Women Worth Watching 2015
Natasha M. Songonuga
This Director is a “Rising Star” and Critical Member of the Gibbons Team
Natasha Songonuga has extensive experience in business reorganization and restructuring matters, working across the full spectrum of Chapter 11 cases, as well as counseling creditors in assignments for the benefit of creditors in state court insolvency proceedings. She also handles other bankruptcy matters and has represented landlords in FDIC receiverships of banks. Natasha was one of only 20 attorneys selected to the Super Lawyers 2013 Delaware Rising Stars list.
“My biggest career leap was leaving Gibbons in the middle of my career for the opportunity to take the DE bar exam,” said Natasha. “While that leap was very risky and rocky in the beginning, I learned that self-confidence is simply knowing what you want and going for it.”
Natasha is a critical member of a team headed by James R. Zazzali, of counsel to Gibbons and former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of New Jersey, who serves as Chapter 11 Trustee for DBSI, Inc. and 51 affiliated Chapter 11 debtors in jointly administered cases pending in the US Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware.
“…self-confidence is simply knowing what you want and going for it.”
Representation of the Trustee involves, among other things, the resolution of many significant issues, as well as numerous contested matters relating to the debtors’ multimillion-dollar real estate portfolio. Approximately 34,000 creditor claims have been filed, and liabilities are estimated to be $600 million—the largest number of claims in a single case ever handled by the debtors’ claims agent. Natasha works closely with the firm’s litigation, corporate, and real estate finance practices in this representation, as well as with other members of the bankruptcy team.
As director of Gibbons P.C.’s Financial Restructuring & Creditors’ Rights Department—a position to which she was named in January 2015—Natasha is a key component of the firm’s robust Delaware practice. In participating in the representation of the Chapter 11 trustee for DBSI, Inc., and its affiliates—a conglomerate of real estate entities with listed assets valued at over $2.65 billion—Natasha was instrumental in a complex process that resulted in the confirmation of a joint Chapter 11 plan of liquidation.
Education: JD, Seton Hall University School of Law; BS, Rutgers University
My First Job: Cashier, McDonald’s
What I’m Reading: “Change Your Questions, Change Your Life” by Marilee Adams
Words I live by: Love thy neighbor as thyself.
The most important quality a woman leader should have is…
…the ability to have a calm demeanor under pressure.
The career advice I’d give my former self:
Success is a process that takes time and hard work. In every job, find out what is expected of someone in your position, then do more or better, exceeding everyone’s expectations – and success will follow.
The one thing I’d do differently in my career, knowing what I know now, is…
…I’d spend as much time building relationships with those I work with or went to school with as I do trying to attain perfection in my work.
When I really need to focus on a project, I…
…spend quality time with the kids so I don’t feel as if I am short changing them, but then put them to bed early so I can lock myself away working into the wee hours of the morning.
My biggest career leap (and what I learned from it) was…
… leaving Gibbons in the middle of my career for the opportunity to take the DE bar exam. While that leap was very risky and rocky in the beginning, I learned that self-confidence is simply knowing what you want and going for it.
Being a woman in my profession has been…
…challenging at times but influential and empowering at other times.
I’ve learned that failure is…
…just the dress rehearsal for the big performance of success that follows if you don’t give up. Failure is not the end, just another opportunity to start over or start something new.
I maintain a healthy personal life by…
…making time during each day to sit and listen to my kids tell me how their day went and what happened in their lives during that day. Then, on the weekends, I take the time to just hang out with the kids, often cooking their favorite dishes or trying new ones.
I knew my present career was what I wanted to do when…
…I was about 8 years old, after watching single women like my mom struggle to put food on the table and keep their kids on the straight path.