Leadership Biographies

Michele Boerder, CP

Michele Boerder, CP, Texas Board of Legal Specialization, Board Certified - Civil Trial Law


Michele Boerder is a litigation paralegal with Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP in Dallas, Texas and has 34 years of experience. She holds a bachelor's and master's degree from the University of North Texas and an A.A. from the El Centro College Paralegal Program in 1979. She is a Board Certified Paralegal - Civil Trial, Texas Board of Legal Specialization and a Certified Paralegal ("CP" through NALA) as well as a past President of the Paralegal Division, State Bar of Texas and a past President of the Dallas Area Paralegal Association. Michele has also served on the State Bar of Texas Paralegal Committee, the TBLS Paralegal Civil Trial Commission, NFPA's Paralegal Advanced Competency Exam Standards Committee, and Paralegal Today magazine's editorial review board. She received the Dallas Area Paralegal Association's Paralegal of the Year Award in 1995, NFPA's Paralegal of the Year award in 2005,the Dallas Area Paralegal Association Lifetime Achievement award in 2006 and NFPA's Robie Leadership Award in 2011.

Mariela Evora Cawthon, CP, TBLS-BCP

Mariela Evora Cawthon, CP, TBLS-BCP

Mariela E. Cawthon, CP, TBLC-BCP has more than 20 years of experience as a paralegal and is currently employed as a senior litigation paralegal with the lawfirm of Lynn Tillotson & Pinker, a commercial litigation firm.  She has been with LTPC for over 13 years.  Mariela earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Baylor University in 1993, with degrees in Spanish and Political Science.  In 1996, she took the National Legal Assistant Association’s (NALA) exam and earned her CP designation.  In December 2004, Mariela became a Board Certified Paralegal in Civil Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.

Mariela joined DAPA in June 1997.  In addition to serving on several committees including Paralegal Day, Holiday Luncheon and Career Day, Mariela was the Chair of DAPA’s Pro Bono Committee/Community Services Committee from April 2004 through December 2007.  She served as DAPA’s Membership Vice President in 2005 and 2006, and she has chaired the Mentor/Protégé Committee and the CLE Audit Committee.  Mariela won the the Pro Bono award in 2005, the President's Award in 2006, DAPA's Paralegal of the Year award in 2010 and NFPA's Paralegal of the Year Award in 2011.   She hals also served on NFPA's Budget Committee in 2016 and NFPA's Regulation Committee in 2017.

Mariela has been written numerous articles for DAPA's On The Record during her tenure on the DAPA Board. Her articles focused on Pro Bono and Membership actitvities. In addition to her duties with DAPA, Mariela served as a District Director for the Paralegal Division of the State Bar of Texas from 2012-2014.  She also served on the Division's Membership Committee from  2009-2012.  She also has had articles published in the Divisions The Paralegal Journal.

In addition to her duties with DAPA and the Division, Mariela has also given numerous CLEs on topics such as Trial Preparation and the Role of the Paralegal in a lawfirm.  She has presented these topics for both her peers at DAPA and the Division, as well as for her firm.

Mariela and her husband are the proud parents of a Son.  With the assistance of her Husband, she is actively involved with the Cub Scout organization as a Den Leader.  In this role, Mariela and Don are able to help the boys prepare for their future and to teach them useful tools to improve their lives and the values by which they live as they grow to become young men.  Mariela also volunteers at her Son's school whenever possible by assisting with field trips, classroom activities and in other areas of need at his school.  Mariela also participates in a feed the homeless program with the Many Helping Hands organization.

Kathy Connell

Kathy Connell

Katherine K. Connell (Kathy) is an Assistant Corporate Secretary & Senior Paralegal for Mr. Group, Inc., a publicly-held mortgage services company. Kathy has nearly 30 years of experience as a paralegal in the areas of corporate securities, contracts, banking and finance, real estate, corporate governance, subsidiary maintenance and various areas of regulatory law. She received her Bachelors of Arts Degree, with a major in Political Science, and certificates in Integrated Liberal Studies and Women's Studies, from the University of Wisconsin. Kathy completed, with honors, the ABA approved, Lawyers Assistant Program at Roosevelt University, Chicago, IL.

