The C|M|LAW Hall of Fame was established in 2017 to honor the outstanding contributions to the success and prestige of our law school by distinguished alumni, faculty, staff, friends and community leaders. Full selection criteria
Principal, McCarthy, Lebit, Crystal & Liffman, Co. LPA
Ann-Marie Ahern is a Board Member and the head of the employment law practice at McCarthy, Lebit. For more than 20 years, Ann-Marie has been an advocate for employees, successfully litigating hundreds of employment disputes and trying cases to juries involving issues of age discrimination, sex discrimination and harassment, race discrimination, disability discrimination/failure to accommodate, wrongful discharge, and illegal retaliation. Ann-Marie has obtained more than $75 million in settlements and verdicts on behalf of her clients. Best Lawyers named her the 2020 Plaintiff’s Employment “Lawyer of the Year” for Cleveland. Ann-Marie has also been honored by Super Lawyers® as one of the Top 100 lawyers in Ohio. Ann-Marie is a nationally-recognized authority on employment law, having been quoted in The Washington Post, Time.com, and USA Today. She has been at the forefront of the #MeToo and pay equity awareness movements. She is an OSBA Certified Specialist in Labor and Employment Law and a Fellow in the Litigation Counsel of America. Ann-Marie loves her work with the law school, having been a member of the Board of Visitors at CSU C|M|LAW since 2015, and Co-Chair of the Career Planning and Placement Workgroup for the last several years.
Dean Emeritus, Widener Law School
Linda L. Ammons is dean emeritus at Widener University. She served as counsel to the president of Widener for legal education, after retiring as associate provost and dean of the law school in 2014. She was the first woman and the first African-American to lead the two-campus, two-state, Widener University School of Law, and was the senior African American female dean in the nation when she stepped down after serving eight years. Ammons came to Widener in 2006 from CSU Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, where she was associate dean and professor of law. During her 15 years at Cleveland-Marshall, she chaired and served on a number of university committees and taught Administrative Law, Legislation, Mass Communications Law, and Women and the Law. Ammons served as executive assistant to former Ohio Governor Richard F. Celeste, from 1988 to 1991, advising him on legal and policy matters in the criminal justice, regulatory and administrative areas. In January 2010, Ammons was appointed by Governor Jack Markell of Delaware to be the special investigator in the case of the alleged child molestations by pediatrician Earl Bradley. Her work resulted in a package of twelve legislative reforms, nine of which were passed unanimously by the Delaware General Assembly. Her Board memberships include the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce serving as the chair of its ethics committee, WHYY TV and Radio of Philadelphia, Vegas PBS, and she is a Trustee of Christiana Hospital.
Professor Emeritus and Interim Dean, Cleveland-Marshall College of Law
Hyman Cohen was a long-time faculty member, and interim dean, at CSU Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. Prof. Cohen began his career, after graduating from New York University School of Law with his JD and LLM, in private practice. He worked at the regional Housing and Urban Development office in New York City and taught Business Law at Pace College. Prof. Cohen joined the Cleveland-Marshall faculty in 1967, teaching torts, administrative law, labor law, labor law in the public sector, and labor arbitration. He served as interim dean for two years, when he encouraged the school’s “truly outstanding faculty” to persevere in the research, academic programs, and other activities in which they were engaged. Prof. Cohen was also a Labor Arbitrator and a decades-long member of the National Academy of Arbitrators. He was Chair of the Labor Law Section of Greater Cleveland Bar Association, Chair of the Labor Advisory Council of Cleveland American Arbitration Association, and served on Labor Arbitration Panels of Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service of the National Mediation Board. Prof. Cohen continued to serve as an Adjunct Professor for five years after retirement and remained a frequent lecturer on labor arbitration.
