About NFPA - Board of Directors
Nita Serrano, RP, AACP
The President will be the leader of NFPA and a mentor for the paralegal profession. This individual will be responsible to make daily, on-going and long-term decisions regarding NFPA's overall effect on the profession and ensure these decisions are implemented and monitored.
Nita Serrano, RP®, AACP, is a Litigation Paralegal in Tampa, FL. Nita has been a paralegal for more than 24 years and specializes in the areas of civil litigation, insurance defense, medical malpractice, personal injury, nursing home, general negligence, criminal and family law.
Prior to becoming a Paralegal, Nita worked for two large Tampa Bay Area Hospitals as a Certified Health Unit Coordinator in the Emergency Room/Trauma Center, Transplant, Orthopedic, and Maternity Floors. This experience provided the training necessary to communicate effectively with experts and medical professionals, as well as understand medical records and medical terminology.
Nita earned her Associate’s Degree in Paralegal Studies from Florida Metropolitan University in 2000, her designation as a PACE Registered Paralegal (RP®) from the National Federation of Paralegal Associations in March, 2007 and her designation as an American Alliance Certified Paralegal (AACP) from the American Alliance of Paralegals, Inc. in September, 2019.
Nita has been a member of the National Federation of Paralegal Associations, Inc. (NFPA) since 2005. She is currently serving as President of NFPA. Nita as also served two terms as the Vice President & Director of Paralegal Certification 2014-2018, and has served as the Marketing/Public Relations Coordinator, Certification Study Materials Coordinator under the NFPA Vice President & Director of Paralegal Certification; and CLE Co-Coordinator under the NFPA Vice President & Director of Profession Development. Nita has been a member of the Tampa Bay Paralegal Association, Inc. (TBPA) since 2006, and has served various leadership roles including, Director, Second Vice President, President Elect, President and Board Advisor. She was TBPA’s first Paralegal Certification Ambassador. She has also chaired and served on various committees, including the Annual Seminar, Pro Bono, Luncheon, Education & Professional Development, Public Relations Committee and the 10th Anniversary Celebration Committees. Nita has been a member of the Florida Alliance of Paralegal Associations, Inc. (“FAPA”) since 2013, and served as President in 2014. Nita has also served on the Hillsborough Community College, Paralegal Advisory Board for several years.
Nita has been a volunteer with Wills for Heroes, Dress for Success, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and PACE Center for Girls, Hillsborough for several years. She is also Master Guardian ad Litem for the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit in Florida.
Away from work, Nita can usually be found reading, scrapbooking and spending time with her family and their furry family members, a Toy American Eskimo and two Yorkshire Terriers.
Vice President & Director of Profession Development
Theda Yandell, RP
The Vice President and Director of Profession Development will assist the President in addressing the future growth and expansion of the profession and the development of NFPA to support these changes. If the President is incapable of functioning, the Vice President and Director of Profession Development will assume the duties of the President.
Theda Yandell, RP has been a litigation paralegal at Forsberg & Umlauf, P.S., a litigation defense firm, since 2000 and is the firm’s Paralegal Coordinator. She has over 30 years of experience as a litigation paralegal in the areas of personal injury, premise liability, property damage, product liability, complex litigation and malpractice cases. Yandell received an Associate of Arts degree and an Associate of Arts and Sciences degree, Legal Assistance from Highline College, an American Bar Association accredited paralegal program. She also is a member of the Highline College Paralegal Program Advisory Board and volunteers at the King County Bar Association Kent Legal Clinic as the clinic coordinator and clinic assistant.
Yandell previously served on the Washington State Paralegal Association (WSPA) and NFPA Board of Directors. She has served significant hours to various volunteer positions, including WSPA President, Vice President, and Seattle Chapter Director. She was the NFPA Region I Director from 2009-2014 and has volunteered in coordinator roles for NFPA and WSPA including Co-Coordinator of the 2018 NFPA Annual Convention and Policy Meeting. In 2018, Yandell received NFPA’s Paralegal of the Year Award for her on-the-job achievements and contributions to the paralegal profession.
