About NFPA - Board of Directors
Lori Boris, RP®, MnCP
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.
Lori has been a litigation paralegal for 22 years, and has been employed by Nilan Johnson Lewis PA for nearly eight (8) years. She has worked in various areas of law over her 22 years, including product liability, toxic tort, catastrophic loss, employment, and ERISA/Insurance law.
Lori is a member of the Minnesota Paralegal Association (MPA), and was on MPA’s Board for 11 years, serving in multiple roles, including Vice President, three years as President, Primary and Director of Positions and Issues, and Board Advisor. She passed NFPA’s Paralegal Advanced Competency Exam (PACE®) in 2005 and was an inaugural MnCP (Minnesota Certified Paralegal) when that program began in 2014.
In 2016, Lori was elected to the NFPA’s Board of Directors as its Vice President and Director of Positions and Issues. In this role she had many accomplishments, including presenting before the Minnesota Supreme Court on behalf of NFPA in support of Minnesota’s Legal Paraprofessional Pilot Project and overseeing the committee that was instrumental in convincing the American Bar Association to change its definition of a paralegal to no longer identify the term “legal assistant” as synonymous with paralegal.
Prior to being elected to the Board, Lori served as NFPA’s Certification Coordinator for Ambassadors from 2013 – 2015, and in that role provided Certification Ambassadors from local associations with information and inspiration to encourage more paralegals to become PACE®-certified.
Director of Profession Development
Theda M. Yandell, RP®
The 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.
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.
Director of Positions and Issues
Maren Schroeder, RP®, MnCP
The Director of Positions and Issues will assist the President and the 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 Director of Profession Development are incapable of functioning, the Director of Positions and Issues will assume the duties of the President.
Maren Schroeder, RP®, MnCP is a PACE Registered and Minnesota Certified paralegal born and raised in Stewartville, Minnesota. She has an undergraduate degree in Paralegal Studies and an MBA with an emphasis in legal administration. Schroeder has experience in intellectual property, civil litigation, family law, criminal defense, non-profit organization, and complex bankruptcy matters. She provides virtual freelance paralegal services for attorneys throughout the United States, and is the Policy Director of Sensible Change Minnesota, working on medical cannabis access and opioid overdose prevention measures at the Minnesota legislature.
She previously served seven years on the Board of Directors for the Minnesota Paralegal Association (MPA) serving as the Director of Greater Minnesota, Director of Professional Development, Director of Marketing, and most recently, Director of Positions and Issues. Passionate about access to justice, which drove her to become a paralegal, she previously served on the Minnesota State Bar Association Task Force on Alternative Legal Models from 2015-2017 and the Minnesota Supreme Court Implementation Committee for the Legal Paraprofessional Practice Pilot Project from 2019-2020; and was appointed to the Minnesota Standing Committee for the Legal Paraprofessional Pilot Project in December 2020. Ms. Schroeder is the recipient of several awards including the 2020 NFPA Justice Champion Award, the inaugural Minnesota Cannabis Culture Award for Medical Cannabis Advocacy, and the 2016 Outstanding Paralegal of the Year Award from the Minnesota Paralegal Association.
Ms. Schroeder has served on the Stewartville Planning & Zoning Commission since 2013, serving as Chair from 2016-2017, and was a member of the Task Force that developed the City’s dog park. She also volunteers her time as a civil and family mediator for Mediation and Conflict Solutions, a sexual assault crisis advocate for Victim Services of Dodge, Filmore, and Olmsted Counties, and is an appointee to the Minnesota Taskforce on Medical Cannabis Therapeutic Research.
Director of Membership
Tom Stephenson, RP
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.
Currently, Tom serves as legal operations manager for a multinational telemedicine and virtual healthcare company. Prior to working in-house, Tom worked for several top litigation law firms in Chicago as their senior managing litigation paralegal.
