About Us

Gotcha Covered is a New Orleans based Human Resources consulting firm that specializes in providing businesses with practical and cost-effective solutions to problematic challenges within the workplace. Its co-founders, Stefanie Allweiss and Patricia Pannell, bring more than fifty years combined experience in employment relations and mediation of workplace issues. We understand the importance of resolving problems quickly and productively so that your business and workforce will be successful.

Our Team

Patricia E. Pannell, J.D.

Patricia Pannell is a Human Resources consultant, attorney, and mediator. In 2013, Patti and her long-time colleague Stefanie Allweiss founded Gotcha Covered HR to provide human resources support and outsourcing to small and mid-sized businesses.

A graduate of the University of South Carolina School of Law, Patti has been actively engaged in the practice of labor and employment law in the Greater New Orleans area for more than 25 years. She has represented clients before regulatory agencies such as the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the U.S. Department of Labor, and the Louisiana Workforce Commission.

Patti has lectured at seminars both for individual businesses and for fellow attorneys on topics such as sexual harassment, family and medical leave, and wage and hour law. She works extensively with HR professionals and business owners in proactive problem solving, including developing and implementing drug testing protocols; working with managers in dealing with employees in difficult situations, providing advice, guidance and coaching as needed; negotiating severance agreements; formulating general workplace policies and strategies; and conducting independent investigations into allegations of sexual harassment and other forms of workplace discrimination.

In 2012, Patti received her certification in Employment Mediation from The Mediation Institute and is a registered Civil Mediator with the Louisiana State Bar Association. She is a member of the Louisiana State Bar Association as well as the South Carolina Bar.

Patti is also a member of the New Orleans affiliate of the Society for Human Resource Management (NOLA-SHRM), the New Orleans Chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO-NOLA), American Business Women’s Association (ABWA) and, through Gotcha Covered HR, the New Orleans Chamber of Commerce and StayLocal.

Patti is married to her law school sweetheart, John Dunlap, and has two sons. She enjoys cooking, reading, gardening, spinning, and SEC football. She is an active member of St. Charles Avenue Presbyterian Church and is past chair of the Global Ministries Committee.

Michelle T. Butler, J.D.

Michelle Butler brings over thirty years of experience in mediation and investigation to Gotcha Covered HR. A native New Orleanian and a graduate of the UCLA School of Law, Michelle recently retired from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), where she served as a Senior Trial Attorney, Supervisory Trial Attorney, Staff Mediator, and Senior Litigator. Additionally, Michelle served a one year tenure as the Deputy Director, where she was second in command in managerial duties relative to the EEOC Enforcement Investigations. Michelle often acted as the Regional Attorney for the New Orleans District Office of the EEOC as well.

While serving at the EEOC, Michele engaged in complex litigation; conducted mediations and investigations; was actively involved in staff training, and most notably in the enforcement of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Michelle presented Customer Specific Training (CST), which provided in-depth, customized education on federal anti-discrimination laws and their applications for particular employers and agencies.

In 2019, Michelle was selected as one of the Nationwide Sexual Harassment Trainers for Enforcement Investigators, with an emphasis on strategies for interviewing victims of trauma in an investigation.

Michelle has been invited to participate in numerous CLE Seminars for the Louisiana State Bar Association (LSBA) and is a former chair of the LSBA Labor and Employment Law Section.

During her spare time, Michelle enjoys travel, film festivals, and theater, and she has been actively involved in the New Orleans Opera Association.

Dwayne Pierce

For over 20 years Dwayne has been providing leadership and guidance in a variety areas within the human resources profession. He has served as Assistant Vice President, an advisor and Business Partner in a variety of industries including Banking, Oil and Gas, and Technology both in the US and internationally.  Over the course of his career, he has served as an advisor for companies such as Regions Bank, Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC)/ Leidos, DynMcdermott Petroleum Operations Company, Harrah’s Casino and most recently the New Orleans Police Department where he served as the Director of Human Resources.

Dwayne specializes in Employee Relations, Performance Management, Training, Employee Engagement, Workplace Harassment and Staff Development.  Through these specialties he has laid the ground work for successful employee engagement and retention programs.

Throughout the course of his career, he has developed tactical leadership, strategic planning skills, and has supervised cross-functional teams while boosting morale with a focus on engagement, employee productivity and retention. In addition to providing managers with sound techniques for conducting interviews and improving employee engagement, he maintains a disposition that is very approachable and is very customer service oriented.

Dwayne’s hobbies include being an audiophile (listening to music on hi-end stereo equipment) and doing carpentry work.

Martha Martinez, M.S.H.T.M.

Originally from Ecuador, Martha relocated in 2008 to attend the University of New Orleans where she obtained a Bachelor of Science in Hotel, Restaurant, and Tourism Administration and a Master’s Degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management.

Martha possesses a diverse HR generalist skill set. Her strengths lie in placing and retention of the highest quality candidates, managing colleague experience, implementing and overseeing processes and procedures, coaching and counseling, employee investigations, separations, and ensuring overall HR compliance.