Kathy Davis

Kathy Davis, PLS

Kathy Davis is a paralegal for James S. Robertson, III at the law firm of Glast, Phillips & Murray, P.C. since November 2001.  Kathy obtained her paralegal certificate in 1991, obtained credentials as a certified legal professional in 1997, and is listed in the United Who's Who Executive and Professional Registry.  Kathy is currently serving as DAPA's Website Administrator and has also served as DAPA's treasurer for 6 years and has served as a committee member on numerous committees.

Nicole Durenberger

Nicole Durenberger

Nicole obtained her Paralegal Certificate in 2015.  As a Paralegal, she has gained experience in several areas of law. She has a Masters in Finance (MBA) with a specialization in International Business and an undergraduate degree in International Relations and German.
Nicole chose to make a career change after several years of working as a Senior Business Analyst in software development and implementation. In her free time, Nicole enjoys yoga and traveling.


Sharon Fox

Sharon Fox

Sharon Fox became a student member of the Dallas Area Paralegal Association in 2019 and looks forward to many years serving as an active member.   As a second career, she is transitioning into the legal field pursuing a Paralegal certificate through Collin College in Plano, Texas.  

She is a volunteer for North Texas Legal Aid and was recently appointed DAPA's Assistant Chair for Collin County. 

Floy Gaidarski

Floy Gaidarski

Floy Gaidarski earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from Southern Methodist University in 2013. She joined the Dallas Area Paralegal Association as a student member before her graduation from the SMU Paralegal Certificate Program in 2015 and became Corporate Section Chair and voting member of DAPA shortly thereafter. She is currently serving on DAPA's Board of Directors as the Director at Large, Scholarship Committee Chair, and Corporate Section Chair. Floy is the Executive Vice President of Abruzzo Woodworks LLC where she provides paralegal services for the company's corporate matters.  She has lived in Dallas for over 20 years.

Melody Johnson

Melody Johnson, CP

Melody is a graduate of Florida Metropolitan University in 1993 with an Associates Degree in Paralegal Studies.  Melody became Certified through the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA) in 2006.   For over 20 years, Melody has worked in a variety of large document production, complex litigation, construction litigation and personal injury cases, etc.  In 2007, Melody relocated from Orlando, Florida and began her employment with Heygood Orr & Pearson, where she was the Senior Lead Paralegal in the hundreds of pharmaceutical cases filed against the Fentanyl manufacturers.  The Fentanyl manufacturers were producing defective Fentanyl patches that delivered an uncontrolled and unintended amount of Fentanyl, causing patients to overdose, resulting in serious and potentially fatal side effects, and ultimately death. These pharmaceutical cases were filed in State and Federal Court nationwide.  In 2012, Melody joined Ramey Law Firm running a 1+ attorney law firm as Senior Litigation Paralegal and Office Administrator.  Melody believes the best part of working in the personal injury industry is that you have the opportunity to help people who are feeling overwhelmed by something that was not their fault.  Taking the stress away from the client and allowing them to focus on their health and well-being is my top priority.  In her spare time, Melody enjoys traveling with her husband, cooking, singing in her Church choir, entertaining and decorating.  

Laura A. Kehoe

Laura A. Kehoe, CRP™

For Laura A. Kehoe, CRP ™, the paralegal profession is a second career.  After almost twenty years in restaurant operations, she transitioned into the legal field.  Laura earned her bachelor's degree from the University of Houston.  Laura later received her paralegal certificate from Sothern Methodist University in 2012 and earned her Core Registered paralegal credential from the National Federation of Paralegal Associations in 2013.

Laura currently works as a litigation paralegal at the Law Offices of William W. Kruger, III, in Richardson, Texas.   The firm's focus is primarily municipal defense.  Several of the firm's cases have made local and national news.

Laura has been an active member of the Dallas Area Paralegal Association since 2012.  She has held multiple positions, including Sustaining Member Liaison (2013, 2014), Director-At-Large (2015, 2016), NFPA Secondary Representative (2016), NFPA Primary Representative (2017), President-Elect (2018), and President (2019).  Her dedication to DAPA earned her the Volunteer of the Year Award (2013) and the President's Award (2018).

