Employment Law Summit - Sponsored by Dinsmore

Wednesday, October 14th 8:30 am – 11:30 am

Spend the morning learning from industry experts on a wide variety of topics updating you on the latest legal issues facing the HR industry. Topics include overlapping laws and what you need to know and Post Covid19 Updates.

R.J. Cronkhite

R.J. serves as a strategic partner and counselor to his clients and their business needs across multiple industries, including automotive, finance, health care, leasing, property development, real estate development, staffing, technology, and telecom. He prioritizes developing an intimate understanding of his clients’ unique goals and challenges and applies his deep knowledge of the law to ensure proactive and results-based legal counsel.

A formidable and accomplished advocate, R.J. also acts as lead trial counsel when legal disputes arise after exhausting preventive measures. Clients describe R.J. as an engaged litigator whose attention to detail, tenacity, and professionalism set him apart from other counsel. He obtains cost-effective results by quickly digging into the facts and leveraging the results in favor of his clients.

R.J. serves as chair of the State Bar of Michigan’s 2,300-member Litigation Section. Michigan Super Lawyers® has consistently recognized him as a Rising Star in Business Litigation, an award granted to only 2.5 percent of Michigan attorneys under 40. R.J.’s peers have elected him to the Fellows of the American Bar Foundation, an honorary society comprising one percent of each jurisdiction's attorneys, judges, law faculty, and legal scholars whose public and private careers have demonstrated outstanding dedication to the highest principles of the legal profession and welfare of their communities. He is a founding member of his community’s Rotary Club.

James M. Reid, IV

Whether it's representing clients or playing a game of chess with family, James goes all in strategizing and preparing for possible challenges facing his clients today and months, even years, in the future.

He counsels business owners, serial entrepreneurs, C-suite executives, in-house counsel, and human resources directors to make strategic business decisions, from hiring to firing, while complying with the ever changing and overlapping laws, including the ADEA, FLSA, FMLA, NLRA, and Title VII. He brings a business and proactive approach to legal matters to help employers make strategic business decisions to minimize the potential for litigation and business disruption.

Clients appreciate James' hands on approach and his ability to learn businesses and tailor his counsel to meet each client's specific needs. Because he puts his name and reputation on every product and decision, he delivers advice to his clients in a no-nonsense fashion, which enables them to make the best decisions with clear and concise guidance.

When litigation becomes necessary, he enforces restrictive covenants and defends employers against charges filed with the EEOC, state, and federal agencies. James regularly conducts audits and investigations into employers' wage and hour practices and claims of discrimination and harassment. He provides training and prepares employment documents, including employee handbooks, employment agreements, and separation agreements, to cover all aspects during the life cycle of an employee.

Giving 100 percent to everything he does, James is a renowned keynote and national speaker at conferences and events, including the American Payroll Association, SHRM, and HR Day.

Tammy R. Bennett

Tammy is an experienced employment attorney who focuses her practice on preventive strategies, Title VII compliance and equity, diversity, and inclusion training and consulting. She is also the chief equity and inclusion officer of the firm. In this key role, she serves as a trusted adviser to leadership in the design, implementation, and management of the firm’s equity, diversity, and inclusion programs and initiatives. She frequently conducts training, workshops, lectures, and keynote addresses on diversity and inclusion, gender equity, implicit bias, inclusive artificial intelligence, neurodiversity, inclusive and agile leadership, cultural competence, emotional intelligence and the multigenerational workplace, among other topics. She also provides inclusive leadership coaching.

Tammy consults with employers on designing strategic initiatives to curate equitable and inclusive workplace structures, cultures, and leaders, and on effectively navigating change management. She helps employers transform cultures by adopting equitable and inclusive practices and policies, unleashing hidden talent by managing implicit bias, and delivering innovative solutions and outcomes by maximizing unique talent. In addition to her equity, diversity, and inclusion services, she provides HR-legal compliance counseling and training, and conducts workplace investigations.