Vice President & Director of Positions and Issues
Lori Boris, RP, MnCP
The Vice President and Director of Positions and Issues will assist the President and the Vice President and Director of Profession Development in leading NFPA and the paralegal profession by addressing position and issues that will directly affect the association and the profession. If the President and the Vice President and Director of Profession Development are incapable of functioning, the Vice President and Director of Positions and Issues will assume the duties of the President.
Lori J. Boris, RP®, a litigation paralegal since 1998, is currently employed as a Product Liability Litigation Paralegal at Nilan Johnson Lewis, PA, working in the area of product liability litigation. Over her 19 years as a paralegal, she has assisted attorneys in representing multiple and varied clients in many areas, including toxic torts, product liability, employment law, wrongful death, personal injury and contract claims.
Lori is a graduate of the Minnesota Paralegal Institute, an ABA-approved post-baccalaureate program, became a PACE® Registered Paralegal in 2009, and was credentialed as one of MPA’s inaugural MnCPs in 2014.
Lori has been very involved with the Minnesota Paralegal Association (“MPA”) holding various positions, including MPA’s Internet Coordinator, Publications Editor, Vice President, President, Primary, Secondary, Certification Co-Ambassador, Regulation Committee Chair, and Litigation Sectional C-Chair. She served the NFPA as Certification Coordinator – Ambassadors for three years, from 2013-2015.
Vice President & Director of Membership
Tom Stephenson, ILAP
The Vice President and Director of Membership is responsible for guiding NFPA in attracting and retaining members. The Vice President and Director of Membership will communicate with the President, the Secretary and Director of Operations, the Region Directors, local member associations and all other groups or individuals as necessary to function in this position.
Tom Stephenson works as a paralegal at Keller Lenkner, LLC with over a decade of experience in the areas of complex commercial and business litigation, corporate governance and reorganization, class action, and labor and employment.
Mr. Stephenson is an accredited paralegal and received his paralegal degree from Minnesota State Community and Technical College. In 2015, he received his Master of Arts in Legal Studies from the University of Illinois at Springfield.
Prior to being elected as Vice President and Director of Membership, Tom served in a variety of positions for the Illinois Paralegal Association, including on the Board of Directors, Secretary, NFPA Primary Representative, Information Technology Chair, Social Media Chair, and Diversity, Inclusion & Equity Chair. In 2016, he was awarded IPA’s Outstanding Member of the Year award. Mr. Stephenson served as NFPA Regulation Review Coordinator and member of the Diversity, Inclusion & Equity Committee.
Vice President & Director of Paralegal Certification
Linda Odermott, RP, OCP
The Vice President and Director of Paralegal Certification will assist the President in leading NFPA and the paralegal profession by overseeing and managing the administration of NFPA’s two certification exams, the PCCE and PACE, and the Paralegal Certification Standards Committee, by addressing issues related to paralegal certification, and by being the main spokesperson regarding paralegal certification by NFPA.
Linda has been a paralegal since 2007, focusing on complex litigation, municipal law and real property with expertise in land use, construction defect, real property and cannabis-related matters. In 2012, she received herRP® credentials from NFPA and in 2017, Linda received the OCP credentials from OPA. She currently works with attorneys at the law firm of Dunn Carney in Portland, Oregon, in the firm’s litigation and real estate practice groups.
Linda is also an instructor and member of the adjunct faculty with the Portland Community College, where she is entering her fifth year teaching real property to paralegal students. In 2015 and 2016, she was awarded the Paralegal of the Year Award from OPA and in 2015,she was also fortunate enough to receive the Certification Ambassador Award from NFPA.Linda was appointed by two consecutive Oregon State Bar (OSB) Executive Directors to two different task forces researching licensing paralegals in Oregon, similar to the Washington LLLT. Most recently, she was appointed to an implementation committee to create the rules for such a program approved by the OSB Board of Governors. In addition, Linda co-authored the Oregon Certified Paralegal program, which issues the OCP credentials during her tenure as the OPA Regulation Committee Co-Chair, which also implemented the program in 2016-17.
