Thomas C. Shanahan
Senior Vice President and General Counsel | 919-962-4588
Mr. Shanahan serves as the senior legal officer for the seventeen-campus University of North Carolina System. He provides advice and counsel to the president, the Board of Governors, and the senior officers of the University with regard to all legal and policy issues affecting the University and is responsible for the supervision, management, and direction of the Office of Legal Affairs.
Before becoming the senior vice president and general counsel in 2013, Mr. Shanahan served as the associate vice president for legal affairs where he was responsible for providing legal advice and counsel across the system in the areas of employment law, employee benefits, administrative law, and a variety of higher education law matters.
Mr. Shanahan joined the University after nearly a decade with the U.S. Department of Labor where his legal background included trial litigation and legal advice concerning employee benefits law, defensive labor and employment matters, ethics, and administrative law. During his time with the Labor Department, Mr. Shanahan’s leadership positions included service as the deputy regional solicitor for the southeast in the Solicitor’s Office, and as deputy regional director for the southeast region of the Employee Benefits Security Administration.
Mr. Shanahan received his JD from the University of Georgia School of Law and his BS from Cornell University.
Joanna Carey Cleveland
Vice President for Legal Affairs and Deputy General Counsel | 919-962-0533
Ms. Cleveland assists the senior vice president and general counsel in establishing priorities and agendas for the Office of Legal Affairs and co-manages the day-to-day responsibilities of the office. She practices primarily in the areas of anti-discrimination, athletics, constitutional law, human resources, legislative affairs, litigation management, records management (including public records), shared services, student issues, and university policy development. She also coordinates externship and fellowship opportunities for law students and recent law graduates.
Prior to joining the UNC System in 2014, Ms. Cleveland spent nearly 20 years in the Office of University Counsel at UNC-Chapel Hill as an assistant university counsel and associate university counsel working in many of these same areas.
In addition to her current duties, Ms. Cleveland is an adjunct professor at the UNC School of Law where she teaches “Legal Issues in Higher Education,” as well as an adjunct instructor at the School of Government at UNC-Chapel Hill. She has previously served as a fixed-term graduate faculty member in the Graduate School (Department of Exercise and Sport Science) at UNC-Chapel Hill.
Ms. Cleveland received her JD, MPA, and BA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Michael R. Delafield
Associate General Counsel | 919-962-6162
Mr. Delafield concentrates his practice in the areas of academic and student affairs, campus safety and security, and data security. Mr. Delafield also serves as the chair of the State Residence Committee. In addition, Mr. Delafield serves as the primary legal counsel for the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, a public residential high school focusing on STEM education, which became a constituent institution of the University in 2007.
Before coming to UNC in 2012, Mr. Delafield worked for nine years at a law firm representing local boards of education across the state of North Carolina, where he earned a deep respect for those working to improve the lives of North Carolinians through public education. Before entering the field of education law, Mr. Delafield worked for a short time as a bankruptcy attorney.
Mr. Delafield received his JD from the University of Maine School of Law, and his BA from Princeton University.
Carolyn C. Pratt
Associate General Counsel | 919-962-3406
Ms. Pratt advises and supports the Attorney General’s office in litigation matters involving the University. Ms. Pratt also provides legal advice to UNC Press, an affiliated entity of the University, including performing manuscript review, contract review and negotiation, and analysis of copyright, trademark, and defamation issues. In addition, Ms. Pratt helps coordinate UNC System's responses to requests for public records pursuant to the North Carolina Public Records Act.
Prior to joining the UNC System in 2015, Carolyn spent five years litigating in the areas of employment and education law. Before entering private practice, Carolyn served as a law clerk for the Honorable Martha A. Geer on the North Carolina Court of Appeals.
Ms. Pratt received her JD and BA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
T. Brooks Skinner
Associate General Manager and General Counsel| 919-549-7806 (UNC-TV)
Mr. Skinner supervises all finance, human resources, and technology functions at the University of North Carolina Center for Public Television (UNC-TV), and advises the general manager on operational matters across the UNC-TV organization. In his role as UNC-TV general counsel, Mr. Skinner provides comprehensive legal and policy advice in all aspects of network operations. Mr. Skinner is also a member of the Office of Legal Affairs, serving as the in-house counsel for UNC-TV.
Mr. Skinner received his JD from the University of North Carolina School of Law and his BA from North Carolina Wesleyan College.
Assistant General Counsel | 919-962-0444
Ms. Bishop provides legal counsel to the constituent institutions on U.S. immigration law matters and operates a shared services pilot program through which she provides direct representation of participating constituent institutions regarding employment-based immigration nonimmigrant and immigrant sponsorship.
Ms. Bishop joined the UNC System in 2010 after working for six years in private practice at a boutique immigration law firm. Prior to private practice, Ms. Bishop served as a law clerk for the Honorable Linda McGee on the North Carolina Court of Appeals.
Ms. Bishop received her JD from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and her BA degree from the University of Virginia.
