02 June 2021

Around the house: new legal leaders for Hershey and Knock

Hershey's James Turoff, Knock's Jennifer Miller and KeyCorp's James Waters

This week's collection of senior in-house hires also sees general counsel arrive at KeyCorp and Kickstarter

Hershey looks in-house for new legal leader 

The Hershey Company has promoted James Turoff to the role of senior vice president, general counsel and secretary, based in Hershey, Pennsylvania.  

Turoff had served as acting general counsel since last December after former SVP, GC and corporate secretary Damien Atkins left the company for a role as senior counsel at WilmerHale. 

Turoff now heads the company’s global legal, compliance and ethics, government relations, corporate security and corporate secretary teams, reporting directly to chairman and CEO Michele Buck. 

"James brings depth of experience and has proven how to effectively work and lead across legal disciplines, balancing our enterprise ambitions with sound risk and opportunity management," said Buck.  "He has risen through the legal department here at Hershey and understands the complexities and opportunities within the business. He has earned the respect of our leadership team and our board of directors, and I look forward to partnering with him as we continue to drive growth."  

Turoff joined Hershey in 2014 as director of securities and governance and has held a number of increasingly senior roles with a focus on governance and compliance on his way to the top legal post. Prior to Hershey, he had a year-long stint as assistant general counsel, corporate and securities at Harsco Corporation and also served as director, corporate governance and securities and assistant secretary at The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company. He began his legal career as an associate at Jones Day in Ohio.  

GC for Alphabet’s Loon to Knock

Proptech startup Knock has hired Alphabet moonshot company Loon’s former general counsel Jennifer Miller as its first chief legal officer.

Knock, which confirmed in March it was planning to go public, started life as a real estate brokerage business before announcing a major strategy shift last year to become a lender. Miller will oversee all of the company's legal activities, including corporate governance, litigation, intellectual property and contractual matters, and report to co-founder and CEO Sean Black.  

During her three-year stint as Loon’s GC, Miller was responsible for building a legal and regulatory framework to enable the company to bring internet connectivity to people in remote locations through stratospheric balloons. Prior to that, she spent five years as vice president and deputy general counsel at Gigamon, where she helped take the company public in 2013 and then private again in 2017. Earlier, she served as senior intellectual property counsel at Hewlett-Packard and senior corporate counsel, media and entertainment at Cisco Systems.  

Black commented that the Knock is “at a critical inflection point” in its growth that requires it to build its leadership team, adding that: "As someone who has served as the general counsel for a technology startup operating in two highly regulated industries and helped to take another fast-growing tech company public, Jennifer is an incredible addition to the team.”

Miller’s hire is the latest in a series of leadership announcements Knock has made in 2021, including naming Lyft’s former vice president of finance Michelle DeBella as its first CFO in January.

Finance veteran for KeyCorp

Nasdaq-listed KeyCorp, one of the largest bank-based financial services companies in America, has found a new general counsel and corporate secretary in the form of James Waters.

Waters will take the lead at Key’s Law Group 6 July. Key chairman and CEO Chris Gorman described Waters as a “seasoned legal professional with significant experience”, adding that his “skill set in the critical areas of law and banking will be essential as we continue to grow our company.”

Waters brings more than 20 years’ experience in corporate law with a focus on finance to his new role and will join Key directly from a three-year stint at Cullen/Frost Bankers, where he served as general counsel and corporate secretary. Before that he spent eighteen years as a corporate lawyer representing banks and corporations at Haynes and Boone in Texas, having begun his career as an associate in the New York office of Shearman and Sterling.

Waters also serves on the boards of the San Antonio Symphony and the Center for American and International Law, as well as the Board of Advisors for the Center for Medical Humanities and Ethics at the University of Texas Health Science Center.

Kickstarter move

Crowdfunding platform Kickstarter, which helped to launch companies including exercise giant Peloton and Facebook-acquired VR headset producer Oculus, has named Diane Peters as its new general counsel.

Peters has taken over from acting GC Jaclyn VanderMeer, who stepped in after Nicole Benincasa left the company last October having joined as its top lawyer six months earlier from an in-house role at Uber. VanderMeer has returned to the role of senior counsel for product, privacy and commercial for which she was originally hired last September.

Peters began at the company late last month and confirmed to Bloomberg Law that she is currently working remotely from her home in Portland, Oregon. She stepped down from a role as general counsel, director and board secretary at Californian non-profit Creative Commons in January after nearly 13 years. In the interim joined the American University Washington College of Law as senior policy fellow in the program on information justice and intellectual property. According to her LinkedIn profile she still holds this position and is also currently a director at the Software Freedom Law Center, a New York-based organisation that provides pro bono legal representation to not-for-profit developers of free or open source software.

