2018 Annual Award Recipients

We are thrilled to announce the 2018 recipients of our annual awards!

Joan Young Judicial Excellence Award – Justice Marilyn Kelly
Evelyn Forrest Distinguished Advocate Award – Lori Buiteweg
Sarah Killgore Wertman Scholarship – Kristin Crowley 
Member of the Year – Stephanie Martin

Join us at our Annual Dinner on May 31st to honor these deserving women!

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January Officer Q&A

This month’s Officer participants include (left to right):
Erin Morgan Klug  President
Tanya Lundberg – President Elect
Katherine Pacynski – Recording Secretary
Silvia Alexandria Mansoor – Communications Secretary
Erin Flynn – Treasurer
Kristina Bilowus – WLAM Representative

Do you believe in making New Year’s Resolutions?  If so, what is a resolution of yours?
Erin K: I believe in setting goals. This year my goal is to finish remodeling my house! I’m also trying to be more positive in general.
Tanya: Yes, although it seems like I make the same ones every year! Two big ones for me this year are to get more sleep and to do better with my family budget.
Katie: Sure, I’d love to tell myself that I’ll work out more or that I’ll eat healthier, but let’s be honest… The gyms are too crowded in January anyway!  I tend to make more of an effort (though my colleagues may disagree!) during Lent, so I’ve got another month before I start making any serious changes!
Silvia:  I do.  I’ve decided that I’m paying more attention to skincare this year.  Hopefully, I can form some good habits to continue in the coming years.
Erin F: Yes.  I think they are important to keep you on track, but I like to make more generalized resolutions like “use time more wisely,” rather than “work out 7x a week.”  I also like to check in on my resolutions each month and make sure that I’m meeting the goals I’ve set for myself, and see if I need to tweak them a bit to make them more specific.
Kristina: I do (though I am not the best at following through on them)! Professionally, I am striving to take a more active role in management at my firm. Personally, I want to get serious about a fitness program! 

What are you looking forward to the most in 2018?
Erin K: My house being finished (see above).
Tanya: I am really looking forward to the WLAM Centennial celebration in April.
Katie: My husband and I are expecting our first child in March!  We’re excited (and terrified) to become parents and to watch our little one experience so many firsts in 2018.
Silvia Following the mid-term election season.
Erin F: My wedding!  (Surprise!)
Kristina: The opportunity to learn from yesterday and use that knowledge to move forward and grow as an individual.

What was your favorite memory from the holidays?
Erin K: Traveling to Florida with my dogs to visit my parents – it was so warm!
Tanya: Sledding with my son.
Katie: The holidays are chaotic for us since we go to four parties—two on Christmas Eve and two on Christmas Day.  It’s wonderful to see so many family members, but it’s also very exhausting!  I really enjoyed spending New Year’s Eve at home with just my husband.  It was nice to relax and have some time with just the two of us.
Silvia: Watching our family dog, Yoda, open up her Christmas presents.  It’s always quite the scene!
Erin F: Getting engaged, and spending lots of time with family.
Kristina: Spending quality time with two longtime friends.

If you could do anything in the new year, what would it be? (No budget or time limitations)
Erin K: Stay somewhere warm until Spring, preferably with a cold beverage in hand.
Tanya: Spend a month traveling all over Europe.
Katie: I’d love to travel more.  Obviously, that’s unrealistic with a baby on the way, but a girl can dream!
Learn how to fly a plane and go wherever I want.
Erin F: Travel anywhere!
Kristina: Keeping my family and friends healthy and safe.


October Officer Q&A

This month’s Officer participants include (left to right):

  • Erin Morgan Klug – President
  • Tanya Lundberg – President Elect
  • Samantha Orvis – Vice President
  • Katherine Pacynski – Recording Secretary
  • Silvia Alexandria Mansoor – Communications Secretary
  • Kristina Bilowus – WLAM Representative

Which team will you be cheering for this weekend?