Mr. Stephenson received his paralegal degree from Minnesota State Community and Technical College, graduated with a Master of Arts in Legal Studies from the University of Illinois at Springfield, and currently holds the PACE® Registered Paralegal credential.
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.
Director of Paralegal Certification
Lisa Vessels, RP®, CP®
The 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 Paralegal CORE Competency Exam® and Paralegal Advanced Competency Exam®, and the Paralegal Certification Standards Committee, by addressing issues related to paralegal certification, and by being the main spokesperson regarding paralegal certification by NFPA.
Lisa Vessels, RP®, CP®, lives in Miami, Florida, and is employed by Duane Morris LLP managing the docketing function for her firm's U.S. offices. Lisa has worked in the paralegal profession since 1992 with experience in commercial litigation, corporate contract law, and commercial aviation equipment leasing and sales.
Lisa is a former two-term President of the South Florida Paralegal Association and the Florida Alliance of Paralegal Associations. As an active member in both organizations, she has served in many additional roles such as Webmaster, Treasurer, Secretary, and Membership Chair since joining in 2005.
Lisa served on Miami-Dade College's Paralegal Studies Program Advisory Board from 2006 to 2012, serving as chairperson from 2010-12. She has served four three-year terms as a non-lawyer member of The Florida Bar's Unlicensed Practice of Law Committee for the 11th Circuit in Miami-Dade County, and is currently serving one of the Florida Bar’s Florida Registered Paralegal Disciplinary Committees. She was an adjunct instructor at Florida International University's Paralegal Studies certificate program from 2006 to 2008.
Lisa served as NFPA’s Regulation Review Coordinator from November 2009 until September 2012, and was an active participant on the PCC Exam Development Committee from its inception in 2008 through its launch in 2011. In 2012, she was elected as NFPA’s Vice President and Director of Positions and Issues, and 2014, she was elected as NFPA’s President. From 2016-2018 she served in the role of NFPA’s Board Advisor.
Lisa earned her Bachelor's degree in Paralegal Studies from Nova Southeastern University in 2005, and Associate's degrees in Computer Information Systems and Computer Programming (Visual Basic) from Miami Dade College in 2002. Lisa earned the Certified Paralegal® designation in September 2005, earned the PACE® Registered Paralegal designation in September 2012, and held the Florida Registered Paralegal registration of The Florida Bar from 2008 to 2018.
Director of Marketing
Ronell B. Badua, AACP
The 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 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 for the City and County of Honolulu, Department of the Corporation Counsel, where he works on Hawaii’s largest public works project as the transit paralegal. 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 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 (HPA), including two non-consecutive terms as HPA 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 for HPA. He is also a member of the Oregon Paralegal Association.
Mr. Badua has authored articles which were printed in the National Paralegal Reporter. While Region Director, he 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 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 pro bono work at the annual legal clinics in conjunction with the Young Lawyer’s Division of the local Bar.
Secretary & Director of Leadership Development
Mianne L. Besser, AACP
The Secretary and Director of Leadership Development is responsible for overseeing the daily operations of NFPA® in partnership with its management company, as well as ensuring NFPA® is compliant with all state and federal regulations and NFPA®'s Annual Convention. The Secretary and Director of Leadership Development collaborates with the management company to implement training, leadership development, mentoring and cross-training programs for Board members. The Secretary and Director of Leadership Development will provide association management coaching, mentoring and offer leadership development for local member associations.
Mianne L. Besser, AACP, contributes 24 years of experience as a Litigation Paralegal for Berg Hill Greenleaf Ruscitti LLP.
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 a BA in Management and Business Administration from the University of Phoenix; and a paralegal certificate from the Denver Paralegal Institute, an ABA-approved program.
Prior to being elected as the Secretary and Director of Leadership Development, Ms. Besser served one term as Secretary and Director of Operations; 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.
At the local level, 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.
Ms. Besser’s additional professional affiliations include the American Alliance of Paralegals, Inc., Colorado Association of Litigation Support Professionals and Women in eDiscovery.