Earlier in her career she served as counsel at law firms including top Argentinian player Marval, O’Farrell & Mairal in its Buenos Aires headquarters and in the Dallas office of Texan international Andrews Kurth prior to its merger with Hunton & Williams.

Immunic lands Sandoz global legal head of biopharma

Inderpal Singh has joined Nasdaq-listed clinical-stage biopharma company Immunic as general counsel. He will take the lead for legal and compliance matters as part of the management team at the New York-based company, which develops oral immunology therapies meant to treating chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.

"Inderpal is a seasoned legal executive, having spent 20 years in-house, advising several of the world's largest life sciences companies. As such, he brings to Immunic extensive legal knowledge related to clinical development, operations, regulatory affairs, and commercialisation," said Immunic president and CEO Daniel Vitt. “We look forward to his guidance as we advance our pipeline of therapies through clinical development and eventually to potential regulatory approval."

Germany-qualified Singh has joined Immunic from Sandoz International, where he had served as the global legal head of biopharma in its Bavarian headquarters since January 2018. During his tenure at Sandoz he was responsible for all legal activities, as well as commercial operations, business development and market access for biopharma. Before that, he had stints in-house at German pharma multinational Merck and American biotech company Biogen Idec and also spent 15 years at Pfizer, including serving as assistant general counsel.

Energy focus for GoExpedi

GoExpedi, a Houston-based e-commerce, supply chain and analytics company, has added Julie Gremillion as general counsel.

Gremillion brings more than a decade of experience working with energy companies to the business, which focuses on procurement for industrial and energy MRO (maintenance, repair and operations). She will lead on all aspects of legal strategy and will also act as a strategic advisor to senior leadership on business matters.

GoExpedi CEO Tim Neal described Gremillion as “one of the most experienced, savvy and well-rounded legal counsels in the industry.”  

Gremillion spent seven years as an associate at Jones Day and Sidley Austin, where she represented clients mainly in the oil and gas sector. She later joined oil and gas exploration company Anadarko as a business development manager and was briefly legal counsel at Oxy following its merger with Anadarko.

"I am excited to join the team at GoExpedi and contribute my legal and commercial experience to guide the company during this growth period," said Gremillion. "My goal is to ensure the company's legal team acts as a solid and supportive foundation on which to build success."

GoExpedi announced the closing of $25m in Series C funding last September, which followed its November 2019 $25m Series B raise and took the total to $75m of equity and debt capital. The company said at the time that it would use the latest round of funding to expand beyond energy into adjacent markets and develop its talent pool.

Autodesk veteran GC to retire

Nasdaq-listed software manufacturer Autodesk has announced that Pascal Di Fronzo, its executive vice president of corporate affairs and chief legal officer, is set to retire after 23 years at the company.

"Pascal has been a trusted counselor and steward of Autodesk and our customers," said president and CEO Andrew Anagnost. "His contributions are many and I want to wish him all the best in his future endeavours."

Di Fronzo joined Autodesk in 1998 and became general counsel in 2006. As GC he has been responsible for managing the company’s legal matters, providing counsel to the CEO and board of directors, overseeing its government affairs and public policy work and leading its corporate development activity. Prior to Autodesk he was a senior associate in the Los Angeles office of Ross, Dixon & Bell and the San Francisco office of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati.

"My time at Autodesk has been a career highlight," said Di Fronzo. "It has been a pleasure working with everybody at the company and I'm proud of everything we have accomplished together.”

Di Fronzo will serve in his current role until December 2021; Autodesk will begin a search to fill the position as Di Fronzo transitions out of this role.

Noerr veteran for Condor

German charter airline Condor has made Isabel Giancristofano its new director of legal and compliance. Giancristofano began her new role last month, shortly before Condor announced that London-based private equity firm Attestor had acquired 51% of the company’s shares.

Giancristofano joined the airline after nearly 14 years at German law firm Noerr, the majority of which she spent in its London office. Her practice focused on corporate law, insolvency, restructuring, M&A and corporate compliance and she was briefly an associated partner at the firm before joining Condor.

Attestor will bring €450m of fresh equity to Condor, €250m of which will be used to modernise its long-haul fleet, with all 4,050 jobs at the airline and its maintenance subsidiary Condor Technik retained. Attestor Attestor has the option to acquire remaining 49% of the company’s shares at a later date, though for the time being they’ll remain with SG Luftfahrtgesellschaft, which holds them on behalf of Germany’s federal government.

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