“Rhonda was a visionary force and passionate friend, coach, and mentor whose leadership helped ignite Allstate’s transformation and create societal impact,” Allstate said in a statement.
Ferguson joined Allstate in November 2020 following a 10-year stint in private practice. She also joined the board of Exelon’s Constellation Energy earlier this year. Ferguson began her career as an associate at Thompson Hine in the mid-1990s, later becoming a partner at Baker & Hostetler, then serving in-house at Ferro Corp. and FirstEnergy Corp. She was later tapped to serve as law department leader for Union Pacific in 2016.
Allstate has yet to name Ferguson’s successor, Bloomberg Law reported.
Her family called her an “exemplary wife, mother, daughter, and sister.”
“Rhonda’s charmed life was full of love, laughter, adventure, and unimaginable success,” the family added in a statement on social media. “Her impact on everyone she touched is immeasurable and will be felt for years to come.”
Ferguson has been praised by both current and former colleagues as a mentor for other lawyers.
“I had the privilege of advancing my career, side-by-side with Rhonda, celebrating each other’s successes over many years with a shared commitment to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in the legal profession and beyond,” said Discover Financial Services legal chief Wanjiku Walcott, who added that Ferguson was an “amazing person” that “always made herself available as a sounding board, role model, confidant, and friend.”
Laurie Robinson Haden, president and CEO of the Corporate Counsel Women of Color affinity network, added that Ferguson’s death has affected her a lot, especially after two other young women of color lawyers – Providence Health & Services legal chief A. Verona Dorch and former CNN and MSNBC legal analyst Midwin Charles – had also recently passed away.
“The losses are sudden and unexpected—it can happen to anyone of us,” said Haden. “This is a clear call to all of us to enjoy each day and kiss the ones we love.”
The three women were members of Haden’s in-house legal network. Haden was also the first to break the news of Ferguson’s death in a LinkedIn post.
Ferguson was “a friend of mine who was a brilliant lawyer, leader, and above all a remarkable person. I have always admired her wisdom and grace,” said Damon Hart, chief legal officer at Liberty Mutual Insurance.
“I have the highest regard for Rhonda as a leader and it’s another huge loss for our profession,” stated Minority Corporate Counsel Association president and CEO Jean Lee, who had hoped to meet Ferguson in person after connecting with her via email.