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Ama Romaine named general counsel at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory

“I prefer to focus on the steps that women can take to mitigate systemic challenges and put themselves in the best position to advance when leadership opportunities are presented,” attorney Ama Romaine said.

Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory campus in Laurel, Maryland. (Photo: John Hopkins APL Instagram)

The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) has named Ama Romaine general counsel and supervisor of the Office of Counsel following a diverse legal career that included working at Hilton Worldwide. 

“At APL, we seek creative and talented individuals to fill each executive-level position within our organization,” Ruth Nimmo, assistant director of operations at the lab, told InsideCounsel.

“After a national search, Ama emerged as the best candidate and an excellent match for where we are going in the future,” she added. “Innovation, creativity and inclusion are keys to our ability to focus intellectual capability on solving critical problems for our government sponsors. Ama brings experience from a very different industry setting and a set of perspectives that will cause us to think in new ways about how our institution operates. Ama has already demonstrated the ability to collaborate with a cross-functional team to develop great solutions for vexing problems.”

Recently, Romaine (photo, left) was legal lead for the Brands, Commercial Services and Corporate Communications departments at Hilton Worldwide. She negotiated commercial agreements, dealt with consumer protection matters, and managed the intellectual property portfolio there.

Earlier, she worked at Choice Hotels International, White & Case, Morrison & Foerster, and in Trinidad worked at M. Hamel-Smith & Company, a law firm.

Romaine graduated from Howard law school and York University in Toronto. Also, she has been on the board of the Women’s Bar Association of the District of Columbia and the Women’s Bar Association Foundation. She also has been a member of the Washington, D.C., advisory council of the Tahirih Justice Institute.

When asked about challenges facing women attorneys, Romaine said, “I would assume that most attorneys, both men and women, share similar career goals – we all want to make meaningful progress in our careers.”

“In the legal profession, attaining partnership or a senior leadership role in an organization are the proverbial brass rings. Statistics show that women attorneys continue to be underrepresented in partnership and senior leadership roles. These statistics suggest that there may be systemic/structural reasons why women are not advancing at the same rate as their male counterparts,” she added. “I prefer to focus on the steps that women can take to mitigate systemic challenges and put themselves in the best position to advance when leadership opportunities are presented.” 

Also, when it comes to career advice for other women attorneys, she said, “First and foremost, there is no substitute for hard work. To borrow from Sheryl Sandberg [Facebook’s chief operating officer], we have to lean in, take every opportunity that is presented, learn as much as we can as early as possible and recognize that it is sometimes necessary to take lateral steps and sometimes even backward steps on our career journey.”

“At APL, we believe that in order to be innovative, we have to accept some level of failure and I would suggest that women should take a similar approach and be innovative in our career journey,” she advised. “We should be very clear about our career goals, disregard naysayers, take calculated risks and reach for opportunities even when they may seem unattainable.”

Further reading:

Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority names new general counsel

Indiana University Foundation names new general counsel

Beaumont Health names Jane E. Jordan general counsel

Contributing Author

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Ed Silverstein

Ed Silverstein ( is a veteran freelance writer and and editor for magazines, websites and newspapers. He writes frequently for ALM Media's

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