission. Kathleen is currently coordinating a partnership between the ABA entities and Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), a non-profit project founded by Microsoft to provide representation to unaccompanied children in immigration proceedings. She also works through the ABA to develop other partnerships to foster pro bono and public service opportunities for transaction lawyers and small firm lawyers. She is past chair of the ABA/NLADA Equal Justice Conference, past chair of the ABA Business Law Pro Bono Committee and current co-chair of the ABA GPSolo Pro Bono and Public Service Committee. In 2011 the ABA recognized her work with the Presidential Pro Bono Publico Special Service Award.
Most important, Kathleen has been married for 32 years to her best friend, David Hopkins and is they are the proud parents of two sons: Neil (30) and Ian (21).