Carrie O. Johnston
Assistant General Counsel | 919-445-0473
Ms. Johnston works on a broad range of legal matters including contracts, procurement, and student affairs, among other areas. From 2013 to 2014, she provided coordination and legal support for the system-wide UNC Campus Security Initiative, which culminated in a report to the president in July 2014 with 36 recommendations for system-wide campus safety and security enhancement. Ms. Johnston remains involved with efforts to implement the report’s recommendations. She also provided legal services to University of North Carolina School of the Arts from 2013 to 2015.
Ms. Johnston began work with UNC System as a higher education law fellow in 2012. Prior to joining UNC System, Ms. Johnston served as a Teach For America corps member in Baltimore, where she taught first and third grades for two years in a high-need elementary school, and worked for Teach For America’s Baltimore regional office following her corps member commitment.
Ms. Johnston received her JD from Elon University, her MA in teaching from Johns Hopkins University, and her BA in urban studies from Rhodes College.
Staff Counsel | 919-962-4588
Mr. Dougherty focuses primarily upon providing ongoing litigation support and fulfilling the University’s obligations under the North Carolina Public Records Act. Given his education and interest in issues of intercollegiate sport administration, Mr. Dougherty also aids in the areas of athletics policy and oversight.
Mr. Dougherty began his work at the UNC System as a Legal Fellow in 2014. While working as a legal fellow, Mr. Dougherty aided various aspects of the legal affairs operation as needed, including labor and employment, student affairs, and policy development.
Mr. Dougherty is a North Carolina native and originally became part of the UNC System in 2004 when he enrolled at the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics. Mr. Dougherty earned his JD, MA, and BA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Chavez R. Adams
Legal Fellow | 919-962-4588
Karin F. Szypszak
Legal Projects Director | 919-962-4587
Ms. Szypszak has a variety of responsibilities, including administering the University's faculty grievance/appeal process; maintaining UNC System EBS licenses; assisting with issues brought before the Umstead Review Panel; coordinating records retention within the Office of Legal Affairs; preparing relevant materials for the president and Board of Governors in response to litigation; administering amendments to the UNC Policy Manual; performing legal research for attorneys in the Office of Legal Affairs; researching and tracking legislative activity related to university-system issues; drafting and reviewing contracts, licenses, and other legal documents; serving as the webmaster for the Office of Legal Affairs; serving as a member and administering the State Residence Committee; and providing relevant guidance and legal information in response to requests from the public, UNC System, the Board of Governors, and the campuses.
With over 30 years’ experience as a paralegal, Ms. Szypszak started her legal career at the University of Virginia law school, continuing on to be a paralegal for the city solicitor in Concord, New Hampshire for 19 years. After relocating to North Carolina, she worked as an intellectual property paralegal until being hired in 2006 as paralegal to the senior vice president and general counsel at the UNC System.
Ms. Szypszak has a BS in education from the University of Southern California, and was certified to teach grades K-12 in the State of California. She also completed a two-year paralegal studies certificate program from the University of New Hampshire, and was awarded a certified paralegal designation after passing the National Association of Legal Assistants-Paralegals’ (NALA) exam.
Ruth A. Brill
Executive Assistant to the Senior Vice President and General Counsel | 919-962-4588
Ms. Brill provides administrative support for the senior vice president and general counsel, the Vice president for legal affairs and deputy general counsel, and several other associate vice presidents for Legal Affairs.
Ms. Brill originally came to the UNC System n in June 2003 as the assistant to the senior vice president for academic affairs. In 2005, she moved to Human Resources, and was promoted to the Office of Legal Affairs in 2008. Prior to joining UNC General Administration, Ms. Brill worked for almost 10 years at Bromma, Inc., a manufacturing company in Roxboro, North Carolina. Her other experience includes working in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, at Yanni-Bilkey Investment Consulting, an investment firm for two years, and Mine Safety Appliances Company, a safety equipment manufacturing company for 11 years.
Ms. Brill received her AD in secretarial science in 1981. In 2010, she also attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s accelerated paralegal program at the Friday Center to earn her paralegal certificate and designation as a North Carolina Certified Paralegal (NCCP).
Paulette J. Stroman
Executive Assistant | 919-843-6997
Ms. Stroman provides administrative support for the Division of Governance, Legal, and Risk, including the senior vice president and general counsel, vice president for legal affairs and deputy general counsel, vice president for compliance and audit services, and the associate vice president for safety and emergency operations.
Ms. Stroman came to the UNC System in November 2016 from UNC-Chapel Hill where she worked in the Office of University Communications as a public records paralegal. Previously, Ms. Stroman, worked as a business services coordinator, then moved to the position of paralegal in the UNC Office of University Counsel at UNC-Chapel Hill. Ms. Stroman also worked as an administrative assistant at the UNC Department of Emergency Medicine.
Ms. Stroman received her BS in administration of criminal justice at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1990. She then went on to receive her post-baccalaureate certificate in paralegal studies through the UNC Paralegal Certificate Program in 2011.