The Center Leadership

Center Management Council

Click on leadership names to learn more.

Name
Larry Ebner
Larry Ebner
Vice Chair
John Guttmann
John Guttmann
Public Policy Chair
Jim McCrystal
Jim McCrystal
Legislation And Rules Chair
Matt Nelson
Matt Nelson
Amicus Chair
Toyja Kelley
Toyja Kelley
President
Phil Willman
Phil Willman
Vice President
Jill Rice
Jill Rice
Special Advisor
Emily Coughlin
Emily Coughlin
Ex Officio
Name
Dean Martinez
Dean Martinez
CEO
Sean Dolan
Sean Dolan
General Counsel
Jay Ludlam
Jay Ludlam
Director
Full NameTitleAbout
Kathy GuilfoyleChairKathleen M. “Kathy” Guilfoyle is a member of Campbell Conroy & O'Neil, P.C., in Boston, where she focuses her practice on aviation/aerospace defense, product liability, and drug and medical device defense. Kathy represents several airlines, airport authorities, manufacturers, ground handling companies, and airport and airline contractors in cases pending throughout the state and federal courts of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Vermont. This litigation includes the defense of claims involving personal injury and death, premises liability, the Air Carrier Access Act, discrimination, kidnapping, and general commercial litigation. In addition to her role within The Center, she was elected a national director of DRI at the Annual Meeting in October 2012 and served a three-year term, followed by one year on the executive committee as secretary–treasurer. Kathy was elected director of the National Foundation for Judicial Excellence in January 2014 and continues to serve as a director. She was selected as a Top Woman of Law for 2011 by Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly and has served on the board of directors of the International Aviation Womens Association since 2007.
Larry EbnerVice ChairLawrence S. Ebner is both Executive Vice President & General Counsel of the Atlantic Legal Foundation and Founding Member of Capital Appellate Advocacy PLLC in Washington, D.C. A Fellow of the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers, Larry has a half-century of pro-business litigation experience. In addition to handling appeals for companies of all sizes, he has authored dozens of amicus curiae briefs in the Supreme Court, and in federal courts of appeals and state appellate courts throughout the United States. At the Atlantic Legal Foundation, Larry conducts that national, nonprofit, public interest law firm’s renowned amicus program, including by personally authoring almost all of its amicus briefs. A graduate of Dartmouth College and Harvard Law School, Larry is immediate past chair of the DRI Amicus Committee, immediate past publications chair of the DRI Appellate Advocacy Committee, and a vice chair of the Federation of Defense and Corporate Counsel’s Appellate Law Section. Larry has written numerous articles for DRI publications, such as his For The Defense article, Learning the High Art of Amicus Brief Writing. He also has developed extensive online materials about appellate advocacy, such as his 3-minute video, “These Are the 4 Questions I Asked Most Often as an Appellate Attorney.”
John GuttmannPublic Policy ChairJohn S. Guttmann is a principal of Beveridge & Diamond PC in Washington, D.C., where he represents companies in complex, high-stakes toxic tort, product liability, and environmental litigation. He has served in leading roles in litigation matters with potential damages/awards in the billions of dollars and has secured dismissal or reduction of claims in numerous matters. John serves as lead national counsel for a petroleum refiner in all MTBE product liability litigation and has been a member of the defense steering committee for the refining industry in those cases. He led a team that successfully defended a public water utility in multiple cases claiming health effects due to alleged lead exposure. John devotes a substantial part of his practice to the defense of natural resource damages (NRD) cases brought by trustees. His litigation experience also includes indemnity litigation, securities class actions, breach of fiduciary duty claims, directors and officers liability suits, complex contract cases, unfair competition cases, and health insurance matters. John is a former DRI national director and previously served as chair of the DRI Toxic Torts and Environmental Law Committee.
Jim McCrystalLegislation And Rules ChairJim McCrystal is Of Counsel with Sutter O’Connell in Cleveland. He has spent four decades handling product liability cases and now has a national practice in that field. He has represented the manufacturers of tires, automobiles, trucks, farm equipment, industrial products, and power systems as well as handling construction litigation and commercial disputes. In addition to his work with clients, Jim has been an active DRI member including service on the Board of Directors and as Ohio State Representative. He is also a past member of the Board of Directors of the Product Liability Advisory Council and is a Past President of the Ohio Association of Civil Trial Attorneys and the Cleveland Association of Civil Trial Attorneys. As a Program Director for the National Institute for Trial Advocacy, he is committed to sharing his considerable expertise when training lawyers both in the USA and internationally.
