Commission Members

The Commission consists of nine members, who serve without compensation.  The six lawyers and three non-lawyers are each appointed by the Michigan Supreme Court for a term of three-years.  A member may not serve more than two terms. 

 The Commission’s Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson are appointed to one-year terms by the Michigan Supreme Court.  The Commission’s Secretary is elected by its members.


 

Valerie R. White

Chairperson

Ms. White is the Chief Assistant Prosecutor for Branch County, after having served as Chief Assistant /Assistant Prosecutor in Hillsdale County for nearly 17 years. She is a 1987 graduate of Michigan State University and a 1993 graduate of Cooley Law School. She has been married to John for 28 years and they have two daughters. In her spare time, she is active in the Kiwanis Club of Hillsdale, the First United Methodist Church, and as a 4-H Leader. She is currently on the Board of Education for the Hillsdale County Intermediate School District and the Board of Directors for Reading Emergency ambulance service.

Thomas G. Kienbaum

Vice-Chairperson

Kienbaum Mr. Kienbaum has represented employers nationally in significant labor and employment disputes for over 50 years. He served as President of the State Bar of Michigan, the Metropolitan Detroit Bar Association, and the Barrister's Association. Mr. Kienbaum was appointed by the Supreme Court to the Attorney Discipline Board in 2007, where he served for six years, including as Chair. In 2017 the Supreme Court appointed him, for a three-year term, to the Attorney Grievance Commission, where he currently serves as Vice Chair. Mr. Kienbaum graduated magna cum laude from Wayne State University Law School in 1968, having served on its Law Review, and was awarded the "Order of the Coif." He graduated from the University of Michigan in 1965. Mr. Kienbaum was born in Berlin, Germany, and immigrated to the United States in 1957. He maintains fluency in German.

Latoya M. Willis

Secretary

Mrs. Willis is the Lead Attorney of the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Mortgage and Deed Fraud Unit where she specializes in the prosecution of criminal activity involving fraudulent real property transactions. She graduated from Western Michigan University in 1997, and earned her law degree from the University of Detroit-Mercy Law in 2002. She has worked with the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office since 2000, where she began as an intern in the Forfeiture Unit. Since that time, she has practiced throughout the Office including within the Felony Exam Unit; Felony Trial Unit, and Special Victims Unit where she prosecuted crimes committed against elder and vulnerable adults. She was appointed to the Attorney Grievance Commission in January of 2017.

Cathy Joan Pietrofesa, PHD

Member

Pietrofesa, PHD Dr. Cathy Pietrofesa is a Licensed Psychologist and a Licensed Professional counselor. She is a past member of the executive board of the Michigan Counseling Association, the MIchigan Association of Measurement and Evaluation in Guidance, and the Oakland Counseling Association an dis past recipient of "Counselor of the Year for Oakland County." Dr. Pietrofesa received her doctorate from the University of Michigan; she worked as a high school counselor for 29 years and has been in clinical practice for over 30 years. She has also been an Adjunct Professor at Wayne State University. She has previously worked for the National Football League as part of their Player Assistance Program and in that capacity worked with the Detroit Lions for over ten years. She currently has been appointed by the Michigan Supreme Court to the State of Michigan Attorney Grievance Commission. Dr. Pietrofesa works with adolescents and adults in the areas of anxiety and panic disorder, depression, substance abuse and addictions, behavior management, marital and family counseling, sexuality issues and developmental concerns. She also has experience doing court-ordered custody evaluations and serves as a parent-coordinator for divorced couples. Dr. Pietrofesa utilizes an eclectic approach with an emphasis on cognitive behavioral and insight oriented therapy. Dr. Pietrofesa participates in most major insurance provider networks.

Jeffrey J. Sakwa

Member

Mr. Sakwa is the President of Noble Realty, Inc. He is also the President and founder of Defeat the Label, an advocacy organization dedicated to raising awareness of bullying and people with autism. Jeff serves as a Board Member on the Oakland Schools Education Foundation, is former Co-Chair of the Michigan Republican Party, and current Deputy Chair. He is a past board member of the Anti-Defamation League, Temple Shir Shalom, and the West Bloomfield Education Foundation. Mr. Sakwa is the current Commissioner of the Michigan Civil Rights Commission. He received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Accounting from Michigan State University.

