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Name and title: Stasia D. Kelly, executive vice president and general counsel Age: 56 Communications colossus: MCI Inc. operates one of the world’s largest communications network systems. It is among the foremost U.S. long-distance providers as well as a significant carrier of international voice traffic. Wireless data and high-speed Internet access are also key areas for the Ashburn, Va.-based company. Ranked No. 90 on the Fortune 500, MCI has approximately 40,000 employees and reported 2004 sales approaching $20.7 billion. MCI arose from the ashes of WorldCom. Company resurrected: Kelly was recruited to help rescue WorldCom, a company beset by legal and regulatory problems and one “in total chaos, complete crisis and bankruptcy,” she said. The firm’s former chief executive officer, Bernard Ebbers, and former chief financial officer, Scott Sullivan, allegedly had altered WorldCom’s financial statements from 1998 to 2001 to hide massive losses. Ultimately, a federal judge approved a $6.1 billion fraud settlement, to be paid to an estimated 830,000 institutions and individual investors. WorldCom creditors, including retirement funds and insurance companies, recovered $651 million from the toppled firm’s investment banks, auditors and company officials. Kelly was dispatched to Capitol Hill during the bankruptcy proceedings to explain WorldCom’s case. Beginning the long road back to stability, WorldCom moved from Mississippi and re-emerged in Virginia as MCI. Kelly said that MCI has implemented 70 provisions authored by a corporate monitor, particularly in the internal-controls area, thus moving above and beyond the minimum legal requirements of accounting transparency and compliance. Verizon takeover: MCI’s recovery has culminated in an $8.44 billion takeover by telephone giant Verizon Communications Inc. Initially, a four-month battle between suitors Verizon and Qwest Communications International Inc. had to be resolved. The proposed merger just received the Justice Department’s OK, and is “close” to approval by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and international regulators, she said. She added that MCI and Verizon are “half-way” through the state approval process for the takeover, which is expected to generate annual revenues of more than $90 billion for the conglomerate. Kelly was deeply involved in the process, which she called an “incredibly intense exercise.” Legal team and outside counsel: Kelly helms a legal department comprising 460 professionals, 240 of whom are attorneys. Areas of responsibility are divided into legal, regulatory, government affairs and compliance. “Almost all” of the work, she said, is performed in-house, with the exceptions of litigation (which the department supervises), antitrust cases, regulatory matters and representation before the Federal Communications Commission. In addition, Kelly’s team answers to regulators from the SEC, the U.S. General Services Administration, public utility commissions in all 50 states and officials from Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Kelly hires external counsel from firms including DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary (litigation); New York’s Davis Polk & Wardwell (transactions); Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr (tax work); and Chicago-based Jenner & Block (regulatory duties). She also calls upon the services of Simpson Thacher & Bartlett of New York and Washington communications law specialist Lawler, Metzger, Milkman & Keeney. Kelly reports to Michael D. Capellas, MCI’s president and chief executive officer. MCI has been likened to “a law firm with antennae,” according to its GC. The firm’s business model, no longer consumer-based and now emphasizing corporate and government clients, resulted largely from changes in statutes and regulations wrought by its lawyers. The resulting removal of artificial price controls for long-distance carriers also contributed to MCI’s changing focus. These alterations allowed MCI to be legally entitled to operate in areas that regional Bell companies had monopolized previously. Peripatetic professional: Following her graduation from Washington’s Trinity University in 1971, Kelly joined the Air Line Pilots Association “as the first woman they ever hired professionally.” She was responsible for tracking the progress of what became the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), focusing on protecting pension benefits. Kelly was hired next by Martin-Marietta Corp. to apply ERISA to its benefits plans. Inspired to attend law school, she achieved a degree from George Washington University Law School in 1981 while continuing to work. Upon graduation, she moved on to Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering in Washington, then signed on with Dallas’ Carrington, Coleman, Sloman & Blumenthal. Returning to Wilmer Cutler for a 10-year stint beginning in 1985, she split her duties between financial institutions regulatory law and maintaining a generalist’s slate-a balance, Kelly said, that provided a solid base for going in-house. Subsequent general counsel positions at Fannie Mae and Chicago’s Sears, Roebuck and Co. predated her 2003 arrival at MCI-forerunner WorldCom. After the Verizon merger, Kelly “is going to take some time off before deciding what my next adventure is going to be.” Personal: Boston-born Kelly’s husband Tom is a retired deputy assistant director for the FBI who was also a high-ranking member of the Drug Enforcement Administration. They are the parents of 16-year-old twins Mike and Brian. She studied exclusively at all-female, Catholic schools from kindergarten through college, a route she considers to be “a good foundation for being a competitive lawyer.” Last book and movie: Patron Saint of Liars, by Ann Patchett; and In Good Company.

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