  • Erin: U of M!
  • Tanya: UM – Go Blue! Can’t wait to see what Don Brown’s defense does this week.
  • Samantha: Neither. Not a football fan. (I know, boooo)
  • Katherine: Michigan, of course! Go Blue!
  • Silvia: I always have that MSU spirit!
  • Kristina: So this is always tricky for me as I live in a house divided (i.e. my sister is at DO Medical School at MSU). However, there is no question – my heart has always and will always belong to U of M (and the city of Ann Arbor).

Fall weather will eventually arrive to Michigan, do you have a favorite book or magazine you recommend reading?

  • Erin: I recommend that everyone re-read Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark that we all read as kids. Those were the best…
  • Tanya: Summer by Edith Wharton, the Outlander series, anything by Jane Austen, although I’m currently reading What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton.
  • Samantha: You are a Badass by Jen Sincero
  • Katherine: I recently read Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty.  For all the hype around the HBO miniseries, I found the book to be much better. Otherwise, I tend to read the Kindle First books (one free book every month) from Amazon, and I don’t particularly recommend any of those.  You really do get what you pay for!
  • Silvia: I like catching up with Fast Company magazine.  Currently also reading Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg
  • Kristina: I recommend reading anything you have been hoping to but haven’t gotten around to yet or joining a book club! I belong to a couple of book clubs and am always intrigued by the choices – selections I probably would not have chosen on my own but am glad I got to read.

How do you balance work, family, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle? (Fun fact – Erin and Kristen Pursley just ran the Ragnar Relay)

  • Erin: Step 1: Accept that you can’t do it all. Be happy with what you accomplish and don’t compare yourself to others – be proud of what you do. Step 2: Find an activity that you love and that is uncomplicated to actually accomplish. I run because all I need is a pair of shoes and the road. I can do it any time of day and wherever I want. As for balancing work and family – that’s still a mystery to me 😉
  • Tanya: I took a position with a more regular schedule so I could more easily plan for family and wellness. I tend to exercise at night after my son is asleep or try to incorporate him in my exercise on the weekends – playing catch with him, chasing him around the playground, going for walks or bike rides.
  • Samantha: I just had a baby, so this is still to be determined… however I do consistently remind myself that my work, despite the pleasure it brings me to feel accomplished in my career, is still just a job and may be temporary. Family is forever. Also, you can’t pour from an empty cup!
  • Katherine: I try to get as much done during the week so I’m less stressed by the time the weekend rolls around.  My husband has the same philosophy, and we reserve Saturdays for college football and getting stuff done around the house this time of year!  As for maintaining a healthy lifestyle, I’m still struggling with that one, but I’ve been trying to eat healthier as of late.  I do have a gym membership, and I keep telling myself I’ll get in there one of these days…
  • Silvia: I’m still figuring this part out.
  • Kristina: Work-life-balance right? I cannot profess to say I’ve got it down. However, I know time management is important to me. Making sure I get work, projects, etc. done but also having time for fun is important.  Time for family and friends has become an even greater part of my life.

How has WBA positively impacted your life professionally and/or personally?

  • Erin: Aside from the outstanding referral network I have built in my years involved with the WBA, the friendships I have formed with these women will last a lifetime. I can honestly say that these women are some of my best friends – those relationships are priceless.
  • Tanya: Professionally, being a WBA member has helped me in numerous ways. But the most significant way it helped me was giving me an opportunity to plan an event involving students and attorneys at Detroit Mercy Law, which inspired me to pursue my current position. Personally, I’ve made some great friends, I’ve gone to a ton of cool places that I wouldn’t have gone to otherwise, and I’m constantly amazed and re-energized by so many passionate women lawyers and working mothers.
  • Samantha: WBA has provided a network of some similarly situated professional ladies who I can call on for advice. I like the opportunities to engage others in the legal community.  We have a diverse number of activities that are a lot of fun and offer an excuse to get out of the office and interact with people outside of my field.
  • Katherine: I have met so many great people through attending WBA events.  I’ve especially enjoyed working with and getting to know the other women on the Board.  Being an active member of the WBA has allowed me to build a network of intelligent, hardworking women, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend any of them.
  • Silvia: It’s introduced me to new people that I probably wouldn’t have met otherwise.
  • Kristina: Honestly, my involvement with WBA has opened doors to other professional affiliations and opportunities I would not have otherwise had the privilege of doing. Additionally, networking has increased as well as the development of other relationships I probably would have missed out on.

