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2024 Speakers

Leslie Osborn, Oklahoma Commissioner of Labor

In 2018 Leslie Osborn was elected State Labor Commissioner and re-elected in 2022.  Prior to that she served ten years in the OK House of Representatives for District 47.  During her time there she was the first female to chair the Judiciary committee of the House, and in December of 2016 she was named the first Republican female chairman of the House Appropriations and Budget Committee. 

During her tenure she authored landmark workers' compensation reform and passed into law the first Pay for Success contract in Oklahoma, which was a public-private partnership with the Department of Corrections and the Kaiser Foundation to move women from incarceration to the Women in Recovery Program.

Osborn received a B.S. in business administration from Oklahoma State University and resides in Mustang, Oklahoma. Leslie owned and operated her own business for 22 years selling heavy duty truck parts, Osborn Pick-Up Accessories, and is the mother of two children.

Osborn serves on the advisory board of OK Small Business Development Centers, the Oklahoma Academy, THRIVE to prevent teen pregnancy, and the Canadian Valley Technology Center Foundation.  She was in Leadership OK Class 27 and served as the state director of the national group Women in Government.

Laquetta Jones Bigelow, Director of Equal Employment Opportunity
Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service

Laquetta Jones Bigelow has over 13 years of federal work experience and was appointed as the Director of Equal Employment Opportunity for the Federal Mediation & Conciliation Service (FMCS) on October 1, 2021.  As the Director, she oversees the activities and responsibilities of FMCS’s Office of Equal Employment, which includes management of FMCS’ affirmative action, diversity and equity and equal employment opportunity programs.  Laquetta also serves as FMCS’ Chief Diversity Officer responsible for implementing the FMCS Equity and Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility Strategic Plans.  Laquetta reports directly to FMCS’ Director.

Prior to my joining FMCS, Laquetta served as the Director, Deputy Director and Branch Chief in the United States Department of Agriculture’s, Animal Plant Health Inspection Services (APHIS), Office of Civil Rights Diversity and Inclusion.  In this role, Laquetta provided strategic direction and leadership in the following civil rights areas: Compliance and Evaluation (proactive prevention and evaluation), Diversity and Inclusion, Equal Employment Opportunity Formal and Informal Complaint Process, Alternative Dispute Resolution and Outreach and Communication.  At APHIS, Laquetta also served as the Director of the Compliance Assurance Staff, responsible for ensuring compliance and enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act and the Horse Protection Act.

Laquetta is a licensed attorney with over 16 years of legal experience in numerous areas of law including but not limited to: intellectual property, administrative, criminal, family, and civil law. Prior to joining APHIS, Laquetta served as an Administrative Law Judge with the State of Georgia Department of Labor, an Attorney Advisor with the Office of Hearings and Appeals with the Social Security Administration, as a Project Attorney with King and Spaulding, LLC and operated a solo practice.  Pro Bono activities include Guardian Ad Litem and Teen Court Judge, and cultural and civic organizational roles include serving as Executive Team for Gavel Club (a division of Toastmasters, Inc., the Bylaws Committee both locally and regionally, Chapter Program Director and Chapter Legislative Chair.

Carmen Martinez, OSHA Assistant Area Director
Oklahoma City Office

As the Assistant Area Director of the U.S. DOL-Occupational Safety and Health Administration Oklahoma Area Office, Carmen M. Martinez leads a staff of safety and health professionals in the state of Oklahoma dedicated to protecting workers and enforcing OSHA regulations.

Carmen began her career in safety while serving our country in the United States Navy.  She continued her career in safety working for the OSHA Fort Worth Area office in 2007 as a Compliance Safety and Health Officer.  She has served in the position of Assistant Area Director in the Oklahoma Area Office since 2013.

Carmen enjoys sharing her safety and health experiences and volunteers her time speaking to groups of American workers about safety and health in the workplace.  She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Safety from the University of Central Oklahoma.  Carmen and her husband, Luis, live in Oklahoma City and have two children Sofia and Esai. 

Beth Schindler, Associate Deputy Dir. of Field Operations
Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service

Beth M. Schindler is the Associate Deputy Director of Field Operations for FMCS. Ms. Schindler provides oversight, coordination, and support for Field Operations and Client Services programs throughout the US. This includes all local and national collective bargaining mediation in the private, federal, and public sectors. Ms. Schindler also provides direct mediation services in high profile and complex negotiations, as well as multi-party bargaining disputes.

Between 2002-2020, Ms. Schindler served as Regional Director with program management responsibilities for all service delivery in the Pacific Northwest. Prior to 2002, she worked with labor and management to effectuate contract settlements as an FMCS Commissioner. In addition, Ms. Schindler provided relationship assessments, training, and relationship development program delivery in all sectors, including a wide range of conflict resolution models and negotiation processes.

Before joining FMCS in 1996, Ms. Schindler worked for Office and Professional Employees International Union Local 8 as a Union Representative. She also has in-depth experience with Taft-Hartley employee benefit trust funds through her work at Welfare and Pension Administration, Inc.

