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Adanwimo Okafor, General Counsel, Chief Diversity Equity & Inclusion Officer at American Board of Surgery

Ada Okafor serves as General Counsel and Chief Diversity Equity and Inclusion Officer (CDEIO) for American Board of Surgery (ABS).

She is a dynamic individual who is passionate about diversity, equity and inclusion. She has contributed to a plethora of diversity efforts throughout her career. She believes it helps create an inclusive environment so that people can do their best work and have their individual skills and talents recognised, appreciated and utilised.

Ada’s background makes her uniquely suited for her dual roles at ABS. Born in Nigeria, she was raised in the United Kingdom before moving to the United States when she was a teenager. Because she moved so much, she had to be flexible, nimble, and able to adapt to new environments, new people, and new ways of life. These moves helped her develop a global perspective through which she saw, understood and interacted with the world and the people around her.

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Okafor has been involved with numerous conferences on increasing diversity in the legal profession and has received extensive training on implicit/unconscious bias, microaggressions, microassaults, microinsults, microinvalidations, and the appropriate ways to validate and respond to those impacted by such words and actions.

As ABS’s first CDEIO, Ada is excited to use the skillsets that she has developed and honed over time to help drive ABS’ commitment to be a diverse, antiracist, equitable and inclusive organisation.

As a former employee at Ballard Spahr LLP, she helped clients keep pace with the continually changing legal landscape of employee benefit and executive compensation.

She also advised on plan design, implementation, qualification and administration, as well as regulatory compliance under state and federal laws. She drafted plan amendments, restatements, summary plan descriptions, summaries of material modification and annual reports, annual statement of benefits and other participant communications.

In her executive compensation practice, she drafted employment agreements, incentive compensation plans, equity compensation plans, severance plans, and retention plans. She assisted with disclosure of executive compensation under U.S. securities laws, from initial public offerings to ongoing and periodic disclosure obligations.

In addition, Adanwimo has experience in all phases of benefits-related litigation, including initial pleadings, discovery, trial preparation, trial, post-trial briefing and appeal. She has drafted dispositive motions and memoranda briefs; propounded and responded to subpoenas, requests for document production and electronically stored information, and prepared fact and expert witnesses for deposition and trial. She has participated in mediation and has negotiated favourable settlements for her clients.

Okafor has also co-authored articles, white papers, and client newsletter alerts on recent developments in the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and employee benefits space.

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