August Officer Q&A

We are introducing a new monthly Officer Q&A on our website.  We will ask a handful of questions to our Officers, ranging from professional to family life.  Feel free to let us know if there are any questions you would like to see addressed in our future monthly posts by going here!



This month’s Officer participants include:

  • Tanya Lundberg – President Elect;
  • Katie Pacynski – Recording Secretary;
  • Silvia Mansoor – Communications Secretary; and
  • Kristina Bilowus – WLAM Representative.

How are you enjoying the last bit of summer before the hustle and bustle of fall?

  • Tanya: Spending as much time at the pool as possible!
  • Katie: My parents live on a lake, so I like to spend as much time there as possible.  There’s really nothing better than sitting outside with family and great neighbors with great food and drinks!
  • Silvia: I’ve been trying to make the most out of this entire summer.  The same applies towards the end.  I think I’m succeeding.  I recently participated in an organized bicycling event where I was able to ride 66 miles.  I’ve also been staying busy with my new kitty, Amelia.  I have also been getting ready for the new degree that I’m tackling this Fall–a Master’s of Science in Information at the University of Michigan.  I’m planning to relax with a friend or two on Labor Day and then get ready for some excitement!
  • Kristina: Spending as much time as I can outdoors.

Do you have any tips or tricks for preparing for the busy fall season?

  • Tanya: We rely on our google calendars (individual, shared, and kid) to keep track of everything going on and we have Sunday family meetings to talk about the upcoming week. We still have to buy our UM season t-shirts, but we have all of our games planned, including the road game at Wisconsin.
  • Katie: I don’t do anything to really “prepare” for the fall season, but I do look forward to wearing sweaters and sweatshirts (until I get sick of them by the time January rolls around), watching Michigan football, and burning fall-scented candles. I love the way my house smells at that time!
  • Silvia: Don’t get distracted and focus on what’s important in the long-run.
  • Kristina: I try to do a fall cleaning (notice the operative word “try”) where I sort, pitch, recycle items in my home as I transition to a new season. And, in so doing, it forces me to get organized with the start of a new year. I also love getting new planners!

What was your favorite WBA Oakland event last year and do you have an event you are already looking forward to for this year?

  • Tanya: My favorite event last year was the Champagne Soiree. I am looking forward to that again, and trivia night and the annual dinner. I’m also really looking forward to the WLAM centennial celebration.
  • Katie: I have no art skills whatsoever, but I do enjoy the Painting with a Twist event every year.  We get a great turnout, with lots of new faces, and it’s a fun, stress-free night.  Even if my painting doesn’t turn out well (it never does!), it’s still a great time!  I also really enjoyed our service activity last year, where we volunteered with Humble Design to clean and furnish a house in Pontiac.  It’s a very humbling experience, and it’s amazing to see what a difference a small group can make in just a few hours.  I work in downtown Pontiac, so it’s even more rewarding to help people in our community.
  • Silvia: I actually really liked our periodic Bar Briefs happy hour gatherings that we had last year.  It’s nice to converse in a low-key environment.  I’m looking forward to those again.  I’m also looking forward to the Champagne Soirée this year.
  • Kristina: It’s probably a tie between Painting with a Twist and Trivia Night. Both were so much fun. This year’s anticipated activity? Yes, I’m looking forward to both –again.

Aside from being a member of WBA, do you have any recommendations for other professional, social, or charitable organizations to become involved in this upcoming year?

