About NFPA - Board of Directors

Josie A. Estes
Nashua, NH

Josie is a member of the Trust and Estate Department at McLane Middleton, PA in Manchester, New Hampshire.  She assists attorneys and clients in a variety of matters with an emphasis in probate and trust administration.

Josie is currently serving as President for the National Federation of Paralegal Associations, Inc. (NFPA).  Upon the completion of her term (September 2022 – October 2024) she will serve as NFPA’s Board Advisor for an additional two years.  She has also served on NFPA’s Board of Directors as President Elect (2021-2022) and Director of Region V (2015-2019).  Josie has also served the NFPA through the years in various other volunteer roles including Continuing Legal Education Coordinator, Membership Coordinator, Internal Marketing Coordinator and as a member of the Budget and Marketing the Paralegal Profession Committees.

Josie is a member of the Paralegal Association of New Hampshire (PANH). She has served on the PANH Board of Directors as their Vice President, Secretary, Director at Large, and as their Primary and Secondary Liaison to NFPA (2011-2015).

Josie earned her Associate of Science Degree in Paralegal Studies from Hesser College in 2011.

Josie is a Justice of the Peace and Notary Public for the State of New Hampshire.

President Elect
Lori Wagner, RP, IRP
Fort Wayne, IN


Lori Wagner has been employed by Burt, Blee, Dixon, Sutton & Bloom, LLP, for the past 36 years. During her years with the firm she has worked in many practice areas of law.    Most recently she spends her time split between collections, in-house IT specialist and office administration.

Ms. Wagner started her paralegal career in 1992, and is a member of the Northeast Indiana Paralegal Association (NIPA).  She served as President of NIPA in 1997 for a two-year term and then again in 2010 for a four-year term, holding various positions in between.    She was the NIPA Primary Representative to NFPA from 2010 – 2016.     She received the NIPA Outstanding Paralegal Award in 1997, 2011 and 2014. She is also a member of the Indiana State Bar Association where she received the Outstanding Affiliate Member Award in 2015.    She has been registered with the Indiana State Bar Association as an Indiana Registered Paralegal since July, 2015.

Prior to being elected as Treasurer, Director of Finance, Lori served as the NFPA Strategic Planning Coordinator from 2012 - 2015 and then became the 2016 Convention Coordinator. Lori then served on the NFPA Board of Directors as Director, Region III from 2016 – 2019, and Treasurer from 2019 - present.

Director of Profession Development 
Theda M. Yandell, RP®

Seattle, WA

The Director of Profession Development will assist the President in addressing the future growth and expansion of the profession and the development of NFPA to support these changes.

Theda Yandell, RP® has been a litigation paralegal at Forsberg & Umlauf, P.S., a litigation defense firm, since 2000 and is the firm’s Paralegal Coordinator. She has over 30 years of experience as a litigation paralegal in the areas of personal injury, premise liability, property damage, product liability, complex litigation and malpractice cases. Yandell received an Associate of Arts degree and an Associate of Arts and Sciences degree, Legal Assistance from Highline College, an American Bar Association accredited paralegal program. She also is a member of the Highline College Paralegal Program Advisory Board and volunteers at the King County Bar Association Kent Legal Clinic as the clinic coordinator and clinic assistant.

Yandell previously served on the Washington State Paralegal Association (WSPA) and NFPA Board of Directors. She has served significant hours to various volunteer positions, including WSPA President, Vice President, and Seattle Chapter Director. She was the NFPA Region I Director from 2009-2014 and has volunteered in coordinator roles for NFPA and WSPA including Co-Coordinator of the 2018 NFPA Annual Convention and Policy Meeting. In 2018, Yandell received NFPA’s Paralegal of the Year Award for her on-the-job achievements and contributions to the paralegal profession.

Director of Positions and Issues
Beth Bialis, RP®, NYSCP®
New York

The Director of Positions and Issues will assist the President and the Director of Profession Development in leading NFPA and the paralegal profession by addressing position and issues that will directly affect the association and the profession. If the President and the Director of Profession Development are incapable of functioning, the Director of Positions and Issues will assume the duties of the President.

Beth Bialis, RP®, NYSCP® earned her paralegal certificate in 1990 from the National Academy for Paralegal Studies, an ABA approved program and obtained her Registered Paralegal credential in 2012. Beth became a New York State Certified Paralegal in 2021. 