Principal, Thrasher, Dinsmore & Dolan
Tim Collins joined Thrasher, Dinsmore & Dolan as principal in 2019, having been actively engaged in litigation practice for more than 30 years in a variety of industries. He has acted as first chair in numerous jury trials to conclusion, bench trials, and arbitration proceedings in an array of commercial and business law cases. Tim has represented class representatives and opt-out plaintiffs in major federal antitrust class action cases in Ohio and California. He has served as receiver and counsel to a receiver in more than 50 state court cases in recent years, where he managed and sold and/or acted as counsel for a national wholesale lumber business, a regional airport fixed base operation, downtown Cleveland office towers, and storefronts, as well as dozens of commercial and residential structures. While a trial lawyer by trade, Tim enjoys blending his legal skills with business issues to achieve efficient solutions for clients, or for courts requiring a receiver or a liquidating trustee. He was recently honored as a member of the Irish Legal 100 of the Irish Voice Newspaper. In his spare time, Tim enjoys cheering on Cleveland sports, playing golf, and cycling as he trains for races like Velosano, which raises money for cancer research at the Cleveland Clinic.
Executive Director, The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland
Colleen Cotter has been Executive Director of The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland since 2005. Legal Aid is a nonprofit law firm serving the needs of people with low income, securing safety, shelter and economic security. Colleen serves on the C|M|LAW Board of Visitors. She is Chair of the Saint Luke’s Foundation Board and President of United Way of Greater Cleveland Council of Agency Executives. Colleen is a member of Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association Board, United Way Board, the 50 Club of Cleveland, Cleveland Rape Crisis Center Sing Out! Chorale, Leadership Cleveland Class of 2011, and Adler Mission 2019. She previously served on the boards of Center for Community Solutions, National Legal Aid and Defender Association and on the Legal Services Corporation Advisory Committees on the Justice Gap, Data, and Pro Bono. Her 2007 speech “Justice and Healthy Communities” was published in Vital Speeches of the Day. Colleen was named a 2017 Crain’s Woman of Note and received the 2017 CMBA President’s Award. Colleen previously worked as a legal aid consultant, at Indiana Legal Services, and as a Skadden Fellow at Pine Tree Legal Assistance. She received her JD from Indiana University School of Law- Bloomington, summa cum laude, and her BA from the University of Notre Dame cum laude.
Justice, Supreme Court of Ohio
Justice Donnelly is the 160th justice of the Supreme Court of Ohio. Prior to joining the state Court, he served as a judge on the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas, General Division from 2005 to 2018. Before serving as a member of the local judiciary, Justice Donnelly was an assistant Cuyahoga County Prosecutor from 1992 until 1997. He then went on to practice civil litigation for seven years, representing plaintiffs and injured workers in asbestos litigation, personal injury lawsuits, and workers’ compensation claims. He was appointed by the chief justice to the Ohio Supreme Court Death Penalty Task Force in 2013. In addition, from 2010 to 2017, he was one of five judges on Cuyahoga County’s Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Court, which oversees criminal cases involving defendants who suffer from schizophrenia, schizophrenic disorder, or a developmental disability. He is a proud recipient of the Honorable William K. Thomas Professionalism Award from the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association and also received the Ohio Association of Civil Trial Attorneys (OACTA) 2017 Public Service Award. Justice Donnelly serves on the board of the Cleveland Baseball Federation, which helps inner-city boys and girls play baseball and softball in the summer at no charge.
Senior Vice President, Hawthorn, PNC (Retired)
Georgia recently retired as Senior Vice President at Hawthorn, PNC, serving high-net-worth individuals in financial services. Prior to that, Georgia worked at Sterling Trust, a premium wealth management service company, a division of National City Corporation, as Vice President and Senior Fiduciary Officer. She has also served as Vice President and Trust Officer for National City’s Private Client Group and in similar positions at FirstMerit and Ameritrust. Georgia has been a long-time member of the C|M|LAW Board of Visitors and serves on its Advancement Work Group. She received the Cleveland State University George B. Davis Award for Service to the University for her strong support of both her alma maters, Cleveland State University and CSU Cleveland-Marshall College of Law.
Of Counsel, McDonald Hopkins
Colette’s practice has focused on insolvency work at the state and federal level: foreclosures, bankruptcies, receiverships and out of court workouts. She has served as a receiver, a Chapter 11 Trustee and was recently appointed by the Office of the U.S. Trustee as a Sub Chapter V Trustee for small businesses. Colette has also served as a board member the Cleveland Bar Association, the Foundation of the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association, Seeds of Literacy, West Side Catholic Center, the CSU C|M|LAW Board of Visitors and the American College of Bankruptcy Foundation. She is volunteer lawyer for the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland. Other honors include Top 100 Ohio Super Lawyers, Chambers USA, America’s Leading Lawyers for Business Bankruptcy and Best Lawyers in America, Bankruptcy and Creditors Rights.
