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The Moritz College of Law presents annual alumni awards in the areas of distinguished alumna/us, outstanding recent alumna/us, judicial excellence, community service, and public service. Nominations are accepted from fellow alumni and the legal community.  Award nomination deadlines are in late winter and awards are presented in the fall.

In addition to awards given by the college of law, The Ohio State University also has several alumni awards that are presented to law alumni. These include professional achievement awards, service awards, early career achievement awards, and citizenship awards.

2021 Alumni Award Recipients

Given annually to a Moritz Law graduate for exceptional achievement or outstanding service to the college or community.

 

Steven Smathers ‘76

 

Steven Smathers is the President of Perfect Lens. He is also a Managing Director of Sowell & Co., a private equity firm operating in Dallas, Texas. Prior to joining Sowell & Co. he worked as a corporate shareholder in the financial institution's group of the law firm of Johnson & Gibbs. He is an adjunct faculty at Southern Methodist University’s Dedman School of Law where he teaches courses in corporate finance and acquisition.

Mr. Smathers holds a JD degree and a BS in Microbiology from The Ohio State University where he is a member of the Moritz College of Law’s National Council and co-chair of its Time and Change campaign committee. Mr. Smathers also serves on the Board of Directors of several private companies. 

He and his wife, Misty, created an endowed need-based scholarship at Moritz in 2012 that supports a law student who is also a parent. Previous recipients of this scholarship have reported feeling gratitude and relief in the ability to pursue their educational goals and their dreams while maintaining financial security for their families.  

Granted to an individual who has graduated from Moritz Law within the past 10 years whose accomplishments exemplify outstanding professionalism or loyalty to the college community.

 

Kwame Christian ’13

A best-selling author, consultant, and speaker, Kwame Christian is the Director of the American Negotiation Institute and a thought leader in the field of negotiation and conflict resolution. He has conducted countless specialized trainings throughout North America and abroad and is a highly sought-after national keynote speaker.

Host of the number one negotiation podcast in the world, Negotiate Anything, Kwame is dedicated to empowering others through the art and science of negotiation and persuasion. With nearly four million downloads, Negotiate Anything now has listeners in more than 180 countries.

Kwame’s TEDx Dayton talk, Finding Confidence in Conflict, has been viewed over 250,000 times, and his best-selling book, Finding Confidence in Conflict: How to Negotiate Anything and Live Your Best Life has helped countless individuals overcome the fear, anxiety, and emotion associated with difficult conversations using a branded Compassionate Curiosityframework.

In addition, Kwame is a business lawyer at Carlile, Patchen & Murphy LLP and serves as an adjunct professor for Otterbein University’s MBA program, as well as for The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law in its top-ranked dispute resolution program. He is also a contributor for Forbes and his LinkedIn Learning course, How to Be Both Likeable and Assertive, was the most popular course on the platform in July of 2021.

Awarded to a current or former judge who has graduated from the college and whose personal integrity and commitment to fairness, freedom, and equality exemplify the highest ideals of the judicial system.

 

Judge Elizabeth Gill ’87

Judge Beth Gill had 18 years of litigation experience focused exclusively on family law matters prior to joining the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas, Domestic Relations and Juvenile Court bench in January 2007. 

In 2012, Judge Gill was elected as Lead Juvenile Judge and continues to hold that position today. Currently, Judge Gill co-chairs the Ohio Supreme Court’s  Advisory Committee on Children and Families, is Chair of the Advisory Committee’s Juvenile Justice Sub-committee and the Ohio JDAI State Leadership Committee.  Judge Gill serves on the Commission on Black Girls, Criminal Justice and Community Corrections Planning Board, Franklin County Youth Advisory Board, National Juvenile Justice Reform and State Courts Initiative, and the Franklin County JDAI Executive Board. She has served on Reclaiming Futures Ohio, Safe Haven Advisory Commission, Residential and Acute Care Service Providers, the Ohio Supreme Court’s Commission on the Rules of Practice and Procedure and was appointed to the Juvenile Law Advisory Committee for the National Council for Juvenile and Family Court Judges. She also serves as Judicial Advisor and Board member for the Franklin County Recovery and Empowerment Courts.

