Leesa Sherman-Hochmuth, Certified Paralegal
Our Senior Immigration Paralegal since 2004, Leesa assists Ms. Mendoza with all types of immigration cases from professional and business-based visas to family immigration, consular processing and naturalization.
A Norfolk, VA native and proud retired Navy spouse, she graduated from Old Dominion University with a B.A. in English Linguistics. She is a two-time recipient of scholarships for paralegal volunteers to the Annual Conference of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), and she enjoys volunteering each year at AILA’s local Citizenship Day events.
Leesa is an active member of the National Association of Legal Assistants (NALA). In 2008, she was awarded NALA’s Certified Paralegal (CP) credential, recognized by the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Legal Assistants as a high level professional designation.
Joyce Diaz, Firm Administrator
Joyce Diaz is our Firm Administrator and rejoined our team in 2013. She is responsible for our firm’s wide array of bookkeeping and finance functions. Joyce also manages employee relations, recruiting efforts and vendor management. She was also our Office Manager in 2005-2006.
Joyce and her husband moved to Virginia Beach from Elizabeth, New Jersey in 1998 as newlyweds. She began her court reporting career in our local circuit courts but soon thereafter, transitioned into her first legal recruiting position with a premier legal staffing firm in Norfolk. Promoted to Division Manager, she was responsible for business development, marketing and profitability across two regions. This business experience led her to spearhead new legal staffing divisions throughout the next 13 years of her career while managing staffs and working closely with hundreds of local attorneys and firm administrators. She prides herself in having helped hundreds of legal professionals find their dream position within the area’s finest law firms and corporate legal departments.
Joyce studied psychology for two years at Kean University and graduated with a Court Reporting degree from The Cittone Institute in 1997. She is a Certified Staffing Professional by means of the American Staffing Association and a member of the Society of Human Resources Management.
The daughter of Colombian immigrant parents, Joyce speaks Spanish fluently. She enjoys spending time with her family which now includes a pre-teen son and a toddler daughter! She loves to cook, play softball and hit the dance floor with her husband of 18 years. If she is missing in action, you can find Joyce at a local coffee shop sipping an iced caramel latte.
Grace Martinez, Client Services
Grace Martinez joined our team as a Client Services member in 2014. She is our Director of First Impressions and manages all administrative functions in the front office. Often times, she is the first person you speak with when calling our law firm. Her days are busy while answering the phones, scheduling appointments, opening and closing files and translating for our attorneys. She truly understands the art of providing our clients with a world-class experience.
Prior to coming onboard, Grace supported the Dean of Humanities at our local Tidewater Community College as an administrative office assistant where she was well-respected and loved by all. Her work history includes customer service, pre-school teaching, collections and many years of secretarial experience.
Grace earned her Associates degree in Applied Science from Tidewater Community College in Early Childhood Development and an Executive Secretarial diploma from Dover Business College.
She is the proud mom of beautiful triplet daughters and resides in Virginia Beach with her loving husband of 30 years. Grace is a native Spanish speaker, born in Ecuador and moved to the United States at the young age of eleven. When not working, Grace enjoys playing cards with her long-time friends, traveling to visit family and singing along to the best Latin songs of all times!
Shelley Blankinship, Marketing Manager
Shelley Blankinship joined us in 2016 as our Marketing Manager. Shelley’s primary focus will be expanding marketing efforts, enhancing our digital presence and streamlining other processes to make Gardner & Mendoza more effective.
Shelley spent over 10 years with Pilot Media Companies, where she was most recently the Sales Development Manager overseeing marketing, sales and distribution efforts for Pilot Media products in retail outlets. Prior to her role in marketing, she spent over 9 years in Human Resources, with her last role as Benefits Manager. Shelley holds a B.S in Business Management from Old Dominion University.
Shelley left the workforce in 2011 to become a stay at home mom, and has since reentered on a part-time basis. Shelley and her husband Don have been married over 7 years, and currently reside in Virginia Beach with their two children Eva, 5 and Cole, 3. When not working, Shelley enjoys family time, fitness and soaking up rays!
Domini Samson, Law Intern
Domini was born in the Philippines but grew up in Kansas. He is currently enrolled as a second-year law student at Regent University School of Law in Virginia Beach, VA. Domini earned his B.A. in Criminal Justice from Virginia Commonwealth University. After earning his B.A., Domini worked as a paralegal at a debt collection law firm in Richmond, VA for 6 years. Before starting law school, Domini earned his Master of Arts in Law at Regent University School of Law in Virginia Beach, VA in 2015.
During the academic year, Domini is involved in various student groups such as the Journal of Global Justice and Public Policy as Staff Editor; Alternative Dispute Resolution Board as a Board Member; and Asian Pacific American Law Student Association as Treasurer. Last summer, Domini interned as a law clerk at Lollar Law in Norfolk, VA, which focuses primarily in representing private property owners in Eminent Domain cases.
Upon graduation, Domini plans to pass the Virginia State Bar and practice immigration law and estate planning in Virginia Beach. Domini loves sports especially football and basketball and is a big Kansas City Chiefs and Kansas University Jayhawks fan. Domini lives in Virginia Beach with his wife and 3-year old daughter. Domini likes to go on impromptu food tours, dances (not very well) salsa, merengue and bachata, and is an avid gamer.