Outside of her paralegal life, Laura enjoys spending time with friends and family, including her "Legal Beagle" Bailey.  She is a Girl Scout Alum, multi-year volunteer at the Byron Nelson Golf Classic, and participates on several committees at her church.  Laura is also an avid sports fan, always rooting for her Houston Cougars, Dallas Cowboys, Dallas Mavericks, and Texas Rangers.

Michelle Kiner

Michelle Kiner, ACP

Michelle Roberts is an Advanced Certified Paralegal and is employed in the Intellectual Property Section of Locke Lord LLP.  Her responsibilities include patent, trademark and copyright prosecution and litigation matters.  Michelle holds advanced certifications in both patent and trademark law.

Michelle obtained her paralegal certificate in 2005 from the Southeastern Career Institute in Dallas (now Kaplan College) and soon thereafter, became a nationally certified paralegal specializing in litigation, criminal law and estate planning.  

In addition, Michelle worked as a former Federal Courtroom Deputy for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and also has extensive appellate law experience working as an assistant to a State of Texas Supreme Court Judge.  She is a certified jury consultant and has had the rare opportunity of supervising voir dire jury examinations for civil and criminal cases.  Michelle has been a DAPA member since 2007.

Debbi Lowe

Debbi Lowe

Debbi Lowe is a litigation paralegal with over 25 years of experience in the legal field. She has worked on a variety of cases such as Patent Litigation, Trademark, Commerical Litigation, Employment, Personal Injury, Heatlhcare and Appellate cases. Debbi earned her Bachelor's degree from the University of North Texas and an Associates degree in Paralegal Studies from El Centro College.

Debbi joined DAPA as a student member in 1998. She became an active member in 2003. In 2010, Debbi served as Job Bank Administrator until the summer of 2011. She has served as Weekly Communications Manager distributing the Weekly E News since 2011. Debbi is the board advisor for the Job Bank Administrator and Website Administrator. She also serves as the Newsletter Editor and is a mentor in DAPA's Mentor/Protégé Program.  Debbi is the recipient of DAPA's President's Award in 2012 and the Paralegal of the Year Award in 2016.

She is also a member of the Paralegal Division of the State Bar of Texas and The Bar College of the State of Texas.

She is a supporter of Dallas Komen in which she participates yearly in the Dallas Komen Race for the Cure. Debbi is also a supporter of the Texas SPCA, Operation Kindness and the North Texas Food Bank.

Debbi spends her free time gardening, reading, listening to music, and spoiling her dog or as she likes to call her "furry child".



Cynthia Minchillo

Cynthia Minchillo, RP®

Cynthia has been a paralegal since 1988. She is a Board Certified Legal Assistant in Personal Injury Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization (1996), and a PACE Registered Paralegal by the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (1997). Cynthia earned a Masters in Public Affairs in 2003 and a Bachelors of Arts in Government and Politics Cum Laude from the University of Texas at Dallas in 2000. Cynthia is a senior litigation paralegal in Dallas for Franklin, Cardwell & Jones working mainly in the area of Plaintiff’s personal injury, product liability, and commercial litigation.

Cynthia has held numerous board and appointed positions with the Dallas Area Paralegal Association, (including past President), and appointed positions with the Paralegal Division of the State Bar of Texas, and the National Federation of Paralegal Associations. She has been a frequent writer and speaker for numerous Texas paralegal events, and has chaired, planned, and hosted several special events including the NFPA Fall Convention in Fort Worth, Texas in September of 1998, and Texas Paralegal Day Celebrations from 2004 to present.

Cindy Moss

Cindy Moss

Cindy Moss earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature from Southwest Texas State University in 1998. She received her Paralegal Certificate through the University of North Texas Professional Development Institute in 2012. She joined the Dallas Area Paralegal Association in 2016 as a student member while attending El Centro College to earn her Associate of Applied Science in Paralegal Studies in 2017. She is currently employed as a paralegal at The Silvera Firm. She moved to Coppell from Austin with her husband and cat in 2015. While Cindy pursues a wide variety of interests, she is especially an avid reader and knitter.

