NAW Billion Dollar Company HR Roundtable
Nikki Hininger HowellAttorney, Ogletree Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C.
Ms. Howell is an associate in the firm’s Kansas City office. She defends employers and management in employment related disputes in various forums, focusing primarily on discrimination, retaliation, harassment and wrongful discharge cases.
Ms. Howell's extensive employment litigation experience includes second-chairing eight jury trials and one bench trial, first or second-chairing two employment arbitrations, taking and defending multiple key witness depositions, drafting successful summary judgment motions, arguing dispositive motions in court, representing employers in settlement conferences and in mediation, and defending EEOC on-site inspections.
Ms. Howell is originally from Independence, Missouri. She began her legal career as a law clerk for the Honorable John R. Gibson, who sits on the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Ms. Howell’s recent successes include:
-Obtaining a defense jury verdict in a lawsuit brought by the EEOC in federal court in Florida, in which an employee alleged a failure-to-promote race discrimination claim
-Obtaining monetary sanctions against a plaintiff who deleted relevant computer documents and attempted to manufacture evidence in support of his claims, which were later dismissed through summary judgment
-Successfully defending a large retail corporation in a jury trial in the District of Kansas, in which the employee claimed he was terminated in retaliation for exercising his rights under workers’ compensation laws
Thomas PlathVice President - Human Resources, xpedx
Thomas J. Plath is the vice president of Human Resources for xpedx, a division of International Paper.
Tom joined International Paper in 1991 as an HR associate at the Thilmany mill in Kaukauna, Wisconsin. After working in a variety of business HR roles in the Specialty Industrial Papers business, he was named director human resources, IP Europe in 1997. In 2000 he was named director strategic planning, IP Europe. In 2001 Tom returned from Brussels and held positions in xpedx in operations and marketing. He was named GM of the xpedx Illinois business in July, 2003. In June, 2006, Tom was named VP of Human Resources for xpedx.
Tom is a member of the company’s HR & Communications lead team. He is a current participant in the executive program of Leadership Memphis.
Tom received his bachelor’s degree in education from Martin Luther College and his MBA from Vanderbilt University.
Tom and his wife, Lisa, live in Collierville and have two sons and a daughter.
Donald PropheteShareholder, Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C.
Mr. Prophete serves on the Firm’s 5-member Board of Directors and as the Firm’s Vice President. He devotes his entire practice to representing management in all aspects of employment-related litigation, including class actions, complex employment litigation and traditional labor matters.
Mr. Prophete has served as lead trial counsel in all types of employment disputes in federal and state courts in Kansas, Missouri, Michigan, North Carolina and Pennsylvania, including jury trials for major national employers. He consistently represents employers in suits involving race, sex, age, and disability discrimination the FMLA, the FLSA, and related common law claims. Mr. Prophete has obtained summary judgments or dismissals on behalf of clients in dozens of cases, and has successfully defended those decisions in the appellate courts. He has significant experience with the following business sectors: telecommunications; retail; restaurant; utilities and manufacturing.
Mr. Prophete also devotes a substantial part of his practice representing employers in traditional labor law matters,including union organizing campaigns, collective bargaining, and grievance arbitrations.
In January 2008, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights in conjunction with the White House, appointed Mr. Prophete to serve as Chairman of the Advisory Committee to the Commission, for a two-year term. In January 2002, President George W. Bush announced his intention to nominate Mr. Prophete to be General Counsel of the EEOC. While honored, Mr. Prophete ultimately withdrew his name from consideration to remain in Kansas City.
Jade WestSenior Vice President-Government Relations, NAW
Jade West is Senior Vice President-Government Relations for the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors. She also serves as Executive Director of the Wholesaler-Distributor Political Action Committee. Jade is the senior lobbyist for NAW, advocating the interests of the wholesale distribution industry in Washington both on Capitol Hill and with executive branch departments and agencies. In addition, she is Executive Secretariat for the 1,000-member Tax Relief Coalition, the Coalition for Affordable American Energy, and the LIFO Coalition. Jade is a Steering Committee member of the Alliance for Tax Fairness and Growth, and she is on the Management Committee of the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace, which leads the opposition to organized labor’s effort to remove secret ballot elections from union certification elections and force employers into binding “interest arbitration” in negotiating contracts.
Jade is also a Director of the Business Industry Political Action Committee and a Founder and Director of the trade association Get Out the Vote Best Practices Group, both working to maximize the turnout of pro-business voters in federal elections.
Before joining NAW in 2002, Jade was a senior aide on Capitol Hill for more than 20 years. She served first as Executive Director of the U.S. Senate Steering Committee, directing the activities of a small staff that provided legislative and policy assistance to approximately 25 senators and their staffs.
She was then named Staff Director for the U.S. Senate Republican Policy Committee, the fourth ranking Republican Leadership position in the Senate. In that capacity, she served as an adviser to the Republican Leadership on legislative and technical procedural matters and managed a staff of 20, including 10 policy experts who provided policy analysis, research papers and talking points, and detailed legislative summaries to Republican senators and their staffs.
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