NY Member Spotlight: Shana Pederson

 This article was originally published on the blog of Legal Marketing Association.  For more member spotlights, professional development tips, best practices and thought leadership, visit LMA New York Local News.

By Deborah Gaines

Shana Pederson Life Preservers ProjectShana 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.


Interview with NYC Lifestyle Brand Art we All

Art we All approaches art by embodying everything that New York City has to offer—rawness, strength, audacity coolness and straight confidence—and creating art from it. Art we All will be donating a custom painted 12″ vinyl record for our 8th Annual Life Preservers Project Charity Event and Art Auction. Art we All sat with us to share Art we All Life Preservers Project interviewabout inspiration, getting involved in community and social impact.

Life Preservers Project: How did youth or community arts education influence your work ? Do you feel youth/community arts programs are important today?
Art we All: Yes, I feel youth/community arts programs are very important. The youth deserve a creative space to freely express themselves through painting, fashion, music, poetry, dance, etc.

LPP: Why do you work with the materials you work with/in the particular medium?
AwA: I have no preference for materials or medium in my work.

LPP: Why Life Preservers Project? Why do you support non-profits/charities?
AwA: Life Preservers Project is a non-profit organization that gives artists a platform to express ourselves creatively. I enjoy artistically contributing to charitable causes like this one.

LPP: What kind of social impact do you feel your art may have?
AwA: Bringing people together through creation and collaboration is the social impact my art has on this world.

LPP: Could you describe your inspiration from artists, humanitarians, writers, musicians, etc.?
AwA: What inspires me is me. I am my inspiration and motivation for expressing myself and the things I do.

Catch up with Art we All on Instagram or on their website. Want to bid on their artwork during our event? Make sure to grab a ticket.


Interview with Stephanie Losi

Stephanie Losi Interview Life Preservers ProjectStephanie Losi was an artist prior to college and grad school. She worked for a Federal Regulatory Agency for years and found that very often her job was, as she puts it, “to tell people ‘No'”. Stephanie recently made the decision to start consulting, which gave her the opportunity to start creating again. She also found an amazing creative support system in the Con Artist Collective here in NYC, and she now gets to tell people “Yes”. Stephanie has been pleased to find her art is really resonating with other people and said she “loved that connection”

Life Preservers Project: How did youth or community arts education influence your work?
Stephanie Losi: I took art classes and had an excellent professor in High School who introduced me to The Art of Imperfection. Youth and Community Art helps people express things they cannot express in other ways. Art can help people find things they are good at.

LPP: Why do you work with the materials you work within this particular medium?
SL: I chose written word because I was a journalism major in college. I had some stuff going on personally and envisioned using art to express that. I drew a brain and then started putting words on it. It had been so cathartic. I had been working on the piece at the Con Artist Collective work space and had been “hiding” the piece while I worked on it. Ultimately it was very well received.Stephanie Losi interview Life Preservers Project

LPP: Is there a reason why you support Life Preservers Projects or other nonprofits/charities in general?
SL: I liked that it was a charity/cause that is centered around women. Also, the idea of painting on a record would break me out of my comfort zone.

LPP: What kind of social impact do you feel your art may have?
SL: It really goes back to what I mentioned earlier about helping people express what’s going on in new ways. I also enjoy collaborating with others and hope to do more of that especially if it is focused on change in communities.

LPP: There are so many artists, humanitarians, writers, musicians, etc. in the world. Who or how have any of them inspired you?
SL: One immediate example comes to mind, Bob Dylan. His words are an influence.

Stephanie’s art will be on display with other existing and new members of the Life Preservers Project Art Collective during the 8th Annual Life Preservers Project Charity Event and Art Auction


Ryan Roberts, Artist and Art World Professional

Joining the Life Preservers Project Artist Collective is Ryan Roberts a NYC artist and art world professional. Ryan will be joining the many artist who have custom painted 12″ vinyl records that will be auctioned for charity during this year’s 8th Annual Life Preservers Project Charity Event and Art Auction. The event takes place on June 13th in NYC.

Life Preservers Project: How did youth and community arts education influence your work?