Kristin Simpsen, Attorney
McAfee & Taft, PC

Kristin Simpsen is a trial lawyer whose practice encompasses all areas of labor and employment law, including litigation before federal and state courts, arbitration panels, and regulatory and administrative agencies, including the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).  She has successfully represented employers and management in numerous actions involving claims of employment discrimination, retaliation, wrongful termination, and negligent hiring, as well as violations of employment agreements and restrictive covenant provisions.  Kristin also has significant experience defending clients in class and collective actions involving violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act, including lawsuits alleging unpaid overtime, the misclassification of independent contractors, and the misclassification of exempt employees.

 

As part of her counseling practice, she routinely advises employers and HR professionals on best practices for complying with state and federal employment laws, as well as strategies for minimizing the risk of employment-related litigation. Her broad experience includes advising clients on such issues as navigating the COVID-19 pandemic; drug and alcohol testing, including compliance with state marijuana laws; employee handbook and policy development, wage and hour matters; non-solicitation, non-compete, and confidentiality agreements;  interviewing, hiring, discipline, and termination decision-making; employee leave programs; workplace accommodations; internal investigations; reductions in force and severance programs; and employee and management training.

 

Kristin is a frequent author and speaker on issues affecting the workplace and has been a contributing author to numerous business and professional publications, including The Oklahoman, The Journal Record, Oklahoma Employment Law Letter, Midwest Employment Law Letter, HRlaws.com, and EmployerLINC.

 

Kristin’s achievements have earned her inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America (employment law – management; labor and employment litigation; labor law – management), Benchmark Litigation’s “40 & Under Hot List” of trial lawyers, and Oklahoma Super Lawyers’ list of “Oklahoma Rising Stars,” which recognizes the state’s top up-and-coming attorneys.

Charlie Plumb, Attorney
McAfee & Taft, PC

Charlie Plumb represents management in all phases of employment law and labor relations. Much of his practice is dedicated to counseling employers on compliance with a broad range of state and federal employment laws and regulations and educating management on best practices for avoiding disputes arising from the employer/employee relationship. He also has extensive litigation experience before federal and state courts, regulatory and administrative agencies, and in arbitration matters involving claims of discrimination, wrongful discharge, retaliatory discharge, breach of contract, and constitutional law violations.

 

As part of his labor practice, Charlie represents unionized employers in collective bargaining negotiations with labor unions, arbitrates grievances, and defends management against a variety of claims before the National Labor Relations Board and Department of Justice and in state and federal courts. He also represents employers who seek to maintain a non-unionized workforce by counseling management on union avoidance strategies and by providing training and advice to management and supervisors. His clients include numerous municipalities throughout Oklahoma and companies engaged in the manufacturing and distribution, construction, energy, public utility, technology and business services industries.

 

Charlie is a member of the American Bar Association’s Labor and Employment Law Section and the Oklahoma Bar Association’s Labor Council. He is also the designated representative of McAfee & Taft as the exclusive member firm representing Oklahoma in the Employers Counsel Network. He has previously served as leader of the firm’s Labor & Employment Group.

 

Charlie is a frequent speaker on labor and employment issues before state, regional and national audiences, has been interviewed by local and national media on a variety of state and federal employment law matters, and has been a guest legal columnist and contributing author to numerous business and professional publications, including The Oklahoman, The Journal Record, HRlaws.com, and EmployerLINC.  He is also co-editor of the Oklahoma Employment Law Letter, as well as co-editor for the Oklahoma section of the annual guidebook for employers and human resources professionals, 50 Employment Laws in 50 States.

Leroy Skinner, FMCS Commissioner
Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service

Leroy Skinner Jr is a Commissioner assigned to the Dallas, TX field office of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS). In this capacity, he assists parties in the private, public and federal sectors in contract negotiations, in grievance mediation and in resolving workplace disputes. He is available to train labor and management advocates in collective bargaining, contract administration and grievance processing, steward/supervisor relationships, labor management committee structure and process, problem solving, communication and decision making.

 

Prior to joining FMCS, Commissioner Skinner worked as the State Labor Mediator with the Arkansas Department of Labor for the State of Arkansas. In that capacity he assisted the parties in the private and public sectors of his state in much the same manner as he does with FMCS and often partnered with FMCS Commissioners. Additionally, while in this capacity he served as the State’s Wage Claim Hearing Officer. In this capacity, he was responsible for conducting wage claim appeal hearing and rendering decisions on behalf of the director of the Arkansas Department of Labor. While at the Arkansas Department of Labor Leroy also served as the Agency’s Emergency Management Liaison Officer responsible for maintaining the Agency’s Emergency Action Plan and being the Liaison with the Department of Homeland Security.

 

Throughout his career, Commissioner Skinner has had a strong focus on problem solving and customer service, which he brings to his work at FMCS.

 

Commissioner Skinner is also a proud Army Veteran with multiple deployments.