She is a self-described “sociologist with a law degree.” Before attending law school, Tammy earned a Master’s Degree in Sociology with a concentration in Race, Class and Gender and Work, Labor and Organizations. Her research focused on both qualitative and quantitative analyses of the workplace experiences of racial and ethnic minorities, women, and LGBTQ workers. She leverages her academic knowledge of human behavior to provide practical advice and strategic counsel to resolve issues in the workplace.

Before joining Dinsmore, Tammy practiced as in-house counsel for a national retailer, where she provided advice regarding various company-wide programs and initiatives, including its mandatory arbitration, web-based recruitment, and pay practices programs. She appeared before administrative agencies for hearings and mediations and provided counsel regarding associate relations matters, diversity and inclusion strategies, workplace investigations, and talent management programs, among other responsibilities.

Zoey A. Mayhew

Zoey’s practice focuses primarily on employment law. She also counsels business clients on issues including entity formation, corporate agreements, and contracts. She works closely with corporations and businesses to find ways to prevent and handle claims of discrimination, harassment, and other potential conflicts, ensuring clients are in compliance with state and federal guidelines.

She graduated from Michigan State University College of Law, summa cum laude. While in law school, she was a Dean Charles H. King Scholar, an exclusive scholarship program for the top 20 students in each graduating class. Zoey also served as a notes editor for the Michigan State Law Review, and her student note, Reforming Direct Evaluation of Court-Mandated Parenting Classes, was published in the Michigan State Law Review in 2016. She was awarded the Jurisprudence Achievement Award in the following subject areas: Negotiation, Matrimonial Practice, American Legal History, and Advanced Legal Research. In 2016, she was awarded the Michigan Supreme Court Historical Society's Award for the Best Legal History Paper. She was also awarded the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers Annual Scholarship in 2017. Zoey also gained experience as an intern at the Michigan Court of Appeals Research Division.

Johner T. Wilson III

J.T. focuses his practice on labor and employment law and leads the Labor and Employment team in Chicago. His experience includes litigating claims of private and public companies involving employment and other business related counseling and litigation. As lead trial counsel, he has practiced before the U.S. district courts, circuit courts of Illinois, and federal and state administrative agencies across the nation. J.T. also provides practical advice and counsel on a variety of complex business operation and employment initiatives.

Chase A. Tweel

Chase’s practice focuses on the design, implementation, and administration of qualified retirement plans, health and welfare plans, and nonqualified deferred compensation plans. He also advises on equity- and cash-based incentive compensation arrangements, severance policies, and employment and separation agreements for individual executives.

He regularly reviews and drafts plan documents, amendments, SPDs, notices, forms, and administrative procedures, as well as board resolutions, committee charters, and other governance-related documents. His clients have included publicly-traded employers, privately-held businesses, multiemployer plans, governmental plans, and service providers. He counsels sponsors of ERISA-covered plans about their fiduciary duties with respect to plan governance structures, benefit claims and appeals, participant communications, selection and monitoring of plan service providers, and legal issues related to the investment of plan assets. He represents plan sponsors in matters involving the IRS, DOL, and PBGC, including plan audits and correction programs. He assists companies with due diligence and employee benefits issues that arise in corporate transactions, such as mergers, acquisitions, dispositions, and bankruptcies.

Prior to joining Dinsmore, Chase was an associate in the ERISA/Employee Benefits practice group of a large law firm in Baltimore, Maryland. He previously worked as a compliance consultant for a registered investment adviser in the retirement plan industry.

Faith C. Whittaker

Faith has experience guiding clients through issues that arise in the workplace. She serves as chair of the firm’s employment practice group and handles employment-related litigation for her clients, who range from local businesses to Fortune 500 companies.

