Please allow us to introduce the newest members of the CBA's Executive Council: Jessica Brown, Ryann Peyton, Keith Vance, Leslee Balten, Judge Amanda Hopkins, Ian McCargar, Kevin McReynolds, and Danae Woody. As they embark upon their first term, we've asked these new governing members to share a little about their personal and professional backgrounds, their involvement with the CBA, and their reasons for participating on the Executive Council.
Jessica Brown President-Elect
Please tell us a little about yourself, personally and professionally.
Personally, I'm all about family, but I'm not at all domestic. I don't cook, clean, garden, or do much else around the house. Luckily, my husband Chris does! Chris is an amazing support to me; I couldn't do what I do without him. We have two daughters. Hadley attends Denver School of the Arts for Musical Theatre and is entering eighth grade. Tatum is going into third grade at Stanley British Primary School and loves synchronized swimming, gymnastics, and visual arts. Our family tries to prioritize having fun. We especially enjoy vacationing and game nights with friends.
Professionally, I am a partner in Gibson Dunn's Denver office. I have been at Gibson Dunn my entire career, following a federal judicial clerkship with the late, great Judge Jim R. Carrigan. My practice is focused in the areas of labor and employment, including workplace investigations, and white collar government investigations.
How did you first get involved with the CBA and how has it enriched your career?
I joined the Colorado and Denver Bar Associations when I became a lawyer 24 years ago and got involved right away. I gave courthouse tours to students at the City and County Building. I volunteered for Law Line 9 when the topic was employment law. I co-chaired the DBAs Barristers Ball twice. I presented to the Labor and Employment Section on summary judgment motions and whistleblowers with members of the plaintiff's bar. I served on the CBA Committee for Balanced Legal Careers, presenting programs relating to flexible work arrangements, generational differences, and wellness. I joined the Legal Aid Foundation Board and the Colorado Women's Bar Association (CWBA), and eventually served as CWBA chair and president, respectively. More recently, I chaired the CBA/DBA Joint Management Committee. I have always viewed bar activities like extracurricular activities in high school—they enhance my professional experience, and I am a happier, more connected, and fulfilled lawyer because of them.
What is your favorite thing about being a lawyer?
I love almost everything about being a lawyer—from analyzing novel legal issues to constructing creative arguments, interviewing witnesses, assessing credibility, writing reports, editing motions and briefs, advising clients, mentoring associates, and managing teams. I don't even mind timesheets! I would never discourage anyone who wants to be a lawyer from entering the legal profession. Neither of my daughters seems to have any interest in law (yet?), but it's a great opportunity to develop leadership skills, keep your mind active, build relationships with interesting people, and make a difference. If I had to pick one favorite thing about my job, it's the opportunity to collaborate with really smart and engaged clients, colleagues, experts, and vendors—all working together toward a common goal. That is also why I like bar association work: I enjoy collaborating on projects and programs with smart and engaged lawyers and non-lawyers in our community.
Why did you say "yes" to serving as president-elect and what are you looking forward to this year as you help lead the bar?
One reason I said "yes" to serving as CBA president-elect is that my "leadership mentor," Patricia Jarzobski, was only the fifth woman to serve as CBA president in more than 120 years—just a few years ago! It is important for women to see other women in leadership roles. But the main reason I said "yes" was for the opportunity to give back to a profession that has given me so much. My experience aligns with the CBA's strategic plan: I have developed programming to help lawyers advance and that promote diversity and inclusion; I have been passionate about mentorship and promoting young lawyers into leadership; I have focused on access to justice; and, during a period of declining membership in voluntary bars, we broke membership and revenue records in another statewide bar, the CWBA. I'm looking forward to the opportunity to continue the CBA's positive momentum to achieve similar outcomes.
Ryann Peyton Vice President, Region One
Please tell us a little about yourself personally and professionally.
I am an accidental lawyer. I went to law school to become an FBI agent. When that didn't pan out, I moved to Denver and struggled to find my place as an out-of-state grad from an unknown law school with no local community. I ultimately landed in private practice focusing on family law and civil litigation.
In 2015, I took a hiatus from practice to co-found RANGE Consulting, a social enterprise that trains employers on strategies for LGBTQ workplace inclusivity. Social responsibility became a calling, and I sought to bring that model to the legal profession—specifically in helping lawyers successfully transition into...