Her volunteer commitments include:
- NFPA: Armed Forces Coordinator, Paralegal Certification Coordinator PR, Association Management Co-Coordinator, Budget Committee Member, Regulation Review Coordinator, Regulation Review Committee Member, Ad Hoc Committee Chair; both the UPL Position Statement (current) and the Non-Lawyer Practice Committees
- OPA: Nominations, Elections and Awards Chair – current, Certification Ambassador, Regulation Committee Co-Chair, Board of Director, Joint Conference Hosting Association Committee Member, Annual Convention Committee Member, Pro Bono Committee Member – current, Military Outreach Coordinator, Public Relations Chair
- OSB: Paralegal Licensure Implementation Committee Member – current, Legal Futures Task Force Regulatory Committee Member, Limited License Legal Technician Task Force Member
- Everest College: Paralegal Program Advisory Committee Member
Vice President & Director of Marketing
The Vice President and Director of Marketing shall be responsible for all aspects of marketing which include the development of NFPA’s marketing plan, strategies and promotion materials. The vice president and director of marketing shall supervise all activities concerned with the implementation of the Corporate Partners Program, development and growth of other marketing programs, and shall have other duties as may be assigned by the board of directors or the president.
Ronell B. Badua is a paralegal at the Department of the Corporation Counsel, City and County of Honolulu. Mr. Badua received his paralegal certificate from Kapiolani Community College’s Paralegal Program, an American Bar Association-approved paralegal education program.
Prior to being elected as Vice President and Director of Marketing, Mr. Badua served two consecutive years as NFPA Region I Director. He also served in various committees within NFPA including Strategic Planning, Budget, Case Law Review, Policy Meeting Minutes, Marketing the Paralegal Profession Committee, State of the Paralegal Profession Committee and the Diversity, Inclusion & Equity Committee. Ron committed many years to serving as co-chair of the 2015 NFPA Annual Convention Committee which brought NFPA’s Annual Convention to Honolulu, Hawaii. He has also served in the following coordinator roles: Inside Reports, Advertising/Public Relations and Website Content.
Prior to his involvement with NFPA, locally, Mr. Badua served in a variety of positions for the Hawaii Paralegal Association, including two non-consecutive terms as President (2018 – 2019 and 2013 – 2014). He also served as Vice President, Board Advisor, NFPA Primary and Secondary Representative (total eight years), Secretary, Professional Development Director, Publications Director and Certifications Representative. He is also a member of the Oregon Paralegal Association.
He has authored articles which were printed in the National Paralegal Reporter. While Region Director, Mr. Badua also made a presentation on “Cultivating Crucial Communication Methods to Ensure Engagement and Retention of Your Members and Leaders” at NFPA’s 2018 Leadership Conference in Lexington, Kentucky. He has shared his perspective on the paralegal profession on The Paralegal Mentor.
Mr. Badua’s community service and awards include: Mayor’s Award Program (Honolulu) Employee of the Year Award – Department of the Corporation Counsel (2018); HPA Leadership Award (2015); Career Achievement Award (2014) and HPA Paralegal of the Year Award (2011). He also participates in pro bono work at the annual legal clinics in conjunction with the Young Lawyer’s Division of the local Bar.
Secretary & Director of Operations
Mianne L. Besser
The Secretary and Director of Operations will be responsible for taking minutes at official NFPA meetings and oversee the daily operations of the association through the Management Company. If the President, Vice President and Director of Profession Development and the Vice President and Director of Positions and Issues are incapable of functioning, the Secretary and Director of Operations will assume the duties of the President.
Mianne L. Besser is a Corporate Paralegal for Whiting Petroleum Corporation where she contributes her 22 years of experience. She has a background in multiple legal disciplines, with a focus in litigation; she also has extensive trial experience and is well-versed in eDiscovery.
