President – Melanie H. Martin, ’92, Little Rock District Court, 1st Div.-Criminal
Judge Melanie H. Martin is Little Rock District Court Criminal Judge. She assumed the bench on January 1, 2019. Her jurisdiction includes both Pulaski and Perry Counties. As Little Rock District Court Judge, Judge Martin oversees the largest criminal district court docket in the state. Her court handles not only misdemeanor cases, but also daily felony arraignments and felony preliminary matters. Judge Martin graduated from UALR Bowen School of Law in 1992 and became a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney for the Sixth Judicial District upon her admittance to the Arkansas Bar. In 2005, she was promoted to a Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney position. She served as an Adjunct Professor of Law at UA Bowen School of Law, teaching Lawyering Skills and Trial Advocacy. From 2002-2018, Judge Martin served on the faculty of the National District Attorneys Association, in which she instructed prosecutors from around the country on various aspects of criminal trial practice. She was a member of Leadership Greater Little Rock, Class XXXII. She is President and a Master of the Bench of the Judge William R. Overton Inn of Court, a Board Member and Past President of the Pulaski County Bar Foundation, a member and Past President of the Pulaski County Bar Association, and a member of the Arkansas Association of Women Lawyers and of the Arkansas Bar Association. Judge Martin currently serves on the Pulaski County Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee.
President-Elect – Kenya Gordon Davenport, ’11, Southern Bancorp, Inc.
Kenya is Chief of Staff and Senior Vice President of Stakeholder Engagement at Southern Bancorp, Inc. Prior to joining Southern Bancorp, Kenya enjoyed a robust law career that she began as an associate at Carney, Bates & Pulliam where she litigated consumer protection class action cases. From there, Kenya served as law clerk to Honorable Wendell L. Griffen in the Circuit Court of Pulaski County. Most significantly, she managed her own practice, Davenport Law, PLLC, for five years. Kenya concluded her full-time law practice being of counsel at Gill Ragon Owen, PA. Before joining the legal profession, Kenya was a financial advisor for Edward D. Jones & Co. and a high school algebra teacher. Kenya received her Bachelor’s Degree from Tennessee State University, a Historically Black College and University (HBCU) in Nashville, Tennessee and her Master’s Degree from Christian Brother University in Memphis, Tennessee. She is admitted to practice in Arkansas, Tennessee, and the U.S. District Court for the Eastern and Western District of Arkansas. She is a member of the Arkansas Bar Association, where she has served in the House of Delegates, a member of the American Bar Association, and a member of the W. Harold Flowers Law Society. Kenya also serves as the President of the Board for the Westwind School for Performing Arts, a public charter school. She is the proud wife of Kenneth Davenport and mother of Isabella and Kenneth Christopher. She is happy to call herself an Arkansan and Bowen Alumna.
First Vice-President – Jacob Fair, ’15, Wright Lindsey Jennings
Jake Fair is an attorney at Wright Lindsey Jennings, where his diverse practice ranges from real estate transactions to complex commercial litigation. His transactional and commercial litigation practice includes banking, commercial lending, municipal finance, bankruptcy and secured transactions. Fair was the recipient of the prestigious John & Ruth H. Brunson Award, given annually by the Law Review Editorial Board for distinguished service to the Bowen Law Review. He is a member of the American Bar Association, Arkansas Bar Association, Pulaski County Bar Association, the Debtor-Creditor Bar of Central Arkansas, and the National Association of Bond Lawyers. Jake is a board member of the Central Arkansas Chapter of the Risk Management Association and also participates in Junior Achievement.
Secretary – Megan Hargraves, ’08, Mitchell, Williams, Selig, Gates & Woodyard, P.L.L.C.
Megan Hargraves, a member at Mitchell Williams, focuses her practice on healthcare regulatory, compliance and legislative matters, also providing clients with strategic counsel on public policy and implementation issues. She advises hospitals and other healthcare clients on issues related to risk management, quality assurance and regulatory and operational compliance. She advises and represents clients on matters related to the Arkansas Peer Review Fairness Act, the Healthcare Quality Improvement Act (HCQIA), Arkansas Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the False Claims Act, the Stark Act and anti-kickback statutes and other state and federal statutes. Megan’s experience as a litigator representing clients in medical malpractice, products liability, class action and general insurance defense cases makes her a trusted advisor to healthcare industry clients. Megan continues to represent clients across industries in defense of complex consumer class actions, specializing in cases brought under the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
Treasurer – William “Goose” Changose, ’15, Natural State Law, PLLC
William “Goose” Changose co-founded the Natural State Law Firm in 2015. His practice areas include business law, veterans’ benefits, real estate zoning, aviation, and firearms law. Prior to opening Natural State Law full-time in 2018, Goose was the President of Westrock Coffee Roasting and the Chief Operating Officer of four Little Rock companies. He also served as a board member of Bear State Bank and Bear State Financial, Inc. Before his time as a civilian, he served for 23 years as an officer and pilot in the US Air Force, culminating his career as the Commander of Hickam Air Force Base in Honolulu, Hawaii. A tireless proponent for his clients, Goose’s success in both the private sector and military provide a breadth of experience that allows him to bring common sense and order into some of the most complex issues.
