Past BLI Alumni Spotlights
Mandy Schuller, BLI Class of 2019
Spotlight from January 2021
Senior Counsel, Wells Fargo Legal Department
Hometown: Sterling Heights, Michigan
Education: University of Maryland / Charlotte School of Law
Your most vivid memory of your BLI experience: The retreat. My class had such a great experience at the retreat, it was amazing to see so many different personalities come together to recognize those differences as strengths that ultimately created a very strong bond within the class.
What you value most about your BLI experience: New friendships. After BLI graduation and prior to the pandemic, my class was meeting frequently for lunches and attending events at each other’s offices and homes. During the pandemic we even had a Zoom lunch just to catch up with one another. The friendships I developed through BLI are like no other because I was given an opportunity to cross paths with folks that I would have otherwise not met, even as attorneys in the same town.
Advice you'd give to the next BLI class: Be flexible. If 2020 has taught me anything it is that flexibility matters. Personal expectations can determine whether or not we appreciate an experience. If we go into 2021 knowing that we must be flexible and if we revise our expectations based on that knowledge, that is key to appreciating situations even if they change at a moment’s notice.
Past and current MCB/MBF volunteer service: Mecklenburg Bar Foundation Board of Directors and the Bar Leadership Institute Committee. Favorite role: BLI Committee because I have a voice in shaping future class experiences with the hopes that each class has as good of time and learns as much as the class of 2019.
Current personal or leadership goals: As the mother of a recently-turned-13 year old teenager I want to use my leadership skills to help her recognize the importance of giving and to help her overcome the sometimes selfish hurdles that being a teenager can create. I want to create opportunities for her to give of her time and talents, which does not always come naturally to people, especially young people.
Greatest leadership accomplishment and why: I am the Wells Fargo Charlotte Legal Department Pro Bono Local Coordinator, in this role I work with various non-profit organizations throughout the community to plan and hold pro bono events. I work to promote events internally, obtain volunteers to participate, and coordinate training for these events. Despite the challenges faced in 2020, we had a great year with nearly 500 volunteer hours devoted to pro bono. I personally devoted nearly 75 hours to various causes in our community which I believe is an accomplishment given the challenges 2020 presented and the changes we had to make to host virtual events.
Favorite place to go in Charlotte: National Whitewater Center.
What you do when you're not lawyering: Recently, camping. My family has become what I refer to as “Covid-campers,” we bought a travel trailer in spring 2020 and we have ventured out to various locations in North Carolina and Tennessee. I look forward to many more adventures, we already have an Outer Banks trip planned for 2021.
GABRIELLE G. KELLY, BLI CLASS OF 2008
Spotlight from December 2020
Assistant District Attorney/Team Leader, Mecklenburg County District Attorney's Office
Hometown: I'm a military brat, but I call Fayetteville, NC home.
Education: Lenoir-Rhyne University/Wake Forest University School of Law
Advice you'd give to the next BLI class: Embrace vulnerability, especially during the retreat sessions. “Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.” -Brené Brown
Past and current MCB/MBF volunteer service: Bar Leadership Institute Committee, Vice-Chair (current); Bar Leadership Institute Committee Member (previous); MCB Nominating Committee (previous); and Lunch with a Lawyer (previous)
Topic you'd like to learn more about and why: I'd like to continue learning more about tools for interrupting implicit bias. Since acknowledging that one has biases (we all do) does not automatically eliminate them, we as leaders can design systems that account for biases.
Favorite place to go in Charlotte (pre-pandemic): Belk Theater - I really enjoy the performing arts.
What you do when you're not lawyering: De-stress by practicing yoga.
R. Lee Robertson, Jr., BLI Class of 2016
Spotlight from December 2020
Partner, Robertson & Associates
Education: Charlotte School of Law
What you value most about your BLI experience: Meeting friends from across the Bar, and staying connected with them.
Advice you'd give the next BLI class: Have fun and enjoy the opportunity to meet people you wouldn't otherwise meet in the Bar.
Current and previous MCB/MBF volunteer service: MCB Board of Directors (current); Bar Leadership Institute Committee, Chair (current); Linking Lawyers Mentor (current); Bar Leadership Institute Committee Vice Chair (previous); Social & Networking Committee Chair and Vice Chair (previous)
Topic you'd like to learn more about: The role lawyers played in the growth and change of Charlotte.
Favorite place to go in Charlotte (pre-pandemic): The movies!
What you do when you're not lawyering: Hang out with dogs, go to the mountains, visit with my niece and nephew.