NORTH CAROLINA INDUSTRIAL COMMISSION

Help Line: (800) 688-8349, (919) 716-1700, or infospec@ic.nc.gov
Fraud and Insurance Compliance Hotline: (888) 891-4895 or fraudcomplaints@ic.nc.gov

Deputy Commissioners' Biographies

The Deputy Commissioners serve as judges in hearings for contested cases.

The page was last updated on August 26, 2021.


DEPUTY COMMISSIONER INDEX

Chief Deputy Commissioner: Tammy R. Nance Senior Deputy Commissioner: Robert J. Harris
Deputy Commissioners: Mary Claire Brown | Lori A. Gaines | Larry Hall | Celeste Harris | Jessica Holmes |
Kevin V. Howell| David Mark Hullender | Ashley M. Moore | William W. "Bill" Peaslee | Thomas H. Perlungher |
Layla T. Santa Rosa |Wes Saunders |John C. Schafer |Sam Scudder |Tiffany Mack Smith | Erin F. Taylor | Jesse M. "Jay" Tillman | Tyler Younts


Chief Deputy Commissioner's Biography

Tammy R. Nance

Chairman Philip A. Baddour, III designated Tammy Nance to serve as Chief Deputy Commissioner on November 17, 2020. Nance was a Deputy Commissioner from 1987 to 1995 before entering private practice, where she represented both employers and employees in workers’ compensation claims over the next 15 years. While practicing law, Nance was a Dispute Resolution Commission certified mediator. She served on the Full Commission from 2011 to 2018, then returned to the Commission in 2019 as a Deputy Commissioner assigned to head the Claims Administration Section.

Nance received her B.A. and J.D. degrees from Ohio State. She is a Fellow of the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers.

E-mail Deputy Commissioner Nance at Tammy.Nance@ic.nc.gov or contact her chief legal assistant, Sandra Cortes, at (919) 807-2529 or Sandra.Cortes@ic.nc.gov.

Senior Deputy Commissioner's Biography

Robert J. Harris

Chairman Philip Baddour, III named Robert J. Harris as Senior Deputy Commissioner, effective March 1, 2019.

Harris was born in Cincinnati in 1967 and moved to North Carolina at 20 months of age. He grew up in Raleigh and went to high school there, also attaining the rank of Eagle Scout.

He received his B.A. degree in English and philosophy from Yale University in 1989. Returning to North Carolina, he lived and worked as a newspaper reporter in Johnston County for nearly two years. He then went to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Law, from which he graduated with his J.D. degree in 1994.

From 1994 through his joining the N.C. Industrial Commission in 2003, he practiced law in Raleigh, concentrating in employment law. With the Industrial Commission, he served as a Special Deputy Commissioner until his appointment as a Deputy Commissioner in 2005.

He is married and has two children.

E-mail Deputy Commissioner Harris at Robert.Harris@ic.nc.gov or contact chief legal assistant, Sandra Cortes, at (919) 807-2529 or Sandra.Cortes@ic.nc.gov.

Deputy Commissioners' Biographies

Mary Claire Brown

Mary Claire Brown was appointed to serve as a Deputy Commissioner on February 16, 2018. Brown was previously in private practice with Hedrick Gardner, practicing in the fields of liability and workers' compensation. She earned her undergraduate degree from the University of North Texas, and her Juris Doctor from Campbell University School of Law. During law school, she held internships or externships at the North Carolina Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals of North Carolina, and with the North Carolina Hospital Association. Brown serves her community as a Safe Alliance Pro Bono Attorney, providing legal counsel to victims of domestic violence, and as a member of the Junior League of Charlotte's Training and Development Committee.

E-mail Deputy Commissioner Brown at Mary.Claire.Brown@ic.nc.gov or contact her legal assistant, Amanda Yzquierdo, at (980) 523-9987 or Amanda.Yzquierdo@ic.nc.gov.

