Healthcare Leader Leverages Degrees and Experience to Navigate Global Pandemic
Despite being a partner in a national law firm, with years of experience as a business and tax attorney, Terri Wagner Cammarano ’88 LLM ’03 sometimes felt intimidated in meetings with financial and accounting experts. Earning her Tax LLM degree 15 years into her legal career made her feel like an equal.
“I felt a lot more confident sitting in the room with CFOs and investment bankers because I better understood financial and accounting terms, and I was able to weigh in on tax nuances to which they might not be sensitive,” says Cammarano, who was part of Loyola’s first Tax LLM class. Terri leveraged her experience and degrees most recently to become the Senior Vice President and General Counsel of Cedars-Sinai, a major Los Angeles healthcare nonprofit organization.
Cedars-Sinai, like all healthcare organizations in 2020, is facing new and unprecedented challenges in the wake of the global pandemic. In her role, Terri is a leader for an organization that faces almost daily changes to regulations, policies, and laws impacting their business.
It is Terri’s experience and confidence that makes her such a valuable asset to the upcoming Western Conference of Tax-Exempt Organizations, where she will host panels on state and local tax issues affecting nonprofit organizations and COVID-19 funding issues. In addition to sharing her subject-matter expertise, Terri supports Loyola as both a donor and adjunct professor. As a nonprofit leader, she knows how critical unrestricted support is and has directed her gifts to the Juris Fund – the law school’s unrestricted fund – since she completed her LLM in 2003.
A Southern California native, Cammarano knew she wanted to become a lawyer from an early age. When she applied to law schools, Loyola won hands down, in large part because of its Jesuit heritage and the offer of a scholarship to help fund her legal education. “Loyola made me feel that they really wanted me.”
Cammarano’s initial job after graduating was with O’Melveny & Myers LLP’s Newport Beach office, which was small enough that she could work on both business and tax matters. She soon figured out she loved working with nonprofit organizations, particularly those in the healthcare industry. Her work centered on transactions, compliance and other business matters in the highly regulated healthcare field, and she also advised clients on tax matters and nonprofit issues, such as tax-exempt bond financing and charitable giving, which led to her considering a Tax LLM.
When Loyola announced its Tax LLM program, she enrolled right away. Working during the day as a partner at Foley & Lardner and taking classes at night, Cammarano earned her LLM in 2003. She loved the program, she says, because it helped her put her knowledge of some specialized tax topics into context. “I knew a lot about some of the specific tax trees. Loyola’s program gave me an understanding of the full tax forest.”
After serving as General Counsel for two California nonprofit healthcare systems, Terri joined Hooper Lundy & Bookman, PC, a national healthcare law firm, before joining Cedars-Sinai, where she works with several other members of the Loyola family: Mylene Brooks ’94, Vice President and Assistant General Counsel; Bobbi Buffington ’97, Director of HR Legal Affairs and Compliance; and Loyola adjunct faculty member Robin McCaffrey, Managing Associate General Counsel.