Vanessa L. Allen Sutherland, Executive Vice President, Legal and Government Affairs, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary of Fortune 50 Phillips 66 (NYSE: PSX), is a seasoned executive and former U.S. Senate-confirmed political appointee with 25 years of private and public sector experience, focusing on helping publicly traded companies increase their value through culture transformation, strategic discipline, continuous improvement, risk management and talent management. She holds a law degree, Master of Business Administration and Certified Information Privacy Professional certification.
Sutherland has been a leader of, and advisor to, executives, boards, and political appointees in highly regulated industries such as telecommunications, Internet hosting, global consumer products manufacturing, transportation and chemical industries in the Fortune 15 – 300. She has developed strategic plans within the public and private sector to set the course of organizations for three to five-year periods, but mindful of long-term trends. Her expertise spans handling intellectual property and product development, privacy and data security, mergers and acquisitions, intercompany transactions, regulatory compliance, litigation, contract management and employment matters.
Prior to joining Phillips 66, she was the Chief Legal Officer at Norfolk Southern Corporation, reporting to the CEO, with responsibility for Audit and Compliance, Law, Government Relations, Corporate Secretary, Claims, Insurance Risk Management, Information Governance and Environmental Remediation, with over 130 professionals. Sutherland joined Norfolk Southern Corporation as vice president law in June 2018, subsequently being promoted to senior vice president, chief legal officer in April 2019 and then to senior vice president, government relations and chief legal officer in August 2019. In 2020, she was promoted to executive vice president and chief legal officer, ultimately adding audit and compliance to her portfolio in July 2021.
Prior to joining Norfolk Southern, she served in a presidentially nominated, Senate-confirmed position as chief executive officer and chairperson of the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board in Washington, D.C. from 2015-2018. Previously, she served as a political appointee as chief counsel with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, where she received the “Inspiring Leader Award.” Engaging on issues such as transportation safety of Ebola and crude oil, United Nations meetings about lithium battery safety, interagency coordination on the evaluation of critical infrastructure, she worked collaboratively with government agencies, Congress, trade associations, unions, companies, research labs, tribal nations, first responders, standards developing organizations, communities and public relations.
Nonetheless, the majority of Sutherland’s career has been with corporations, including prior roles as counsel with Philip Morris USA (NYSE: MO) and senior counsel with Phillip Morris’ affiliate Altria Client Services. Sutherland began work as a corporate attorney at long-distance phone company MCI (now NYSE: VZ) but moved to MCI subsidiary Digex, where she served first as counsel, then as senior counsel and then vice president and deputy general counsel. Digex was one of the successful IPOs in then-nascent webhosting and outsourcing, before its parent company WorldCom disclosed the then-largest accounting scandal in history. Participating in a NASDAQ de-listing hearing and executive clawbacks were a notable part of the Digex-WorldCom experience.
Sutherland is the recipient of several legal and non-legal awards, including as examples National Diversity Council’s Power 50 List (2021), Corporate Counsel Magazine – “Best Of” Law Departments (2020), three U.S. Secretary of Transportation Awards (2013-2014), a Virginia Lawyers Weekly “Leaders in the Law” Award (2011), the “Standing on the Shoulders of Giants Award” from the University of Richmond (2017), Jack and Jill of America – Distinguished Mother of the Year (2012), top March of Dimes – Virginia fundraiser (2012-2014) and Fellow in both the Maryland State Bar (2002) and the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity (2011).