  • Tanya: I find my Oakland County Bar Association and Detroit Bar Association memberships very valuable. I especially enjoyed participating in the Inns of Court when I was still practicing. I also recently joined 100 Women Who Care of Northville. There are a few metro Detroit chapters of this organization, which combines the charitable donations of at least 100 women to increase the impact of their donations. At our most recent meeting, we donated about $16,000 to a children’s foster home/treatment center in Detroit to build a sensory garden and new playscape.
  • Katie: I have recently become involved with a nonprofit called Art&Soul, which is dedicated to connecting families to children in the Michigan foster care system.  Art&Soul believes that every child is a work of art and showcases this message through a traveling art exhibit featuring photos of children in the foster care system looking for their forever families.  The Board is so passionate about these children, and it’s contagious!  We are always looking for more people to get involved and spread the word, so feel free to reach out to me if you’re interested.
  • Silvia: For those involved in the Oakland area, the Oakland County Bar Association is always great.  The State Bar of Michigan is a great organization to get more involved with as well.  If you’re into cycling or running, I’d also encourage you to look into the Hope Water Project, which raises money for water-well construction.
  • Kristina: I would recommend being involved in organizations that matter to you, whether they are professional or otherwise. Additionally, I would find at least one activity, organization, etc. that does not pertain directly to the law. That way, you can explore other interests and interact with others you may have never even had the chance to meet.


Officer Focus: Erin Flynn

Erin Flynn

Get to know a little bit more about our current Recording Secretary, Erin Flynn.

Who inspired you to become an attorney? My mother.  She would have made an amazing attorney, and I know I inherited a lot of the traits from her that have gotten me to where I am today.  While she is not an attorney, she is an amazing speech language pathologist and an absolute boss in her own right.

What sparked your interest in WBA? A law school friend of mine encouraged me to attend a WBA event while we were in law school.  It was a great decision because I met two amazing women at the event who are now my bosses.

What do you like doing when you are not working? Working out and spending time with my family.

Favorite book? Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann.

Favorite fictional attorney? (from books, movies, or TV) Diane Lockhart from The Good Wife.

Any pets? No.  In fact, I have never had a pet in my entire life.

What do you like listening to in your car or on your way to work? A variety of music – depends on my mood and time of the year.  Or my Dad’s voice.  I like to call him on my way to or from court some mornings to catch up.  He makes my day!

What are three things that people probably don’t know about you? (1) I hate shopping.  (2) I love to cook.  (3) I am Canadian.

Favorite restaurant? So many!  If I had to pick one, it would be Nico & Vali in Plymouth.

Coffee, tea, or neither? Coffee!

Favorite travel destination? Anywhere, as long as my favorite people are with me, and the weather is warm.

Desired super power? Invisibility.

Words to live by? “Good things come to those who hustle.”  My boss, Ryan Kelly, former president of WBA, gave me a sign with this saying that sits on my desk.


Officer Focus: Melissa Atherton

Melissa Atherton

Want to know a little bit more about our current WLAM Representative, Melissa Atherton?  Read on!

What inspired you to become an attorney?

To this day, I am really not sure.  I just always knew I wanted to be an attorney.

What sparked your interest in the WBA?

When I started at my firm, a partner was heavily involved in the WBA.  She invited me to a meeting and the rest is history.

What do you like to do when you aren’t working?

I like to cook, hang out with my family, and enjoy the outdoors.

What is your favorite book?

House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout

Who is your favorite fictional attorney?

I do not really have one but, when I was younger, I loved John Grisham books.

Do you have any pets?

I have two Old English Bulldogs: Petunia and Winston.  They are the quintessential bulldogs: lazy, full of love, and lots of personality.

What do you like listening to in your car or on your way to work?

I have very boring taste – I like podcasts and talk radio.

What are three things that people probably don’t know about you?

(1) I once spent a night sleeping on the floor of the Bangkok airport waiting for a flight.

(2) I met my husband in South Korea.  He was in the U.S. Army stationed just north of Seoul, and I was teaching English in Seoul.

(3) I love online shopping and planning vacations to exotic places (that I do not actually take).

What is your favorite restaurant?

I do not have a favorite right now but, as a general rule, I prefer hole-in-the-wall restaurants to fancy ones.

Do you prefer coffee, tea, or neither?


Favorite travel destination?