Lori A. Gaines

Lori A. Gaines joined the Industrial Commission in August 2015 after working in private practice with the Lea Schultz Law Firm in Wilmington. Gaines has more than 15 years of legal experience in workers' compensation, criminal defense, and family law matters. Gaines' previous experience includes handling workers' compensation issues for the North Carolina Department of Public Safety, and serving as the Family Court Administrator in Wilmington.

She is a past president of the New Hanover County Bar Association and was appointed to the Commission on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention by former Chief Justice I. Beverly Lake. Gaines is a graduate of both the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and Campbell University School of Law. Gaines is married with four adult children.

E-mail Deputy Commissioner Gaines at Lori.Gaines@ic.nc.gov or contact her legal assistant, Kyle Jones, at (910) 862-6011 or Kyle.Jones@ic.nc.gov.

Larry D. Hall

Larry D. Hall was appointed to serve as a Deputy Commissioner on December 15, 2020. Immediately prior to joining the Commission, he served as Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. Prior to that, he represented Durham County for ten years in the North Carolina House of Representatives. Both before and during his State legislative service, Hall practiced law in Durham with a focus on business, employment, and personal injury law. Hall received his Bachelor of Science Degree from Johnson C. Smith University before becoming a commissioned officer in the United States Marine Corps. He continued his military service in the Marine Reserves while earning his J.D. from the University of North Carolina School of Law.

E-mail Deputy Commissioner Hall at Larry.Hall@ic.nc.gov or contact his Legal Assistant, Jonathan Benimana, at (919)807-2543 or Jonathan.Benimana@ic.nc.gov.

Celeste Harris

Celeste Harris was appointed to serve as a Deputy Commissioner on April 5, 2021. Prior to joining the Commission, Harris was a partner at the law firm of Maynard & Harris, where she represented individuals in workers’ compensation and Social Security Disability claims. While practicing law, Harris was a Dispute Resolution Commission certified mediator. Harris has been a North Carolina State Bar Board Certified Specialist in workers’ compensation law since 2000.

Prior to practicing law, Harris worked as a registered nurse in the surgical ICU for a Veteran’s Administration hospital in Missouri, first as a staff nurse and later as head nurse. She earned her law degree from Saint Louis University School of Law, attending Wake Forest University School of Law during her third-year.

Harris lives in Winston-Salem and enjoys spending time in Sparta, North Carolina on the Little River. She has three adult children, a grandchild, and three grand dogs.

E-mail Deputy Commissioner Harris at Celeste.Harris@ic.nc.gov or contact her Legal Assistant, Jonathan Benimana, at (919)807-2543 or Jonathan.Benimana@ic.nc.gov.

Jessica N. Holmes

Jessica N. Holmes was appointed to serve as a Deputy Commissioner on August 9, 2021. Prior to joining the Commission, Holmes served two terms on the Wake County Board of Commissioners as a County Commissioner At-Large, and she was elected twice to lead the Board as Chair. She also has served on the Board of the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners.

In addition to her public service, Holmes has worked as a solo practitioner and as counsel to various organizations, with experience in the areas of labor and employment law.

Holmes earned her bachelor’s and law degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In 2018, she received the Distinguished Young Alumni Award from the UNC General Alumni Association, and in 2019, she received the Outstanding Recent Graduate Award from the UNC Law Alumni Association.

E-mail Deputy Commissioner Holmes at Jessica.Holmes@ic.nc.gov or contact his Legal Assistant, Jonathan Benimana, at (919)807-2543 or Jonathan.Benimana@ic.nc.gov.

Kevin V. Howell

Kevin V. Howell was appointed as a Deputy Commissioner in December 2016. Howell came to the Commission from the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, where he served as General Counsel from 2015-16. Howell entered state government in 2013 with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services as Legal Communications Coordinator, and he also served as Acting Assistant Communications Director and then Acting Communications Director in 2014.

