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‘I enjoy giving back’

December 8, 2011 | Alumni

In committing nearly 30 hours per month to community service work, Shawna L’Italien ’96 says she not only enjoys giving back, but she feels it’s a duty.

“I really feel like as individuals we have an obligation to give back to the community and give back to other people.”

On Nov.4, L’Italien received the 2011 40 and Under Statewide Community Service Award from the Ohio State Bar Foundation.

The award, which is presented to lawyers 40 years old and under, recognizes those who contribute substantial time and effort in service to a local social service or to a local civic, artistic, or cultural organization outside the recipients’ practice of law given without compensation, according to a news release from the foundation.

“I don’t do community service things to be recognized,” L’Italien said of the award. “I was excited to get the district award, so to be the only one chosen from the state was really exciting.”

L’Italien’s colleague Patricia Brozik nominated her for the district award, which later qualified L’Italien to be selected as the statewide recipient for the award.

Brozik said in her nomination, “Shawna is persistent, tenacious and focused on the community’s needs. She is also humble and has the heart of a true philanthropist.”

“I don’t really have a specific passion for a type of issue,” L’Italien said. “I enjoy giving back, and I was raised in a family that was active with the community.”

In addition to volunteering at the Salem Area Chamber of Commerce, Salem Kiwanis, United Community Scholarship Foundation, and the Counseling Center of Columbiana County, L’Italien also volunteers at the Salem Community Hospital, where her husband of five years, Mark, works as the Director of Information Services.

The couple resides in Salem, Ohio, where L’Italien joined Harrington, Hoppe & Mitchell, Ltd. as an associate right out of law school. With a practice in transactional corporate law, L’Italien made partner after being with the firm only six years.

L’Italien said the firm estimates it generally takes around eight years to make partner, but she was able to make a quicker leap because “I worked hard on client relationships, good client service, and also good partner service.”

As partner, L’Italien said she has had to bring in more clients and offer more management to the practice while providing legal expertise and advising to businesses and charitable organizations through pro bono work.

L’Italien does most of her pro bono for nonprofit organizations, she said, some of which have included the American Red Cross, economic development organizations, and Second Harvest Food Bank.

L’Italien began a streak of recognition for her community service in 2009, upon receiving the 40 Under 40 Shining Star MVP Award from Mahoning Valley Professional 20/30 Club and the Community Foundation of Mahoning Valley. Due to her community service and professional accomplishments, L’Italien was one of five MVPs selected from a group of 40 recipients for the award.

In 2010 L’Italien received the Kiwanis Appreciation Award in Recognition of Outstanding and Devoted Service from the Salem Kiwanis organization.

Also in 2010, L’Italien received the Athena Leadership Award from the Youngstown Warren Regional Chamber and The Vindicator for her professional achievements, mentorship and community service.

“I don’t think it’s something you set out to achieve,” L’Italien said of her community service recognitions.

“I just love working with people and helping people.”

This article was written by Sarah Pfledderer.