Ahead of the Ohio State Bar Foundation's annual awards dinner next Friday, the organization has announced a slate of honorees to be recognized at the event.
The 2019 celebrated class includes an attorney who has improved the lives of inmates, another who has given to more than a dozen non-profit agencies, an organization that fights for crime victims and an attorney who is on the front lines of fighting the opioid epidemic, according to the foundation's announcement of this year's winners.
The event - a gathering of foundation fellow, board members and friends from across the state - also serves as an opportunity to review the efforts of organizations and individuals funded by foundation grants.
"Our honorees this year have made extraordinary contributions in changing lives, while furthering the foundation's mission of improving access to justice and helping the public better understand the rule of law," foundation President Rob Ware said. "These honorees exemplify the best that Ohio has to offer in upholding the ideals of selfless public service for the greater good."
The honors listed below are to be awarded to the following individuals:
• Ritter Award: Richard Swope of Swope and Swope, Attorneys at Law in Reynoldsburg. The Ritter Award is the highest honor awarded by the Foundation, given to an attorney for a lifetime of service. Swope has spent six decades representing clients, advocating for inmate rights by helping to provide better access to Ohio's legal system.
• Ramey Award for Distinguished Community Service: Donald Messinger of Thompson Hine LLP in Cleveland. This award is given to an Ohio attorney whose career has been exemplified by dedication to public and community service, integrity, honor, courtesy and professionalism. Messinger has undertaken significant volunteer leadership roles with multiple charitable organizations in Northeast Ohio, including United Way of Greater Cleveland, Legal Aid, Gateway Economic Development Corporation, Circle Health Services and the Cleveland Hearing and Speech Center.
• Outstanding Program or Organization Award: Ohio Crime Victim Justice Center of Powell, Cincinnati and Cleveland. Given annually, this award highlights a program or organization that promotes improvement in the Ohio justice system. This year's recipient, the Ohio Crime Victim Justice Center, is a state- wide non-profit organization that ensures that Ohio state and federal crime victims are treated fairly during the criminal justice process.
Statewide Community Service Award for Attorneys 40 and Under: Meigs County Prosecuting Attorney James Stanley. Stanley has passionately combatted the opioid epidemic and addiction crisis in Meigs County and has taken proactive measures to prevent addiction and assist recovery before individuals enter the legal system.
John and Ginny Elam Pro Bono Award: Michele Sherrin of Medina. The John and Ginny Elam Pro Bono Award recognizes a lawyer's exceptional pro bono legal work in the state of Ohio. Sherrin has been a long-standing Community Legal Aid volunteer. While maintaining a busy legal practice, she has provided pro bono services for the past 10 years to clients with a variety of legal issues.
"We have an outstanding group of award recipients this year," foundation Executive Director Lori Keating said. "Each individual and organization has contributed their time, talents and expertise in helping so many Ohioans better their lives.
"We are deeply honored to recognize them for their contributions."
The Exchange at Bridge Park in Dublin is host to the dinner and awards ceremony.
For reservations or to make a donation to the foundation, call Cynthia Kincaid at (614) 487-4477.
The largest bar foundation in the United States, the Ohio State Bar Foundation works to advance the law and build a better justice system by awarding more than $750,000 in grants annually to non-profit organizations across the state of Ohio.
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