Guest Post by Liz Novak: Getting to know us, Getting to know all about us…

“Hard work spotlights the character of people: some turn up their sleeves,
some turn up their noses, and some don’t turn up at all.”

— Sam Ewing

Here’s a question: How many of you know the names of each MCBA staff person and what they do? I may be going out on a limb, but I am going to guess that unless you’ve had some direct interaction with one of us through a committee, section, event or CLE, you probably don’t know all of us or everything we do.

Please know that I’m not placing blame.  This is ours to own because, frankly, I don’t think we always take the time to introduce ourselves either! So get ready and fasten your seat belts as we take you through a tour of the office and give you the opportunity to get to know our staff. (And for all you bloggers out there, yes, this is long for a blog, so please stick with me.)

Picture it: The year is 2013 in the city of Rochester, New York; it’s noon on a Thursday at the corner of Main and Exchange downtown, and the streets are bustling. The sun is shining through the big windows of the Telesca Center for Justice lobby as Ray greets you with a “hello” by name and the weather report. (Ok, technically, Ray is not part of our staff or any of the partners’ staff, but he is kind our gatekeeper, and we appreciate everything about Ray.)

Ray security

You take the elevator up; and when you reach the 10th floor, the doors part. You step off, and there you see a warm, friendly smile greeting you at the front desk.

Cue warm, friendly smile.

Diane Hill

Please meet Diane Hill. If you’re unclear where to go or what to do once you get to the front desk, you can simply ask Diane – she’s happy to help as our “first impressionist” receptionist. Diane has been here for three years, and like all the staff here, Diane is a multi-tasker. She helps with scheduling of meetings in the various conference rooms, processing of Foundation donations, and she coordinates the ACT For the Children program. Diane is an avid contemporary Jazz fan, which is why you see her volunteering each year at our annual Jazz For Justice fundraising event for the Foundation in the spring.

After Diane helps you figure out which room to go to, you’ll most likely walk past the photos of the President, President-elect and Foundation President, and through the doorway in the hall. You may have a meeting in the Kessler Room on your left or you may be heading straight back to the Nixon Board Room.

Now as you come to the Nixon Board Room, you will see Dajaneé Parrish to your left.


She recently celebrated her one-year anniversary at the MCBA and we’re happy to have her. Dajaneé’s title is Communications Coordinator. This encompasses all three eDockets, eblasts, website updates, all of our social media, and event communications and materials. She’s also the liaison for our 20-year Lawyers for Learning program. And if you ever rent the movie “Cherry Crush,” you can catch Dajaneé in it as an extra!

Next to Dajaneé sits Dianne Nash, who is our most recent addition to the MCBA team (just a few months!) as CLE Program Coordinator. She is involved in CLE behind the scenes work like drafting registrations forms, collecting resumes to include in materials, summarizing evaluation forms and will gradually take on more, including some non-CLE work like becoming our backup database guru. In her spare time, Dianne is working on a novel, and expects all of you to buy a copy when she’s done!

D. Nash

Speaking of our CLE team, let’s head back towards the Nixon Board Room, where you’ll find Galina Nazarenko in an office towards the back ready to help.

Galina N.

Galina is our Senior CLE Coordinator for the Center for Education and is a close second to Kathy for having been with the MCBA the longest at 12-plus years. She processes all the CLE registrations and DVD purchases, generates CLE certificates as well as the speaker certificates, managing CLE Pass sales and usage, and all the nitty-gritty needed for our CLE programming to go off without a hitch. Galina also is the liaison for the following committees: Disability, Labor & Employment, Environmental Law, Municipal Attorneys, and School Attorneys. Galina recently lost her best friend – her 9-year old German Shepard named Veron.  But she’s found a new little buddy – a 13-week old German Shepard puppy named Argo. And become a grandmother for the first time. If you ask she will show you a picture of Peter (the grandson) and Argo (the new puppy).

As you walk out of Galina’s office, on your left, you will meet Ginny LaCour at her desk. Now, let me add this caveat, you may also see Ginny at the front desk covering Diane’s lunch break.

Ginny LaCour

Ginny has been here 10 years, and her primary job is that of Mary Loewenguth’s assistant. In that role, she helps with the MCBA Board of Trustees and Executive Committee. She also is the liaison for the following committees: Judiciary, Awards and Senior Attorneys. She makes all changes from year to year in the Attorney Courts Directory, and processes dues and event registrations. And somehow, she always seems to find a place for our last-minute Law Day and Installation Dinner registrations (you know who you are!). What I’m sure you don’t know about Ginny is that at the age of 40, she lived “on the road” traveling with a singing group for 2 years.  She’s been in 40 states; most of the major shopping malls in those states; stayed in over 400 homes; and did an average of 8 concerts a week!