Matt NelsonAmicus ChairMatthew T. “Matt” Nelson is a partner of Warner Norcross + Judd LLP in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he chairs the firm’s appellate practice group. Mr. Nelson has successfully argued before the U.S. Supreme Court, and has represented businesses, governments, and individuals in appeals throughout the country. During the 2016 Term of the U.S. Supreme Court, he represented clients in two cases on the merits addressing such diverse topics as copyrighting the design of cheerleading uniforms and constitutionally deficient immigration advice. Among other honors, he has received three distinguished brief awards for briefs he has submitted to the Michigan Supreme Court. Matt’s appellate experience includes submitting amicus curiae briefs in the state and federal courts including briefs on behalf of DRI, the State of Michigan, the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, the Michigan Defense Trial Counsel, and the Michigan Health & Hospital Association. Matt routinely works with trial litigators on dispositive motions, motions in limine, and preparing appellate strategy while a case is still in the trial court. Matt also represents manufacturers, contractors, financial institutions, and other employers in employment disputes.
Toyja KelleyPresidentToyja E. Kelley is the inaugural president of The Center. He is also a past president of DRI, and he served a four-year term on the board of directors. Toyja was instrumental in raising the diversity efforts of DRI, where he served as chair of the Diversity Committee. He is also a past president of the board of directors of the Maryland Defense Counsel, Inc. A partner of Locke Lord LLP in Washington, D.C., Toyja concentrates his practice in general commercial litigation, construction litigation, professional and product liability, business torts, and insurance coverage. He represents large public and medium-sized businesses in complex commercial disputes. His successful track record is grounded in the belief that every case must be litigated with an eye toward the client's overall business situation. His representation is thus informed by deep familiarity with the companies he represents. He has achieved positive results for businesses in the construction, real estate, manufacturing, retail, and automotive industries, among others. He has extensive trial experience in the state and federal courts in Maryland and the District of Columbia.
Phil WillmanVice PresidentPhilip L. “Phil” Willman is a partner of Brown & James PC in St. Louis, Missouri, where he devotes his trial practice to defending physicians, medical schools, nurses, hospitals, nursing homes, psychologists, and other healthcare providers in medical negligence and healthcare lawsuits and medical device manufacturers in medical device litigation. He has tried more than 100 cases to a conclusion as lead counsel in jury trials in state and federal courts in both Missouri and Illinois. In 2019 alone, he tried eight cases to a verdict. Phil is a leader of professional organizations dedicated to the support of the civil justice system and the defense bar. He is a Past President of DRI. He also held the position of Mid Region Director on the DRI Board of Directors for three years. He is on the board of the National Foundation for Judicial Excellence, a director for Lawyers for Civil Justice, and a past chair of the DRI Medical Liability and Health Care Law Committee.
Jill RiceSpecial AdvisorJill Cranston Rice is a partner in the Morgantown, West Virginia, office of Dinsmore & Shohl LLP, where she chairs the firm’s government relations practice group and is a member of the firm's board of directors. She focuses her practice on government relations, insurance, and health care law, but litigates on behalf of many sectors. She has extensive legislative and administrative government relations and commercial litigation experience. Jill has been a registered lobbyist in West Virginia for more than 20 years and has lobbied on behalf of various businesses and industry sectors. She currently serves as president of the West Virginia Insurance Federation and is the lead lobbyist for the property and casualty insurance industry in West Virginia. She played a key role in the passage of West Virginia's comprehensive insurance and civil justice reform legislation in 2005 and she regularly defends insurers in civil and administrative proceedings involving coverage disputes and claims for common law and statutory bad faith. Jill serves on the DRI Board of Directors as Central Region Director and is the Immediate Past Chair of The Center’s Issues and Advocacy Committee.
Emily CoughlinEx OfficioEmily G. Coughlin is the immediate past president of DRI. She is a founding partner of the firm of Coughlin Betke LLP in Boston. Her practice concentration includes over 25 years of broad-ranging civil litigation experience and trying cases on behalf of small and large businesses, healthcare providers, and insurers. Her extensive state and federal court trial experience includes cases involving construction-related litigation, employment liability, professional liability, product liability, and premises litigation. Emily also has an established expertise in risk allocation and avoidance and has given numerous seminars on the intricacies of additional insured and contractual indemnification. Emily has received numerous honors and awards across Massachusetts and nationally. In 2018 she was named Massachusetts Top Women of Law by Lawyers Weekly. In 2017, she received the Massachusetts Defense Lawyer of the Year Award by the Massachusetts Defense Lawyers Association (MassDLA), of which she is also a past president. She also completed a three-year term on the Massachusetts Joint Bar Committee on Judicial Appointments, and on the Massachusetts Task Force on the Future of Peremptory Challenges.