Foley's National Directors Institute Honors 2015 Directors of the Year

19 October 2015 Media Contact: Dan Farrell News

Foley & Lardner LLP is pleased to announce the recipients of its third annual National Directors Institute (NDI) Director of the Year awards. The recipients will be recognized at Foley’s 14th annual NDI Executive Exchange corporate governance conference on November 3 and 4 in Chicago.

  • Public Company Director of the Year: Alvin R. “Pete” Carpenter, independent director for Regency Centers Corporation 
  • Private Company Director of the Year: Patricia Diaz Dennis, independent director for Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual)

“Pete and Patricia embody the qualities of effective directorship that we sought to recognize in creating the Director of the Year awards program three years ago,” said Steve Barth, chair of Foley’s National Directors Institute. “With a wealth of industry experience, both have a proven track record for fostering a diverse collegial and transparent environment and employing governance strategies that facilitate the growth and success of the companies they have advised.”

Created in 2013, the NDI Director of the Year awards recognize exceptional public and private company directors who have exhibited extraordinary leadership in the boardroom and who have had a significant impact on the corporate governance activities and performance of the companies they serve. Now in its 14th year, NDI is one of the nation’s oldest and most preeminent practical symposiums focused on boardroom governance.

Through service on various public company boards including a wide range of roles and committee memberships, Carpenter has significant expertise in corporate governance, strategic management, accounting and audit matters, as well as executive compensation. In his role as a director for Regency Centers for the past 22 years, Carpenter has played a critical role in guiding the company’s growth into one of the largest owners of grocery-anchored shopping centers in the U.S. He also served for nearly 40 years in a variety of positions at CSX Corporation, including as vice chairman until his retirement from the company in 2001.

Currently, Carpenter is also a director of Consol Energy, Inc. and Stein Mart, Inc. He has previously served on the board of directors of additional public companies representing a range of industries, including Nations Bank, Barnett Bank, Inc., Florida Rock Industries, Inc., American Heritage Life Insurance Company and PSS World Medical, Inc. Carpenter has also served on numerous private company boards, including Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Florida. He also chaired Florida Governor Jeb Bush’s Commission on Workers’ Compensation Reform and served on Governor Bush’s Advisory Council on Base Realignment and Closure.

“NDI provides a vital forum for discussing the many facets that drive effective governance, and I am honored to have been selected as Foley’s Public Company Director of the Year,” said Carpenter. “While helping companies achieve superior returns and mitigate risk will always be at the core of the board’s responsibilities, boards should also strive to drive open communication within the company, creating an environment of mutual respect and transparency that ultimately benefits the board, management, employees and shareholders.”

Dennis serves as an independent director of MassMutual, a member of the company’s Corporate Governance Committee, and member and former chair of the Human Resources Committee. Her insight and guidance have helped drive and maintain a strong governance structure that empowers risk management, careful stewardship of assets and continued growth. As the company’s longest-serving board member, Dennis has helped guide MassMutual’s corporate governance policies so they also draw from best practices of publicly traded companies. She also has played an important role in enhancing MassMutual’s reputation as a great place to work that is deeply committed to fostering diversity.

Dennis currently serves on the boards of directors of public companies United States Steel Corporation and Entravision Communications Corporation and was previously on the public boards of UST Inc. and CarrAmerica. She also served on the Citadel Communications Corp. and Telemundo Group private boards as well as a number of not-for-profit boards, including National Public Radio, where she chaired the Human Resources Committee. She chaired Girl Scouts of the USA’s board. She is also a trustee of the NHP Foundation where she chairs the Human Resources and Nominating and Governance committees. She is Chair of The Global Fund’s Sanctions Panel. Dennis previously worked as Senior Vice President and Assistant General Counsel for AT&T, where she was responsible for litigation, procurement, real estate, environmental, corporate compliance, IT and intellectual property legal matters. She was a partner and chair of the communications section for the Jones Day international law firm. Governor George W. Bush appointed her to the Texas State System Board of Regents. Dennis was named to the National Labor Relations Board and the Federal Communications Commission under President Ronald Reagan. She also previously served as Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs under President George H.W. Bush.

“Like directors of many boards, we have overcome challenging issues that tested us and, in the end, made us a better board and MassMutual a better company,” said Dennis. “In choosing to follow rule changes resulting from Sarbanes-Oxley and Dodd-Frank, despite not being legally required to do so, MassMutual today is a sterling example of the benefits of good governance. Outstanding governance also exists because of the character of MassMutual’s leadership team which strives to adhere to the letter and the spirit of best governance practices. It is gratifying to represent this diverse and strong board and to have been selected as NDI’s Private Company Director of the Year.”

For 14 years, NDI has served as a platform for business leaders to discuss best practices and new trends in boardroom corporate governance. In addition to its annual Executive Exchange symposium, NDI offers a series of Web conferences and interactive programs throughout the year for executives, directors, officers, general counsel and boardroom advisors to both public and private companies. For more information or to register to attend NDI, please visit

The honorees were selected by a panel of judges representing public and private companies across a variety of industry sectors, including Kenneth Jastrow, lead director of MGIC Corporation and the 2014 NDI Public Company Director of the Year Award recipient; Gail Lione, a director of Badger Meter, Sargento Foods and The Dohmen Co; Marie Meisenbach Graul, audit committee chair and independent director of Pelican Products and NDI’s 2013 Private Company Director of the Year Award recipient; Rolf Richter, president and chief executive officer of Natural American Foods; Mary Ellen Stanek, managing director and director of asset management for Robert W. Baird & Co and chief investment officer of Baird Advisors; Carol Ward, vice president and corporate secretary of Mondelez International, Inc.; Jim Williams, president and chief executive officer of International Legwear Group; and Walter Winding, owner and president of Winding & Company and NDI’s 2014 Private Company Director of the Year Award recipient.

In addition to Jastrow and Winding, Richard Donnelly, chairman of the board of Oshkosh Corporation, received NDI’s 2013 Public Company Director of the Year Award and Marie Meisenbach Graul, audit committee chairperson and a member of the board of directors of Pelican Products, Inc., received NDI’s 2013 Private Company Director of the Year Award.

Directors of the Year Recipient Videos