About Us

The General Counsel’s Office renders legal advice to university administrators and represents the university in all matters including administrative and judicial proceedings. The office also reviews and approves all contracts and affiliation agreements entered into by the university. It processes subpoenas and public record requests. It handles litigation, including administrative hearings. It is not authorized to render personal legal advice to faculty/staff/administrators. It is not authorized to render legal advice of any kind to students.

GC Organizational Chart

Attorney Practice Areas and Areas of Focus

Vice President and General Counsel


Youndy Cook, Interim Vice President and General Counsel

Youndy C. Cook, serves as Interim Vice-President and General Counsel. As the General Counsel, she leads the Office of the General Counsel in providing legal services to the entire University and its DSOs. Ms. Cook joined the Office of the General Counsel in April 2002. Prior to joining the University, she practiced labor and employment litigation at law firms in Tampa, Florida. Ms. Cook works with departments and units across the University on a wide variety of issues, including general advice, employment issues, litigation, student affairs, policies and procedures, regulations, and contracts.

A Baton Rouge, Louisiana, native, Ms. Cook received her B.A., summa cum laude, from Vanderbilt University and her J.D., summa cum laude , from the University of Miami School of Law.

Ms. Cook is active in the National Association of College and University Attorneys and the Florida Bar. She is certified by the Florida Bar as an education law specialist. In addition to providing training around campus, she has spoken various times at education law conferences. Ms. Cook has served on various university committees and work groups over the years, most recently the Expanded EICRT for Coronavirus Response.

Principal areas of responsibility: Compliance (Other); Conflicts of Interest; Constitutional Issues; Crisis and Emergency Management; Discrimination and Retaliation; Employment and Labor; FERPA; Governance; Government Relations; Insurance; Litigation; Public Safety; Public Records; Regulations; Risk Management; and Student Affairs.

Attorneys


Sherry Andrews, Associate General Counsel, Associate Provost

Sherry Andrews has served as Associate General Counsel for the University of Central Florida from 1995-2001 and from 2004-present. From 2001-2004 she served as a senior law clerk and administrator for U.S. District Court Judge Patricia C. Fawsett, chief judge for the Middle District of Florida. Ms. Andrews works with the Provost’s office, deans, and college administrators on a variety of issues involving faculty, including personnel issues, compliance with the faculty contract, grievances, discipline, etc.

Ms. Andrews received her B.A., summa cum laude, from Florida Southern College; her M.A. from the University of Central Florida; and her J.D. with honors from the University of Florida, where she served as an associate articles editor for the Florida Law Review. She is admitted to practice in Florida state courts and in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida.

Principal areas of responsibility: Academic Affairs; Collective Bargaining; Constitutional Issues; Contracts (academic affairs); Employment and Labor; and Faculty Issues.

Jennifer Cerasa, Legal Counsel, UCF Foundation, Senior Associate General Counsel

Jennifer Cerasa is a Senior Associate General Counsel based in the UCF Foundation. Prior to joining the University of Central Florida in January of 2014, Jennifer practiced local government, real estate and land use law. Jennifer represented both Florida municipalities, such as Altamonte Springs and Cocoa Beach, as well as private developers in the acquisition, disposition and development of large scale projects while at the law firm of Lowndes, Drosdick, Doster, Kantor & Reed. Jennifer works with the Foundation on a variety of issues, including real estate transactions, contract review, gift agreements, policy, board governance and Alumni. In addition, Jennifer advises the University on real estate issues.

Ms. Cerasa received her Juris Doctorate from Florida State University College of Law in 2006 and was designated as a member of the Order of the Coif. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of South Carolina in 2003, where she graduated magna cum laude.

Principal areas of responsibility: Alumni; Contracts (Foundation, gifts); Development; Finance; Governance; Health, Safety and Environment; Investments; Policies; Public Records (Foundation); Real Estate; and Student Affairs.

Jordan Clark, Associate General Counsel

Jordan Clark joined the University of Central Florida in 2003, and he serves as Associate General Counsel for the University. Prior to joining the university, he practiced in the areas of Mergers and Acquisitions/Corporate Securities in Miami, Florida with the law firms of Steel Hector and Davis LLP and Greenberg Traurig P. A.

Mr. Clark received his Bachelor of Science in Accounting with honors from West Virginia University and his Juris Doctor degree with honors from the University of Florida, where he was an associate editor for the Journal of Law and Public Policy. Mr. Clark is admitted to practice in Florida. Mr. Clark has been recognized by Florida Trend Magazine as Legal Elite for 2016 and 2017.

He is active in university and community affairs and sits as director on UCF Athletics Association, Inc., and a past chairman of Lake Eola Charter School board of directors and a founding member of the Galileo School for Gifted Learning board of directors.