Prior to entering state government, Howell started his own law firm in 2009. Howell’s primary practice areas included criminal defense and general civil litigation.

Howell is a native of Garner, NC. He is a summa cum laude graduate of North Carolina State University with undergraduate degrees in Biological Sciences and Political Science. Howell received his Juris Doctor degree with a Trial and Advocacy Concentration from the Campbell University School of Law, where he was a Trial Team Member and staff writer for the Campbell Law Observer.

Howell, his wife, and son hold first degree black belts in taekwondo. Howell is also actively involved with his son’s Cub Scout troop and soccer team.

E-mail Deputy Commissioner Howell at Kevin.Howell@ic.nc.gov or contact his paralegal, Janet "Jes" Miller, at (919) 807-2653 or Janet.Miller@ic.nc.gov.

David Mark Hullender

David Mark Hullender joined the Industrial Commission on April 20, 2015, after winding down his private practice with the firm of David M. Hullender, P.A. in Kings Mountain, North Carolina. Prior to starting his own firm, Hullender was an associate with George B. Thomasson, P.A. from 1990 until 2001. Hullender served on the North Carolina Indigent Defense Services Commission and is the former chairman of the Kings Mountain ABC Board. He is a graduate of the University of North Carolina, North Carolina Central University Law School, magna cum laude, and earned an LL.M in Taxation from the University of Florida School of Law.

E-mail Deputy Commissioner Hullender at Mark.Hullender@ic.nc.gov or contact his legal assistant, Amanda Yzquierdo, at (980) 523-9987 or Amanda.Yzquierdo@ic.nc.gov.

Ashley M. Moore

Ashley M. Moore was appointed to serve as a Deputy Commissioner on July 3, 2018. She had previously served as a Full Commission Law Clerk. Prior to joining the Industrial Commission, Moore had practiced law in Wake County. Moore earned her undergraduate degree at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and earned her J.D. from the North Carolina Central University School of Law.

E-mail Deputy Commissioner Moore at Ashley.Moore@ic.nc.gov or contact her legal assistant for workers' compensation, Jonathan Benimana, at (919) 807-2543 or Jonathan.Benimana@ic.nc.gov. For contempt matters contact her legal assistant, Kristen Calcaterra, at (919) 807-2518 or Kristen.Calcaterra@ic.nc.gov.

William W. "Bill" Peaslee

On May 18, 2016, William W. "Bill" Peaslee was appointed to serve as a Deputy Commissioner of the North Carolina Industrial Commission. He served as Chief Deputy Commissioner from June 1, 2016 until April 4, 2018.

Peaslee came to the Industrial Commission from the North Carolina Department of Administration, where he served as General Counsel. Prior to serving the State, he was in private practice in Cary, North Carolina. Peaslee earned a BA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a JD from Campbell University Law School. He is a Member of the N.C. Property Tax Commission, a former Chairman of the Constitutional Rights & Responsibilities Section of the N.C. Bar Association, and a former member of the North Carolina State Board of Elections.

E-mail Deputy Commissioner Peaslee at Bill.Peaslee@ic.nc.gov or contact his paralegal, Janet "Jes" Miller, at (919) 807-2653 or Janet.Miller@ic.nc.gov.

Thomas H. Perlungher

Thomas H. Perlungher was appointed as a Deputy Commissioner on April 23, 2015. He is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Vermont and earned his J.D. from Wake Forest University School of Law in 2002. He had previously served as a Full Commission Law Clerk.

Before joining the Commission, Perlungher was a Hearing Officer at the Division of Employment Security; and from 2004 to 2008, he served as an Assistant District Attorney in North Carolina's 8th District, where he prosecuted cases in Wayne, Lenoir, and Greene counties. Prior to his work as an Assistant District Attorney in North Carolina, he practiced Real Estate law in Massachusetts from 2002 to 2004.