Kay Redburn

Kay Redburn, Texas Board of Legal Specialization, Board Certified - Family Law

Kay Redburn has been a paralegal in Family Law since 1983 and has worked with Brian L. Webb and The Webb Family Law Firm since 1992. Kay is a Board Certified Paralegal in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization; is a Charter Member (Paralegal) of the State Bar College; is a member of the Texas Academy of Family Law Specialists (TAFLS); the Paralegal Division of the State Bar of Texas; the Family Law Section of the State Bar of Texas; as well as DAPA. She received the "Paralegal of the Year Award from DAPA in 2006 and the President's Award from TAFLS in 2008. She is also the chair of the Paralegal Studies Program Advisory Committee at El Centro College and does volunteer work with the Mesquite Police Department.

Hilary Roberts

Hilary Roberts

Hilary works with corporate counsel at Walker & Doepfner, P.C. in Addison, Texas.  Her work involves civil and business litigation matters as well as employment, contract law and real property issues.  In her previous position, she worked as a Global Immigration paralegal.  She has a paralegal certificate from SMU and a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Southern Illinois University.  She has been a member of DAPA since 2015 and brings an extensive business background that includes corporate sales, management, marketing and customer development.  Hilary is from Springfield, Illinois and currently lives in Plano, Texas.

Candy Ryan

Candy Ryan, CRP™

Candy Ryan, CRPTM is a litigation paralegal with Downs Stanford PC, Dallas, Texas assisting Mr. Downs in insurance defense case preparation. She has an extensive background in civil litigation, insurance defense, family law and trial support and participation.

Candy has been a part of the legal community since 1979 and has practiced in Washington, California and Texas.  She is a graduate of the University of San Diego ABA accredited Paralegal Studies Program (1988) and has specialized in litigation for more than 30 years. She received her BA in Paralegal Studies in 2015. She was certified by the NFPA as a Core Registered Paralegal with the designation of CRP™ in 2011, becoming one of the first 16 CRPs in the State of Texas and one of the initial 200 in the United States.

Candy has been a member of the Dallas Area Paralegal Association (DAPA) since 2005; and is currently the 2019 Sustaining Membership Liaison, coordinating with local and national vendors participating in numerous events with the members of DAPA such as the Sustaining Member Expo, Texas Paralegal Day and the Holiday Luncheon. She has served as DAPA's Litigation Section Chair since 2008; President Elect 2010 and President  2011; Education Vice President 2009 and 2012-2017; Sustaining Membership Liaison 2018 to present.  She will be serving as 2019 Parliamentarian on the Board of Directors as well as Assistant Certification Ambassador. She has mentored numerous paralegals in preparing for the certification exams by assisting with organizing and coordinating study groups for several years and will continue with that endeavor in 2019. She also served as National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA) Association Coordinator in 2016.  She served as Chair of the 2010 DAPA Bid Committee which successfully bid for the NFPA national convention to be held in Dallas in 2014.

She is also a member of the faculty for the Institute of Paralegal Education (2009-2018) and made more than 20 CLE presentations. She will be providing videotaped CLE for NBI on May 5, 2019 in Wisconsin.  She has also provided Ethics CLE on the Perfectly Paralegal, Paralegal in Perilous Waters Cruise; on March 6, 2017, and will be presenting a CLE on Docketing and Calendaring in March 2019.

In addition she was a member of the Dallas Association of Legal Assistants in the early 80s and past President of the San Luis Obispo County Paralegal Association (1990).

Candy has also served as a past member of the Court Reporting Institute of Dallas Paralegal Advisory Board and the Everest College Paralegal Program Advisory Board as well as ITT Technical Institute Paralegal Program Advisory Committee. She currently is serving on the Vista College Advisory Board.

She has been a certified Divemaster since 1996 and has enjoyed working with dive groups in Texas, Florida, Mexico and Belize. She also enjoys kayaking and has provided support as sweeper and wrangler for various discover kayak events including the Red Bull Flutag in 2017 and kayaking group outings along the Trinity River and local lakes.

