New Membership Committee Co-Chair Helen Naves Wants To Build Connections

By Rebecca Melnitsky

June 17, 2024

New Membership Committee Co-Chair Helen Naves Wants To Build Connections


By Rebecca Melnitsky

Helen Naves
Helen Naves

Helen Naves, the recently-installed co-chair of the New York State Bar Association’s Membership Committee, wants to bring the far-flung lawyers of the association closer together in her new role.

An international banking lawyer with a practice in São Paulo, Brazil, Naves will be joining Michelle Wildgrube, partner at Cioffi Slezak Wildgrube, as co-chair. “I’m super excited about Helen joining as co-chair,” said Wildgrube. “Her involvement with the International Section and Executive Committee will bring a great deal of experience and knowledge about NYSBA to the Membership Committee.”

A big initiative for the Membership Committee will be promoting the new all-inclusive subscription membership model, in which members will be able to access the full spectrum of membership – including unlimited access to live Continuing Legal Education courses, two section memberships, and access to hundreds of publications – all for one affordable price.

Naves said that the new model meets the needs of different members, from education to networking opportunities. “The way I see it, we have more flexibility in terms of how to choose the benefits that you would like to have,” she said. “I think it’s also a nice way to attract people who at some point in time, didn’t even think it was valuable for them to be part of an association like NYSBA.”

“It’s a wonderful value proposition for our members,” added Wildgrube. “Having all-access to online CLE programs is an incredible benefit. I’m hoping that members will also take advantage of the two included section memberships. Section membership is one of the best resources of the association – sections really provide a home for people and enhance everyone’s practice.”

From Brazil to the New York State Bar Association

For Naves, her passion for building connections across the globe started when she spent her senior year of high school as an exchange student in Michigan. “I really think it changed the course of my life,” Naves said. “I knew I wanted to do something with traveling, going to other countries. I liked the experience of living abroad.”

From there, she went to law school in Brazil, moved to New York in 2008 to get her LL.M. degree at Fordham University, spent a year working for a law firm in New York, and moved back to Brazil in 2010. Around this time, she joined the association’s International Section in part to stay in touch with friends she made in New York.

“For me, it’s more than a group of friends,” Naves said. “It’s also a community, a group of lawyers who I can always go to for advice – practical advice, technical advice – and also for work.”

Naves eventually became the chair of the Brazil Chapter and senior vice-chair of the International Section. “After all these years, I guess everybody who knows me knows that I’m part of NYSBA,” she said.

She wants to have more frequent regional meetings for the International Section – at least once a year so International Section members can plan ahead and have an easier time getting to meetings in nearby countries.

“When we have in-person meetings, it’s a really nice opportunity for people to get closer, to create more connections, have more opportunities to do business, and also to explore those connections,” Naves said. “So we like the idea of having more frequent in-person meetings in different areas, not only in the U.S.”

Naves also wants to collaborate more with local bar associations, both in the U.S. and internationally, to increase membership.

Naves also emphasized that members have many opportunities to do many different activities – including publishing articles and speaking on panels and webinars. “There’s so many things going on in the association, not only in the International Section, but other sections,” she said. “For a lawyer that is only able to be part of a local bar association and not a specific group as ours, I think it’s a great deal.”

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