Each year at our Annual Auction, PILF recognizes two outstanding attorneys for their continued commitment to public interest work in our community by awarding them the Public Interest Law Foundation Excellence in Public Service Award.
Tom Weeks, Executive Director of the Ohio State Legal Services Association (OSLSA)
Mr. Weeks has served the public since beginning his career as a staff attorney at The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland. He advanced to director of the Civil Division, managing a team of 35-40 attorneys. In 1985, Tom became the executive director of Ohio State Legal Services Association, where he currently serves. OSLSA encompasses the Legal Aid Society of Columbus, Southeastern Ohio Legal Services, and the Ohio Poverty Law Center, which collectively serve low-income clients throughout the state of Ohio and the Appalachian region. For over 30 years, Tom has dedicated his career to helping indigent clients vindicate their rights in a legal system that often leaves them bewildered. Not surprisingly, Tom has often been recognized for his service. He has received the Ohio Bar Medal Award, The Columbus Bar Association President’s Award, the Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation Denis Murphy Award, and the Ohio State Bar Foundation Public Service Award. It is our pleasure to add this accolade to his many others. Over the years, Mr. Weeks has served his clients, improved the profession, helped many of our students, and has been a great friend of PILF. We thank him for his service to the legal community.
Rodger Eckelberry, Attorney at BakerHostetler
Before beginning his distinguished legal career, Mr. Eckelberry served nine years in the U.S. Navy, both in the Gulf War and as the head of the Administration and Legal Department of the U.S. Military Prison in Philadelphia. After completing his military service, Rodger attended law school in Cincinnati and joined BakerHostetler’s Columbus office. Now a partner, Rodger spearheads the firm’s efforts to provide legal services and opportunities to fellow veterans. The success of the growing program was recognized in 2016 by the Veteran’s Consortium for taking on 36 veterans’ appeals in the year—nearly 15 percent of the Consortium’s entire 2016 caseload. BakerHostetler received the nationwide Veterans Consortium award for Law Firm Pro Bono Mission Partner. Rodger’s work stems from his recognition that veterans deserve the highest levels of care, benefits, and compensation to which they are entitled without facing financial barriers to legal access. PILF is proud to recognize Mr. Eckelberry’s dedication to serving those who served our country.
Ohio Access to Justice Foundation
The Ohio Access to Justice Foundation (formerly known as the Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation), celebrated its 25th year of meeting the legal needs of Ohio’s low-income individuals in 2019. Since 1994, the Ohio Access to Justice Foundation has worked tirelessly to fund civil legal help for children, seniors, veterans, and domestic violence survivors across the State of Ohio regardless of income. In addition to providing critical dollars to fund civil legal aid throughout Ohio, the foundation funds Justice for All Fellowships, supports pro bono efforts and Access to Justice initiatives. Additionally, the foundation annually supports PILF by sponsoring a full summer fellowship. We are so grateful for its support. In 2018, the foundation provided over $18 million to Ohio’s Legal Aids, which helped to fund over 118,000 hours of pro bono service to Ohio’s low-income individuals. It is an honor to present this award to an organization that has given so much to the public interest over the last 25 years. May the next 25 years build on these successes to help even more Ohioans access critically important legal services.
Christine Donovan, Donor Services Officer for the Columbus Foundation
Ms. Donovan has dedicated much of her career to serving the public in some capacity. While attending Moritz from 2010 to 2013, Christine was active in PILF, Education Law Society, Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law, Moot Court, and Dispute Resolution and Youth. Upon graduation, Christine was named a Public Service Fellow with Dean’s Special Recognition; an honor bestowed on those who give between 250 and 499 hours of volunteer legal service to public interest and government entities. Her work experience during law school included the Legal Aid Society of Columbus, and the Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation (now the Ohio Access to Justice Foundation). After graduation, Christine worked as a fundraiser for The Ohio State University serving the College of Medicine, where she worked to secure over $1.6 million dollars in cash and estate gifts. In 2015, Christine moved to Cristo Rey Columbus High School where she served as the Director of Development, and later the Director of Advancement and Strategic Planning. While there, she grew fundraising revenue by 188 percent over a three-year period. During her time there, Christine also established the organization’s first planned giving initiative, launched a permanent major gifts program, and instituted a donor relations program, including mailings and a donor recognition event.
In late 2019, Christine took a position as a Donor Services Officer for the Columbus Foundation, one of the top ten largest community foundations in the United States.Their mission is to improve the community and quality of life in Central Ohio. Christine is responsible for providing philanthropic information and assistance to individuals, families, businesses, and nonprofit organizations in order to build the Foundation’s endowment through charitable giving. Despite these vast and changing experiences, one thing has remained constant — Christine’s devotion to PILF. As the President of PILF, she oversaw a 45% increase of fundraising revenues. After graduation, Christine chose to remain on PILF’s Board of Directors until her retirement from the Board this fall, mentoring further presidents, helping to ensure that PILF operated smoothly and effectively, and assisting the organization in any other way she could. It is our pleasure to grant this award to Christine Donovan for not only her devotion to PILF, but for her devotion to the public good in general.