Now make a left and walk past Ginny’s desk, you will see in the corner an office that stands alone. This belongs to Mary Loewenguth, our Executive Director, who has been here for 12 years.

Mary Loewenguth

Mary is what they call in the bar world, “a double hatter” as she serves as Executive Director for both the MCBA and the Foundation of the Monroe County Bar. Mary is so happy to have the Partnership Campaign and the Telesca Center lobby renovation behind her. It has been almost 8 years since the co-location idea was launched, and it feels good for her to simply be back to day-to-day operations. Mary runs this place — she’s kind of like the mayonnaise (low-fat mayonnaise, that is). in our egg salad… she’s everywhere!  She keeps us on our toes – in a good way – and leads us in the direction we need to go (even when we turn around and try to go the other way.)  Since Mary spends much of her days in meetings, we are guilty of stalking her from time to time for her opinions on things. We decided that after all Mary’s writing and sharing, there is probably little that you don’t know about her. As a result, Mary has decided that she needs to develop a “few” more hobbies.

As you exit Mary’s office, you will see Louise Spinelli’s office…I refer to her office, because Louise is often running around at a CLE making sure everything is running smooth and there are no technology glitches, or at a section council meeting…so you might not see her in her office at noon.

Louise Spinelli

Louise has worked here for 10 years and is the CLE & Diversity Program Manager who works with sections and committees to provide some of the best CLE programs in New York State, thanks to the talented speakers who share their knowledge.  Louise’s most recent challenge has been to oversee the technology installation and learn how it all works.  She also manages the MCBA diversity efforts, including the ABA and NYSBA award-winning Rochester Legal Diversity Clerkship Program. She also is the liaison for several committees and sections: Academy of Law, Diversity, Business Law, Criminal Justice, Litigation, Real Estate, Tax, and Trusts & Estates. In Louise’s next life, she would like to be a photographer for National Geographic magazine.

Past Louise’s office is the office of yours truly, and this past spring celebrated marked six years at the MCBA for me.

Liz Novak

My title is Membership, Communications and Foundation manager, and in that role, I manage the membership dues outreach and database, membership benefits, oversee membership communications, plan our major member events, and am the primary liaison for the Foundation. I also am the liaison for the following committees and Sections: Elder Law, Ethics, Family Law, Membership, Memorial, and Solo/Small Firm. In my spare time, I am involved in community theatre – sometimes behind the scenes, sometimes with publicity, and, once in a while, I act. Just ask David Stimson over at Nixon Peabody, he’ll give you the scoop!

After you leave my immaculate office, you will find Merritt Smith in his even more immaculate office.

Merritt Smith

That’s Merritt looking smug about his clean desk. Merritt recently celebrated his one-year anniversary here at the MCBA as Marketing Specialist. He manages our advertising and underwriting, and helps in marketing projects, like our online CLE viewing program and other CLE related projects. He’s also the person who now manages our Attorney Courts Directory from printing to advertising. Have a question about when the 2014 Attorney Court Directory will be ready or how to place an ad in it? He’s your guy to ask. He also is the liaison for the Young Lawyers Section. In his spare time, Merritt enjoys woodworking.

Next to Merritt is Kathy Fico, the MCBA’s Business & Office Manager. Kathy’s favorite things are numbers… especially when they are in the positive. She has been here the longest at 20 years and it’s all been “positive” — right Kathy?


Whether it’s the MCBA’s annual budget or an event budget, Kathy manages it.  She’s also manages office supplies and is the person to go to with a question about the Lawyer Succession Registry or the DEAFund. Kathy also supervises the Lawyer Referral Service and front desk operations. Most days you will walk past her office and here the “ticktickticktick” of her printing calculator. Kathy also manages our payroll – so it’s important we stay on her good side.

And last but not least, next to Kathy is Mark Swail, who has been here five plus years.


Mark is our Lawyer Referral Service and Grievance Coordinator. And in that role, he coordinates the Lawyer Referral Service, handling the many calls and emails that come in on a daily basis looking for an attorney, directing them to the appropriate place or person. He also coordinates and assists the Professional Performance and Fee Arbitration committees with the various grievance issues and fee disputes.  In addition, he also is the staff liaison for Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers. Mark’s favorite thing to do is to go snowboarding with his beautiful daughter.

As staff here, we believe in the MCBA and all that it stands for and represents. Which means we also believe in all of you. We know that our job to members is to be available, to serve, and to be a valuable resource – whether it’s finding the right CLE for that certain amount of credit; making an address change in the directory; or introducing a new admittee to another fellow lawyer at an event.  Each day, we strive to do our best – and like in all businesses, some days are better than others and some days we make mistakes – but we “turn up our sleeves” and try again – just like each one of you do.

We look forward to seeing you the next time you’re at the Telesca Center for Justice. Thanks for checking in ….


3 thoughts on “Guest Post by Liz Novak: Getting to know us, Getting to know all about us…

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