Ms. Besser received her BA in Management and Business Administration from the University of Phoenix. In 1996, she received her paralegal certificate from the Denver Paralegal Institute, an ABA-approved program.
Prior to being elected as Secretary and Director of Operations, Ms. Besser served three terms as NFPA Region Director, Region II; member and Chair of the State of the Paralegal Profession Committee; member of the Budget Committee; and Special Projects Coordinator. Ms. Besser served in a variety of positions for the Rocky Mountain Paralegal Association (RMPA), including two non-consecutive terms as President, President-elect, Board Advisor, NFPA Primary Representative, NFPA Secondary Representative, Director-at-Large and Editor. She is also a member of the American Bar Association, Colorado Association of Litigation Support Professionals and Women in eDiscovery.
Ms. Besser is a CLE speaker at events hosted by NFPA and RMPA. She is also a Faculty Member of the Institute for Paralegal Education (IPE). She has been interviewed for her perspective on the paralegal profession by LawCrossing.com, Paralegal411.com, CareersandLiberty.com, Andrew Morkes, Laurel Vietzen, The Paralegal Mentor and Practical Paralegalism. She has authored, or co-authored, articles which were printed in the National Paralegal Reporter and Trial Talk (Colorado Trial Lawyers Association). While serving as NFPA’s Special Projects Coordinator, she wrote two articles, “Legal Process Outsourcing” and “Ethical Considerations for Paralegals and Social Media”.
Ms. Besser’s community service and awards include: Community College of Aurora, Paralegal Advisory Committee Member (2008 to present); NFPA Outstanding Local Leadership Award (2012); Paralegal Gateway Paralegal Superstar (2011); Adjunct Instructor of Paralegal Studies, Community College of Aurora (2012 – 2013); Adjunct Instructor of Paralegal Studies, Kaplan College (2009 – 2010); Colorado Bar Association, Paralegal Committee (2007 to 2015 [Committee sunsetted]); and Colorado Trial Lawyers Association, Legal Staff Member (2003 to 2015) and Chair (2007 to 2014). Ms. Besser has served as a coordinator for many planned giving events benefitting many organizations including The Gathering Place, Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado, Bears on Patrol, and Free the Girls.
Treasurer & Director of Finance
Lori Wagner, RP, IRP
Fort Wayne, IN
The Treasurer and Director of Finance shall be responsible for ensuring that NFPA is in a sound financial position by supervising the collection of dues and generation of non-dues income, and evaluating financial management performances and opportunities.
Lori Wagner has been employed by Burt, Blee, Dixon, Sutton & Bloom, LLP, for the past 36 years. During her years with the firm she has worked in many practice areas of law. Most recently she spends her time split between collections, in-house IT specialist and office administration.
Ms. Wagner started her paralegal career in 1992, and is a member of the Northeast Indiana Paralegal Association (NIPA). She served as President of NIPA in 1997 for a two-year term and then again in 2010 for a four-year term, holding various positions in between. She was the NIPA Primary Representative to NFPA from 2010 – 2016. She received the NIPA Outstanding Paralegal Award in 1997, 2011 and 2014. She is also a member of the Indiana State Bar Association where she received the Outstanding Affiliate Member Award in 2015. She has been registered with the Indiana State Bar Association as an Indiana Registered Paralegal since July, 2015.
Prior to being elected as Treasurer, Director of Finance, Lori served as the NFPA Strategic Planning Coordinator from 2012 - 2015 and then became the 2016 Convention Coordinator. Lori then served on the NFPA Board of Director as Director, Region III from 2016 – 2019.
The Region Directors are the main liaison between members associations and other members of the Board. There are five region directors serving members in the five regions of NFPA.
Director, Region I
Brenda Cothary is a paralegal at Coordinated Care, a managed care organization that provides health care services to members across Washington State. She has worked as a paralegal for 19 years and has experience in bankruptcy, collections, risk management, eminent domain, personal injury, administrative law, and contracts.