Judge Gill is a past recipient of the Central Ohio Association for Justice’s 2011 George E. Tyack Award for Judicial Excellence, the 2013 Henry Toll Fellow Counsel for State Governments, the Ohio Association of Juvenile Court Judges’ 2017 Distinguished Service Award, and the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers Ohio Branch’s 2018 William S. Friedman Professionalism Award.

Her volunteer efforts include past participation in the Big Brothers & Big Sisters mentoring programs, Lawyer to Lawyer Mentoring Program, two terms as a board member for Alvis House, and volunteering with the Dominican Learning Center (DLC) helping improve literacy for adults. Judge Gill received her undergraduate degree from the University of Cincinnati in 1984 and her JD from The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law in 1987.

Michael Corey ’12

This award is given annually to an alum or friend of the college who has devoted significant time and energy to causes and projects that benefit the greater community and the welfare of humanity.

Michael is the Executive Director of the Human Service Chamber of Franklin County, a nonprofit chamber of commerce serving over 120 agencies in the Columbus Region. The organization advocates with and for its nonprofit members on a range of public policy issues such as food access, affordable housing, immigration, workforce development, and education. HSC also provides shared professional services to its members, such as access to legal counsel and communications services--as well as access to PPE in these Covid times. The Chamber was named one of the 5 Nonprofits to Watch in 2019 by The Columbus Foundation and received The Columbus Foundation Award in 2020.

Michael graduated from Moritz in 2012 as Executive Editor of the Ohio State Law Journal. After practicing healthcare law at Bricker & Eckler in Columbus for three years, Michael worked as a policy analyst at the Children's Defense Fund-Ohio, and in voter protection during the 2016 presidential campaign. Michael was named to Columbus Business First’s 40 Under 40 Class of 2018 and was among the same publication's 2019 Power 100. He was also among the inaugural class of Columbus CEO's Future 50 in 2019, was a Finalist for that publication's Small Nonprofit CEO of the Year in 2020 and is a member of Columbus' 2020-21 Young American Leaders Program.

Michael holds a BA from Duke University and a Master’s in Education Policy from Ohio State. He recently joined the College’s National Council and its Time and Change campaign committee.  In 2018, Michael, his wife Lori, and his mother Georgeann created The George N. Corey Family Scholarship in honor of Michael’s late father. Michael was a scholarship recipient himself and understands the immense difference such a gift can make in a law student’s future.

This award honors a graduate or friend of the college who has advocated on behalf of marginalized communities, furthered the goals of diversity, inclusion, equity, and social justice, or as an alum of a diverse population, has trailblazed a path for those diverse professionals who will follow by making a difference through their legal education.

 

Yvette McGee Brown ’85

Yvette McGee Brown was the first African American woman to serve as a Justice on the Ohio Supreme Court and the first African American woman elected to the Franklin County Common Pleas Court. She is currently the Partner-in-Charge of Diversity, Inclusion and Advancement at Jones Day.  In this role, she leads the diversity strategy for the firm and works with her partners on recruiting, retention, and advancement of diverse and women lawyers; advises and partners with clients on diversity initiatives; and supports efforts to increase diversity in the legal profession while maintaining an active litigation and appellate practice.

She serves on the college’s National Council and its Time and Change campaign committee.  She has been an active board member for the Law and Leadership Institute, a collaborative program among Ohio's legal community and eight law schools that gives underserved youth an opportunity to explore the law and develop stronger academic skills. She is also a frequent speaker and panelist for the College’s law students. She was the founding president of the Center for Child and Family Advocacy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and is the past recipient of the Distinguished Service Award from The Ohio State University; the William Oxley Thompson Alumni Award for Distinguished Achievement from The Ohio State University Alumni Association; and the Moritz College of Law Public Service Award.  She is an arbitrator with the American Arbitration Association and has served as a director for two public companies and as the board chair for The Ohio State University Alumni Association. She currently serves on the board of directors for Encova Mutual Insurance Group, The Jeffrey Company, and KIPP Columbus. In 2018, she created a current use scholarship at Moritz supporting law students from diverse backgrounds. Yvette received her undergraduate degree in Journalism and Public Relations from Ohio University; her Juris Doctorate from The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law; an honorary Doctor of Laws Degree from Ohio Dominican University; and honorary Doctorates from Wilberforce University and Central State University.