She has been an instructor of Oriental Dance for more than 5 years and member of three local performance troupes for the past 10 years and is currently a member of Azul Raks of Dallas, recently performing at the State Fair of Texas and a Christmas fundraiser for childhood cancer.


Kelli Smith

Kelli Smith, CRP™

Kelli Smith brings a comprehensive background coupled with her numerous years of experience working in the legal industry to the Dallas Area Paralegal Association and the National Federation of Paralegal Associations. Kelli is an Assistant Vice President, Senior Paralegal in the Legal Affairs Department of Dallas-based PlainsCapital Corporation, a diversified Dallas-based financial services company, and one of the largest Bank Holding Companies in Texas.

Prior to joining PlainsCapital, Kelli worked for seven years as a litigation paralegal specializing in bankruptcy and mortgage litigation at Locke Lord, LLP, a full-service, international law firm. Prior to joining Locke Lord, Kelli worked for nine years as a legal assistant for Centex Corporation, a Fortune 250 company and one of the nation's premier companies in homebuilding, financial services, home services and commercial contracting.

Kelli obtained her AAS in Management from Eastfield College in 2006, and in 2011, was one of the first 148 paralegals in the nation who passed the Paralegal CORE Competency Exam® pilot test administered at 12 test sites across the country. Sixteen Texas paralegals passed the exam earning the CRPTM credential.

While attending Eastfield, Kelli was chosen by the college to serve in their Texas Legislative Internship Program where she interned for Texas State Senator John Carona. Kelli also served as Executive Vice President, then Chapter President of the Psi Eta Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, International Honor Society of the Two-Year College, where she received nominations for Distinguished Chapter Officer and Distinguished Chapter President, and was voted into the Texas Hall of Honor for Distinguished Members. During her tenure as Chapter President, she received numerous honors and awards including the Guistwhite Scholar (highest honor in Phi Theta Kappa), All-USA Academic Team, All State Academic Team, Who's Who Among Students in America's Junior Colleges, and National Dean’s List.

Kelli has been a member of DAPA since 2008, serving on the Board of Directors since 2011, and has held various positions within the organization including Vendor Co-Advisor from 2009 through 2012, Professional Development Director in 2011, Director-at-Large from 2012 and 2013, Membership Vice President, NFPA Primary in 2014 and 2016, DAPA's Education Vice President in 2015, and currently serves as President-Elect.  In 2015, Kelli was also appointed NFPA's Internal Marketing Coordinator at the national level, and serves as NFPA's Association Co-Coordinator since 2015, as well as on NFPA's Ethics Board since 2016.

Kelli has served and continues to serve on several committees including NFPA Convention Planning Committee, Scholarship Committee, Mentor/Protégé Committee, Paralegal Day Committee, Holiday Luncheon Committee, and Membership Committee.  Kelli is also a member of the State Bar of Texas-Paralegal Division and was Co-Chair for the 2013 Annual Meeting Planning Committee. In 2013, Kelli was the recipient of the Dallas Area Paralegal Association’s Paralegal of the Year Award.

Kelli currently volunteers for, and is a 16-year veteran and 2017 Co-Chairperson over nearly 200 Corporate Venue Volunteers at the Byron Nelson Golf Classic, volunteering on behalf of the Salesmanship Club of Dallas, a non-profit organization dedicated to enriching the quality of life of young people through education and mental health services. Kelli is also a former charter member, volunteer, and computer software training instructor at The Women’s Museum, where she taught beginning-level computer software training classes to underprivileged women in the greater Dallas area. She currently participates in DAPA’s Mentor/Protégé program and is a volunteer with the Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program.

Sunja Smith

Sunja Smith

Sunja Smith has been a paralegal for over 20 years. She currently works as a Defense Litigation Paralegal at Downs Stanford, P.C.  She began her career as a paralegal in 1989 at Kondos & Kondos in Richardson.  She has worked as a litigation paralegal in several firms in Dallas, Irving and Richardson specializing in family law, product liability, workers compensation, oil and gas, medical malpractice, subrogation, patent infringement, personal injury, construction and commercial litigation cases.  Sunja graduated from Northwood University in 1995 with a Bachelor of Business Administration and earned a Paralegal Certificate from the University of Texas at Arlington in 2002.

