The International Women’s Insolvency and Restructuring Confederation (IWIRC) will have its first Hispanic chair come 1 January, as a Dutch firm hires from Loyens & Loeff, and Vinson & Elkins and Cooley promote in New York.
Leyza Blanco, a shareholder at Miami-based cross-border insolvency and asset recovery boutique Sequor Law, will become the first Hispanic chair of IWIRC’s board at the start of next year, after serving as vice-chair in 2020 under the outgoing chair, PwC partner Michelle Pickett in Ontario.
Blanco’s new vice-chair is Lowenstein Sandler counsel Jennifer Kimble in New York, who is currently IWIRC’s secretary. Kimble will be replaced in the secretary role by Boston-based Marjorie Kaufman of management consulting firm Getzler Henrich & Associates, who is currently finance director.
The current vice finance director, Karen Fellowes QC at Stikeman Elliott in Vancouver, will also now graduate into the directors’ role, while a new member of IWIRC’s executive board, Troutman Pepper partner Evelyn Meltzer in Wilmington, Delaware, will be appointed vice finance director.
Fellowes joined Stikeman Elliott in July from DLA Piper, and is a former winner of IWIRC’s Fetner Award, which is given each year to an outstanding international member.
Blanco – herself an IWIRC founders award-winner in 2019 – said she was “honoured” to have been named IWIRC’s next chair. “I will be a steward to the IWIRC mission and continue to make IWIRC accessible to everyone, increasing diversity and helping our worldwide members connect and forge productive relationships,” she said.
In an inaugural speech delivered on 15 December at a hybrid in-person and virtual event for IWIRC’s 2020 Rising Star Award – an honour presented to Sequor Law attorney Nyana Miller, who is the first Latin America regional chair on IWIRC’s international board – Blanco said the chaos of this pandemic year had actually delivered “a silver-lining” in the form of online events.
She jokingly thanked covid-19 for uncovering “this extra arrow in our quiver” and pledged to use virtual events to drive focus on inclusion, labelling them “an invaluable tool to help us in our mission – to connect women worldwide”.
Speaking to GRR, Blanco notes that the past three years have seen IWIRC add Brazil, Latin America and Korea networks to its ranks, and that it is her ambition to work on expanding the European network and developing new networks during her time as chair.
“Efforts are already in the works for the development of networks in New Zealand, Ireland, Dubai, South Africa and Pacific Northwest,” Blanco says.
“It is my hope that women from across the globe who are not already represented in an IWIRC network will have a network to join and participate with IWIRC in the promotion of women in the insolvency field worldwide,” she adds, noting that anyone interested in joining or forming a new IWIRC network is welcome to get in touch with her directly.
Blanco joined Sequor law in mid-2018 from GrayRobinson in Miami, alongside another shareholder, Fernando Menendez. She regularly works on international litigation and insolvency matters relating to the US and Latin America, especially Chapter 15 recognition cases.
In November, she asked the US Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Florida to recognise the most recent liquidator of Ukrainian bank PJSC Bank Finance and Credit, following a series of different appointments in the wake of the bank’s licence being revoked in 2015.
She is also the regular author of GRR’s asset recovery column.