Oakland, CA – The California Workers’ Compensation Institute President Alex Swedlow recently announced that Sara Widener-Brightwell has been named to succeed Ellen Sims Langille as General Counsel of the Oakland-based research group.
Ms. Widener-Brightwell received her undergraduate degree in Business Administration from Colorado State University and her law degree from San Joaquin College of Law. She began her career in California workers’ compensation as a claims adjuster at the State Compensation Insurance Fund in Fresno and after receiving her law degree in 1994 began her career as a workers’ compensation defense attorney.
Over the past 27 years she has taught employment law, worked as a litigation specialist and a claims manager, developed and presented jurisdictional training for California claims adjusters and medical bill reviewers, and conducted round table assessments of jurisdictional compliance, claim direction, value, and settlement options. Since 2005, she has served as a Workers’ Compensation Training Manager/Claims Compliance and Training Specialist for Sentry Insurance, where she was Sentry’s primary legal resource for California workers’ compensation issues, with responsibilities that included monitoring and providing training on statutory, regulatory, and case law changes affecting the California system; conducting legislative research; and conducting claim and litigation reviews to assure jurisdictionally compliant file handling. Since 2015, Ms. Widener-Brightwell has also served on CWCI’s Legal and Claims Committees.
In her new role, Ms. Widener-Brightwell will manage the Institute’s internal and external legal affairs; serve as staff liaison to the Legal Committee, which directs CWCI’s amicus activities; analyze regulatory and legal issues affecting California workers’ compensation; and help develop and present research and legal programs for Institute members and other workers’ compensation stakeholders.
In announcing her appointment, Mr. Swedlow said, “The Institute is thrilled to have found someone with such deep, practical knowledge and understanding of both workers’ compensation claims and legal issues. Sara’s expertise, her reputation gained from three decades worth of work within the California workers’ compensation system, and her background in serving on the Institute’s Claims and Legal Committees made her an ideal choice. She will begin working at the Institute in early January, which will allow for a seamless transition as Ellen Sims Langille moves toward her retirement in May.”