Beth has been a member of the Western New York Paralegal Association, Inc. (“WNYPA”) since 1996. Throughout the years Beth served the members of WNYPA in various roles on the Board of Directors and in 2010 was elected to the NFPA Board of Directors serving three years as Region V Director and two years as Vice President and Director of Profession Development. Beth also served as President of the Empire State Alliance of Paralegal Associations, Inc. for four years. 

Beth has over fifteen years of experience as a litigation paralegal and is currently employed in the litigation department at Phillips Lytle LLP in Buffalo, New York.

Director of Membership - VACANT

  Director of Marketing
  Anne Newcomer,
RP®, Pa.C.P., CEDS
  Pittsburgh, PA

The Director of Marketing is responsible for marketing NFPA as well as securing and retaining sponsors, exhibitors, and advertisers. The Director of Marketing will communicate with the President, the Secretary and Director of Leadership Development, the Region Directors, local member associations and all other groups or individuals as necessary to function in this position.

Anne Newcomer, RP®, Pa.C.P., CEDS is a litigation paralegal specializing in complex commercial cases and eDiscovery at Meyer Unkovic & Scott, LLP in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.   Anne assists with cases from initial filing through trial and appeals.

Anne has been a member of the Pittsburgh Paralegal Association since 2000. From 2012 through 2022, Anne has served on the PPA Board of Directors in a number of different positions, including NFPA Primary Delegate, NFPA Secondary Delegate, Director, and Treasurer.  She was also Chair of the Marketing Committee and a member of the following committees: Mentoring, Awards; Paralegal Certification Ambassador; and the Litigation Specialty Section. Anne previously served as the NFPA Case Law Review Co-Coordinator and was a member of the NFPA Case Law Review Committee.

Anne obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in English from York College of Pennsylvania.  Anne earned NFPA’s PACE Registered Paralegal (RP®) certification in 2011.  In 2011 she also obtained the Keystone Alliance of Paralegal Associations’ Pennsylvania Certified Paralegal (Pa.C.P.) credential.  In 2022 Anne earned the CEDS certification through the Association of Certified eDiscovery Specialists.

Director of Paralegal Certification
Lisa Vessels, RP®, CP®
Miami, Florida

The Director of Paralegal Certification will assist the President in leading NFPA and the paralegal profession by overseeing and managing the administration of NFPA’s two certification exams, the Paralegal CORE Competency Exam®  and Paralegal Advanced Competency Exam®, and the Paralegal Certification Standards Committee, by addressing issues related to paralegal certification, and by being the main spokesperson regarding paralegal certification by NFPA.

Lisa Vessels, RP®, CP®, lives in Miami, Florida, and is employed by Duane Morris LLP managing the docketing function for her firm's U.S. offices. Lisa has worked in the paralegal profession since 1992 with experience in commercial litigation, corporate contract law, and commercial aviation equipment leasing and sales.
Lisa is a former two-term President of the South Florida Paralegal Association and the Florida Alliance of Paralegal Associations. As an active member in both organizations, she has served in many additional roles such as Webmaster, Treasurer, Secretary, and Membership Chair since joining in 2005.  

Lisa served on Miami-Dade College's Paralegal Studies Program Advisory Board from 2006 to 2012, serving as chairperson from 2010-12. She has served four three-year terms as a non-lawyer member of The Florida Bar's Unlicensed Practice of Law Committee for the 11th Circuit in Miami-Dade County, and is currently serving one of the Florida Bar’s Florida Registered Paralegal Disciplinary Committees.  She was an adjunct instructor at Florida International University's Paralegal Studies certificate program from 2006 to 2008.

Lisa served as NFPA’s Regulation Review Coordinator from November 2009 until September 2012, and was an active participant on the PCC Exam Development Committee from its inception in 2008 through its launch in 2011.  In 2012, she was elected as NFPA’s Vice President and Director of Positions and Issues, and 2014, she was elected as NFPA’s President.  From 2016-2018 she served in the role of NFPA’s Board Advisor.

Lisa earned her Bachelor's degree in Paralegal Studies from Nova Southeastern University in 2005, and Associate's degrees in Computer Information Systems and Computer Programming (Visual Basic) from Miami Dade College in 2002. Lisa earned the Certified Paralegal® designation in September 2005, earned the PACE® Registered Paralegal designation in September 2012, and held the Florida Registered Paralegal registration of The Florida Bar from 2008 to 2018.