Principal areas of responsibility: Athletics; Contracts (Athletics); Contracts (construction, procurement); Facilities and Construction; Finance; Health, Safety and Environment; Public Safety; Procurement/Purchasing; Real Estate; and Student Affairs.

Natasha Hellerich, Associate General Counsel

Natasha N. Hellerich has served as Associate General Counsel for the University of Central Florida since 2002. Prior to joining UCF, she worked at the law firm of Akerman, Senterfitt & Eidson, P.A. and Siemens Westinghouse Power Corporation, both in Orlando, Florida.

Ms. Hellerich received her Juris Doctorate (with honors) from the University of Florida, where she was Senior Managing Editor of the Florida Journal of International Law and a member of Phi Delta Phi International Legal Honors Fraternity. She was also the recipient of several American Jurisprudence Book Awards. Ms. Hellerich is admitted to practice in Florida.

Prior to receiving her Juris Doctorate from the University of Florida, Ms. Hellerich also received a German law degree from the University of Bremen, Germany, where the focus of her studies was on European and International Law.

She serves a legal counsel to two university direct support organizations: Limbitless Solutions, Inc. and UCF Finance Corporation. Ms. Hellerich also sits on the Information Security Awareness Advisory Board and is part of the Phishing subcommittee. She also served on the Board of Directors for the UCF Creative School for Children from 2012-2016.

Principal areas of responsibility: Contracts (IT&R); Copyrights and Trademarks; Intellectual Property; International; Licensing; Privacy, Information Security; Procurement/Purchasing; and Software Licensing.

Shainoor Ladha-Karmali, Associate General Counsel, College of Medicine; HIPAA Privacy Officer

Shainoor Ladha-Karmali has served as Associate General Counsel and HIPAA Privacy Officer for the University of Central Florida College of Medicine since October 2011. Prior to joining the university, she served as in-house counsel for the now Altamonte Springs based Advent Health, a multi-regional integrated health care system.

Ms. Ladha-Karmali provides legal support to the College of Medicine, including the multi-specialty clinic, HealthArch (which works with community physician practices in improving health care delivery and quality), and the Graduate Medical Education program. She advises regarding health care regulatory requirements as well as medical education standards, medical resident issues, and patient care issues. She handles matters involving health law issues for various units, departments and colleges at the university. In addition, she serves as a HIPAA Privacy Officer for the College of Medicine and as HIPAA counsel for the university. She also reviews, drafts and negotiates health care related contracts for the university as well as other business contracts for the College of Medicine.

Ms. Ladha-Karmali currently serves on the American Health Lawyers Association Women’s Leadership Council. Also, she has been a civil mediator since 2002 and served as a chairperson for a faith-based mediation board for 7 years.

Ms. Ladha-Karmali received her Bachelor of Science in Psychology, cum laude, from University of Washington, her Juris Doctor, cum laude, from Seattle University, and her Master of Business Administration from University of Central Florida. She is admitted to the Florida Bar.

Currently serves on the following university committees: UCF Health Sciences HIPAA Collaborative, UCF Health Compliance Committee, UCF/HCA Healthcare GME-Graduate Medical Education Committee, UCF COVID Clinical Oversight Committee, UCF College of Medicine Council for Diversity and Inclusion, UCF Compliance and Ethics Advisory Committee, UCF Security Incident Response Committee, UCF College of Medicine Industry Relations Committee, UCF College of Medicine Task Force on Civic Advocacy for Medical Students, UCF College of Medicine Community Initiatives Taskforce, Interview panel for medical school applicants.

Principal areas of responsibility: College of Medicine, Academic Health Services Center; Compliance (HIPPA, healthcare); Contracts (COM); Graduate Medical Education; HIPPA and Health Law; and Privacy, Information Security.

Sara Potter, Associate General Counsel

Sara H. Potter joined the University of Central Florida in 2019, and she serves as Associate General Counsel for the University. Prior to joining the University, she practiced in the areas of labor and employment law and litigation at Gunster, Yoakley & Stewart, P.A. and GrayRobinson, P.A. both in Orlando, Florida.

Sara received her B.A. in Public Policy from Duke University and her J.D., summa cum laude, from Florida State University College of Law, where she served as President of the Moot Court team and Article Editor for the Florida State University Law Review. She is admitted to practice in the state and federal district courts of Florida.

Principal areas of responsibility: Academic Affairs; Clery Act; Collective Bargaining; Constitutional Issues; Contracts (academic affairs); Discrimination and Retaliation; Employment and Labor; Faculty Issues; Insurance; Litigation; Student Affairs; and Title IX.

