Coast to Coast Orientations

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

From the West Coast to the East, the Peggy Browning Fund started off the summer with a bang! Our 66 Fellows are situated in their 10-week fellowships and we've conducted eight orientations across the United States. The purpose of the orientations was for the Summer Fellows to get to know each other better, to meet Peggy Browning alumni working in their mentor's city and to make sure they get the most from their summer experience.

The first orientation took place on May 28 in Los Angeles hosted by Michael Wertheim, PBF’11, Associate at Holguin, Garfield, Martinez and Quinonez APLC.  A few hours later, four Fellows met in Chicago with Emil Totonchi, PBF‘10-11 School-Year Fellow, General Counsel with Teamsters Local 705, and Angie Cowan Hamada, PBF’04-05 School Year Fellow, Partner with Allison, Slutsky & Kennedy PC. The next day’s orientation was in Detroit, where Mami Kato, PBF’09, Associate at Sachs Waldman, PC treated the Fellows to dinner and discussion. 

From June 4 to June 9 orientations were held in New York, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Pittsburgh and Austin.  In New York City our Summer Fellows met at the Major League Baseball Association’s offices hosted by Dave Prouty, Chief Labor Counsel and PBF Advisory Board member.  

Dave spoke about Peggy – who she was as a labor lawyer and how Marvin Miller and Curt Flood changed the world of professional sports.  Richard Brook, also a PBF Advisory Board member and an attorney with the union-side law firm of Meyer, Suozzi, English & Klein, spoke on how labor unions are on the front lines of many varied civil rights issues.  He added, “An attorney representing a labor union can have a very challenging and sophisticated labor practice.” 

Three New York alumni present spoke about how Peggy Browning Fellows should connect with PBF alumni to help them direct their career paths. The alumni included Jessica Hahn, PBF’09, Deputy Director of Legal and Investigation, the newly-formed Paid Sick Leave Division of the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs; Julie Polakoski, PBF’08, Field Attorney with the NLRB Region 2 and Alyssa Tramposch, PBF’08, Assistant General Counsel for the NY Hotel & Motel Trades Council, AFL-CIO. 

In Philadelphia, Penns Landing Caterers hosted our Fellows and Alumni at the Sheet Metal Workers Local 19 hall.  Alumnus Andrew Gniewek, PBF’11, Associate Attorney with union-side law firm Willig, Williams & Davidson, shared that his Peggy Browning Fellowship was the first thing prospective employers asked about during his job interview.  Lance Geren, PBF’99, Attorney with union-side law firm Freedman Lorry, noted that the labor movement is ever-changing and also encouraged the Fellows to stay in contact with PBF alumni.  Andrew offered to organize local activities throughout the summer to help the Fellows stay connected.

In Pittsburgh, PBF Fellows were hosted by Moshe Marvit, PBF’09, Attorney-advisor for the Federal Mine Safety Health Review Commission. Our host in Austin, Texas was Susannah Volpe, PBF‘09, Associate Attorney for Walker Gates Vela PLLC.

The largest number of Fellows attending an orientation was in Washington, DC, hosted by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters where we had 24 Fellows. Jessica Rutter, PBF’11, Honors Attorney at the NLRB in the General Counsel's Office, offered these words of advice:  “Have a friendly attitude and build relationships with your direct supervisor and others.  All of them can be mentors.”  Dennis Walsh, Chair of the PBF Board of Directors and Regional Director of NLRB Region 4, added to “experience a variety of work; lobby your mentors for exposure to a variety of work.” 

With this beginning we know that this year’s Peggy Browning Fellows have had the stage set for an awesome summer experience!  Our thanks to the generosity of all our hosts in ensuring our Fellows received the best introduction possible.  Now it’s up to the Fellows to capitalize on the opportunities available at each mentor’s locations.  Best of luck and network, network, network!


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