Immediate Past President – Matthew B. Finch, ’00, Gill Ragon Owen, P.A.
Mr. Finch is president, shareholder and director with Gill Ragon Owen, P.A. He was educated at Westminster College and University of Arkansas at Little Rock School of Law. Mr. Finch joined the Arkansas Bar in 2001. His practice focuses on general commercial litigation with experience in collections actions, commercial foreclosures, title claim defense litigation, construction litigation, creditor’s rights litigation and personal and corporate contract disputes and litigation. Mr. Finch has been recognized as a “Mid-South Rising Star” by Super Lawyers, as one of Arkansas “Best Lawyers” and as a “40 Under 40” honoree by a statewide publishing group and is a frequent speaker on collections, construction law and banking and foreclosure topics. He is a member of both the Arkansas Bar Association and the Pulaski County Bar Association.
Board Members include:
Sergio Ceja, ’10, Ceja Law Firm
Sergio Ceja is originally from Lubbock, Texas where he clerked with Charles Dunn, a board-certified medical malpractice and personal injury attorney. He has been a resident of Arkansas since 2007 where he attended the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, Bowen School of Law and graduated in 2010. He also holds a BA in economics from Denison University in Granville, Ohio. Sergio is one of the only attorneys in the state that has experience working for a wall street investment firm, a commercial bank, a top CPA firm, and an independent securities broker-dealer. He holds series 7 and 66 securities licenses in eight different states as well as his law license in the state of Arkansas. He is a dispute arbitrator for the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority as well as a consultant on securities arbitration cases. Sergio’s practice area focuses on federal white-collar cases, personal injury, securities arbitration and family law. He has two children and enjoys cooking, exercise, outdoor recreation and travel.
Staci Croom-Raley, ’05, Children’s Equity Coalition
Staci Croom-Raley is a mom, lawyer, and advocate for children and families. She is currently the President and CEO of the Children’s Equity Coalition, a nonprofit organization created to network with families, advocates, and service providers to reimagine strategies that make quality early education accessible to all children. Staci earned a Master of Science in Leadership from the University of Memphis and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Arkansas-Little Rock, Bowen School of Law. She is passionate about public policy and advocacy for families. Croom-Raley has held leadership roles at some of the country’s most well-recognized, mission-driven organizations, including Boys Town USA, Boys and Girls Clubs, and Goodwill Industries. In 2009, Staci founded the Croom Firm, LLC, a professional consulting firm. Thanks in part to the success of her company and her nonprofit leadership, she was honored as a Soiree Woman to Watch and a Woman Entrepreneur Honoree by the Arkansas Times. Since then, she has collaborated with many well-known advocacy organizations, including Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, the National Association of Family, School, and Community Engagement (NASCFE), and Family Connects International. In 2013, she was recognized as the National Stevie® Award Winner for Female Non-Profit Executive of the Year. Staci is a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha, Sorority, Incorporated, the Junior League of Little Rock, and the Rotary Club of Little Rock. She was recently selected as a Fellow for the Arkansas New Leaders Council as an influential driver for community change. In recognition of her diverse professional and civic portfolio, American Express Converge Academy named her one of America’s 26 emerging social justice change leaders in 2021.
Amber Crouch, ’10, Arkansas Securities Department
Amber is the general counsel for the Arkansas Securities Department. She was the regulatory counsel and senior compliance officer for Crews & Associates, Inc., from May 2016 to July 2021. While at Crews, Amber served on the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Fixed Income Committee. She was a staff attorney with the Securities Department from 2010 to 2016. During her time as a securities regulator, Amber has been active in the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA). Prior to law school, Amber worked for U.S. Senator Blanche L. Lincoln from 2002 to 2007. She is the current president-elect of the Quapaw Quarter Association in Little Rock.
Qualenta Forrest Kivett, ’10, Tampa General Hospital
Qualenta joined Tampa General Hospital in 2021 as the Executive Vice President and Chief People and Talent Officer. Prior to that, she served as Market Vice President, Human Resources and Chief Human Resources Officer at CHI St. Vincent, a regional health network in Arkansas. Leading up to her time at CHI St. Vincent, Forrest worked at Medical University South Carolina as Associate Chief People Officer. Forrest earned her Juris Doctor degree from the William H. Bowen School of Law, and BA degrees in Spanish and criminal justice from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.
