The 2021 Arizona Corporate Counsel (ACC) Awards — sponsored by Cresa and Ogletree Deakins — were held Thursday, April 22, as a virtual event.

“There has never been a more challenging year than 2020,” said Az Business magazine Editor in Chief Michael Gossie. “But once again, corporate legal talent rose to the occasion in brilliant fashion as was repeatedly demonstrated by the incredible finalists we are honoring tonight.”

READ ALSO: The Top 100 Lawyers in Arizona for 2021

In addition to premier sponsors: Ogletree Deakins and CRESA, the spotlight award sponsor was Grant Thornton and signature sponsors included Sparklight, Littler, CopperPoint Insurance Companies, Insight Enterprises, and Axon.

The ACC Awards, presented in conjunction with the State Bar of Arizona and the Arizona Chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel, recognized and celebrated some of our state’s greatest legal minds who are working within businesses in Arizona.

Here are the winners of the 2021 Arizona Corporate Counsel Awards

Catherine Pearson
Dawn Grove
Nicole Stanton

Private Company General Counsel of the Year – less than 200 employees: Catherine Pearson, SpringBoard Healthcare

Pearson is an expert in reducing operational inefficiencies and streamlining workflows to support rapid and sustained growth. She brings 17 years of experience with employment law, litigation, and healthcare regulation. Prior to joining Springboard, Pearson was at SimonMed, where she provided legal and healthcare regulatory counsel, reorganized the corporate structure, and assisted with strategy development.

Private Company General Counsel of the Year – more than 200 employees: Dawn Grove, Karsten Manufacturing Corporation

Grove is Corporate Counsel for Karsten Manufacturing Corporation, parent company of PING (one of the world’s top golf equipment brands) and related subsidiaries. She advised on former President Barack Obama’s U.S. Manufacturing Council and currently chairs Gov. Doug Ducey’s Workforce Arizona Council.

Public Company General Counsel of the Year – less than 500 employees in Arizona: Nicole Stanton, Harvest Health & Recreation, Inc.

Stanton has 20 years of legal experience, first at a large private law firm and now in-house at an emerging company. She has received numerous recognitions throughout her career, including listing in Best Lawyers in America from 2012-2019 and Top 100 Lawyers in Arizona by Az Business magazine.

Isaiah Fields
Lacey Bundy
Andie Vack

Public Company General Counsel of the Year – medium-sized companies: Isaiah Fields, Axon

Fields worked for the Arizona Attorney General’s Office (2005-2011) before joining Axon Enterprise (formerly TASER International) as litigation counsel at a time when the company was facing an onslaught of product liability lawsuits. He was named general counsel in July of 2018 and is proud to be a part of Axon’s mission to protect life, capture truth and accelerate justice.

Public Company General Counsel of the Year – large-sized companies: Lacey Bundy, PetSmart

Bundy joined PetSmart in August 2018. Prior to PetSmart, she served for six years as senior vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary of Express, Inc., a specialty retail apparel company based in Columbus, Ohio. Bundy currently serves on the board of directors of PetSmart Charities and as co-chair of PetSmart’s Diversity Action Council.

Healthcare Company In-House Counsel of the Year: Andie Vack, Banner Health

Vack provides legal guidance on numerous matters, including, physician contractual relationships, physician compensation, physician relations, quality assurance, medical staff privileging and credentialing, risk management, patient care, regulatory and compliance. The Arizona native came to Banner in 2014 from a law firm in Las Vegas, where she specialized in medical malpractice defense and healthcare administrative law.

Laura Todd Johnson
Michael LaClare
Dawn Valdivia

Educational Institution General Counsel of the Year: Laura Todd Johnson, University of Arizona

Johnson oversees all litigation involving UArizona. She advises the president, University administrators, and the Arizona Board of Regents on a broad range of legal issues, including institutional governance, intellectual property and licensing, contracts and compliance, regulations, employment matters, charitable giving, athletics, student issues, real estate, and international transactions.

Legal Department of the Year: (tie) Carvana Legal Team and the McKesson Corporation Arizona Legal Team

• Carvana’s legal department began in mid 2015 with one person and has since expanded into a team of over 35 that supports the company as it went through its initial public offering, increased employees by over 5,000 percent, rapidly expanded to operate a real estate portfolio of more than 100 locations, became the fastest-growing retailer in the history of the United States, and grew revenue by more than 30 percent year-over-year during a difficult and unprecedented 2020.

• The Scottsdale-based legal team supporting RxCrossroads by McKesson includes attorneys and paralegals, some of whom are based in Houston, Atlanta, and Columbia, S.C. As part of the McKesson general counsel organization, the legal team provides day-to-day transactional and regulatory counsel to this complex McKesson business unit that includes two specialty pharmacy programs, medication adherence and access, and third-party logistics services to clients in the pharmaceutical and life-sciences industry.

Up-and-Comer of the Year: Michael LaClare, Isagenix International

Laclare has practiced law for 19 years, and has served as in-house counsel for the last 13 years. During his career, Laclare has handled numerous commercial litigation matters and other kinds of complex commercial disputes. For Isagenix, he manages litigation and dispute matters, and supervises the company’s Compliance and Corporate Affairs teams.

Overcoming Obstacles Award: Dawn Valdivia, Honeywell International.

Valdivia has been with Honeywell since 2014 and provides counsel and helps drive compliance in all facets of workplace issues globally with a focus in the U.S., Latin America, and Puerto Rico. She also advises on U.S. immigration law and led the company’s harassment prevention program.

2021 ACC Award for Lifetime Achievement: Sara Begley, CopperPoint Insurance Companies

Begley joined CopperPoint in 2008 and became general counsel in 2014. In 2018, she received the Ronald McDonald “Heart of the House” Award, and in 2019 was named one of Arizona’s Most Influential Women in Business by Az Business magazine.