Partner, McDonald Hopkins
David H. Gunning, II is co-chair of the national real estate practice at McDonald Hopkins. David’s experience spans the areas of real estate, commercial finance, construction, public finance, economic incentives, and general corporate law and includes real estate acquisition and dispositions, joint venture agreements, complex loan and finance documentation, negotiations/contracts, economic incentive transactions, and fund development. David has represented national lenders and other financial institutions; borrowers; national, regional and local developers; institutional and corporate owners; national retailers, and privately held businesses. David is the former president and chief executive officer of APM Management, LLC, one of the leading multifamily real estate acquisition and management companies in the Midwest.
Chief Judge, Ohio Eighth District Court of Appeals
Judge Leo A. Jackson, Florida native, (BA, Morehouse College; MBA, Atlanta University; World War II veteran), pursued his J.D. at Cleveland-Marshall while working full-time at the Veteran’s Administration, graduating as the top student in Trusts. He declined admittance to Harvard Law when he discovered he could not live on campus. When he applied to transfer to University of Georgia Law, they instead gave him a scholarship to study in Cleveland to avoid admitting him to the all-white school. Judge Jackson became Ward 24’s (Glenville) first black City Council member (1957). He received extensive media attention due to his frequent condemnation of inadequate police response and poor city services in this ward. During his second term, Governor Michael DiSalle offered him appointment to Cleveland Municipal Court. His commitment to unresolved community issues led him to turn down the appointment, prompting a 1961 cover story in Ebony Magazine. He remained Councilman for 14 years. When Judge Jackson finally left Council and ran for the Eighth District Court of Appeals (1970), he was elected by a wide margin countywide, becoming the first African-American to serve in this court. Throughout his years of public service, he was known as a passionate champion of equal justice under the law. Upon retirement in 1987, he was honored by the Norman Minor Bar Association and Ohio State Bar Association. Among his many lifetime honors was appointment by President Lyndon Johnson to membership on the Planning Committee for the White House Conference, “To Fulfill These Rights,”(1966). He also received an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from his alma mater, Morehouse College (1977). Judge Jackson’s professional papers are housed at the Western Reserve Historical Society. The life and legacy of Judge Jackson is also chronicled in the book, “American National Biography,” (Oxford University Press, 2008).
Judge, United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
Judge Jones served with the United States Army Air Corps near the end of World War II. He used is GI Bill to enter Youngstown College where he received both is BA. He studied law at night while serving as Director, Fair Employment Practices Commission in Youngstown. With his Bachelor of Laws degree, he entered private practice. In 1962, after Attorney General Robert Kennedy appointed him, Judge Jones because the first African-American Assistant United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio. Five years later, he was appointed as Assistant General Counsel to President Lyndon B. Johnson’s National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders (Kerner Commission). Judge Jones then served as the General Counsel to the NAACP, where he directed all NAACP litigation for nine years, arguing some of the most important civil rights cases in the United States. In 1979, President Jimmy Carter appointed Judge Jones to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. He served as a Judge until 1995, then as a Senior Judge until his retirement in 2002. During his tenure on the Sixth Circuit, he also taught at Harvard Law School and the University of Cincinnati College of Law. He was one of the observers of the first democratic elections in South Africa and participated in the drafting of the South African constitution. After retirement, he continued to practice law as senior counsel at Blank Rome LLP until 2018 and wrote his memoir, Answering the Call: An Autobiography of the Modern Struggle to End Racial Discrimination in America. The Federal Courthouse in Youngstown, Ohio is named in his honor.
Founder, Kohrman & Kohrman (predecessor to Kohrman Jackson & Krantz)
Max I. Kohrman was a 1918 graduate of the Cleveland Law School of Baldwin-Wallace College, a predecessor to Cleveland-Marshall College of Law when the school merged with the John Marshall School of Law. Following graduation, Max partnered with his brother Joseph to establish Kohrman & Kohrman during the final months of World War I in 1918. Kohrman & Kohrman focused on serving the local small businesses of Cleveland’s Central neighborhood. Max Kohrman had immigrated from Russian-controlled Poland and his perspective on the tenuous concept of justice under Russian empire left him a major believer in the American system of justice. Max was a life-long supporter of socially responsible public institutions which relied heavily on the skill and devotion of lawyers and always attempted to support those who are integral to the American judicial system. In 2012, S. Lee Kohrman established the Max I. Kohrman Fellowship at C|M|LAW in honor of his late father.