Austin Harrison, ’16, Squire Patton Boggs
Prior to joining the Squire Patton Boggs, Austin interned for the US Embassy in Zagreb, Croatia, focusing on international trade, EU policy and international energy law. Drawing on his international experience, he developed a comprehensive analysis on the UK’s exit from the European Union (Brexit) during his final year at the Clinton School of Public Service. During law school, Austin held various legal clerkships with an emphasis on energy, public utilities, local government and international matters. As a clerk for the Arkansas Electric Cooperative Association (AECC), Austin handled filing matters with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and worked with the US Army Corps of Engineers to obtain permits for the electric cooperative. His knowledge of energy and utility matters strengthened as he served as a research fellow for the Clinton Climate Initiative to produce a report recommending a statewide Healthy Homes Initiative by examining housing and health data along with energy efficiency policies. While working for the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office, Austin worked in the Public Protection Department with a focus on environmental, tobacco and healthcare regulatory matters. As an undergraduate student at the University of Mississippi, Austin studied public policy at the Trent Lott Leadership Institute. As a student, he gained various Associate international experiences through his studies in Quito, Ecuador; Port Elizabeth, South Africa; and Seoul, South Korea. Drawing on his domestic policy knowledge, Austin worked as an intern in Washington DC, for US Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS) and US Representative Gregg Harper (R-MS).
Katie Mehdizadegan, ’14, Delta Dental
Katie is Associate General Counsel at Delta Dental of Arkansas. Prior to joining Delta Dental in 2019, she was an associate attorney at Gill Ragon Owen for over three years, a firm where she clerked as a law student as well. Following graduation from Bowen, she became a judicial law clerk for Honorable Judge Vann Smith of the Pulaski County Circuit Court. Katie will complete a three-year term on the Bowen Young Alumni Board in June 2020.
Smrithi Mohan, ’11, Dun & Bradstreet, Inc.
Smrithi Mohan is a Managing Attorney: Head of Legal and Compliance for India, and Head of the Global Corporate Innovation and Intellectual Property Strategy and Practice at Dun & Bradstreet, Inc. In her role as Head of Legal & Compliance for India, she manages all parts of the India business including commercial contracting, compliance, ethics, and privacy, M&A, corporate governance, risk management, and other legal matters, while also creating, implementing, overseeing, and leading the global corporate innovation and intellectual property practice and strategy. She has given numerous talks and spoken at national and international conferences on a variety of general legal and intellectual property-related topics. She has been featured in both Attorney At Law Magazine and Modern Counsel magazines, and also recognized as an international Top IP Leader by the IPR Gorilla. Smrithi is currently pursuing a masters degree from Harvard University in the field of management, with a focus on both strategic management and innovation and entrepreneurship, and is expected to graduate in May 2023. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, two toddler daughters, and their bichon poodle.
Thomas Odom, ’17, Pulaski County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office
Thomas Odom was born and raised in Fayetteville, Arkansas. He received his undergraduate degree in Politics at Hendrix College in 2014, where he met his wife, Lettie. They moved to Little Rock and he attended William H. Bowen School of Law and graduated in 2017. Thomas joined his father and grandfather as a third-generation attorney at the Odom Law Firm in 2017. He took a job as Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Benton County, Arkansas in early 2019, and continued his prosecution career in Pulaski County, Arkansas in late 2020.
John Rainwater, ’09, Rainwater, Holt & Sexton
John Rainwater is an Arkansas injury attorney with Rainwater, Holt & Sexton. He has consistently been recognized as a nationally-renowned trial lawyer, as one of the “Best Lawyers for Bankruptcy” by Little Rock Soiree (2015-2017), as a “Top 100 Trial Lawyer”, and as the recipient of the Judith Ryan Gray Outstanding Young Lawyer Service Award (2016-2017). He is an active member of the Arkansas Bar Association and the Debtor-Creditor Bar of Central Arkansas. John is a board member of Volunteers’ Organization Center for Arkansas Legal Services.
Elizabeth Scott, ’09, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP
In her role as a partner with Akin Gump in Dallas, Lizzy Scott assists clients in complex commercial litigation. Her practice emphasizes defense in lawsuits filed under the FCA and representing public companies and their officers and directors in securities and privacy litigation, internal investigations, regulatory investigations and other enforcement proceedings. She was recognized by the Dallas Business Journal as a “40 Under 40” honoree in 2021. After graduating from Hendrix College in 2004, she began law school at William H. Bowen School of Law and graduated in 2007.