E-mail Deputy Commissioner Perlungher at Thomas.Perlungher@ic.nc.gov or contact his legal assistant, Kyle Jones, at (910) 862-6011 or Kyle.Jones@ic.nc.gov.

Layla T. Santa Rosa

Layla T. Santa Rosa was appointed to serve as a Deputy Commissioner in January 2019. Prior to her appointment as a Deputy Commissioner, Santa Rosa served the Industrial Commission in several capacities, including Law Clerk to the Full Commission and as a Special Deputy Commissioner. Santa Rosa also practiced at the law firm of McAngus, Goudelock & Courie, where she litigated workers’ compensation claims for six years.

Santa Rosa graduated magna cum laude from Peace College and earned her Juris Doctor from the University of North Carolina School of Law, where she was a staff member of the North Carolina Journal of International Law and Commercial Regulation.

E-mail Deputy Commissioner Santa Rosa at Layla.Santarosa@ic.nc.gov or contact her Paralegal, Janet "Jes" Miller, at (919)807-2653 or Janet.Miller@ic.nc.gov.

Wes Saunders

Wes Saunders was appointed to serve as a Deputy Commissioner on May 17, 2021. Prior to joining the Commission, Saunders was an Assistant Attorney General at the North Carolina Department of Justice where he represented State agencies in workers’ compensation cases and represented the State in criminal and civil cases before the North Carolina Court of Appeals and North Carolina Supreme Court.

A Winston-Salem native, Saunders earned his undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and his law degree from Campbell University School of Law.

In his spare time, Saunders volunteers with the Campbell Law Connections Mentorship Program, serves on the board of directors of his church, and fosters rescue dogs. Saunders lives in Raleigh with his wife, Laura

E-mail Deputy Commissioner Saunders at Wes.Saunders@ic.nc.gov or contact his Paralegal, Janet "Jes" Miller, at (919)807-2653 or Janet.Miller@ic.nc.gov.

John C. Schafer

John C. Schafer joined the N.C. Industrial Commission as its Dispute Resolution Coordinator in April of 1997. Since June of 1999 he has also served as a Deputy Commissioner responsible for administering the Commission’s mediation program.

John is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and received a J.D. degree from the Wake Forest University School of Law in 1984.

He has served as the Co-Chair of the ADR Book Committee, a joint committee of the North Carolina Dispute Resolution Commission (DRC) and the Dispute Resolution Section of the North Carolina Bar Association (NCBA), which wrote and published the book titled “Alternative Dispute Resolution in North Carolina: A New Civil Procedure” (2003).

John has for many years served as an ex-officio member of the DRC and is a past chair of the NCBA Dispute Resolution Section. He is also a recipient of the NCBA’s Peace Award which honors a person who has made a special contribution or commitment to the peaceful resolution of disputes.

John is married to Allison B. Schafer, General Counsel to the N.C. State Board of Education, and they have two adult children, Jennifer and Eric.

E-mail Deputy Commissioner Schafer at John.Schafer@ic.nc.gov or contact his legal assistant, Mary Roussel, at (919) 807-2586 or Mary.Roussel@ic.nc.gov.

Sam Scudder

Sam Scudder was appointed to serve as a Deputy Commissioner effective August 23, 2021. Prior to joining the Commission, Scudder represented individuals in North Carolina for over 30 years in the areas of workers’ compensation and personal injury. He is a North Carolina State Bar Board Certified Specialist in workers’ compensation law. As a Dispute Resolution Commission certified mediator, Scudder mediated cases while practicing law.

Prior to practicing law, Scudder worked as a pharmacist in Wake County. He earned his law degree from Campbell University School of Law.

When not working, Scudder enjoys spending time with his wife and two daughters, preferably on a boat or jet ski.

E-mail Deputy Commissioner Scudder at Sam.Scudder@ic.nc.gov or contact his Legal Assistant, Kristen Calcaterra, at (919) 807-2518 or Kristen.Calcaterra@ic.nc.gov.