Editorial Director, The Plain Dealer (Retired)
When he retired as editorial page editor of The Plain Dealer in 2009, Cleveland Magazine wrote that Brent Larkin “will go down in history as Cleveland’s last big power-broker journalist, the last guy who single-handedly pens the town’s conventional wisdom.” Larkin is a lifelong Greater Cleveland resident. He graduated from Brush High School in 1965, and in 1969 received a degree in journalism from Ohio University. He attended Cleveland Marshall at night, while a columnist at the Plain Dealer. Larkin joined the Cleveland Press as a reporter in 1970. A year later he began covering Cleveland city government and in 1976 was named the newspaper’s politics editor. Larkin moved to the Plain Dealer in 1981, covering politics and later writing the column for the paper’s Metro section. In 1991, Larkin was named to head the Plain Dealer’s opinion pages. In 2002, he was inducted into the Cleveland Press Club Hall of Fame. Since retiring, Larkin has written a weekly column for Cleveland.com and the Plain Dealer. He and his wife, Mary Ann, live in Sagamore Hills. He has one son, Keven, a vice president of PNC Bank, and three grandchildren, William, Katherine and Emmett.
Shareholder, Becker & Poliakoff
Steven B. Lesser is a Shareholder and Chair of Becker’s national Construction Law and Litigation Practice based in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. For over thirty years, he has dedicated his practice exclusively to construction law and litigation, representing a variety of clients in large-scale, high-profile commercial, multifamily, and specialty projects such as museums, country club communities, health care facilities, and sports complexes. Mr. Lesser is Board Certified in Construction Law by The Florida Bar and is a Fellow of the American College of Construction Lawyers. He is Past Chair of the American Bar Association’s Forum on Construction Law, the largest construction lawyer group in the world, and currently serves as Chair of The Florida Bar’s Board of Legal Specialization and Education. Highly accomplished in his field, he has received a number of distinguished awards. Among these include a Band 1 ranking by esteemed legal publication, Chambers USA, as well as the Cornerstone Award, the most prestigious honor presented by the Forum on Construction Law. He is the recipient of the Life Time Achievement Award from the Construction Law Committee of the Florida Bar Real Property and Trust Law Section. He serves on the Board of Visitors of C|M|LAW and is an honorary trustee of the Cleveland-Marshall Law Alumni Association.
Partner, Lowe Scott Fisher Co., LPA
James Lowe is a nationally-recognized trial lawyer in product liability, automobile product safety, and other complex cases. He is the author of multiple texts and treatises, and frequent national and international lecturer on products liability and motor vehicle defect cases. James has successfully tried cases in state and federal courts throughout the country, resulting in numerous million-dollar verdicts, and has recovered over $100 million in verdicts and settlements for his clients. With his great expertise and experience, he has helped educate students as an adjunct faculty as both the Franklin Thomas Backus School of Law and Cleveland-Marshall. James has been honored by being listed in the Best Lawyers in America — every edition since 1993 — and has been honored as a Fellow of the International Society of Barristers, the International Academy of Trial Attorneys, and the American College of Trial Lawyers. He is a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates, Master Bencher Emeritus, American Inns of Court, President’s Club, Association of Trial Lawyers of American Board Certified – Civil Trial Advocacy – National Board of Trial Advocacy. He was Past President, Cleveland Academy of Trial Attorneys and Past Chair, ATLA Products Liability Section.