John Rasmussen, Commissioner of Mediation
Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service

John Rasmussen is a Commissioner assigned to the Wichita, KS field office of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS).  In this capacity, he assists parties in the private, public, and federal sectors in contract negotiations and grievance mediation.  He also provides training for labor and management advocates in collective bargaining, contract administration, communication, and relationship building.  John began working for FMCS in May of 2016.

 

Prior to joining FMCS, John worked fifteen (15) years as an attorney for the Kansas Association of School Boards (KASB).  In his role at KASB, John served as the chief negotiator for school boards in their negotiations with the teacher unions all across the state.  His duties included representing school boards during Impasse proceedings including fact finding hearings.  John also coordinated and provided training on bargaining for school districts.  As an attorney, John advised school administrators and board members across the state on all areas of school law and represented districts in other court and administrative proceedings.

 

Prior to joining KASB, John worked for the Kansas League of Municipalities as a staff attorney providing legal services and lobbying on behalf of cities in Kansas. 

 

John is a native of Lincoln, Kansas and graduated from the University of Kansas in Lawrence with a degree in Secondary Education.  He taught and coached for ten (10) years in high schools in Kansas before going back to law school in 1996 where he graduated with a JD from Washburn University in Topeka.

Christina F. Toon, Attorney
Ironside Law Firm

Ironside Law Firm represents unions, union members, and federal civilian employees in employment disputes.  Founder Christina Toon’s representation also includes private employees and employers in administrative tribunals and courtrooms.  She speaks to community organizations and offers training, contract reviews, and compliance checks for businesses and individuals.  Prior to opening her own firm, Christina worked for one of the largest and oldest firms in the state, Crowe and Dunlevy, where she practiced labor and employment law.  She has been named a "Rising Star" by Super Lawyer Magazine and was recently recognized by Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch.

Born in Des Moines, Iowa, Christina became an Oklahoman after attending the University of Tulsa Law School.  Passionate about giving back to her community, she serves as President of Kids' Chance of Oklahoma, a nonprofit presenting scholarships to college-age dependents of workers injured or killed on the job.  Under her leadership, Kids’ Chance has expanded in Tulsa and Oklahoma City and doubled the number of scholarships awarded to Oklahoma’s students. Christina is also strongly committed to wellness and fitness because a healthier version of herself means a healthier version for serving clients and making a better working environment for all in Oklahoma.

Patricia A. Podolec, Attorney at Law

Patricia A. Podolec attained a Bachelor of Arts degree from Oklahoma State University and a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Central Oklahoma before graduating Magna Cum Laude from Oklahoma City University School of Law in 2006.  Prior to her law degree, Patricia worked for many years in human resources.  She was an Assistant Attorney General in the General Counsel Section of the Office of the Attorney General, when she left to work with Foshee & Yaffe in Oklahoma City.  In April 2018, Patricia left Foshee & Yaffe to counsel with Bussett Legal Group, LLC.  In January 2021 she opened her own law firm.

Patricia is a member of the OBA Government and Administrative Law, Solo/Small Firm, and Employment Law Sections, and is a past chair of the OBA Professionalism Committee.  She is certified as a Senior Professional in Human Resources by the Human Resource Certification Institute and handles primarily employment law cases.  She is also a member of the National Employment Lawyers Association, the Oklahoma Employment Lawyers Association, and the Oklahoma Association for Justice.

Tony Puckett, Attorney
McAfee & Taft, PC

Tony Puckett represents management in all aspects of labor and employment law. His practice involves counseling employers in employment issues and representing employers in discrimination cases, wrongful discharge cases, wage and hour actions, charges investigated by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigations, National Labor Relations Board proceedings, union negotiations and arbitrations. In addition to representing private employers, Tony also represents municipalities in all areas of labor relations, including union negotiations, grievance and interest arbitrations, unfair labor practice proceedings and civil rights employment actions.  Tony served as the leader of the firm's Labor & Employment Group from 2005 - 2007

 

Tony's achievements have earned him inclusion in Chambers USA Guide to America's Leading Lawyers for Business, The Best Lawyers in America (employment law – management; labor law – management; labor and employment litigation) and Oklahoma Super Lawyers. He was named by Best Lawyers as "Oklahoma City Labor Lawyer of the year (Management)" in 2014 and 2016.

 

Tony is a frequent speaker at seminars and institutes on employment law issues in the public and private sectors. He has also presented sessions at the Annual Labor Management Conference, sponsored by the National Academy of Arbitrators Southwest Region, and the International Personnel Management Association.

 

He is also the author of numerous articles, including “Supreme Court Broadens Liability for Sexual Harassment”, Oklahoma Bar Journal (8/98); “Supreme Court Decides Same-Sex Sexual Harassment Issue,” Oklahoma Bar Journal (4/25/98); and “Reviewing the State’s Drug and Alcohol Testing Act,” Oklahoma Cities and Towns (2/28/99). He also co-authored Age of Discrimination in the Workplace: A Primer for Human Resource Professionals, published by the Society of Human Resource Management Foundation, and was a contributing author to the sixth edition of How Arbitration Works, published by BNA.

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