In-house career changes

Notable moves in the corporate legal world

GC Appointments

Michael Dillon was named senior vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary of Adobe Systems Inc. He has more than 25 years of corporate legal experience, notably as the general counsel and corporate secretary at both Silver Spring Networks and Sun Microsystems. Dillon replaces Karen Cottle, who is retiring from the GC spot after a decade.

Insurance firm Travelers Cos. Inc. hired John Abramson to lead legal and compliance functions for its European businesses. Abramson comes to the company from Flagstone Re, where he was general counsel, Europe and global chief compliance officer. He previously spent nine years at Chartis, where he was deputy general counsel for Chartis Europe.

Kim Rucker, former general counsel and chief compliance officer of Avon Products Inc., is leaving the beauty company for Kraft Foods Group Inc., where she will serve as general counsel, corporate secretary and executive vice president of corporate and legal affairs. Rucker previously was SVP, corporate secretary and chief governance officer for Energy Future Holdings and a partner in the corporate and securities group at Sidley Austin.

Yahoo! Inc. appointed its interim general counsel Ron Bell to the GC spot. Bell joined the company in 1999 and has served as interim general counsel since the July departure of longtime GC Mike Callahan. In his new, permanent role, Bell will head up the Internet giant’s global compliance programs and legal affairs.

Anthony Santini was appointed senior vice president, general counsel and secretary of Combe Inc., the global consumer products marketer of Just for Men, Aqua Velva, Lectric Shave, Brylcreem and Sea-Bond. Prior to joining Combe, Santini was group vice president and associate general counsel at Avon Products Inc. His prior work experience includes stints at Bristol-Myers Squibb/Clairol and in the consumer division of American Cyanamid Co.

Craig Prusher joined Church’s Chicken as senior vice president and general counsel. Prusher most recently worked at Burger King Corp., where he oversaw legal issues related to franchising, real estate and government and industry relations. He also worked in the corporate departments of Warner & Stackpole and Nutter, McClennen & Fish.

Marielle Lifshitz was named general counsel of Wrapports LLC, the owner of Sun-Times Media. She joined Sun-Times Media as an assistant general counsel in 2006 and served as interim general counsel since April. She also was a partner in the corporate department of Drinker Biddle, where she specialized in mergers, acquisitions, venture capital, corporate finance and securities law.

Newmark Grubb Knight Frank appointed Jennifer Stein general counsel. Stein, who was general counsel of Grubb & Ellis, has served as co-general counsel since the company merged with Newmark Knight in April. She also held the general counsel spot at Pacific Monarch Resorts Inc. and has served in the legal departments at CB Richard Ellis, First American Title Insurance Co. and the Macerich Co.

Rocket Fuel announced the appointment of JoAnn Covington as general counsel. Covington previously spent nearly 14 years at Electronic Arts Inc., where she most recently was division counsel for the company’s Maxis Label division. In her new role, she will oversee the ad technology company’s international expansion, IP strategy, regulatory and legal compliance, mergers and acquisitions, and more.

Michael Harrington was named general counsel and senior vice president of Eli Lilly & Co., effective Jan. 1, 2013. Harrington most recently served as the pharmaceutical company’s deputy general counsel and vice president. Since joining the company in 1991, he also has held a number of legal and business positions, including general counsel for Asia-Pacific operations, managing director of Eli Lilly New Zealand and deputy general counsel.

Avon Products Inc. named Jeff Benjamin senior vice president and general counsel. Benjamin has more than 40 years of legal experience, most recently at Novartis Corp. and its predecessor company, Ciba-Geigy Corp., where he held various legal positions, including that of general counsel. Between 1997 and his 2011 retirement, Benjamin was Novartis’ chief ethics and compliance officer and chair of its ethics and compliance committee.

Peter Lurie joined Leap Motion, a motion control software and hardware company, as general counsel and senior vice president of business development. Lurie previously was a senior vice president at American Express Co., where he oversaw online and mobile commerce partnerships. He also is a co-founder of Virgin Mobile USA, a pay-as-you-go wireless company.

Air Lease Corp., a commercial aircrafts lessor, appointed Carol Forsyte executive vice president, general counsel, corporate secretary and chief compliance officer. Forsyte joins the company after 15 years at Motorola Inc., where she held positions including corporate vice president, law, corporate & securities.

Magellan Petroleum Corp. named Mark Brannum general counsel, secretary and vice president. Brannum’s prior work experience includes a five-year stint at SM Energy Co., where he held positions including deputy general counsel and corporate secretary. He also was a shareholder at Winstead from 1995 to 2007.

Elizabeth Matthews is now executive vice president and general counsel of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP). Matthews most recently was executive vice president and deputy general counsel at Viacom Media Networks. Prior to joining Viacom, Matthews worked in the intellectual property and corporate groups at Chadbourne & Parke.

Other In-House Moves 

Virgin Media Inc. announced that Scott Dresser has resigned from the general counsel spot after 18 months. Dresser joined the company in 2005, was named deputy general counsel in 2008 and became general counsel in January 2011. He cited “personal reasons” as the motivation for his departure.

Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. appointed Roderick Palmore to its board of directors. Palmore currently is the executive vice president, general counsel, chief compliance and risk management officer, and secretary of General Mills Inc. He previously led Sara Lee Corp.’s legal department, worked at a series of law firms and served in the U.S. Department of Justice for nearly 20 years.

David Williams, longtime general counsel of Vanderbilt University, will assume the title of vice chancellor for athletics and university affairs and athletics director. Williams previously served as the university’s general counsel and secretary and simultaneously headed the Vanderbilt athletics program after its 2003 restructuring.

Please send all promotions, career changes, hires and awards to jbeck@insidecounsel.com.

Contributing Author

Alanna Byrne

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