Ryan Roberts: Youth and Community Arts programs played a huge role in helping to cultivate my love of art. Without the great educational arts programs I was able to participate in during all of my schooling, I would not have the appreciation that I have for art today, and I certainly would not be working in the arts as I am now.

LPP: Why have you picked this particular medium to work within? Is there a specific reason you create the way you create?

RR: I have always been most interested in painting and especially the painting techniques of the abstract expressionists. The ability to create movement and emotion through color and form has always held my interest and is the primary reason I paint in the manner I do.

LPP: Why do you support nonprofits/charity? Why support the Life Preservers Project?

RR: I think it’s important to give back, whenever you can; especially when you are in a position to give. It is even better when it supports a great cause like the Life Preservers Project.

LPP: What kind of social impact does your art have?

RR: I am not sure about the social impact, but I do hope that all who see it enjoy the work; that it sparks a curiosity for them to learn more about art and even make their own.

LPP: Describe your inspiration- artists, humanitarians, writers, musicians, etc.

RR: Favorite artists and sources of inspiration:  Richter, Pollock, Warhol, Durer, Bosch, Boucher, Brueghel, Dali, Turrell to name a few

Ryan Robert’s work will be auctioned off at our June 13th event and are looking forward to featuring him again on our blog.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Interview with Marisol Del Valle aka Dzhelasi

As we gear up for the 8th Annual Life Preservers Project (LPP) Summer Fundraiser and Art Auction, we had the pleasure of interviewing someone that has previously contributed to the event, Marisol Del Valle, known as Dzhelasi. Dzhelasi is an immensely talented NYC street artist and graphic designer with a degree in Graphic Design and Animation. She has produced content for various online entities as she continues to provide freelance services and explore different channels with her art.

LPP: How did youth or community arts education influence your work?

Marisol: My dad used to draw. I used to do a lot with him. I had an art teacher in school, who was very intriguing; I Interview with Marisol Del Valle aka Dzhelasi Life Preservers Projectwanted to learn how to do stuff better; the only thing that motivated me was the arts. I think [youth arts programs] are really important; a lot of kids that don’t know what they want to do benefit from it. Some need an escape, maybe things aren’t good at home. [These programs] encourage them to be themselves.

LPP: Why have you picked this particular medium? Is there a distinct reason you create the way you create?

M: I started off with digital [art]; I was inspired by the Cartoon Network, because I feel like it appeals to kids and adults as well; I don’t mess up stuff when I do it on the computer. Since then, I’ve moved onto doing more traditional pieces; I felt it was more personal, since it was harder to correct (unlike digital art). I started doing that and watercolors.

LPP: What kind of social impact does your art have?

M: A lot of people are saying that they like my stuff, they wish they can draw like me. I tell them they can. I motivate people to do something they thought the couldn’t do. That’s what my art has been doing.

LPP: Describe your inspiration – artists, humanitarians, writers, musicians, etc.

M: The work of da Vinci and Rembrandt. I like a lot of stuff that you have to look into more than what you see there; writing and meanings, that kind of stuff—something that makes people think outside the box, something that makes people think or feel a certain way. Music-wise, I like a lot of music. I’m currently listening to Korean pop. Anything that I listen to inspires me in one way or another.

LPP: Are you pushing your own kids to move towards art?

M: Whatever she wants to do [referring to her daughter]. When she was younger, she wanted to do what mom does. Now that she’s sixteen, she wants to do what she wants: play video games. I tell her, “maybe you should make video games.”

LPP: How did you get involved with Life Preservers (this is the second time you’ve participated in our fundraiser), and why do you support nonprofits/charity?

M: When Shana [Pederson, President & Founder] reached out last year, it kind of struck a tone, because at one point I was homeless and my sister was homeless. We have kids, and it’s all about helping out when you can / however you can. [This fundraiser] has to do with art [which means something to me], to give back when I’m at a stable place in life; to help someone else; thankful for pop.

Marisol Del Valle’s work will once again be auctioned off at our June 13th event or you can view more of her artwork on her website: The Art of Dzhelasi

This slideshow requires JavaScript.