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Profile: Desiree Demonbreun

Profile: Desiree Demonbreun
Ursula Miller

DESIREE DEMONBREUN

Bachelor of Arts in organizational communications, 1999

Corporate Counsel, Wellcare Health Plans Inc.

Tampa, Fla.

Career Ambitions | After graduating from a high school that specialized in health sciences and engineering, Demonbreun thought she wanted to be a doctor. But the Nashville native changed direction after serving as president of the Student Government Association at Xavier. “It was that experience that really turned my attention toward the law and inspired me to go to law school.”

First at Xavier | Demonbreun was the first African-American woman to serve as president of the SGA at Xavier, an accomplishment she downplays. “I didn’t plan to run for president of student government,” she says. Active in Student Activities Council and former president of the Black Student Association, she was encouraged by friends and adult mentors to run. “I think I won by 10 votes, something really minimal.”

Future Lawyer | Demonbreun says her time in student government taught her about parliamentary procedure and how policies, procedures and regulations are developed, and how to negotiate. “I learned that my perspective isn’t the only perspective,” she says. “Other people’s opinions should be taken into consideration. It truly prepared me for my profession as a lawyer.”

Corporate Counsel | As a staff attorney for the Tampa-based Wellcare Health Plans, Demonbreun focuses on employment law. Wellcare provides Medicare and Medicaid managed care plans.

Employment Law | She chose her specialty after clerking in criminal and family practices in law school. “Family and criminal law were hard on me emotionally,” she says. “With employment law, I’m dealing with the same types of issues I would have dealt with in criminal or family law. It’s one area of law where I can still impact people and change things, but I can go home at night and sleep.”

No Typical Day | “My day is never the same,” Demonbreun says. “I’m either working on an investigation, having a heated conversation with opposing counsel, in meetings or on a conference call getting facts regarding a case, counseling, traveling to an investigation, reviewing documentation or creating documentation for a case. My life operates in one of those buckets. All day. Every day.”

6 Footahs | Outside of the corporate attorney world, she finds time to stay close to a group of female friends who socialize, network and donate to charities that help women. The group of six African Americans call themselves the “6 Footahs,” a play on words that references their tall, elegant appearance. While none of them is actually 6-feet tall, each is pushing that height and is known for her stylish dress and professional demeanor. Five of the six are attorneys and one is a volleyball coach.

Setting an Example | The friends formed the Footahs to support each other and set an example for other African-American professionals. “My ethnicity matters to me because you don’t see many African-American female lawyers,” Demonbreun says. “Others are coming behind me. My presence shows that there’s a door for them. I can be a role model.”

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