Jeanette Schreiber, Chief Legal Officer and Associate Vice President for Medical Affairs

Jeanette C. Schreiber, JD, MSW, serves as UCF’s Senior Associate Vice President for Health Affairs, Deputy General Counsel for Health Affairs, and Chief Legal Officer for the College of Medicine. She manages strategic development, including planning and implementation of health affairs business initiatives, partnerships and affiliations, such as the UCF Lake Nona Medical Center and the UCF Lake Nona Cancer Center. She oversees the Health Sciences Division of the Office of General Counsel at UCF’s Lake Nona Health Sciences campus which provides health care and related legal, regulatory, and compliance services and resources. Ms. Schreiber is responsible for the College of Medicine’s HealthARCH program, assisting over 3,000 community providers and provider networks in clinical and administrative services to advance quality, value and health care transformation. She serves on UCF’s Academic Health Sciences Center (AHSC) Executive Council and co-leads the AHSC Population Health Collaborative Council.

Before joining UCF, Ms. Schreiber was a partner for over 20 years in health law at the Connecticut-based firm Wiggin & Dana, LLP. She served as the primary outside health law counsel for the Yale-New Haven Health System for over 20 years, and assisted health care providers, networks and associations in planning, development and implementation of clinical services, facilities, affiliations and system development; health policy and government relations; compliance; patient care issues; and health information technology. She has worked extensively with local, state and national health care advocacy and trade organizations representing hospitals, physicians, home care agencies, and other providers.

Ms. Schreiber is board certified in health law by the Florida Bar and is a graduate of Harvard Law School (J.D., 1982, cum laude), Florida State University (M.S.W., 1978, highest honors), and Emory University (B.A. 1976, high honors).

Ms. Schreiber is an Orlando native. After returning home in 2007, she was a shareholder in Shuffield, Lowman & Wilson, P.A., before joining the UCF College of Medicine in 2008.
Currently Ms. Schreiber serves on the Board of Directors of the Seminole County and Greater Apopka Habitat for Humanity.

Principal areas of responsibility include: College of Medicine, Academic Health Services Center; Governance (Health Sciences); Graduate Medical Education; Health Care initiatives and partnerships; HIPPA and Health Law; Public Records (COM); and Self-insurance program.

Sandra Sovinski, Deputy General Counsel, Office of Research

Sandra M. Sovinski is Deputy General Counsel, leading the Research-legal team, and also working across the University and with its direct support organizations on a wide variety of intellectual property matters. She also serves as counsel for the University of Central Florida Research Foundation, Inc., with Robert Wilson. Prior to joining UCF in 2010, she practiced in the areas of patents, trademarks, copyrights and related intellectual property matters for her firm, Innovative IP, LLC, and for the Atlanta IP boutique Myers & Kaplan Intellectual Property Law, LLC.

Ms. Sovinski is a Registered Patent Attorney, Board Certified in Intellectual Property Law. She received her Juris Doctorate from Indiana University School of Law, Indianapolis, IN, where she was on the Deans List, was the winner of an International Law Review Writing Competition, and also received the CALI award for excellence. Ms. Sovinski is a native Floridian who proudly calls University of Central Florida her alma mater for her Bachelor of Science degree in Forensic Science, with a chemistry minor. Prior to attending law school, Ms. Sovinski was a forensic scientist, frequently testifying as an expert witness in the DNA and serological arts, and is co-author of numerous scientific publications in the field.

Ms. Sovinski volunteers as a speaker on intellectual property topics for various Central Florida small business and community organizations, is a member of the Florida and Georgia Bars, and has been admitted to practice in the Middle District Court of Florida, the Northern District Court of Georgia, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and the U.S. Supreme Court.

Principal areas of responsibility: Compliance (Research; Contracts (research, IRB); Copyrights and Trademarks; Export Control; Intellectual Property; Licensing; Patents; Public Records (Research); Research; Sponsored Research; and Technology Transfer.

Robert Wilson, Associate General Counsel

Robert W. Wilson is an Associate General Counsel supporting UCF’s Office of Research. Robert provides strategic advice to UCF on business and corporate transactions, contract review and negotiation, intellectual property matters, clinical trial matters, start-up and joint ventures, export control matters, government contract compliance and other research compliance and initiatives. He also serves as primary counsel to UCF’s Institutional Review Boards providing legal counsel on matters related to human subjects research. Robert also serves as legal counsel to the University of Central Florida Research Foundation and Limbitless Solutions, both UCF direct support organizations, providing legal and business advice regarding corporate governance, technology ventures and strategic investments, tax matters, and research compliance.

Prior to joining UCF in 2014, Robert practiced in the areas of mergers and acquisitions, securities and tax law for firms in Florida, Georgia and Texas.

