Guest Speakers

Thomas ColcloughThomas M. Colclough
Deputy District Director
Charlotte District Office of the U.S. Employment Opportunity Commission

Thomas currently serves as the Director of Field Management Programs for the EEOC Charlotte District.  In this role, he is responsible for ensuring the effective and efficient operations of Field Offices by providing operational oversight and monitoring of program implementation and coordination of administrative services.  Thomas identifies problem areas and appropriate corrective actions. The above responsibilities, including direct supervision of the EEOC’s District Directors, are performed for 15 Districts and one Field Office. 

A native of North Carolina, Thomas attended Saint Augustine’s College in Raleigh, North Carolina, where he received his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. He earned his master’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.  Thomas is also a graduate of the military’s Command and General Staff College and the Office of Personnel Management’s Federal Executive Institute. In 2005, Thomas retired from the North Carolina National Guard after 23 years of service (active, reserve, and guard) at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

Faith Herndon

Faith Herndon
Owner, Attorney
The Law Office of Faith Herndon

Faith Herndon has been practicing in North Carolina for over 30 years, with a focus on plaintiff’s-side employment law. Faith’s practice encompasses a wide variety of employment law matters, including sexual harassment; wrongful discharge and other state tort claims; REDA violations and other types of illegal retaliation; restrictive covenants; health-related legal issues arising under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act; age discrimination; and federal Title VII violations. Faith also regularly handles university promotion and tenure disputes.

Faith is currently an active member of the North Carolina Advocates for Justice and the National Employment Lawyers Association and a founding member of the North Carolina Employment Lawyers Association. She is past chair of the NCAJ Employment Law Section and a past member of the North Carolina Bar Association’s Labor and Employment Council. Faith has been recognized by North Carolina’s Legal Elite and Super Lawyers. She is a frequent speaker at legal seminars on employment issues.

Faith received her B.A. and M.A. from Yale University and her J.D. from New York University Law School, where she was an Arthur Garfield Hayes Fellow and Articles Editor for the NYU Journal of Law and Social Change. Prior to beginning her legal practice in North Carolina, Faith worked for the Lawyers Collective in Mumbai, India and was honored to clerk for Judge James B. McMillan in the Western District of North Carolina.

Denise ClineDenise Smith Cline
Owner, Attorney
Law Offices of Denise Smith Cline, PLLC

Denise is the owner of the Law Offices of Denise Smith Cline, PLLC, in Raleigh, NC.  Denise regularly represents both employers and employees in navigating employment issues, whether in negotiating contracts or severance terms, terminations, or non-competition agreements. Sometimes, however, litigation is the only solution. Denise has more than 25 years of experience as a litigator, representing both plaintiffs and defendants in state and federal courts and arbitration proceedings throughout the country.  Denise is regularly named in Best Lawyers in America in Employment Law, Super Lawyer in Litigation by Super Lawyers Magazine, Top 50 Women Lawyers in North Carolina, and Top 25 Lawyers in Raleigh, North Carolina.  She has also been named “Lawyer of the Year” in her area of practice by Best Lawyers in America in 2019 and 2022.  Since 2014, she has also been named as a member of the Legal Elite in Employment Law by Business North Carolina.  Denise is a speaker and Senior Fellow in the peer-nominated Litigation Council of America, of which she has been a member since 2012. 

Shannon MearesShannon Meares
Regional Attorney of Region 10-Atlanta, NLRB

Shannon is a transplant from the cornfields of the Midwest.  She graduated from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, in 1997, with a double major in Psychology and Sociology.  In 2000, she graduated from the Washington University in St. Louis School of Law.  She began her career with the NLRB at the Winston-Salem office immediately following graduation.  Shannon served as a Field Attorney for the first 13 years of her career; in 2013, the Region promoted her to Supervisory Attorney; and most recently, in February 2022, she was promoted to Regional Attorney, the position she holds today.

Ward and Smith Speakers

10Amy Fitzhugh
Professional Licensing Attorney

Amy represents licensed health care professionals faced with licensing issues in obtaining initial licensure, renewing or reinstating a license, and navigating allegations or complaints of practice violations reported to health care occupational licensing boards. For nearly a decade, Amy served as the North Carolina Board of Nursing's first in-house attorney, creating and leading its Legal Department and ultimately becoming the Board's Chief Legal Officer and Legislative Liaison. Amy co-chairs the firm's Professional Licensing Practice Group. 