Ms. Besser is an invited CLE speaker for NFPA, RMPA and the Institute for Paralegal Education (IPE). She has been interviewed for her perspective on the paralegal profession by Andrew Morkes (College & Career Press), Laurel Vietzen (Practical Contract Law for Paralegals, 3d. Edition), and LawCrossing.com. She has authored, or co-authored, articles which were printed in the National Paralegal Reporter and Trial Talk. While serving as NFPA’s Special Projects Coordinator, she authored two White Papers, “Legal Process Outsourcing” and “Ethical Considerations for Paralegals and Social Media”.
Ms. Besser is active in her community serving as a member of the Community College of Aurora’s Paralegal Advisory Committee. She has also been involved in planned giving events benefitting many local organizations including The Gathering Place, Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado, 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 Coordinate Care, a managed care organization that provides health care services to members across Washington State. She has worked as a paralegal for 20 years and has experience in bankruptcy, collections, risk management, eminent domain, personal injury, administrative law and contracts.
Ms. Cothary has been a member of the Washington State Paralegal Association (WSPA) since 2001. She has served WSPA as President, Vice President, NFPA Secondary and Primary, Regulation Coordinator, CLE Coordinator and Chapter Director. She has also volunteered her time with NFPA serving as its Education Coordinator, Legislative Committee Co-Coordinator and Case Law Coordinator.
Ms. Cothary was appointed by the Washington State Supreme Court to serve on the Limited License Legal Technician (LLLT) Board in 2013. 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.
The Region Director I is responsible for helping local associations in Arizona, Alaska, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington State. Region Directors are the main liaison between member associations and other NFPA Board members.
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
Donald P. Bristol, RP®, Pa.C.P.
Don is an experienced Estates and Trusts Paralegal with 16 years' experience. He’s highly skilled in all aspects of complex estate and trust administration, including preparation of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware probate related forms and associated tasks, formal accountings and other court-related filings, preparation of state and federal death tax returns and gift tax returns, and preparation and filing of federal and state fiduciary income tax returns.
Don is a long time and active member of the Chester County Paralegal Association, having served in the past in all Officer positions, and as CLE Coordinator, Website Coordinator, and NFPA® Primary Delegate. He also served as webinar coordinator for NFPA® 2018-2020. He received his Certificate in Paralegal Studies from Villanova University. Don maintains the PACE Registered Paralegal® (RP®) and Pa.C.P. Pennsylvania Certified Paralegal (Pa.C.P.) credentials. He obtained a Piano Performance Bachelor's Degree and Piano Pedagogy Master's Degree from West Chester University.
The Region IV Director is responsible for helping local associations in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington, D.C. and West Virginia.
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 (2011-2016), Primary and Secondary Liaison to the NFPA (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).
The Region IV Director is responsible for helping local associations in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont.
Nita Serrano, ACP, RP®, AACP, FRP
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.
Nita Serrano, ACP, RP®, AACP, FRP is a Litigation Paralegal in Tampa, Florida. Nita has been a paralegal for more than 25 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, Inc. (NFPA) in March, 2007 her designation as an American Alliance Certified Paralegal (AACP) from the American Alliance of Paralegals, Inc. in September, 2019, National Association of Legal Assistants, Inc. Certified Paralegal (CP) in 2020 and NALA Advanced Certified Paralegal (ACP) in Trial Practice in 2020.
Nita has been a member of NFPA since 2005. She is currently serving as NFPA Board Advisor. She served as President of NFPA from 2018-2020 and also served two terms as the Vice President & Director of Paralegal Certification 2014-2018, she 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 2005, 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. since 2013, and served as President in 2014. Nita has also served on the Hillsborough Community College, Paralegal Advisory Board since 2010.
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 Tampa, Florida.
Away from work, Nita can usually be found reading, scrapbooking and spending time with her family and their furry family members, two Yorkshire Terriers and two cats.
See also the Past and Present Board Members and Coordinators.