Her career path in Human Resources began over seven years ago when she interned at Six Flags California, where she took on the project of managing the International Intern program, including recruiting, processing J-1 visas, on boarding, training and orientation, employee recognition, and navigating the departure process.

Martha has held a variety of positions in operations and human resources in the hospitality industry in New Orleans, and at hotel properties such as the Roosevelt Hotel, the Hotel Monteleone, and the Hyatt Regency New Orleans.

Martha also has expertise in processing different types of nonimmigrant visas and recruiting internationally for both entry level and management positions. She is familiar with the processes required from a variety of countries, including Mexico, Vietnam, Philippines, and Ecuador. Martha managed the EducationUSA Program, supported by the US Department of State and the US Embassy, in the coastal and Galapagos region of Ecuador where she recruited talented students and placed them in different schools around the United States through scholarships.

Following her passion for global mobility, in 2019 Martha obtained a Certificate in Global Hiring: Complying with U.S. Visa Requirements presented by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). She also holds a Dale Carnegie training certificate in Effective Communications & Human Relations. Martha is a member of the New Orleans chapter of SHRM (NOLA-SHRM), as well as SHRM national. Martha is also an ambassador of the “Faces of Hospitality” created by the Greater New Orleans Hotel & Lodging Association and Hospitality Education Foundation to profile unique individuals from New Orleans’ hotel and hospitality industry who exemplify opportunities for career advancement and prosperity and encourage others to choose hospitality as their career.

Outside of work, Martha, who is bilingual in Spanish and English, enjoys traveling abroad and learning about other cultures. She also leads an active lifestyle that includes working out and biking around New Orleans with her husband. She has been to 10 different countries over the past 3 years.”

Shannon Coleman-Cryer

Shannon Coleman-Cryer is a former Federal Investigator with eight years of experience with the United States Department of Labor’s Wage & Hour Division (WHD). Shannon investigated and resolved issues and enforced compliance in cases related to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), Davis Bacon and Related Acts (DBRA), and the Service Contract Act (SCA). She conducted outreach training with firms, owners, managers, governmental agencies, and attorney representatives to ensure and maintain compliance with federal labor laws. Shannon specialized in detecting payroll violations of the Minimum Wage, Overtime, Record-Keeping, and Child Labor Laws.

Shannon’s career in government began in 2006 with the National Finance Center (NFC) and continued to the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). During her tenure with the federal government, Shannon assisted with answering and resolving equal employment and union disputes. She performed various roles within payroll, creating and enforcing standard operating procedures, and supporting department heads in implementing policy and ensuring compliance for various federal agencies.

Prior to her government service, Shannon was employed for nine years within the casino industry in various departments. She held positions in security, table games, financial planning and analysis, risk management, and retail at the Grand Casino in Mississippi and at Harrah’s Casino in New Orleans.

Shannon is a New Orleans native. She graduated from Loyola University with a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice Law and attended the University of New Orleans Executive MBA program. During her spare time, Shannon enjoys playing Rummy 5000 and Spades with friends (where she frequently wins), reading, and taking long drives.

Juanita Hill-Kennedy

Juanita Hill-Kennedy is a strategic human resources executive with over 20 years of experience conceptualizing and implementing HR policies and procedures to promote the organizational mission. Her expertise includes supporting comprehensive, high-performance human resources roles that incite business excellence. Juanita delivers exemplary strategic vision and tactical implementation to assess and improve human resource programs and processes that retain superior talent and reduce turnover. She is known for routinely evaluating and reengineering systems to improve quality standards resulting in bottom-line results.

Throughout her career, Juanita has been recognized as a genuine influencer who thrives on solving challenging problems, understanding organizational priorities, formulating strategies, and translating vision into actionable, value-added goals. As the Director of Human Resources with Royal Sonesta New Orleans, Juanita championed continuous improvement, defining and executing talent management strategies that reduced 2019 90-day turnover by 8% and property turnover by 7%, securing cost savings of $350K+. She also devised and implemented strategies that improved workplace culture and employee engagement, leading property to an 11-point increase in employee engagement growth in one year, resulting in she and her Human Resources team being recognized with Sonesta’s Sonny & Esther Award.

Recently, Juanita had the opportunity to work as a Consultant on a key labor relations project that included heading up a union avoidance campaign. Her expertise encompasses presenting and educating employees on all aspects of the National Labor Relations Act and the National Labor Relations Board. Juanita is also talented in educating employees on collective bargaining, union organizing strategies, and the impact of unionization on business development. Additionally, she spent time meeting with employees in “one on one’s,” which included understanding and addressing staff issues and concerns while educating them on the processes involved in an NLRB secret ballot election.

Juanita holds an SPHR certification with the Human Resources Certification Institute and a SHRM-CP certification with the Society of Human Resources. She studied Business at the University of New Orleans, Honolulu Community College and Tulane University. She is a Member of SHRM, HRCI, and Nola SHRM. Juanita is a transformative and empowering leader who supports companies and top executives with a unique perspective, respect, and appreciation that engaged employees is every organization’s greatest asset.