Ms. Cothary graduated from the University of Idaho with a degree in Political Science and Criminal Justice. She worked in law enforcement for 7 years prior to obtaining her paralegal certificate from Highline Community College, an ABA approved paralegal program. In 2015 she graduated from Champlain College with an M.S. in Law.
Ms. Cothary has been a member of the Washington State Paralegal Association (WSPA) since 2001. She has served WSPA as Regulation Coordinator, CLE Coordinator, Chapter Director, Vice President, President, NFPA Secondary and NFPA Primary. In addition, she has served NFPA as its Education Coordinator, Legislative Committee Co-Coordinator, and served on the Ad-Hoc Committee for Non Lawyer Legal Practice.
Ms. Cothary was appointed by the Washington State Supreme Court to serve on the Limited License Legal Technician (LLLT) Board in 2013. She is currently in her second term on the Board, where she is involved in developing an additional practice area for Washington LLLTs. In addition, she served on the Tacoma Community College Paralegal Advisory Committee during the time the school was seeking ABA approval. She has taught various CLE seminars and has been a substitute instructor at local community colleges.
Director, Region II
Lisa Lynch, CRP, CEDS
Lisa is an in-house litigation paralegal employed by Pinnacle in Dallas, Texas. Over the years, she has worked in areas such as litigation, labor and employment, medical malpractice defense and intellectual property.
Lisa previously served on the NFPA Board of Directors as the Vice President and Director of Marketing (2015-2019). Lisa has also served NFPA in various coordinator roles. Lisa has been involved with the Dallas Area Paralegal Association (DAPA) since 2004, serving as the DAPA President in 2014, President-Elect in 2013. Additionally, Lisa served as DAPA’s NFPA Primary or Secondary Representative and Vendor Advisor for several years, as well as serving on many special committees. She has also been a CLE speaker at many DAPA and student events and webinars. In 2014, Lisa was presented with the DAPA Paralegal of the Year Award. She is also a member of Paralegal Division of the State Bar of Texas. Lisa also participates in DAPA’s mentor/protégé program and is a volunteer with the Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program and other community service programs benefiting non-profits such as the North Texas Food Bank, Juliette Fowler, Hope Supply Co. and The Stewpot.
Lisa obtained her Paralegal Certificate from the Professional Development Institute at the University of North Texas. In 2011, Lisa was certified by NFPA as a Core Registered Paralegal, becoming one of the first 16 CRPs in the State of Texas and initial 148 paralegals in the nation who passed the pilot exam administered at 12 test sites across the country.
Most recently, Lisa became CEDS certified through ACEDS (Association of Certified eDiscovery Specialists).
Director, Region III
Tracey Woolsey, RP
Tracey graduated from Illinois State University in 1993 with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice sciences. She worked as a court clerk for the first 7 years after college. Tracey began her paralegal career in 1999, starting in litigation and finally finding her passion in corporate and transactional (M&A) work. She has been with Cummins Inc. since 2014 and is currently a Senior Corporate Paralegal – Corporate Administration. Tracey joined her local association, the Indiana Paralegal Association (“IPA”), in 2003 and has served as IPA’s Secretary, Treasurer, Monthly Meeting Director, Technology Director and Primary Delegate to NFPA. She has received IPA’s Paralegal of the Year and Board Member of the Year Awards.
She enhanced her career as a paralegal by becoming a PACE Registered Paralegal in November 2016.
Currently, she is a PCCE Renewal Coordinator under the Vice President and Director of Paralegal Certification, having previously held the position of Coordinator to the Vice President and Director of Membership. She is also a member of the In-House Paralegal Committee that is currently making strides toward focusing a spotlight on paralegals in non-traditional roles.
Director, Region IV
Becky Reedy is a litigation paralegal for the State of New Jersey, Department of Child Protection and Permanency, where she specializes in family law. Prior to her employment with the State, Becky worked in areas such as personal injury, medical and legal malpractice. She has an Associate’s Degree in Business Administration from Burlington County Community College (now known as Rowan College) and a Bachelor’s Degree in Paralegal Studies from Peirce College. Becky has been a member of the South Jersey Paralegal Association (SJPA) since 2005. She was appointed by the President in 2009 as the Chair for the Scholarship Committee, a position she held for two years.
