Office of General Counsel Contacts


MAIN OFFICE (518) 434-7045


Printable Org Chart

Chris Ashley, General Counsel (

Mr. Ashley joined the RF in February 2014.  Before joining the RF he spent 14 years with the University of Wisconsin System where he served as senior counsel and most recently, as deputy general counsel. Before working with the UW System, he was assistant general counsel for the National Science Foundation where he handled a wide portfolio of legal and policy issues in federally sponsored research. Mr. Ashley also worked on legal ethics matters as a staff attorney in the White House Counsel’s office and was in private practice in the labor and employment section of Morgan, Lewis & Bockius in Washington, D.C. for four years.  Mr. Ashley earned his bachelor’s degree from Swarthmore College and his law degree from the University of Wisconsin Law School.

Rich Agnello, Deputy General Counsel (

Mr. Agnello has been with the RF since 2008. Prior to entering law school, he worked at the University of Rochester’s School of Medicine and Dentistry where his lab studied the regulation of hypoxia-inducible factor 1a in various keratinocyte models. He presented his work at three international conferences and published one journal article and two abstracts.  Mr. Agnello is also a Certified Compliance and Ethics Professional and is a Certified Mediator in Albany County.  He earned his bachelor’s degree from King’s College and his law degree from Albany Law School with a concentration in intellectual property law.

Allison Gottlieb, Senior Associate Counsel (

Ms. Gottlieb joined the RF in September 2017. Prior to joining the RF, she worked in the labor and employment departments of the law firms of Bond, Schoeneck & King, PLLC, and Kelley Drye & Warren LLP out of New York City, focusing on employment litigation, employee relations and labor matters.  Ms. Gottlieb received her bachelor’s degree from St. John Fisher College in Rochester, New York, and her law degree from Albany Law School. She is admitted to practice law in the State of New York.

Molly Worden, Associate Counsel (

Ms. Worden joined the RF in March 2018 just after being admitted to the New York State Bar. during law school she focused on working in the public sector, gaining legal experience working at a NYS Agency and traveling abroad to work for the Government of Ireland in the Chief State Solicitor's Office. Ms. Worden received her bachelor's degree with honors in history from the University at Albany and her law degree from Albany Law School, magna cum laude. She is admitted to practice law in the State of New York. 

Michael Nichols, Associate Counsel (

Dr. Michael L. Nichols joined the RF in October 2021. Prior to joining the RF, he provided counsel to academic and business leadership on a broad range of legal and compliance issues and oversaw sponsored research and contractual operations for several academic research institutions, including Emory University, Georgetown University, Florida State University College of Medicine and Northern Arizona University. Dr. Nichols is also a Certified Research Administrator and mediator. He earned his doctorate degree (Higher Education Management) from the University of Pennsylvania, his law degree from the University of the District of Columbia School of Law, a master’s degree (Public Administration) from California State University, Fullerton, and his bachelor’s degree, cum laude and Distinction-in-Major (Political Science) from Temple University. He is also a graduate Fellow of the Executive Leadership Academy with the Center for Studies in Higher Education at the University of California, Berkeley. He is admitted to the practice of law in the District of Columbia (D.C.), New Mexico, Alabama and is registered as in-house counsel pursuant to the Rules of the New York Court of Appeals.

Ethan Denny, Associate Counsel (

Ethan Denny, Associate Counsel, joined the RF in 2015.  Before joining the OGC, he was the Assistant Director of Contracts in Research Administration for RF at SUNY Downstate Medical Center.  He previously worked for several years at the Clinical Trials Office for Columbia University.  He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and his law degree from the University of New Hampshire – Franklin Pierce School of Law.  He is admitted to practice law in the State of New York.