There are so many places I would like to go and so many places I would visit again; however, my favorite place in the world is still my grandparents’ cottage in a tiny town just north of the Muskoka region in Ontario.

What superpower would you like to have?

I would love the ability to travel anywhere in the world in less than thirty seconds.  If I could do this, I could spend more time with my family and friends, and I could see more of the world.

What are your words to live by?

“Do one thing today that your future self will be thankful for.”


Officer Focus: Samantha J. Orvis

Before the month is over, we want to let you know about our Treasurer, Samantha J. Orvis!

What inspired you to become an attorney?

I had a professor in undergrad that went to law school, but was not practicing.  She and I had a few discussions before I decided that it would be a good educational challenge for me.  I honestly had no idea what being a lawyer truly entailed, since I had no family members or close friends of family in the profession.  I just knew I wanted to become a trial attorney.

What sparked your interest in the WBA?

I believe my initial interest was by way of participating in the Women’s Law Caucus while at Wayne Law School.  A fellow law student was attending WBA events and meetings, and I decided to join her.  They’ve been trying to get rid of me ever since!

What do you like to do when you aren’t working?

I love to cook and bake, enjoy recreational running, gardening, and reading fiction.  However, when I am not working I am usually volunteering somewhere, or at a bar function, or board meeting, or en route to one of the above.

What is your favorite book?

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Who is your favorite fictional attorney?

Matthew McConaughey’s character from A Time to Kill – the film adaptation of John Grisham’s 1989 novel

Do you have any pets?

I have a mutt (lab/pit mix?) named Tess that I adopted from a shelter a few years back and a high maintenance Himalayan cat named Tinka who is ten years old.

What do you like listening to in your car or on your way to work?

NPR or audiobooks

What are three things that people probably don’t know about you?

(1) I have run a handful of half-marathons, although I never ran more than a mile before 2013.

(2) In 2016, while on my honeymoon in San Pedro, Belize, the island was hit by Hurricane Earl.

(3) I identify as more of an introvert.

What is your favorite restaurant?

I really like this locally owned restaurant in Grand Blanc (where I live) called The Grafted Root Eatery.

Do you prefer coffee, tea, or neither?

Coffee.  Black.  All day.

Favorite travel destination?

Unfortunately, I have not had many opportunities to travel for leisure, but I enjoy the San Francisco bay area.

What superpower would you like to have?

Time travel

What are your words to live by?

“Your reputation follows you everywhere. ”


Officer Focus: Tanya Juarez Lundberg

Currently, we are featuring Tanya Juarez Lundberg–the current Communications Secretary.  Let’s learn a little bit about her!

What inspired you to become an attorney?

Growing up, I thought I wanted to be an attorney.  Then in high school, I switched to journalism.  But in a college Politics and the Media course, I switched back.  I realized that journalists point out problems, but they don’t solve them.  I wanted to be a problem-solver.

What sparked your interest in the WBA?

Melissa Graves, a past president, was my mentor and colleague at my last firm, and she encouraged me to get involved.

What do you like to do when you aren’t working?

Spend time with my husband and son, watch University of Michigan sports, go for walks and bike rides, and visit my sister in North Carolina

What is your favorite book?

Summer by Edith Wharton

Who is your favorite fictional attorney?

ADA Alex Cabot from Law & Order: SVU

Do you have any pets?


What do you like listening to in your car or on your way to work?

AM 1050 WTKA (local University of Michigan sports-focused radio station), sports podcasts like The Michigan Man or Wolverine Wanderings, FM 101.9 WDET (Wayne State’s NPR station), and music (currently usually Adele’s 25)

What are three things that people probably don’t know about you?

(1) I was all set to go to Michigan State University until the spring of my senior year of high school.

(2) In law school, my dream job was to be a prosecutor.

(3) I could eat breakfast for every meal of every day and be happy.

What is your favorite restaurant?

Boodles in Madison Heights

Do you prefer coffee, tea, or neither?

Both, but decaf.

Favorite travel destination?

Washington, D.C.

