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The Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC) is the world's largest organization serving the professional and business interests of attorneys who practice in the legal departments of corporations, associations, nonprofits and other private-sector organizations around the globe.

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Joni Gaudes, EVP & General Counsel, Hybrid Apparel

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Dear ACC Southern California Members & Friends,

I am honored to be your incoming President and I want to acknowledge the leadership provided by my dear friend Del Sabzerou and the 2020/21 board! The past year+ has presented the world with unanticipated circumstances and unique challenges, and I have been thoroughly impressed by this organization’s willingness to listen to feedback, work together and pivot where necessary.

I look forward to serving the Southern California Chapter as President, but I’m humbled, considering the many outstanding leaders who have shown unwavering leadership in the past. I look forward to continuing to evolve the organization to best support you personally and professionally.

Please join me in welcoming this year’s President Elect and Program Chair Victoria Harvey, Vice President Elizabeth Duong, Secretary Robert Kang, Treasurer Ellen Yang, and our Board of Directors, Rebecka Biejo, Danielle Blanchard, Jennifer Bryant,  Shedrick Davis, Kush Desai, James Dierking, Lynette Jones,  John Kedeshian, Peter Macdonald, Njeri Mutura, Nicole Nakagawa, Albert Nicholson, Wade Pyun, Rhea Ricard, Conchita Valenzuela, Crystal Ventura, Jason Weintraub, Ako Williams, Christina Zabat-Fran, and our truly amazing Executive Director, Betty St. Marie.

I would like to directly thank our Sponsors for continuing to support us through this time. ACC Southern California’s mission would not have been possible without your dedication and loyalty.

I have built relationships with many of you through ACC, but for those I have not met, let me share with you my path towards becoming involved with this great organization.

I was recruited as an 8th year partner at a mid-sized litigation defense firm to step into a solo GC position at a small, privately held dental marketing company.  It was a shock of a transition! I went from specializing in a certain area of the law and working with many lawyers who I could kick around issues with, as well as support staff who would make copies and file documents to being an army of one, fielding questions on a multitude of topics while also handling the administrative things.  I needed to become efficient quickly!

Enter ACC Southern California.  I had heard this association was the place to meet other similar in-house counsel and learn about relevant issues. When I attended my first networking event, everyone was so welcoming and the topic was something that had just come up a few weeks ago at my company.  (It also didn’t hurt that it was held at a really cool location on the Westside.)  As I attended more events throughout the years, I made life-long friendships with several members as well as outside counsel. Through my networking, I also moved companies twice. This made me want to give back and become more involved with the chapter through volunteering on committees and then being elected to the Executive Committee. I hope that as things open up more, you volunteer on that committee that sounds interesting or get coffee or lunch with an in-house colleague you met a few weeks ago at an ACC event.

My priorities this year are to:

  • Get Back to Business!  We have been through unprecedented times during these past two years.  It is my goal to have an amazing gala and more in-person events to meet new members and top rate outside counsel.  We have some great speakers and venues in mind, and we are monitoring the current status, CDC guidelines, local requirements and people’s comfort level.
  • Encourage meaningful connections all around… from lunch or drinks with that really cool member you met a few weeks ago at a networking event to connecting with outside counsel so that they remain top of mind when needed.

I encourage you to continue to sign up for our CLE in person events and webinars, reach out to each other, continue to network and put your time and energy towards worthy causes. Also, I welcome you to send me your ideas, suggestions, comments, improvements, or criticisms. Please contact me, our leadership team, or Betty to convey your thoughts.

I am looking forward to serving you in the year ahead, and I am grateful for your partnership and dedication to our chapter to make it all possible!

Joni Gaudes
President, ACC Southern California, 2021-2022


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