Understanding each client has different tolerances and objectives in dealing with employment matters, Faith is passionate about learning her clients' industries and gaining insight into their operations. While prepared to vigorously proceed through litigation, she teams with her clients to conduct a thorough evaluation of the case, examining the risks and options, before crafting a unique strategy that meets their needs. She works with in-house counsel and legal departments, as well as human resources officials and company executives, to analyze each matter and chart the best course toward a resolution. Faith handles litigation relating to all facets of employment law, including, but not limited to, discrimination claims, retaliation claims, wrongful discharge claims, class and collective actions, claims relating to background checks, wage and hour claims, noncompetition issues, and common law tort claims. She also has extensive experience in negotiating settlements.

Faith understands labor and employment law is constantly evolving, and she teams with clients to offer proactive counsel, including conducting training programs and drafting employee policies and procedures to ensure compliance. Her experience with companies and organizations enables her to provide counsel that mitigates her clients' risk, while also allowing their business to effectively operate. She conducts training for her clients related to a variety of issues, including Title VII, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, The Fair Credit Reporting Act, and other state and federal employment statutes and regulations. Faith has experience litigating in several different jurisdictions, which helps strengthen her ability to guide clients in compliance with the law.

A respected leader within the firm, Faith serves as Dinsmore’s social chair, a member of the business development committee, is former chair of the firm’s United Way campaign, and is the founder and chair of the Cincinnati Women’s Initiative.

HR Leadership Summit

Wednesday, October 14th 12:45 pm – 3:45 pm

Dare to Lead- Based on the research of Brene Brown

What keeps leaders from being bold, courageous, and taking healthy risks? It’s our orientation around avoiding discomfort. We are inundated with leaders who are simply “playing not to lose” versus “playing to win.” Brené Brown’s research shows that our organizations are desperate for braver leaders and more courageous cultures. Her research also reveals that the source of courage is vulnerability. Counter intuitively, vulnerability is a superpower – not a weakness. This leadership development experience will highlight the challenges faced when organizations choose to play it safe and are unable to lead with courage. It will dive into the nature of vulnerability, dispel the myths associated with it, and offer ways to lead with vulnerability so that leaders, teams, and the entire organization can be more effective, innovative, and impactful.


  • Understand and appreciate the barriers to courage and what exists in our organizations when we don’t have brave leaders and courageous cultures.
  • Create a vision for what is possible in an organization that builds a courageous culture.
  • Understand that vulnerability is the birthplace and source of courage.
  • Define vulnerability, dispel the myths associated with it, and connect it to a definition of leadership.
  • Recognize our own discomfort and fear that holds us back from being courageous.
  • Learn the roles curiosity and mindfulness play in noticing vulnerability, staying with it, and creating from it rather than avoiding it or being reactive to it.
  • Acquire skills and tools from the Dare To Lead research that can be immediately implemented and introduced to their divisions and teams creating more constructive conversations.

Abbey Johnston & Greg Mutch
AG Collaborative

Abbey Johnston [Certified CliftonStrengths] and Greg Mutch [Certified Dare To LeadTM ] are co-creators of AG Collaborative, a leadership and talent development company focused on transforming the interior landscape of leaders to see individuals, teams and businesses flourish.

Who you are is how you lead.

Once a leader understands, appreciates and grasps the fullness of who they are and what drives them, authentic and uninhibited success can start to unfold. We work from the inside out because this approach brings the most stable, ongoing, measurable results. It also creates the most resilient leaders.

We design and deliver leadership programs typically lasting 6-24 months. Program areas include: Executive coaching and Leader As Coach Training, Strengths-Based Development, Dare To LeadTM, and Communication Skills. Acknowledging that people learn in different ways and over time, we utilize a variety of experiences, approaches, and custom curriculums to create a dynamic and multifaceted approach to facilitate meaningful transformation.

MISHRM's mission is to support the State SHRM chapters and serve the HR professionals (networking, development opportunities, best practice sharing) and serve as a conduit from our great state to SHRM.

Michigan Council of the Society for Human Resource Management

310 West Front Street Suite 408
Traverse City, MI 49684
(844) 4MI-SHRM