Tiffany Mack Smith

Tiffany Mack Smith began her term as a Deputy Commissioner with the North Carolina Industrial Commission in November of 2020. Before joining the Commission, she practiced with Wallace & Graham, P.A. in Salisbury, North Carolina and Ferguson Chambers & Sumter, P.A. in Charlotte, North Carolina. As a practicing attorney, she primarily focused on workers’ compensation, social security disability and civil litigation.

Smith grew up in Salisbury, North Carolina. She received a B.A. and a B.S. from Western Carolina University where she graduated magna cum laude with a major in Criminal Justice and Spanish and a minor in Business Law. She received her Juris Doctor from North Carolina Central University School of Law where she served as the Executive Editor of the North Carolina Central Law Review and graduated cum laude.

Smith is a member of the North Carolina State Bar, the John S. Leary Association of Black Attorneys and the Salisbury Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated.

In her spare time, Smith loves spending time with her husband, Quincy, and her son, Kailo, as well as with family and friends. She also enjoys coaching youth track and field.

E-mail Deputy Commissioner Smith at Tiffany.Smith@ic.nc.gov or contact her legal assistant, Crystal Snow, at (980) 523-9988 or Crystal.Snow@ic.nc.gov.

Erin F. Taylor

Erin F. Taylor was appointed as a Deputy Commissioner effective October 7, 2019. Taylor joins the Commission after practicing law at the law firm of Cranfill Sumner & Hartzog LLP in both their Charlotte and Raleigh offices. Taylor's practice focused on workers' compensation law. She represented clients in hundreds of claims before the Commission over the last two decades.

Taylor grew up in High Point, North Carolina and attended the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She graduated from Campbell University School of Law in 1999, where she was an academic scholarship recipient. Taylor lives in Charlotte with her husband and two children. She will be hearing cases assigned to the Charlotte Regional Office.

E-mail Deputy Commissioner Taylor at Erin.Taylor@ic.nc.gov or contact her legal assistant, Crystal Snow, at (980) 523-9988 or Crystal.Snow@ic.nc.gov.

Jesse M. "Jay" Tillman

Jesse M. "Jay" Tillman was appointed as a Deputy Commissioner of the North Carolina Industrial Commission in August of 2015. Before joining the Commission, he was in private practice concentrating in the areas of personal injury, products liability, and real property liability. He is admitted to practice law in both North Carolina and South Carolina.

Tillman is also a recently retired Captain of the United States Navy (reserve component) and last served while activated and mobilized as the Occupational Safety and Operations Risk Management Officer and as a battle director for the Commander of U.S. Fifth Fleet in Bahrain. He was also active in Operations Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Southern Watch, Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom, and Inherent Resolve.

Jay grew up in Durham, North Carolina. He received his B.A. in English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and earned his law degree from the Campbell University School of Law. He lives in Charlotte with his wife, Carolyn, and his two sons, James and Joshua.

E-mail Deputy Commissioner Tillman at Jesse.Tillman@ic.nc.gov or contact his legal assistant, Crystal Snow at (980) 523-9988 or Crystal.Snow@ic.nc.gov.

Tyler Younts

Tyler Younts was appointed as a Deputy Commissioner on February 2, 2016. He joined the Industrial Commission in 2014 as a Full Commission Law Clerk.

Younts was born and raised in Randolph County, North Carolina. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a degree in political science. Subsequently, Younts graduated from Campbell University's Norman Adrian Wiggins School of Law, where he earned top honors in State and Local Government Law and First Amendment Law. As an attorney, Younts has worked in the non-profit sector, advocated before the North Carolina Court of Appeals and North Carolina Supreme Court, and written a published law review article.

E-mail Deputy Commissioner Younts at Tyler.Younts@ic.nc.gov or contact his legal assistant, Amanda Yzquierdo, at (980) 523-9987 or Amanda.Yzquierdo@ic.nc.gov.


BACK TO HOME PAGE