Major, Lindsey & Africa Places General Counsel at NeighborWorks America

April 15, 2024 – Hanover, MD-based executive search firm Major, Lindsey & Africa has assisted in the hiring of Nakeasha L. Sanders-Small as the general counsel and corporate secretary of NeighborWorks America in Washington, D.C. “I am so pleased to welcome Nakeasha L. Sanders-Small as our incoming general counsel,” said Marietta Rodriguez, president and CEO. “Nakeasha is a collaborative, strategic leader who is well-versed in creating efficient solutions to complex problems. She is a stellar legal professional and valued advisor as we look ahead past this year – our 45th anniversary – of working to advance the housing and community development industry. Her dedication to keeping people housed and infusing equity into projects and programs is an invaluable asset.”

Ms. Sanders-Small comes to NeighborWorks with more than 20 years of experience in both the public and private sectors. Most recently, she served as general counsel at the Department of For-Hire Vehicles at the District of Columbia Government, where she provided legal, policy and programmatic advice on operations, human resources and personnel matters as well as various legal issues. Ms. Sanders-Small served as the agency ethics officer and provided preemptive and corrective risk management.

Prior to that role, Ms. Sanders-Small served as the interim general counsel for the Department of Public Works at the District of Columbia Government, where she provided guidance to the director and executive management on legal and policy issues affecting the agency and its operations throughout all divisions. While at law firm McDermott Will & Emery, she worked as a discovery and disputes resolution attorney.

“NeighborWorks America is a phenomenal organization that has been doing far-reaching and impactful work in communities across America for an impressive 45 years,” said Ms. Sanders-Small. “I am thrilled to join the team and look forward to lending my skills and talents towards extending the legacy for the next 45 years and beyond.”

Ms. Sanders-Small has served on numerous boards and demonstrated her community involvement throughout the years. She is a board member of the Washington D.C. Alumnae Foundation; a former president and board member of the Greater Washington Area Chapter, Women Lawyers Division, National Bar Association; and board member of the GWAC Foundation. Ms. Sanders-Small is also a member of the Washington D.C. Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and the Washington, D.C. Chapter of Jack and Jill of America.

Related: What to Ask Yourself When Making a Diversity Hire

For 45 years, Neighborhood Reinvestment Corp., a national, nonpartisan nonprofit known as NeighborWorks America, has strived to make every community a place of opportunity. Its network of excellence includes nearly 250 non-profits in every state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. NeighborWorks offers grant funding, peer exchange, technical assistance, evaluation tools, and access to training as the nation’s leading trainer of housing and community development professionals.

Inside the High Demand for General Counsel Leaders
The legal and compliance market is booming. The number of in-house lawyers and law firm partners with aspirations of becoming a general counsel is at an all-time high. Unfortunately, landing the position is a challenge. Every search has specific criteria established by the executive leadership team and board which must be met. Some of the criteria could include specific industry experience or business knowledge, a background in public company securities and governance, as well as expertise in regulatory, compliance, litigation, M&A, employment/labor law, intellectual property, government relations, leadership, career track record, law firm training, law school ranking, and the list goes on, according to Robert Barker, co-founder and managing partner of BarkerGilmore, which specializes in building corporate legal and compliance teams.

“Keep in mind cultural fit and soft skills which cannot be found on the resume are equally important,” he said. “And diversity can play a major factor in the CEO and board’s final decision. Most are using the general counsel position as a means of adding diversity to the executive leadership team,” he added. The demand for excellence is understandable as the general counsel plays such a critical role. One wrong answer or move during the interview process can lead to immediate disqualification. “Even after an offer is made, any red flag demonstrating a lack of judgment or ethics discovered during the background investigation will lead to a retraction,” said Mr. Barker.

Founded in 1982, Major, Lindsey & Africa is a legal-focused search firm with more than 25 offices worldwide. It has a track record of general counsel, corporate counsel, partner, associate and law firm management placements. The firm also provides law firms and companies with highly specialized legal professionals on project, interim and temporary-to-permanent hire basis.

General Counsels

Legal recruiting continues to be a hot area for search firms. Lawyers employed by government agencies in particular have been on the move as a result of changes in government administrations, according to Hunt Scanlon Media. Demand for legal work is expected to be robust as individuals, businesses and all levels of government require legal services in the U.S. and internationally as global economies expand.

A general counsel, chief counsel or chief legal officer is the chief lawyer of a legal department, usually in a company or a governmental department. In a business, the person holding the position typically reports directly to the CEO. Their duties involve overseeing and identifying the legal issues in all departments and their interrelation, including engineering, design, marketing, sales, distribution, credit, finance, human resources, production, as well as corporate governance and business policy.

Related: Today’s General Counsel is Helping Drive Strategy, and More

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Executive Editor; Lily Fauver, Senior Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

Share This Article


Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments