By Judge Michael W. Alvey
Chairman, Kentucky Workers’ Compensation Board
In early 2021, the NAWCJ board of directors approved the establishment of the NAWCJ Hall of Fame to recognize members and former members of the organization for their contributions to the adjudicative processes in the resolution of workers’ compensation claims. The inaugural class was inducted on December 13, 2021, in conjunction with the annual Judicial College in Orlando, Florida.
The steering committee that established guidelines for inclusion in the inaugural class and that selected the honorees included Shannon Bruno-Bishop (Louisiana)(current NAWCJ President), David Langham (Florida), Frank McKay (Georgia), and Michael W. Alvey (Kentucky)(Committee Chair). Eligibility requirements included membership, or former membership (for those no longer serving as adjudicators) in the NAWCJ; eight years of exemplary service as an adjudicator of workers’ compensation issues, trial or appellate; a record of notable service to the NAWCJ, defined as multi-faceted contributions to the ideals and goals of the organization; and a record of service including educating, speaking, writing, advocating, and/or involvement with entities assisting those affected by workplace injuries. Eighty percent of the committee had to agree on selection of each member of the inaugural class.
Nominations were solicited from current NAWCJ members through Survey Monkey. After the period for nominations closed, the committee met and voted on the membership for the inaugural class. Those selected for membership in the first NAWCJ Hall of Fame class were Melodie Belcher (Georgia), Deneise Turner Lott (Mississippi), Bruce Moore (Kansas), David Torrey (Pennsylvania), LuAnn Haley (Arizona), John Lazzara (Florida), Ellen Lorenzen (Florida), Dwight Lovan (Kentucky), and Roger Williams (Virginia). Bios of each follow below. At the induction ceremony, each inductee was awarded a plaque and a special membership pin. Going forward, the committee shall consist those who have been inducted as members of the Hall of Fame. It is anticipated the induction into the Hall of Fame will be an ongoing annual event recognizing those who have provided exemplary service to the NAWCJ.
Honorable Melodie Belcher
Melodie Belcher is an Administrative Law Judge for the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation. Melodie loves life and has had so much fun in all of her career choices. She started out as a lifeguard, then worked as a Weeki Wachee mermaid, and then spent nearly ten years as a flight attendant before heading to Georgia State University College of Law. After graduating cum laude, she was hired by Swift, Currie, McGhee and Hiers, an Atlanta firm, where she represented employers and insurers in workers’ compensation claims. With wonderful mentoring, she learned to love the practice. In 1999, Melodie joined the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation. She served as the chief judge from 2009 until 2012. Melodie is currently the Co-chair of the Administration and Procedures Committee for the Southern Association of Workers’ Compensation Administrators, and she previously served as SAWCA’s president. She also served on the Board of the National Association of Workers’ Compensation Judiciary (NAWCJ), and she was inducted into the College of Workers’ Compensation Attorneys in 2014. Melodie speaks frequently on workers’ compensation issues in Georgia and nationally. She lives in Lagrange, Georgia.
Honorable Deneise Turner Lott
Judge Lott received her Bachelor of Arts and Juris Doctorate degrees from the University of Mississippi. She currently serves on the Executive Committee of the National Association of Workers’ Compensation Judiciary, having served as President of NAWCJ in 2020-2021. She is also a past president of SAWCA, the Southern Association of Workers’ Compensation Administrators, and she has chaired SAWCA’s Adjudication Committee since 2006.
Judge Lott has twice served as president of the Administrative Law and Workers’ Compensation Section of the Mississippi Bar, and she is a Fellow of the Mississippi Bar Foundation. In 2014, she was inducted as a Fellow into the American College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers.
She is also a former adjunct professor of workers’ compensation law with Mississippi College School of Law, and she is a frequent lecturer at seminars and conferences on the subject of workers’ compensation law.
Between 2008 and 2016, Judge Lott served on a twelve-member Advisory Committee on Disability Compensation chartered by the United States Congress to recommend improvements to the disability compensation system administered by the Compensation Service of the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. The Committee evaluated and made recommendations to Congress to improve the disability compensation system administered by the Compensation Service of the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. Judge Lott served as President of the NAWCJ from 2020-2021.
Honorable Bruce Moore
Judge Moore graduated from Kansas State University and the University of Kansas School of Law. From 1980 to 1991, Judge Moore was engaged in the private practice of law in the Kansas City area, working both as a claimant’s attorney and doing insurance defense in workers’ compensation proceedings. In 1991, Judge Moore relocated from Kansas City to Salina, Kansas, where his wife opened her pathology practice. From 1991 to 1995, Judge Moore worked as a county prosecutor, trying, on average, over twenty jury trials a year, in addition to maintaining a private practice. In 1995, Judge Moore was appointed as an administrative law judge in the Kansas Department of Human Resources (now, Kansas Department of Labor). He is currently the longest-serving workers’ compensation ALJ in Kansas. He attended the 2012 NAWCJ judiciary college on a scholarship, saw the immense value offered by NAWCJ and the judiciary college, and sought advice from Mike Alvey on how to become more involved in NAWCJ. As a member of NAWCJ, Judge Moore served on numerous committees, including the Conference and Curriculum Committees, and chaired the Curriculum Committee before assuming the Presidency of NAWCJ for the 2019-2020 term. Before joining NAWCJ, Judge Moore achieved Certificates in Judicial Development in Administrative Law Adjudication skills and Dispute Resolution skills from the National Judicial College, and in 2009 was invited to join the faculty of NJC. In 2016, Judge Moore was inducted into the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers.
Honorable David Torrey
A native of Alexandria, VA, has been a workers’ compensation judge with the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry since 1993. He is adjunct professor of law at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law (1996-present). He is also the editor of the Pennsylvania Bar Association Workers’ Compensation Newsletter (1988-present). Judge Torrey received his A.B. in 1982 from West Virginia University and his Juris Doctorate in 1985 from Duquesne University School of Law. While in law school, he was Editor-in-Chief of the Duquesne Law Review (Volume 23, 1984-85). In 2010, he was elected to membership in the National Academy of Social Insurance. He is a past-president of the NAWCJ and is a Fellow and past Vice-President of the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers. In 2021, he published the Fourth Edition of his treatise, Torrey & Greenberg, Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation: Law & Practice (4 Volumes: Thomson-Reuters 4th ed. 2021). He also served in the U.S. Army (1976-1979) and in the West Virginia Army National Guard (1979-1982).
Honorable LuAnn Haley
LuAnn Haley has been an Administrative Law Judge with the Industrial Commission of Arizona since 1999. Judge Haley graduated from college and law school in Pennsylvania and received her Juris Doctorate from the Dickinson School of Law in 1981. She practiced law in Pennsylvania from 1981 through 1998 before moving to Arizona in 1998. She continues to be admitted to practice law in Pennsylvania and also has been licensed in Arizona since 1999. While practicing in Pennsylvania, she handled workers’ compensation cases for employers, carriers and self-insured employers. Judge Haley has been a frequent lecturer for continuing legal education seminars in both Arizona and Pennsylvania and also serves on the CLE committee for the State Bar of Arizona’s Workers’ Compensation Section. Judge Haley is a Fellow of the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers and serves on the Executive Committee for the organization. In addition, she is a member of the National Association of Workers’ Compensation Judiciary and serves as is one of the editors for the NAWCJ’s monthly newsletter.
Honorable John Lazzara
John Lazzara was Judge of Compensation Claims (JCC) for 28 years in the Tampa and Tallahassee Districts until his retirement in May of 2018. He served as President of the Florida Conference of JCCs (1997-99); Chair, The Florida Bar Workers’ Compensation Rules Committee (1994-95); Member, The Florida Bar Appellate Court Rules Committee (2001-07); Chair, DOAH/OJCC Workers’ Compensation Rules Revision Committee (2005-06); Member, The Florida Bar Standing Committee on Professionalism (2007-13); and Member of The Florida Bar Senior Lawyers Committee (2014-2017). In 1998 and 2002 Judge Lazzara was nominated for appointment to the First District Court of Appeal, which has exclusive statewide jurisdiction over workers’ compensation appeals. He was appointed Interim Deputy Chief Judge of Compensation Claims (2005-06) by Governor Bush. In 2008, he co-founded and was elected Inaugural President of the National Association of Workers’ Compensation Judiciary (NAWCJ) and served on its Board of Directors until 2018. In 2009, he was inducted a Fellow of the ABA-founded College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers and sat on its Board of Governors (2011-16). He was also inducted a Charter Member of the Florida Workers’ Compensation Institute’s Hall of Fame in 2012. The University of Florida Blue Key Honor Society induced him as an alum to its 2015 Honorary Spring Tapping Class. Judge Lazzara teaches Workers’ Compensation Law at Florida State University College of Law as an Adjunct Professor and is a frequent speaker on a variety of workers’ compensation and mediation topics. He received his B.A. (’65) and J.D. (’67) degrees from the University of Florida.
Honorable Ellen Lorenzen
Ellen Lorenzen was originally from Los Angeles, CA. but grew up in Baton Rouge, LA. She received her B.A. from Emory University, Atlanta, GA in 1971 and moved to Florida. She began working as an all-lines adjuster until she attended Stetson College of Law where she graduated in 1978. After admission to the Bar, she became employed as staff counsel for Continental Insurance in Tampa, practicing primarily in the area of personal injury defense with some workers’ compensation cases. In 1985 Ms. Lorenzen became employed with the firm of Morris & Rosen where she represented injured employees. In 1986 she was hired by Travelers Insurance as a staff attorney where she was responsible for a mix of workers’ compensation and personal injury cases until 1990. At that time she became the managing attorney for the Tampa staff counsel office of Travelers and restricted her practice solely to workers’ compensation defense. In 1994 Ms. Lorenzen became associated with the firm of Barr, Murman, Tonelli in Tampa and became a partner there in 1997. In 1998 Ms. Lorenzen and John Dixon, Esq. formed a firm handling workers’ compensation defense statewide on behalf of several self-insured employers. Ms. Lorenzen resigned her membership in that firm in 2004 when she was appointed a Judge of Compensation Claims by Governor Bush. She has been Board Certified in Workers’ Compensation since 1988. Judge Lorenzen served as the second President of the NAWCJ.
Honorable Dwight Lovan
Commissioner Lovan was born in Madisonville and grew up in Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, and Texas. He graduated from high school in Texas and enrolled at Baylor University in Waco Texas. After graduating from Baylor, Commissioner Lovan entered the University of Kentucky College of Law in 1971 but left to enter the Air Force where he served his in a variety of locations the last being Osan AB, Korea. He returned to law school in 1975 and graduated with a JD degree in December1977.
Commissioner Lovan’s first job as an attorney was as the workers compensation staff attorney for Kentucky Court of Appeals where he researched and drafted opinions involving Kentucky workers’ compensation appeals. Upon leaving the court in 1979, Commissioner Lovan moved to Owensboro, Kentucky, where he practiced law for several years. His practice included all aspects of civil litigation including regular representation in workers compensation matters. He had the opportunity to represent injured workers and employers/insurance carriers.
In 1990, Commissioner Lovan was appointed as a Kentucky Worker’s Compensation Administrative Law Judge where he served until August of 1994 when he was appointed to the Kentucky Worker’s Compensation Board, the first level of appeal of Kentucky Workers’ Compensation Claims. He served on the Board for nine and a half years, the last four as Chair. Upon leaving the Board he returned to Owensboro to again practice law for four years until his appointment as Commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Workers Claims in early 2008.
He served as commissioner until his retirement on January 1, 2017. During his time as a practicing attorney, an ALJ, a Board member and Commissioner, he regularly made presentations to seminars, legislative committees, and to various citizen groups. He has been a contributing author to CLE books and national publications. Commissioner Lovan was an early supporter of the NAWCJ, and he implemented a policy of sending Kentucky Administrative Law Judges and Board Members to the annual judicial college. Commissioner Lovan also supported and assisted the NAWCJ training of ALJs for the Tennessee administrative system in 2014, and has spoken at the “Boot” Camp.
Commissioner Lovan was a founding board member of Kentucky Kids’ Chance and continues to serve on the board including being a member of the scholarship committee.
Commissioner Lovan has been involved with regional and national workers’ compensation organizations. While a member of the Workers’ Compensation Board and as Commissioner of the DWC he was a member of the Executive Committee of the Southern Association of Workers Compensation Administrators (SAWCA) serving as the President of the organization in 2012. He also served on the Executive Committee of the International Association of Accident Boards and Commissions (IAIABC) serving as President of the organization in 2015. He continues to make presentations to the National Regulators College operated by SAWCA. Commissioner Lovan was inducted into the Kentucky Workers’ Compensation Hall of Fame in the 2020 class.
Most importantly, he is married to the beautiful Beverly and has three wonderful children and an adorable granddaughter.
Commissioner Roger L. Williams
Roger L. Williams, was appointed by the 2008 Virginia General Assembly as one of three Workers’ Compensation Commissioners. He began his position with the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission on May 1, 2008, where he served until his passing on October 11, 2016. From May 1980 to May 2008, Commissioner Williams was engaged in the private practice of law almost exclusively in the area of insurance defense litigation, with emphasis on the law of workers’ compensation. He represented employers and insurers in thousands of cases before the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission. Commissioner Williams received his B.S. from Washington and Lee University in 1975 and his J.D. from University of Richmond in 1980. He was the recipient of the Charles T. Norman Award, a member of the McNeill Law Society and a Member of the University of Richmond Law Review. Commissioner Williams taught AIC34, the Insurance Institute of America’s Workers’ Compensation course for insurance adjusters, lectured on the law of workers’ compensation at various programs presented by the NAWCJ, SAWCA, the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission and Virginia CLE, and conducted workers’ compensation seminars for various insurance carriers and self-insured groups. A Past-President of SAWCA, he was instrumental in establishing the SAWCA National Regulators College, posthumously renamed the Roger L. Williams National Regulators College in his honor. Commissioner Williams was a passionate supporter of Kids’ Chance of Virginia. He was inducted as a fellow of the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers in 2014.