Wharton School Dean and Intellectual Property Attorney to Join Pomona College Board of Trustees

Head and shoulders photos of Erika James and Jason Sheasby

Two Pomona College alumni have been elected as new members of the College’s 28-member Board of Trustees, with terms beginning on July 1.

Erika James ’91 is dean of the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. She is a recognized expert on crisis leadership, management strategy and diversity in the workplace. Before joining Wharton, she was dean and professor of organization and management at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School.

At Pomona, James majored in psychology, and in her master’s and doctoral programs at the University of Michigan, she focused on organizational psychology. An award-winning educator, accomplished consultant and innovative researcher, she has paved the way for women in leadership both in education and corporate America. She has led in the development of innovative executive education programs, including the Women’s Leadership Program at the University of Virginia’s Darden School. James’ most recent book is The Prepared Leader: Emerge from Any Crisis More Resilient Than Before (Wharton School Press), co-authored with Lynn Perry Wooten.

James has been named one of the “Top 10 Women of Power in Education” by Black Enterprise and as one of the “Power 100” by Ebony. She serves on numerous boards and advisories, including Morgan Stanley, the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Economic Club of New York.

James and her husband, Jimmie James, have a son, Jordan, who graduated from Pomona in 2024, and a daughter, Alexandra.

“I look forward to reconnecting with my alma mater and doing so from the perspective of a leader in higher education,” says James. “Having spent more than 30 years in multiple universities, I have a broad understanding of higher education and am hopeful I can add value to the school that paved the way for my professional journey.”

Jason Sheasby ’97 is a law partner at Irell & Manella, where he specializes in complex litigation, intellectual property, antitrust and internal investigations. He is a graduate of Harvard Law School.

On behalf of the City of Pomona, Sheasby obtained a verdict that a Chilean mining conglomerate shipped tainted fertilizer before and during World War II, which leached into the city’s water. It was the first successful application of California’s product liability law to an environmental tort. The verdict was affirmed by 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

He also represented a group of patent owners as defendants in a suit that sought to make the normal operation of patent pools illegal under United States antitrust laws. His clients prevailed before the chief judge of the Northern District of Texas, with the decision affirmed by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, sitting en banc.

In addition, Sheasby obtained one of the largest verdicts in U.S. history for patents that cover 4G cellular technology.

Sheasby has received a number of awards in the legal industry, including a CLAY (California Lawyer of the Year) award for his work representing patent owners in federal proceedings. The CLAY is voted on by the editors of the largest and oldest California legal periodical, the Daily Journal. Sheasby is also one of the co-founders of TORL Biotherapeutics, a clinical stage company developing antibody drug conjugates to treat high unmet need cancers.

A philosophy major at Pomona, Sheasby was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. His wife, Rukshan Mistry ’97, is also a Pomona graduate. The couple have two daughters and live in Los Angeles.

“Pomona altered the trajectory of my life,” says Sheasby. “Its financial generosity allowed me to attend the school, to spend two terms in Cambridge reading Roman law and classics, to spend a summer writing about the foundations for democracy under Islamic law—the list goes on. It opened up a world I did not even know existed. I want to ensure that Pomona continues to play this role in the lives of students.”

Two members of the Board of Trustees are transitioning to emeritus status. Allyson Aranoff Harris ’89 has been a trustee since 2014. Osman Kibar ’92 joined the Board in 2016.