Previous Recipients

Moritz alumni across the country are working on the front lines of important social issues, breaking new paths in their chosen fields, and giving back to their communities. We shine a spotlight on those who go above and beyond.

Given annually to a Moritz Law graduate for exceptional achievement or outstanding service to the college or community. The award is presented by the Moritz College of Law Alumni Society. 

  • 2020- John T. Mills ’73
  • 2019 – Kara J. Trott ’91 
  • 2018 – William P. Blair III ’70
  • 2017 – Michael H. Carpenter ’77
  • 2016 – Frank E. Bazler ’53
  • 2015 – Rep. William M. McCulloch ’25
  • 2014 – Edwin M. Cooperman ’67
  • 2013 – William Isaac ’69
  • 2012 – Erin Moriarty  ’77
  • 2011 – Alec Wightman ’75
  • 2010 – Carl D. Smallwood ’80
  • 2007-08 – Sally Ward Bloomfield ’69
  • 2006 – Frank A. Ray ’73
  • 2005 – W. Ray Persons ’78
  • 2004 – Dan D. Sandman ’73
  • 2003 – John W. Creighton ’57
  • 2002 – Thomas J. Fiscus ’75
  • 2001 – John W. Garland ’74
  • 2000 – Michael E. Flowers ’79
  • 1999 – Jack Grant Day ’38, William B. Saxbe ’48
  • 1998 – Carter C. Kissell ’27
  • 1997 – Joanne Wharton Murphy ’58
  • 1996 – Ronald K. Bennington ’61

Granted to an individual who has graduated from Moritz Law within the past 10 years whose accomplishments exemplify outstanding professionalism or loyalty to the college community. The award is presented by the Moritz College of Law Alumni Society.

  • 2020 – Cat Packer ’15
  • 2019 – Jaiza Page ’10 
  • 2018 – Jessica Clarke ’08
  • 2017 – Laura E. Heim ’08
  • 2016 – Katherine S. Chappelear ’07
  • 2015 – Asim Haque ’06
  • 2014 – Erika Schoenberger ’04
  • 2013 – Kathleen Clyde ’08
  • 2012 – Andrew Weaver ’02, Jessica Weaver ’03
  • 2011 – Hope and Anthony Sharett ’02
  • 2010 – Brandon Lester ’05
  • 2008 – Mónica Ramirez ’03
  • 2007 – Todd Fried ’97
  • 2006 – RonNell Andersen Jones ’00
  • 2005 – Mark D. Wagoner Jr. ’97
  • 2004 – Mark Godsey ’93
  • 2003 – Brian E. Burns ’97
  • 2002 – Bill R. Hedrick ’96
  • 2001 – Kimberly Shumate ’92
  • 2000 – Theodore L. Adams ’91
  • 1999 – Thomas E. Geyer ’90
  • 1998 – Julia Dorrian ’96
  • 1997 – Jeffrey S. Sutton ’90
  • 1996 – Kurtis A. Tunnell ’87

Awarded to a current or former judge who has graduated from the college and whose personal integrity and commitment to fairness, freedom, and equality exemplify the highest ideals of the judicial system. The award is presented by the Moritz College of Law Alumni Society. 