In 2012, Becky chaired the New Jersey Certified Paralegal program and later that year, she was appointed as the Primary Delegate for the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA). Becky served as the President of the SJPA in 2012-13 and 2013-14, was the NFPA Primary Delegate from 2012-15, and Board Advisor for 2015-16. Becky was also a member of the Paralegal Committee through the New Jersey State Bar Association from 2012-15. Becky was named Board Member of the Year in 2014. Becky is active with the NFPA and has served as a member for the Nominations Committee (2013-14) and Strategic Planning Committee (2016). She has been the Special Research Coordinator (2013), Armed Forces Coordinator (2015) and Inside Reports Coordinator (2013-15). Becky served on the Ad Hoc Committee for the State of the Paralegal Profession Report beginning in 2013. In 2015, Becky was appointed the Chair of the Standing Committee for the State of that Committee and at the Annual Convention in October 2017, her Committee presented the Inaugural State of the Paralegal Profession Report. Becky is a member of the New Jersey State Bar Association, a member of its Paralegal Committee and also a member of the Burlington County Bar Association. She also serves on the Advisory Committees for the Paralegal Studies programs with Peirce College and Brookdale Community College.
Director, Region V
Catherine D. Allard, CP is a Trust and Estate Paralegal with McLane Middleton, with over 25 years of experience. She assists attorneys and clients in a variety of matters with an emphasis in post-death trust administration and funding, probate administration, guardianship administration and related estate and fiduciary income tax returns.
Catherine obtained her Associate’s Degree in Paralegal Studies from Hesser College and a Bachelor’s Degree in Paralegal Studies from Notre Dame College. She was certified by the National Association of Legal Assistants as a Certified Paralegal in 2019.
Catherine has been involved with the Paralegal Association of New Hampshire (PANH) since 2004. She has held various positions with PANH including President (since 2011-2016), Primary and Secondary Liaison to the NFPA (since 2009-2019). Prior positions held were Treasurer (2009-2011 and 2013-2015) and Vice President (2010-2011).
Catherine has been actively involved in NFPA’s Budget Committee (since 2012), Continuing Legal Education Co-Coordinator (since 2014) and Membership Coordinator (2012).
Valerie Wilus, RP, Pa.C.P.
The Board Advisor will provide continuity, be an advisor to the current President and provide the President with background information and other assistance as needed and/or requested.
Valerie A. Wilus is a Litigation Paralegal with Ross Feller Casey, LLP, with over 22 years of experience. Valerie specializes in cases involving medical malpractice, wrongful death, personal injury, birth injury, brain injury, stroke injury, spinal cord injury, workplace injury, amputations, train accidents, automobile litigation, product liability and premises liability. She also has a background in legal malpractice, general commercial litigation, first-party and third-party insurance defense litigation, breach of contract claims, estate planning, estate administration, corporate and immigration. Valerie has extensive trial experience and is proficient in the rules and regulations dealing with arbitrations, mediations, the county and state courts of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, various Federal district courts and other Appellate courts.
Valerie is the immediate Past President of the National Federation of Paralegal Associations. She has previously served as President, and other Board member positions, of the Philadelphia Association of Paralegals and as Chairperson of the Keystone Alliance of Paralegal Associations. Valerie also served as past Chair of the Regulation Ad Hoc Committee of the Keystone Alliance that developed the Pennsylvania Certified Paralegal Program that is currently offered to the Paralegals throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Valerie is a Registered Paralegal (R.P.) through the National Federation of Paralegal Associations and obtained her designation on June 1, 2004. She also obtained her Pennsylvania Certified Paralegal (Pa.C.P.) designation on March 13, 2009, through the Keystone Alliance of Paralegal Associations.
See also the Past and Present Board Members and Coordinators.