Judge, Ohio Eighth District Court of Appeals (Retired)
Judge Markus served as an appellate attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice and as a litigation partner at three Cleveland law firms prior to his distinguished career as a judge. He served as a Judge in both the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas and Ohio Eighth District Court of Appeals and a visiting judge for the Ohio Supreme Court, six Ohio appellate courts, and forty common pleas courts in Ohio. He authored over 1,000 appellate court opinions. Judge Markus also worked in academia; in addition to his twenty-plus years of service to C|M|LAW, he was a visiting or adjunct professor at Harvard, Case Western Reserve, and Akron law schools, an instructor and Director of Forensics at M.I.T., and faculty for the National Judicial College and Institute for Judicial Administration at New York University. He is the Co-Founder and Trustee of the National Institute for Trial Advocacy. Judge Markus was a leader in professional associations including National President of the American Trial Lawyer Association, President of the Ohio State Bar Association and Trustee of the Cleveland Bar Association and Cuyahoga County Bar Associations. He is the author of Ohio Trial Practice (including updates for 45 years) and more than fifty published articles in law reviews and professional journals. He created the Judge Richard M. Markus Adjunct Faculty Award to award outstanding CSU Cleveland-Marshall adjunct professors’ work.
Founder, Rom Law P.C.
Alan Jay Rom is a 1967 graduate of Ohio University, where he studied economics. He served in the Peace Corps in Bolivia as an economic advisor to a rural savings and loan cooperative. His legal career took him from representing migrant farm workers in Southern New Jersey and the Connecticut-Massachusetts “tobacco valley” for 5 years to becoming staff counsel to the Boston Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights for 18 years, where he specialized in voting rights, employment law, and education. He worked in a small law firm handling wage and overtime claims for 7 years, became Executive Director of Massachusetts Appleseed Center for Law and Justice for 6 years, joined the Civil Rights Division of the Attorney General’s Office for 3 years, and then established his own law firm, Rom Law P.C. in 2011 and also serves as a volunteer attorney for Multicultural Education, Training and Advocacy (META). Alan is a member of the Ohio, New Jersey, Connecticut and Massachusetts Bars, the Bars of the Supreme Court, First and Second Circuit Courts of Appeal, and the Federal Districts of Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Jersey. He is the author of the chapter on overtime law for Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education and has been an adjunct at Northeastern University School of Law and Tufts University. He has lectured at several Boston law schools and published two law review articles on public school finance and authored other articles. He has judged moot court competitions at Harvard Law School and Boston University Law School since 1980.
Partner, Meyers, Roman, Friedberg & Lewis
Barbara K. Roman has been a partner in the law firm of Meyers Roman Friedberg & Lewis for the past 23 years serving as Chair of the Family Law Department. She is a Past President of the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association (2011-2012) having served on the committee to unite the CMBA and the Cuyahoga County Bar Association. She serves on several Bar committees including the Professionalism Conciliation Panel. Barbara serves on the Board of The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland and chairs the Pro Bono Committee for Legal Aid. She also serves on the Ursuline College Advisory Board for Legal Studies. Barbara is a graduate of The Ohio State University with a B.A. in Social Sciences. Upon graduation from C|M|LAW, she served as an Ohio Assistant Attorney General and Assistant Section Chief in Consumer Protection and Managing Attorney for the UAW Legal Services Plan. Barbara has received numerous honors in her legal career including Crain’s 2011 Women of Note. She is a founding member of the Cleveland Academy of Collaborative Lawyers and has committed herself to mentoring young C|M|LAW students and graduates and has been a guest instructor at CSU C|M|LAW Mediation classes.
Former Judge, Ohio Eighth District Court of Appeals
Basil M. Russo was a founder, and served as managing partner of the law firm of Russo, Rosalina & Co., L.P.A. until his retirement in 2014. He has served as Judge of the Ohio Court of Appeals, Judge of the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas (for which he received an Excellent Judicial Service Award from the Ohio Supreme Court ), and Majority Leader of the Cleveland City Council. He currently serves as National President of the Italian Sons and Daughters of America, one of the largest Italian American Fraternal Associations in America, and serves on the executive committee of the National Italian American Foundation in Washington, D.C. He is President of the Justinian Forum Bar Association, and was the driving force behind the creation of the Bishop Anthony Pilla Italian American Studies Program at his alma mater John Carroll University. The numerous awards and recognitions he has received include induction into the Cleveland International Hall of Fame, the Freedom Award from the American Nationalities Movement, and the Columbian Award from the Federation of Italian American Societies.