Ken GrayKen Gray
Labor and Employment Attorney

Ken leads the firm's Labor and Employment Practice Group. His practice experience encompasses various areas of employment-related litigation.  He advises clients and litigates cases involving all forms of employment discrimination, wrongful discharge, and breach of employment contracts from small start-up companies to Fortune 500 corporations.  Ken is a frequent lecturer on employment discrimination, workplace retaliation, workers' compensation, and wage and hour law issues.

Justin HillJustin Hill
Labor and Employment Attorney

Justin focuses his practice on labor and employment matters. He works with businesses, employers, and human resources professionals across the state.  Before joining Ward and Smith full-time, Justin served as a summer associate in 2018, which marked a change for the firm's program that was historically focused on second-year law school students only. He returned to the program as a 2L in 2019.

Xavier LightfootX. Lightfoot
Labor and Employment Attorney

X. regularly advises employers on a wide range of labor and employment law issues, including personnel policies and handbooks, employment discrimination and harassment, employee discipline and termination, drug and alcohol testing, and various wage and hour matters.  He has also conducted training presentations and webinars for employers on various COVID-19 employment topics such as workforce reduction, ADA compliance, emergency paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave requirements under the FFCRA, best practices and strategies for employers to return workers to the workplace, and preparation of liability waivers.

Avery LocklearAvery Locklear
Labor and Employment Attorney

Avery has a diverse practice that focuses on labor and employment law. She helps businesses of all sizes, as well as individual employers and human resources professionals. Avery is committed to finding practical, efficient solutions to the challenges that employers face every day.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

Emily Massey

Emily Massey
Labor and Employment Attorney

Emily's practice focuses on a wide range of labor and employment law issues, including personnel policies and handbooks, background checks, employment discrimination and harassment, employee discipline and termination, drug and alcohol testing, and various wage and hour matters.  Prior to attending law school, Emily counseled clients in various public relations matters during a four-year career with Capstrat, a full-service communications agency. 

Will OdenWill Oden
Labor and Employment Attorney

Will's practice experience encompasses various areas of employment and workplace-related counseling and civil litigation in both the federal and state courts at the trial and appellate levels. He regularly represents employers and employees before the United States Department of Labor (USDOL), the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), the North Carolina Department of Labor (NCDOL), the North Carolina Industrial Commission.

Grant OsborneGrant Osborne
Labor and Employment Attorney

Grant's practice experience of more than 30 years encompasses a wide range of issues that arise in employment and labor law.  He provides counsel to clients in the health care, financial, hospitality, construction, business services, employee staffing, and non-profit sectors.  Grant represents clients in state and federal courts as well as administrative agencies.  He regularly advises employers of all sizes and litigates civil cases regarding all forms of employment discrimination, wrongful discharge, unlawful retaliation, contractual issues, personnel policies and practices, and wage and hour issues.

Hayley WellsHayley Wells
Labor and Employment Attorney

Hayley's practice primarily focuses on alcoholic beverage law, labor and employment law, and civil litigation.  She regularly advises individual and corporate clients in matters of covenants not to compete, employment discrimination, discipline and termination, harassment, wrongful discharge, wage and hour matters, personnel policies and procedures, and preparation of employee handbooks and employment agreements.

Devon WilliamsDevon Williams 
Labor and Employment Attorney

Devon is one of the firm's Managing Directors. Her practice encompasses a wide range of labor and employment issues, including wage and hour matters, federal contractor compliance, employment discrimination, harassment, and retaliation claims, employee discipline and termination decisions, personnel policies and practices, restrictive covenants, and background checks.  Devon regularly counsels HR executives and C-suite officers, navigating them through the many state and federal requirements for employers with the aim of helping clients avoid costly litigation and improve workplace relations.  In addition to offering clients proactive solutions to avoid costly litigation, Devon routinely dives in to handle complex employment litigation matters, including defending FLSA Collective Actions, wage and hour class actions, Medicare Secondary Payer Act claims, discrimination and harassment lawsuits, breach of contract, and other legal matters arising out of the employment or quasi-employment relationship. 

Jim WilsonJim Wilson
Professional Licensing Attorney

As co-chair of the fIrm's Professional Licensing Practice Group, Jim represents healthcare professionals in obtaining licenses, defending licensing board disciplinary investigations and charges, in hospital privilege disputes, HMO and other health insurance credentialing and de-selection, DEA registration and show cause proceedings, Medicare exclusion, NPDB reporting and disputes, and military medical credentialing. 

Additionally, Jim has counseled hundreds of health care providers, including physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, perfusionists, CRNA, nurses, nurse midwives, pharmacists, dentists, optometrists, psychologists, physical therapists, respiratory care professionals, speech and language pathologists, audiologists, addiction specialists, dietitians, and many others.


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