Robert earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from the University of Florida in 2001, a Master of Accounting degree from the University of Florida in 2002, a J.D. from Vanderbilt University Law School in 2005 and an LL.M. in Taxation from the University of Florida in 2010. He is admitted to the State Bars of Florida, Georgia and Texas. In addition, he is a licensed (inactive) Certified Public Accountant in Florida.

Principal areas of responsibility: Compliance; Contracts (research, IRB); Export Control; Intellectual Property; Licensing; Public Records (Research); Research; Sponsored Research; Tax; and Technology Transfer.

Administrative Personnel


Rebecca Pluguez, Director

Rebecca’s position as Director of the General Counsel’s Office concentrates in the Association of Corporate Counsel’s model of Legal Operations which specializes in the management of a legal organization which includes change management, compliance, contract, eDiscovery & litigation, governance, innovation, intellectual property, internal resource, knowledge management, metrics & analysis, process & projects, strategic planning and technology management. Equally important, she is responsible for the supervision and management of the administrative personnel including Legal Service Coordinators, Legal Assistants, Office Assistants, and Student Assistants, and Interns.

Rebecca’s alma mater is the University of Central Florida where she received her B.A. in Legal Studies and her Masters of Nonprofit Management. Rebecca actively volunteers in diverse nonprofits and helps them through consultation and creating volunteer management plans, budgeting, writing grants, and strategic management plans.

Maria Ffrench, Legal Assistant II

Maria joined the staff of the General Counsel’s office in 2013.  She is the primary point of contact for the office and is responsible for our contract management system. In addition, she provides administrative support to the attorneys when needed.

Maria is a proud graduate of the University of Central Florida with a B.S. in Communications. She has previously worked in marketing and was a substitute teacher for many years.

Kathleen Herring, Legal Services Coordinator

Kathleen Herring joined the General Counsel’s office in 2017, first at the Office of Research and then moving to the Main General Counsel’s office in 2018. Kathleen serves as an administrator for CobbleStone, the university’s contract management system, as well as the first point of contact for any contract related or CobbleStone questions. Kathleen also provides individual, small group, and university-wide CobbleStone training.

Kathleen’s alma mater is the University of Central Florida where she earned her B.A. in Legal Studies. In 2020, Kathleen also earned a Management Certificate in Fundraising and her Masters of Nonprofit Management. Prior to joining the university, she was with Brevard County Legal Aid for over 27 years, where she held a variety of positions, and most recently served as the Program’s Administrator.

Elimar Diaz Martinez, Legal Assistant

Elimar joined the staff of the General Counsel’s office in 2018. She is the primary point of contact for the Office of Research. Elimar is responsible for managing the calendars and providing administrative support to the attorneys when needed. Before coming to UCF, Elimar worked as a Financial Aid Coordinator at Florida Technical College.

Elimar graduated from University Sacred Heart in Puerto Rico with a B.S. in Communications.

Tanya Perry, Legal Services Coordinator

Tanya Perry has worked in the General Counsel’s office since 2006, starting out as a paralegal before being promoted to Coordinator.  Ms. Perry is responsible for public records requests; assists the Nominating and Governance committee of the Board of Trustees; maintains the university’s regulations process and website; updates the departmental website; and performs legal research as needed. Prior to joining the university, she worked as an Intellectual Property Paralegal for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing.

Ms. Perry received her B.S. in Business Administration from University at Albany in New York, and her M.B.A. from Webster University.

Kaseema Rhue, Legal Assistant II

Kaseema Rhue has worked in the General Counsel’s Office since 2008. She oversees the subpoena process, coordinates with the departments within the University and follow up with requesting Law Firms during the process. Kaseema also conducts any other tasks or responsibilities needed in the office. Prior to joining the University, she served as a Legal Assistant at the State Attorney’s Office, Juvenile Division in Orlando, Florida.

Kaseema received both her A.B.A. as well as her, B.B.A. with a concentration in HRM from Strayer University.

Lucy Sneeringer, Legal Services Coordinator

Lucy joined the General Counsel’s office in 2016, first serving as a Legal Assistant before being promoted to Legal Services Coordinator. She manages all things related to CobbleStone, UCF’s contract management software, for the Office of Research and Graduate Studies (e.g., contract routing, pre-review of records, and estimated wait times). She also assists with filing trademarks, manages template contracts, facilitates the Fast Track contract process, and performs any other administrative tasks as needed. Prior to working for General Counsel, she worked as a member of the operations staff at the Office of Research and Graduate Studies for three years.

Lucy received her B.A. in English, with honors, from the University of Central Florida in 2014 and her M.F.A. in Creative Writing from UCF in 2017.