Administrative and Presiding Judge, Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas
Judge Sheehan has served on the Cuyahoga Common Pleas Court since January 2008. He was elected to serve as the Administrative and Presiding Judge effective January 2020. Prior to assuming the bench, Judge Sheehan practiced as a civil and criminal litigator for 14 years. As a prosecutor in the Major Trial Division of the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office, he served as the Chairman of the Ohio Internet Crimes Against Children Taskforce and the Chairman of the Legal Committee for the National Internet Crimes Against Children Taskforce. He instructed law enforcement officials across the country on investigation and prosecution of internet crimes. He currently serves as a member of the Collaborative to End Human Trafficking, as a trustee of the Ohio Common Pleas Judges’ Association, as a Committee Chairperson for the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Case Flow Committee, and as a member of the Ohio Jury Instructions Committee. Judge Sheehan has also received the Child Safety Award for protecting children from Moms for Ohio. Judge Sheehan is an active member of the Cleveland-Marshall Law Alumni Association.
Weiner Law, LLC
After attending Georgetown University Law Center and clerking for Senior Circuit Judge E. Barrett Prettyman on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, Dave came to Cleveland in 1969, joining Hahn, Loeser, Freedheim, Dean and Wellman, where he practiced large case litigation for over 30 years. Some of his cases were noteworthy and ground breaking. He served as the firm's Manager Partner until joining Squire, Sanders & Dempsey in 2003, where he continued his litigation practice until retiring in 2010. Since then he was of-counsel to several firms, hanging up his active career in 2019. His professional activities have included chairing the ABA Young Lawyers Division and its Litigation Section, serving as a delegate to the ABA House of Delegates for over 30 years, and being the Sixth Circuit Representative on the Federal Judiciary Committee. He served as President of the Cleveland Legal Association and the Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation. For the past ten years, he has been an adjunct professor at Cleveland-Marshall, teaching trial advocacy. He is a board member of both the Hunger Network of Greater Cleveland and of Our Lady of the Wayside. Dave is an avid golfer, and he has sponsored and served on golf fund raisers for the American Cancer Society and the Hunger Network. Most proudly, he has three wonderful children who are excellent citizens and three adorable grandchildren. He feels blessed to have been a lawyer in this community and is proud of the profession.
Principal, Uplands Consulting LLC
Scott Wilson’s career was devoted almost entirely to aviation, particularly aircraft finance, working in the corporate legal departments of British Aerospace and then Pratt & Whitney for 36 years before retiring in 2017 and founding his own consulting company. He was involved in several legal reform efforts, especially as an advisor to the US delegation in the development of the Cape Town Convention, which sought to standardize aircraft financing worldwide and which came into force in 2006. As a member of the International Registry Advisory Board, he was intimately involved in the creation of the International Registry, one of the earliest entirely electronic mortgage registries, based in Ireland. He also participated in the numerous post-9/11 US airline bankruptcies of the large US airlines, serving on creditors committees in the United and Delta bankruptcies, among others. Scott remains active in non-profit pro bono legal efforts, was a member of the CSU C|M|LAW Board of Visitors for many years, and is a past member of the Board of Governors of the ABA Air and Space Law Forum.
President and CEO, The Cleveland Museum of Natural History
Sonia Winner became the tenth Director of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History in July 2018. Prior to this appointment, Sonia served as Acting Director of the Museum beginning in December 2017 after serving as the Chief Development Officer. From 2011 until 2016, Sonia served as the VP for University Development at Columbia University. Sonia also served as Deputy VP for Professional Schools and Programs and Interim VP for University Development. She was part of the senior team that achieved $6.1 billion for the Columbia Campaign, which set an Ivy League record for largest funds raised in a single campaign. Sonia came to Columbia from Case Western Reserve University, where she spent more than a decade serving in key development leadership roles at the Weatherhead School of Management, as well as the Law School. She has worked with high-level philanthropists in East Asia, South Asia, Europe, and South America, as well as in the United States. Before entering the development field, Winner spent many years in law career services, becoming one of the first lawyers in the country to work in this capacity. She has served on the Board of Trustees of the Cleveland Bar Association. She is the past chair of the Young Lawyers’ Section and past president of the Law Placement Association of Cleveland. She also volunteered as guardian ad litem on behalf of abused and neglected children. She served on the state board of the American Civil Liberties Union, attending two national conventions regarding free speech and individual liberties. Sonia currently serves Vice-Chair of the Board of Visitors for Cleveland-Marshall.
