By Deborah Gaines
Shana Pederson, the Recruiting Manager for the eData Group at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP, seamlessly combines her work in the legal industry with a longstanding commitment to the arts. In fact, she got her first recruiting job as a way of supplementing her income while working with her father as a luthier, building stringed instruments in his New York studio.
Outside of work, Shana’s passion is community service through the arts. She is the founder and president of Life Preservers Project (www.lifepreserversproject.org), an international collaboration of artists dedicated to eradicating human trafficking. In this capacity, she’d like to warmly invite LMA members and their guests to the organization’s Eighth Annual Summer Fundraiser, a 70s-themed fundraiser and art auction taking place on Tuesday, June 13 from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. at Proper West. Net proceeds from the event will go to Girls Educational & Mentoring Services (GEMS), the only organization in New York devoted to fighting human trafficking and the exploitation of young women, and Project Rhythm, a New York-based non-profit with a unique approach to music education.
Shana is an active member of LMA, currently serving as co-membership chair for the Metro New York Local Group. We recently sat down with her to learn more about her background and her pro bono work.
From luthier to legal recruiter! Where did your journey begin?
I grew up in New Mexico and came east to help my father with his business. Along the way, I got my B.A. in Fine Art from Hunter College and fell in love with New York City. I wound up in recruiting by accident when I went to an agency to register for a temp job to supplement my income. They hired me to work for them and got me interested in the recruiting process.
How did you get into the legal industry?
That first job led to a position at Pittleman & Associates, a leading attorney search firm. Most recently, I served as managing director for Celeritas, a legal and professional services recruiting firm.
Tell us more about your pro bono work.
Like so many things, Life Preservers Project started in a loft in Brooklyn. Back in 2009, I attended an art benefit for Restore New York, the first long-term safe home for foreign victims of sex trafficking in the Northeast. I felt strongly about the cause, but at the same time I realized that a small loft event in Bushwick was not the best way to increase public awareness or raise a lot of money. Knowing that the legal community and law firms in particular, often take on pro bono projects related to domestic trafficking, I decided to combine my industry network with the local art community to effect real, sustainable change.
Later that year, I founded Life Preservers Project as a 501(c)3 with the purpose of creating an art collective that could raise funds and awareness through events and art auctions. We started in a pop-up shop at the RS Pop Up/Hotel in 2010, and then hosted a summer event with live music and an auction. Since then, we have raised more than $100,000 through our annual fundraisers, much of it thanks to the legal and eDiscovery communities.
Has your focus shifted over the years?
We’ve honed in on New York City-based victims of domestic trafficking. The local community is woefully underserved, and more often than not, victims are overlooked or not seen as victims. There is a lot of change needed on the local front and as an organization we feel that it is best to focus our efforts there.
Deborah Gaines is president of Deborah Gaines Associates, a communications consultancy specializing in the development and management of strategic content for legal clients. She is also a frequent blogger for Huffington Post.