 Secretary & Director of Leadership Development 
Cherylan Shearer


Cherylan Shearer, IRP, is a corporate paralegal at the law firm of Yoder Ainlay Ulmer & Buckingham, LLP in Goshen, Indiana.  She has been with the firm for 28 years and received her paralegal certificate with honors in June 1999 from Indiana University at South Bend.  She primarily works with the initial set up of organizations including for-profit, not-for-profit, and limited liability companies, mergers and acquisitions, and maintains corporate compliance for approximately 600 clients of the firm.  Ms. Shearer is also a member of the Affiliate Committee of the Indiana State Bar Association currently serving as Vice Chair.  She has been a member of the Michiana Paralegal Association since 1999 and is a current member of the Northeast Indiana Paralegal Association.  While a member of the Michiana Paralegal Association, she served as Membership Chair, on its Board of Directors, as President, and as Primary Delegate.  She has also served as the NFPA Region III Director from 2009 through 2012, served as NFPA’s Secretary and Director of Operations from 2015 to 2018, served on various committees, as Convention Coordinator, and as Governing Documents Coordinator. She has taught seminars to the paralegal students taking the Business Organization class at the Indiana University at South Bend.  In 2010, she was awarded the Michiana Paralegal of the Year. 

Treasurer & Director of Finance - VACANT

The Treasurer and Director of Finance shall be responsible for ensuring that NFPA is in a sound financial position by supervising the collection of dues and generation of non-dues income, and evaluating financial management performances and opportunities.

Region Directors

The Region Directors are the main liaison between members associations and other members of the Board. There are five region directors serving members in the five regions of NFPA.

Director, Region I
Brenda Cothary

Tacoma, WA

Brenda Cothary is a paralegal at Coordinate Care, a managed care organization that provides health care services to members across Washington State. She has worked as a paralegal for 20 years and has experience in bankruptcy, collections, risk management, eminent domain, personal injury, administrative law and contracts. 

Ms. Cothary has been a member of the Washington State Paralegal Association (WSPA) since 2001. She has served WSPA as President, Vice President, NFPA Secondary and Primary, Regulation Coordinator, CLE Coordinator and Chapter Director. She has also volunteered her time with NFPA serving as its Education Coordinator, Legislative Committee Co-Coordinator and Case Law Coordinator. 

Ms. Cothary was appointed by the Washington State Supreme Court to serve on the Limited License Legal Technician (LLLT) Board in 2013. In addition, she served on the Tacoma Community College Paralegal Advisory Committee during the time the school was seeking ABA approval. She has taught various CLE seminars and has been a substitute instructor at local community colleges. 

The Region Director I is responsible for helping local associations in Arizona, Alaska, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington State. Region Directors are the main liaison between member associations and other NFPA Board members.  

Director, Region II
Deana Stom, JD
Dallas, TX


Deana is currently specializing in civil litigation, estate planning, and small business matters, and now has over 26 years’ experience as a paralegal. She regularly volunteers with such organizations as the Colorado Bar’s High School Mock Trial competitions and American Association for Justice, and works to help the participants understand the qualifications and dedication necessary to succeed.

A Colorado native, she earned her JD degree in 2011, after having completed her BA in Political Science in 2008 and earned her AAS in 2002.

Deana has been involved with the Rocky Mountain Paralegal Association since 2018, starting out as an at-Large Director, and shortly after was elected to serve as the Primary Delegate. She has also volunteered with NFPA to assist as Records Co-Coordinator, UPL Committee member, Government Affairs Committee Chair, Marketing Advocacy Committee member, and, the Strategic Planning Committee (2020). She has filled a number of leadership position on numerous other Boards (GAWL and Phi Alpha Delta), and has volunteered with other organizations including: Wounded Warrior Project; The Pueblo Domestic Violence Community Task Force, Inc. Ghost Walk; Nicholas House; Hosea Feed the Hungry; Toys for Tots; Project Open Hand: Atlanta Community Food Bank; American Red Cross; Planned Parenthood; United Way; Firstbook.org; Kids Need to Read; Reading Tree; and, University of Colorado Alumni Association.

The Region II Director is responsible for helping all NFPA associations which are located throughout the Mountain West and Midwest states of Arkansas, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Director of Region III - VACANT

The Region III Director is responsible for helping local associations in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, and Tennessee. Region Directors are the main liaison between members associations and other members of the Board.


