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What do egg incubators, trampolines, and top-loading washing machines have in common? Models of all three have been recalled in recent months by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. The CPSC, an independent agency of the federal government, is charged with protecting the public from risks associated with the use of a wide range of consumer products. Since December, STEPHANIE TSACOUMIS has been calling the CPSC's legal shots. In her new role as general counsel, Tsacoumis will advise the agency's commissioners, coordinate petitions and rule-making, pursue civil penalties and administrative lawsuits, and enforce federal safety standards.
Tsacoumis replaces CHERYL FALVEY, who left the CPSC to join Crowell & Moring in Washington, D.C.
The agency and its new GC will have their work cut out for them. According to the CPSC, deaths, injuries, and property damage from consumer product incidents cost Americans more than $900 billion each year. The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act increased funding and staffing for the agency in 2008, after a rash of product recalls. Legislation passed in 2011 expanded the agency's authority, and Tsacoumis says it has been "engaged in a heavy diet of rule-making" ever since. She anticipates that one of the biggest challenges of her new role will be supporting the CPSC's enhanced enforcement focus in the year ahead.
Tsacoumis comes to the federal government from Georgetown University, where she served as vice president and general counsel from 2009 through 2012. She was responsible for all of the university's legal and compliance matters, including litigation, IP, and federal contracts and grants. Tsacoumis was also an adjunct professor at Georgetown's law school. She will continue to teach a course on disclosures under the federal securities laws at Georgetown.
Before going in-house, Tsacoumis spent 13 years with Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. She represented nonprofits and public and private entities at the firm, and for six years she served as co-partner-in-charge of its Washington, D.C., office. Previously Tsacoumis was a partner at Morrison & Foerster.
Tsacoumis earned a bachelor's degree in economics from the College of William and Mary and her J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law. She completed executive programs at Harvard Business School and the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.
The new GC's father spent his entire career as an employee of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. "Every night he came home with incredible stories," she says. "He had the best job on the planet." When the opportunity came along to follow in her father's footsteps and become a federal employee, she took it. "I don't have a background in product liability," she says, "but the agency's mission of protecting public health and safety appealed to me."
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Viva La Raza
JONATHAN SCHWARTZ 's distinguished career has been almost as varied as the popular Spanish-language show Sabado Gigante. So perhaps it is fitting that his most recent move is to Univision Communications Inc.the Spanish-language media company that is home to the long-running Chilean entertainment, game, and talk show.
As Univision's new general counsel, Schwartz succeeds C. DOUGLAS KRANWINKlE, 72, who retired after serving as executive vice president and general counsel at the company for 12 years, the culmination of a 47-year career.
The move to Univision is a big shift of venue from his last job, as managing director and general counsel of J.P. Morgan Investment Bank. But in a sense the 51-year-old attorney is going home again: Before joining JP Morgan, he was executive vice president and general counsel at Cablevision Systems Corporation for six years. And prior to that he held various roles, including that of senior vice president and deputy general counsel, at Time Warner Inc. Schwartz also spent time on the music side of the entertainment industry, serving as GC of the online music company Napster.