Business people


April Volunteer Spotlight – Cheryl Nodarse, ACP

NALA Volunteer Spotlight – April 2024
Cheryl Nodarse, ACP

Cheryl Nodarse, ACP, serves NALA as President-elect. She works at Vlahakis Cole Law Firm, which specializes in real estate law. She has a side hustle as a licensed realtor in Michigan. Cheryl received her associate degree from Lansing Community College’s Paralegal Program and bachelor’s degree in sociology from Central Michigan University. She has an Advanced Certified Paralegal (ACP®) credential in Land Use.

Cheryl has served with NALA for over a decade. She had long been involved with the State Bar of Michigan Paralegal Section when she received a call from NALA Past President Kelly Lagrave, ACP, asking if she would consider running for Area Director on NALA’s Board of Directors.

“The timing was absolutely perfect,” Cheryl said.

Cheryl was elected as Area Director and moved through the ranks of NALA leadership. After serving on the Continuing Education Council (CEC), she was elected as Treasurer in 2018. At that point, she knew she was making a long-term commitment to spending multiple years on the NALA Board, with the end goal of becoming President.

“I had some people who were really important to me encouraging me to run,” Cheryl said. “I took a leap of faith.”

Cheryl enjoys serving with all of the Board members.

“I now consider them close friends,” she said. “I enjoy being on the cutting edge of everything to do with the advancement of the paralegal industry.”

Cheryl believes she has a fantastic foundation for serving as President and a great Board to work with.

“We need to be bold and not afraid to make the changes necessary to keep NALA relevant as the premier paralegal association in the United States.”

In her decade of service with NALA, one thing Cheryl has learned is how to consider multiple viewpoints and come to a consensus.

“The consensus building of NALA is really remarkable.”

Cheryl was part of the inaugural class of LEAD, NALA’s Leadership Exploration and Development program.

“It was fantastic. It reinforced a lot of what I already knew, but it also greatly enhanced my understanding of interpersonal interactions.”

Cheryl became a Certified Paralegal (CP®) in 1990. It was early in her career, and she was working in the litigation department of a large law firm with two other paralegals. They were both active in a local paralegal association, the Palm Beach chapter of Florida Legal Assistants, which Cheryl then joined. One of the main focuses of the association was a certification prep program for NALA’s Certified Paralegal Exam.

“They told me flat out, ‘You are going to get certified.’ That was such great advice to get at a very young age.”

Cheryl said that getting certified through NALA was the greatest experience.

“I have never once regretted the studying, preparation, and expense required to get certified. It has always set me apart.”

Going to NALA’s conference and immersing herself in the paralegal world is one of Cheryl’s favorite parts of the year. She compares it to a cheerleading convention.

“Conference is such a great place to network and enhance your legal skills through continuing education.”

Cheryl’s advice to paralegals of all ages and experience levels is, “Never stop learning.” She encourages younger paralegals who are relatively new to the field to get connected to a local paralegal association and find their people.

Cheryl and her husband have been married for 36 years. They have two adult children and a West Highland White Terrier named Tank (picture below).

Her favorite quote is by Ruth Bader Ginsberg.

“Fight for the things that you care about. But do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”

Cheryl’s role model is her mother.

“She is the epitome of grace and kindness. Those are things I work on every day.”

Cheryl will begin her term as NALA President following the Annual Membership Meeting at the 2024 NALA Conference & Expo in Louisville, Kentucky, on July 11th.