What superpower would you like to have?


What are your words to live by?

Right now?  “There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.” –Elie Wiesel


Guest Blog – 5 Money Tips to Start off the New Year

With the winding down of the “new year” and tax season straight ahead, most of us have our finances and money on our minds.  That is why we asked Financial Architect’s Asalyn Coachman to give us some pointers in a guest blog as we move through the start of this year.  Here’s what she has to say:

1. Know Your Credit Worthiness

Once a year, your free credit report is available at annualcreditreport.com.  This is a statement of your credit history, but not the actual credit score. Review the report to make sure there are no errors. To find out your free FICO score, there are several options, including credit karma and Discover.

2. Track Your Spending

It may not sound like fun, but tracking your spending for one month will show where those dollars are really going. If you are having trouble reaching your financial goals, it may be all those little incidentals that are adding up. Knowledge is power, so face the reality of how much you are spending.

3. Don’t Count on a Bonus or Refund

Many of us hope to get a tax refund or a bonus at work, but spending it before it arrives can lead to problems. Plan your spending as if you are not getting this extra boost in income. When and if it does arrive, be strategic about where it can do the most good– saving, debt payment, etc.

4. Set Up Automatic Payments

Just one late payment can adversely affect your credit score, so put as many payments on an automatic schedule as possible. Deposits to your savings should also be scheduled to occur automatically so you always pay yourself.

5. Take a Big Financial Goal and Turn it into Mini-Goals

If this is the year you want to build your savings, decide how much you would like to have in savings at the end of the year. Then break that number down into a monthly or weekly amount so the goal does not seem so overwhelming. Saving $5,000.00 by the end of the year sounds like a lot until you think of it as $96.00 a week! Make a plan and hold yourself to it.


Asalyn Coachman is a financial advisor at Financial Architects, Inc.  This article was prepared for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal or financial advice.  Please be mindful of the fact that everybody’s financial and legal situations are different and there is no “one size fits all” approach.  If you are looking for legal or financial advice, please contact a competent professional in your geographic location.  


Officer Focus: Andrea Symbal

This month, we are featuring Andrea Symbal–the current Vice President of the WBA.  Read what she has to say!

What inspired you to become an attorney?

I wanted to be an attorney for as long as I can remember and I don’t know if there was any one inspiration, but I became an attorney because I enjoy puzzles.  Whether you are working through litigation or overseeing legal transactions, it is all about working out the intellectual pieces of the puzzle and putting them together to achieve a satisfactory outcome for the client.

What sparked your interest in the WBA?

I became interested in the WBA as a 2L when I attended the WBA mentorship event and was paired with a practicing attorney as my mentor. My mentor encouraged me to attend meetings and become involved not only to get my name out into the field, but to also develop meaningful relationships with a group of successful female attorneys.

What do you like to do when you aren’t working?

Being outdoors, walking, biking, and boating. I also enjoy spending time with my husband Brian and our dog Ernie. I like to do crafts such as scrapbooking and wreath-making, and I can sit for hours doing jigsaw puzzles.

What is your favorite book?

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

Who is your favorite fictional attorney?

Alicia Florick from the Good Wife

Do you have any pets?

A miniature Australian labradoodle puppy named Ernie that will be one year old this month.

What do you like listening to in your car or on your way to work?

I listen to music from my past, which some may say unfortunately includes 80s and 90s music.

What are three things that people probably don’t know about you?

(1) I am a Yooper. I lived near Marquette until I was 21; (2) I worked for 7 years prior to going to law school; and (3) I wrote articles for our local newspaper when I was a kid and had the privilege of briefly meeting Hillary Clinton as a part of that experience.

What is your favorite restaurant?

Tom Colicchio’s Craftsteak in Las Vegas. It was the most extravagant meal that I have ever eaten and each bite was worth every penny!

Do you prefer coffee, tea, or neither?


Favorite travel destination?

Anywhere with a white sandy beach, crystal clear water, and a tropical climate.

What superpower would you like to have?


What are your words to live by?

“Never give up.  Great things take time.”