Director, Region IV
Donald P. Bristol, RP®, Pa.C.P.
Pottstown, PA

Don is an experienced Estates and Trusts Paralegal with 16 years' experience. He’s highly skilled in all aspects of complex estate and trust administration, including preparation of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware probate related forms and associated tasks, formal accountings and other court-related filings, preparation of state and federal death tax returns and gift tax returns, and preparation and filing of federal and state fiduciary income tax returns.  

Don is a long time and active member of the Chester County Paralegal Association, having served in the past in all Officer positions, and as CLE Coordinator, Website Coordinator, and NFPA® Primary Delegate. He also served as webinar coordinator for NFPA® 2018-2020. He received his Certificate in Paralegal Studies from Villanova University. Don maintains the PACE Registered Paralegal® (RP®) and Pa.C.P. Pennsylvania Certified Paralegal (Pa.C.P.) credentials. He obtained a Piano Performance Bachelor's Degree and Piano Pedagogy Master's Degree from West Chester University.

The Region IV Director is responsible for helping local associations in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington, D.C. and West Virginia.

Director, Region V
Catherine Allard, CP

Catherine D. Allard, CP is a Trust and Estate Paralegal with McLane Middleton, with over 25 years of experience.  She assists attorneys and clients in a variety of matters with an emphasis in post-death trust administration and funding, probate administration, guardianship administration and related estate and fiduciary income tax returns.  

Catherine obtained her Associate’s Degree in Paralegal Studies from Hesser College and a Bachelor’s Degree in Paralegal Studies from Notre Dame College.  She was certified by the National Association of Legal Assistants as a Certified Paralegal in 2019. 

Catherine has been involved with the Paralegal Association of New Hampshire (PANH) since 2004.  She has held various positions with PANH including President (2011-2016), Primary and Secondary Liaison to the NFPA (2009-2019).  Prior positions held were Treasurer (2009-2011 and 2013-2015) and Vice President (2010-2011).

Catherine has been actively involved in NFPA’s Budget Committee (since 2012), Continuing Legal Education Co-Coordinator (since 2014) and Membership Coordinator (2012).

The Region IV Director is responsible for helping local associations in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont.

Board Advisor
Lisa Lynch, CRP TM, CEDS
Dallas, TX

Lisa Lynch, CRPTM, CEDS currently works as an in-house paralegal for Cushman and Wakefield, a global leader in the commercial and multifamily real estate industry in Dallas, Texas. Her role focuses on litigation, eDiscovery and corporate governance.

In 2015, Lisa was elected to the NFPA’s Board of Directors as its Vice President and Director of Marketing. In this role she had many accomplishments, including increasing non-dues revenue and brand awareness, modernizing the design of National Paralegal Reporter, and co-chairing the committee that was instrumental in convincing the American Bar Association to change its definition of a paralegal to no longer identify the term “legal assistant” as synonymous with paralegal. In 2019, Lisa was elected to the NFPA’s Board of Directors as its Region II Director where she worked closely with the member associations in Region II on issues affecting all member associations. In 2021, Lisa was elected to the NFPA’s Board of Directors as its first President-Elect where she works closely with the President and learns the roles and responsibilities to ensure continuity. She served as NFPA's President for 2022.

Lisa has been involved with the Dallas Area Paralegal Association (DAPA) since 2004. She served as DAPA’s President in 2014 and held other positions including President Elect, NFPA Primary, NFPA Secondary, Vendor Advisor, as well as serving on many committees. She has also been a CLE speaker at many DAPA and student events. In 2014, Lisa was presented with the DAPA Paralegal of the Year Award. She is also a member of Paralegal Division of the State Bar of Texas and sat on the El Centro Paralegal Advisory Board.

Lisa participates in DAPA’s mentor/protégé program and is a volunteer with the Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program and other community service programs benefiting non-profits such as the North Texas Food Bank, Juliette Fowler, TangoTab and The Stewpot. 

Lisa obtained her Paralegal Certificate from the Professional Development Institute at the University of North Texas. In 2011, Lisa was certified by NFPA as a Core Registered Paralegal, becoming one of the first 16 CRPs in the State of Texas and initial 148 paralegals in the nation who passed the pilot exam administered at 12 test sites across the country. Most recently, Lisa became CEDS certified through ACEDS (Association of Certified eDiscovery Specialists).

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