David Slade, ’13, whLaw
David’s path to the law was a nontraditional one. After graduating from college at Yale, he moved to New York City, working at various jobs in the music industry, forming a band, and spending roughly a decade touring the country and recording albums. By the end of his time doing this, he had (among other things) played Bonnaroo and even got a shout-out in The Economist. Throughout this period, his interest in the law was nurtured by a side job as a trial assistant in the hormone therapy litigation, In re: Prempro Products Liability Litigation, Case No. MDL 1507. Following his work with the Prempro MDL, David attended the University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law. While there, he co-founded the Arkansas Journal of Social Change and Public Service (along with Brandon Haubert), an online, interdisciplinary publication for which he served as Editor-in-Chief. He oversaw the Journal’s inaugural symposium, as well as a variety of community engagement efforts. In its first year, the Journal published submissions from authors throughout the world. At wh Law , David’s principal focus is on consumer protection, with an emphasis on data privacy, data security, antitrust, and antitrust-adjacent areas in the tech space. Extending his advocacy beyond litigation, he also organized a cyber safety training summit for Arkansas law enforcement and victim assistance professionals, in conjunction with the National Organization of Victim Assistance (NOVA) and also has established multiple coordinated practice groups focus on diluting the preemptive effect of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.
JB Smiley, Jr., ’15, Smiley & Associates, PLLC
A native Memphian, with five siblings, born to a social worker and a Bronze Star army soldier, JB Smiley, Jr. knows the value of hard work and a healthy, supportive community. After JB’s collegiate and semi-professional basketball career, he pursued a legal education, and later, a political career. But his life in serving the most vulnerable started from a young age. JB’s first experience with teamwork and leadership was as a Cub Scout with the Boy Scouts of America. Never afraid of getting his hands dirty, JB has done everything from working as a landfill cleaner to washing dishes. As his father taught him to “never forget the bridge that brought you over,” JB decided to stay in the region to attend college and then law school at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law. While in law school, JB served as a member of the Law Review, Moot Court Board, and as Vice President of the Black Law Students Association. JB successfully passed Arkansas and the Tennessee Bar exams, while writing his first book, Born With It: Unleashing Your Greatness. In 2017, in Memphis, JB started his law practice, Smiley & Associates, PLLC. The following year, JB was named to Memphis Flyer’s Top 20, Under 30 class. During that same year, JB was appointed policy advisor to the Shelby County Clerk and served in such capacity until his election to the Memphis City Council in October 2019. As a council member, JB is Chair of the Public Works, Transportation, and General Services Committee and the council liaison for the Urban Art Commission. In his spare time, JB likes to play basketball, work out, binge watch Netflix shows, and keep his dog, Mighty Mouse, and his nephew, Bryson Maxwell Smiley, smiling!
Tasha Taylor, ’05, Taylor & Taylor Law Firm, P.A.
Tasha is a Partner at Taylor & Taylor Law Firm, P.A., where her practice focuses on appellate advocacy and personal injury litigation. Following graduation from Bowen, Tasha served for two years as a judicial law clerk on the Arkansas Supreme Court. She entered private practice in 2007 and co-founded Taylor & Taylor Law Firm, P.A. with her husband in 2010. Tasha has repeatedly been recognized as one of “Little Rock’s Best Lawyers” by Little Rock Soiree (2014-2018), as a “Top Attorney in Arkansas” by Arkansas Life (2015-2018), and as a “Rising Star Mid-South” by Super Lawyers (2015-2017). She is frequently invited to speak to her peers on the topic of handling appeals in Arkansas’s state appellate courts. Tasha created and co-authors the Arkansas Appeals blog. Tasha resides in Little Rock with her husband, Andy Taylor, and their three children.
Elisa White, ’97, Arkansas Children’s
Elisa White serves as Vice President & System Compliance Officer for Arkansas Children’s. As a health system leader, Elisa plans, designs, implements, and maintains a system-wide compliance program and provides direction and oversight for all compliance operations and
processes. Elisa also serves as the system’s HIPAA Privacy and Security Officer and oversees accreditation and survey readiness for both Arkansas Children’s Hospital and Arkansas Children’s Northwest. Prior to joining Arkansas Children’s in 2021, Elisa was in private practice as a health care regulatory attorney with Kutak Rock, LLP, then joined the Arkansas Hospital Association, as Vice President & General Counsel, providing services, education, and information to the hospital industry and key stakeholders about state and federal regulations, accreditation, government audits, health policy, and other issues. Elisa earned her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in English from Arkansas State University. She received her J.D. with honors from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law.
Megan Wooster, ’09, M.W. Law, PLLC
Megan opened M.W. Law, PLLC in 2013. Prior to that, she was a domestic relations litigation attorney at the James Law Firm and an insurance defense litigation attorney at Anderson Murphy Hopkins, LLP. In 2010, Megan became a qualified Attorney Ad Litem for children in custody and visitation cases. She has also been consistently recognized as a “Family Law Top 10 Attorney” by Attorney & Practice Magazine (2017-2018), one of the “Best Lawyers in Little Rock” by Little Rock (2015-2017), and a “Top Attorney” by Arkansas Life. Megan is a member of the Arkansas Bar Association and the Arkansas Association of Women Lawyers.