Debra Hennelly

Debra Sabatini Hennelly, J.D., B.S.E.

Senior Partner

With more than twenty-five years of experience in the development and implementation of ethics and compliance programs for small and mid-market organizations as well as marquee multinational corporations, Debbie Hennelly is the primary collaborator with Strategic Impact Partners along with her team at Compliance & Ethics Solutions, LLC – a firm she established in 2004.

Utilizing her legal expertise in combination with an engineering background, she guides organizations and their senior leadership teams with innovative approaches to ethics and compliance program development, dynamic risk optimization, the building of competitive resilience, and the strengthening of corporate, brand and reputation equity.

Her unique ability to “right-size” an organization’s strategy is derived, in part, from a proprietary approach to integrating assessment outcomes into an organization’s operations, culture and leadership framework. She develops and facilitates interactive training programs to help ensure employee assimilation, and creates codes of conduct and other tools to help organizations advance a “speaking up” culture grounded in ethical leadership and more conscious decision-making. Debbie is a prolific writer and lecturer; and she has served as adjunct faculty for BP, periodically facilitating small-group learning in ethical leadership.

As the movement for more responsible business practices has matured, Debbie has been working with Art Stewart on training and other experiences that address the human capital and competitiveness issues companies are grappling with now – such as the role of diversity and inclusion in recruitment and retention, the impacts of the MeToo movement, and the expectations around next-generation executive leadership and governance models.

Debbie has served as general counsel and chief compliance officer for two privately-owned chemical companies, Sonneborn and PeroxyChem, during transitional periods for both companies, reporting directly to their CEOs and meeting quarterly with their Boards of Directors. Her experience holding senior in-house roles in public and private companies, as well as her working in two ethics and compliance specialty service providers, has enabled her to acquire an uncommon perspective on both sides of the client/vendor relationship. She spent more than ten years in legal and compliance roles at AT&T, Lucent Technologies, Avaya, BP and Avon Products, with responsibilities ranging from implementing environmental and safety management systems to leading global compliance and ethics programs. She also advised other multinational companies on compliance and ethics program implementation while serving as vice president and general counsel of Integrity Interactive (now part of SAI Global), and as a senior knowledge leader with LRN.

Early on Debbie spent five years practicing environmental law with Bryan Cave in Washington, DC, and Riker Danzig in New Jersey. Before earning her law degree, she was a civil/environmental engineer and supervised construction for Exxon Company, USA.

She is a past Chair of the Association of Corporate Counsel’s Environmental Law Committee, past Assistant Chair of ACC-Europe’s Compliance & Ethics Committee, and currently serves as a member of the Alumni Association Advisory Committee at the University of Virginia School of Law.

Debbie earned a B.S.E. in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Duke University, and a J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law.


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