McGeorge School of Law

Profile: Sheila Dey

Sheila Dey
Sheila Dey

Class of 1979

Executive Director and General Counsel, Western Manufactured Housing Communities Association (WMA)

Sheila Slaughter Dey's father inspired her to go law school. An attorney and judge, Warren E. Slaughter wanted all of his four children to attend law school. Three of them, including Dey, who graduated from McGeorge School of Law in 1979, did.

Dey, who is general counsel and executive director of the Western Manufactured Housing Communities Association, has spent her more than three-decades-long career as a lawyer and lobbyist for trade associations in California. She began her career at a personal injury firm, working there for six months before being hired by the California Bankers Association as its legislative counsel and senior vice president.

After five years at the Bankers Association, Dey served as general counsel for the California Savings and Loan League from 1985 to 1991. From 1991 to 1993, she was legislative counsel for the California Land Title Association, working as the group's lobbyist. There, she helped change the law on how notary publics were licensed.

"At that time, there was rampant fraud in the real estate business, (with) people recording fraudulent deeds. It was really bad, so we changed the way notary publics were licensed. It made a big difference."

In 1993, Dey joined the Western Manufactured Housing Communities Association in Sacramento as general counsel. Four years later, she also became its executive director, keeping her role as the in-house attorney. The association represents about 1,700 mobile home parks in California. Members also include those who supply equipment or services to the communities, such as road pavers, attorneys and water testers. Mobile home parks are highly regulated and complicated to run, says Dey, who likens them to small cities.

In her roles, Dey runs the association, working with the board of directors, lobbyists, a political action committee, staff, volunteers, and others. She works on regulatory and legislative issues and with appellate attorneys on property rights litigation. As general counsel, she completes all of the association's personnel, contract and legal work. She also oversees the association's lobbying efforts. Although she is no longer a registered lobbyist, she will testify at the Capitol if needed.

Dey also develops the association's internal policies and advises its various committees on a range of issues. Those include rent control, what legislation to support or oppose and what local and state elected officials to support. She is corporate secretary in the organization's foundation, which assists with disaster relief for mobile home park residents.

In 2012, the Manufactured Housing Institute, the industry's national association, gave Dey the State Association of the Year award. The honor was recognition from her peers for her work as executive director.

In 2013, the California Manufactured Housing Institute named Dey as the Jack E. Wells Memorial Award recipient. This award is the institute's most prestigious. It is given annually to an industry member who has demonstrated outstanding dedication and service to the industry.

Dey was always interested in politics and the law, including how laws were made. In college, she interned for then-state Sen. Gordon Cologne, which cemented her desire to become a lawyer. Her father was a big influence. Warren E. Slaughter ran a law firm in Palm Springs, practicing business and property law, and wills and trusts, among other areas. He later became a judge and had the Inn of Court in the Coachella Valley named after him.