Cheryl A. Bush

Attorney Member

Bush Cheryl A. Bush, majority-owner and founding member of Bush Seyferth PLLC (BSP), handles high-stakes cases across the country. Cheryl is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers and the International Society of Barristers. She is a Senior Life Fellow of the American Board of Trial Advocates. She is actively involved in the Product Liability Advisory Council and the National Association of Minority & Women Owned Law Firms. In addition, Cheryl is proud to represent her home state by serving as the only Michigan counsel on the Network of Trial Law Firms’ Board of Directors. Cheryl earned her Juris Doctor, cum laude, from the University of Michigan Law. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in English, magna cum laude, Wayne State University.

James Webb

Member

Mr. Webb retired from the insurance business in July 2017 after a 46 year career. He was a Property Underwriter for USF&G, and a Risk Manager at Masco, the Budd Company, and Republic Steel Corporation. During the last 36 years, he was an Insurance Agent with Aon Risk Solutions where he concluded his career as Chairman of the Michigan Corporation. Mr. Webb holds an AA Degree in Business Administration from the College of the Sequoias, BBA and MBA Degrees from Eastern Michigan University. He is Chairman of the Board of Trustees at Eastern Michigan University .He also is a board member of the Michigan Property and Casualty Guaranty Association. Mr. Webb also sits on the board of F.D.I. Insurance Company in Dublin, Ireland.

Mary Chartier

Attorney Member

Chartier Mary Chartier is a partner and criminal defense litigator at Chartier & Nyamfukudza, P.L.C., with offices in Okemos and Grand Rapids. Mary litigates criminal defense cases in courts throughout the state, including practicing extensively in federal court. A “pitbull in high heels” and “Mike Tyson in the courtroom” are just a few of the names that clients have given Mary over the years. Mary's advocacy skills are the result of years of experience litigating serious and complex criminal defense cases. Mary has successfully defended clients in numerous federal and state trials, including winning a full acquittal in a federal drug dealing and money laundering case where every other co-defendant entered a guilty plea and dozens of witnesses testified against the client. Mary has also achieved “not guilty” verdicts in other recent cases, including an attempted murder case in which no offer was made because the government believed its case was so strong and the exoneration of a man who had been wrongfully imprisoned for rape for nine years. During the retrial, the jury was out for just 19 minutes before returning not guilty verdicts. Mary’s criminal defense experience is extensive. She has served as lead counsel in numerous cases. She has represented clients accused of white collar crimes, such as health care fraud, mortgage fraud, and money laundering, as well as clients accused of drug dealing, terrorism, human rights violations, crimes against the United States, bank robbery, criminal sexual conduct, and homicide. Mary is a member of the Criminal Defense Attorneys of Michigan and National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and she is also Chairperson of the Ingham County Bar Association's Criminal Defense Section. She has presented at numerous nationwide and state conferences on topics related to criminal defense, including presenting at conferences organized by the Criminal Defense Attorneys of Michigan, Michigan Judges Association, Michigan District Judges Association, National College for DUI Defense, and the Institute for Continuing Legal Education. Mary has argued and won numerous cases at the Michigan Supreme Court, including People v. Koon, which related to impairment and medical marijuana use. Mary has received numerous recognitions for her criminal defense work, including the State Bar of Michigan’s 2019 Michael Franck Award, the Davis-Dunnings Bar Association’s Distinguished Barrister’s Award, and being named a Leading Lawyer and one of the Top Women Attorneys in Michigan by Michigan Lawyers Weekly.

J. Paul Janes

Attorney Member

Janes J. Paul Janes focuses his practice in the areas of commercial litigation, personal injury litigation, automobile no-fault law, and construction/work place injury claims. EDUCATION: Michigan State University (B.A. 1987); University of Detroit Law School (J.D. 1990; Senior Staff Member of the Law Review. PROFESSIONAL AFFILIATIONS: • Grand Rapids Bar Association • Fellow, Justice Foundation of West Michigan • Grand Rapids Federal Bar Association • Michigan State Bar of Foundation • American Board of Trial Advocates • Attorney Grievance Commission, Board Member • Former State Bar of Michigan Lawyer and Judges Assistance Committee (Member) • The American Association for Justice • Michigan Association for Justice (Former Board Member) COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: • Active in a variety of nonprofit, community, and political organizations.