Sunja has been a member of the Dallas Area Paralegal Association ("DAPA") since 2015 and looks forward to more years as an active member.  Sunja was recently appointed DAPA's Public Relations Committee Chair.

She is the Vice President of the Women's Ministry at her church.  She is the Volunteer Coordinator at her daughter's school as well as a foster mom for a local agency in Dallas.

In addition to her duties with DAPA, Women's Ministry, and her daughter's school, Sunja enjoys spending her free time with her daughter and fiancé.

Jill Spytman

Jill Spytman

Jill graduated with her Bachelor of Arts in English in 2013. She has had the privilege of interning with the Office of the Attorney General in Washington, D.C. as well as Neal, Gerber, Eisenberg in Chicago, IL. She began working exclusively in family law when relocating to Houston, Texas and joining the Fullenwider Wilhite law firm in 2016. Before moving to Dallas, Texas, Jill recently received a certificate from the University of Houston for their Advanced Paralegal Program. She is currently a paralegal at Verner Brumley Mueller Parker, P.C. In addition to her voting membership and entertainment committee chair position, she is also a member of the National Notary Association and Lambda Iota Tau (LIT).


Clark R. Thurston

Clark R. Thurston

Clark Thurston is currently working as a corporate paralegal for an in-house legal department of a direct selling company located in Plano, TX.  Clark started his paralegal career in 2016 after graduating with a bachelor's degree in Paralegal Studies from Liberty University in Virginia in 2013.  After discovering that he had an interest in intellectual property law, he decided to chair the DAPA IP Section to further explore his interest and assist other paralegals in learning more about it.  

Cindy Welch, RP

Cindy Welch, RP®

After graduating from the University of Texas at Dallas School with a B.S. in Business Administration, Cindy Welch, RP went to El Centro Community College for her paralegal certificate. While currently working in the areas of family law and employment law, her previous work experience includes working for a group of trial consultants and a national mediation and arbitration firm.  She also spent 10 years as an instructor for paralegal students.

She is the author of many articles for The National Paralegal Reporter and has written for the Texas Paralegal Journal. Over the years, Cindy has served her local association, the Dallas Area Paralegal Association (DAPA) in several elected and appointed positions before joining the board of the National Federation of Paralegal Associations (NFPA) where she served as Region II Director (2010-2012) and Vice President & Director of Membership (2012-2015).  In addition to membership in NFPA and DAPA, Cindy has been a member of the Paralegal Division of the State Bar of Texas for almost 20 years.

Cindy became a PACE Registered Paralegal® in 2001.

Sheila White

Sheila White

My name is Sheila L. White and I have been a paralegal for fifteen years. I currently work in the Legal Department for Dean Foods Company as a Senior Paralegal with a primary focus on contracts for the Procurement Department of the company. The majority of my career has been in the areas of Banking and Corporate Law. I graduated from Texas Woman’s University in 1991 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications. I have been an active member of Dallas Area Paralegal Association since 1995. I served on the Board of Directors as Secretary from 1997 to 1999. I also served as the advisor for the Mentor Program and I have been the chairperson of the Elections Committee since 2005. I will be celebrating 16 years of marriage with my husband Michael. We have one daughter named Morgan and she is 8 years old. I love reading, shopping and spending time with my family.

Angela Wilson

Angela Wilson

Education: Graduated Heald Business College – San Francisco, CA, 1982 (Paralegal Certificate – Corporate and Tax Law); Graduated UT Arlington 2001 (B.A. English).

Experience: Have worked over 20 years as a paralegal. Employed at Lackey Hershman, LLP, Dallas, Texas, November 2005 to Present.

Affiliations: Member of Dallas Area Paralegal Association, (DAPA) 2006.

DAPA, celebrating our 40th anniversary.

Dallas Area Paralegal Association


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