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2019 Top 10 30-Something: April A. Goff

Top Ten 30 Somethings

ACC’s Top 10 30-Somethings program is now accepting nominations for 2020. To inspire you to make a nomination, each week we’ll post a 2019 winner’s profile until submissions close on Friday, December 6. Go here to learn how to become one of ACC’s 2020 Top 10 30-Somethings.


Within weeks of moving in-house at JCPenney, April A. Goff, 39, jumped into several projects that saved the company millions of dollars. Goff is the sole ERISA counsel at the company and also acts as the privacy counsel with respect to associate data. But she’s used to being a trailblazer. Goff was the first person in her family to go to college, which she finished when she was 18, and dove headfirst into higher education and then large law firms.

When she arrived at JCPenney, Goff discovered unnecessarily complicated employee benefits policies and procedures — all at high costs to a company with over 100,000 employees. Goff reviewed and simplified hundreds of personnel policies and developed long-term plans to minimize benefit plan costs. Her goal was to partner with the business stakeholders to modernize and streamline plans while providing better, more attractive benefits to the employees at a cheaper price to the company.

As part of the overhaul, Goff renegotiated over 700 million dollars in contracts, spearheaded a voluntary early retirement program with cost-savings of over 30 million dollars, and also led a multi-department pension plan de-risking strategy that saved over 16 million dollars in just over a one-year period with no outside counsel assistance.

Aside from cutting costs and mitigating risk for the company — Goff limited her total outside counsel spend to under US$10,000 in three years — she has also played a vital role in the organization’s cybersecurity and data privacy protection. Goff became a certified information privacy professional and led a cross-functional team of over 50 employees and vendors to create a more robust cybersecurity policy and incident response protocol. Goff worked closely with JCPenney’s chief information officer and chief information security officer and handled the procedure from planning to roll-out. The result is a living document that has buy-in from over 20 departments within the organization.

For her efforts with the cybersecurity project, Goff was awarded JCPenney’s Warrior Coin — one of the highest company recognitions. JCPenney awards limited commemorative Warrior Coins to employees who demonstrate “Warrior Spirit” through exemplary loyalty, passion, courage, and service to the company.

Goff brings a similar spirit to her community service and pro bono work. She serves as chair of the ACC Dallas-Fort Worth Chapter’s Women’s Leadership Committee and is vice chair of the ACC Employment and Labor Law Network. In these capacities, she has conducted community outreach to women in transition and created events and resources for ACC members interested in labor and employment law matters.

Goff is also one of the youngest members to ever sit on the Internal Revenue Service Advisory Council. She is chair of the Fiduciary Responsibility and Litigation Committee for the American Bar Association Section of Real Property Trusts and Estate Law, and she will be taking over as vice chair of the Employee Plans and Executive Compensation Group with the new bar year. When asked how she finds time for all these responsibilities, she calmly responds that she makes the time. And as a busy mom of four boys ages four through eleven, she’s become a master of time management.

Looking at Goff’s contributions to the in-house community, within and outside JCPenney, it’s hard to imagine that she never envisioned herself in-house. Goff took the position after moving home to be closer to family, but she knew immediately it was a good fit. “When I met the team at JCPenney, it was like I had known them my entire life. They were incredibly welcoming and warm, and the quality of work that I would be doing in-house was actually in some ways superior to what I did in private practice,” Goff says. Given her accomplishments after only three years in-house, even greater things are sure to come.


More 2019 Top 10 30-Somethings

Thomas Cluderay

Lewis Dolezal

Sadeq M. Kahn

William K. Piotrowski

Erin K. Stewart

About the Author

Danielle Maldonado is the assistant editor of the Association of Corporate Counsel.


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