  • 2020 – Sara Lioi ’87
  • 2019 – Judge Ann Donnelly ’84
  • 2018 – Judith French ’88
  • 2017 – Jeffrey S. Sutton ’90
  • 2016 – Peggy L. Bryant ’76
  • 2015 – John E. Hoffman, Jr. ’83
  • 2014 – Evelyn Stratton ’79
  • 2013 – Richard A. Frye ’73
  • 2012 – Herman J. Weber ’52
  • 2011 – Paul Pfeifer ’66
  • 2010 – Jeffery P. Hopkins ’85
  • 2008-09 – Norah McCann King ’75 and Mark R. Abel ’69
  • 2007 – Robert M. Duncan ’52
  • 2006 – Carla D. Moore ’77
  • 2005 – George C. Smith ’59
  • 2004 – Thomas J. Moyer ’64
  • 2003 – James L. Graham ’62
  • 2002 – William T. Bodoh ’64
  • 2001 – David A. Katz ’57
  • 2000 – William K. Thomas ’35

This award honors a graduate or friend of the college who has advocated on behalf of marginalized communities, furthered the goals of diversity, inclusion, equity, and social justice, or as an alum of a diverse population, has trailblazed a path for those diverse professionals who will follow by making a difference through their legal education. Created in 2021, the award recipients will be named, soon. 

In 2021, the college merged the George V. Voinovich Public Service Award and Community Service Award into The George V. Voinovich Humanitarian Award. This award is given annually to an alum or friend of the college who has devoted significant time and energy to causes and projects that benefit the greater community and the welfare of humanity. Award recipients will be named, soon.

 

In 2021, the college merged the George V. Voinovich Public Service Award and Community Service Award into The George V. Voinovich Humanitarian Award. This award was presented by the Moritz College of Law Alumni Society to an alumna/us whose public interest career exemplified a commitment to promote and provide access to the legal system. Examples of public interest organizations included, but were not limited to, legal aid, legal services, civil liberties, pro bono representation, or volunteer lawyer projects. 

  • 2020 – Larry Langdon ’61
  • 2019 – Brian E. Sandoval ’89
  • 2018 – Michael Finn ’67
  • 2017 – Sherri B. Lazear ’85
  • 2016 – Robert Solomon II ’88
  • 2015 – Carolyn Phillips ’81
  • 2014 – Leslie Varnado ’74
  • 2013 – Dianna Parker ’05
  • 2012 – Thomas Mlakar ’92
  • 2011 – Kelly Schneider ’96
  • 2009-10 – Susan G. Tobin ’81
  • 2007 – Yvette McGee Brown ’85
  • 2006 – James M. Daniels ’78, Frank C. Woodside III ’69
  • 2005 – Gene King ’83
  • 2004 – Ilene Cohn ’85
  • 2003 – Kimberly Skaggs ’93
  • 2002 – Evelyn L. Stratton ’78
  • 2001 – Patricia Y. Hernandez ’92
  • 2000 – Karen Jones Sarjeant ’75

In 2021, the college merged the George V. Voinovich Public Service Award and Community Service Award into The George V. Voinovich Humanitarian Award. The Community Service Award award was presented by the Moritz College of Law Alumni Society to a Moritz Law graduate who volunteered significant and sustained time and expertise to assist a local, state, national, or international humanitarian organization. 

  • 2020 -Doug Mancino ’74
  • 2019 – Terrence P. Kessler ’75
  • 2018 – Marchelle Moore ’98
  • 2017 – Peter G. Eikenberry ’64
  • 2016 – Robert W. Briggs ’66
  • 2015 – Steve Jemison ’75
  • 2014 – Steve Chappelear ’77
  • 2013 – Mimi Dane ’89
  • 2012 – Gregory J. Vincent ’87 Ph.D.
  • 2011 – Daniel P. McQuade ’67
  • 2010 – Suzanne K. Richards ’74
  • 2007-08 – Duane Isham ’53
  • 2006 – David Braff ’84, Robert Reeder ’84
  • 2005 – Michael M. Briley ’69
  • 2004 – Linda L. Ammons ’87
  • 2003 – Susan E. Brown ’71
  • 2002 – Frederick L. Ransier, III ’74, Kathleen H.Ransier ’74
  • 2001 – R. Kent Wellington, II ’91
  • 2000 – J. Gilbert Reese ’52