Founder and Managing Partner, Margaret W. Wong & Assoc., LLC
Margaret W. Wong, an award-winning immigration attorney, came to America in 1969, with two suitcases and her sister, Cecilia. She worked in various jobs while pursuing her education. After graduating from law school, and being fired 3 or 4 times, she started her own law firm in 1977, with one desk and no secretary. In 40 years, she has built her immigration law practice into one of the top immigration law firms in the United States, with offices in Cleveland, Columbus, New York City, Nashville, Chicago, Memphis, Raleigh, Atlanta and Minneapolis. She is rated in US News Best Law Firms, is rated AV Preeminent, has three honorary Ph.D. degrees, is listed in Best Lawyers in US and Super Lawyers, and was an adjunct professor in Immigration Law.
Chairman and CEO, Zapis Capital Group
Xenophon ("Xen") Zapis has lived the American dream. He was born in 1926 to Louis and Mary Hazapis, who had immigrated to Cleveland from Greece in the 1920s. Following high school, Xen was drafted into the Army and served until he received an honorable discharge in 1947. When he returned to Cleveland, Xen enrolled in Fenn College and soon after graduating, explored an opportunity to produce and host his own Greek Radio Program. As he continued to host and produce the Greek radio program, Xen attended night classes at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. Following graduation from Cleveland-Marshall, Xen began to build his law practice and continued to co-host the Greek Radio Program on various stations in Cleveland. In 1963, Xen and three partners established WZAK as Cleveland's second FM station. For the next 18 years, WZAK would serve as the radio voice of Cleveland's many ethnic groups, with Xen and wife Lula hosting the Greek Radio Program from the 1960s through the early 1980s. Xen's company, Zapis Communications, also owned and operated radio stations in Akron, Youngstown, Atlanta, and Boston. In addition to radio, Xen's lifelong entrepreneurial spirit led to fulfilling business pursuits in real estate development and ownership and management of senior living communities in Rocky River. Throughout his life, Xen served on various boards, including the Ohio Association of Broadcasters, American Contemporary Music Center Development Corporation, Apartment and Home Owners Association, Exchange Club, Cleveland Chapter of the American Hellenic Education Progressive Association (AHEPA) and the Parish Council of St. Demetrios in Rocky River, Ohio and St. Katherine in Naples, Florida. Xen and Lula also established the Zapis Family Charitable Foundation in 1999 to support charitable organizations in Northeast Ohio.
leader on the rise
Founder, Law Firm of Kimberly Kendall Corral
Kim is the founder of the Law Firm of Kimberly Kendall Corral. She represents clients in complex criminal matters, whether it’s a capital homicide trial or a wrongful conviction. From indictment and pretrial motions to trial, appeals, and post-conviction, Kim handles all levels of criminal justice advocacy.
Kim has an exceptional track record of success protecting clients’ constitutional rights to help them avoid conviction and even free them from incarceration. As a freedom fighter, Kim helped Ru-El Sailor in March 2018 to get his 2013 murder conviction overturned after he was imprisoned for 15 years for a crime he didn’t commit. She helped secure a dismissal of murder charges against Charles Jackson in August 2019 after he spent 27 years in prison for a homicide he didn’t commit. In January 2020, Kim submitted a petition of clemency on behalf of Michigan resident Michael Alonzo Thompson, who has spent more than 25 years of his 60-year sentence for selling marijuana to an undercover informant. Celebrities and social justice advocates like Kim Kardashian, Snoop Dogg, Shaun King and Chelsea Handler and have joined the fight to free Michael Thompson. In June 2020, Kim won a new trial for a client sentenced to thirty years of incarceration, following a conviction obtained by way of unconstitutional trial procedure. Kim has been qualified by the Supreme Court as an attorney capable of handling Death Penalty cases in the State of Ohio.
In addition to advocating for traditional clients, Kim is retained by the Fraternal Order of Police, Ohio Labor Counsel to represent law enforcement officers facing criminal charges and investigations. Kim has also partnered with the Ohio Innocence Project to exonerate wrongfully incarcerated Ohioans. As an adjunct professor at Cleveland Marshall College of Law, Kim led a small group of law students advocating for a man who has spent 30 years wrongfully incarcerated. Kim received an invitation to the Oval Office to discuss a pardon on behalf of her client with the U.S. President Donald Trump and the White House Counsel—at the same time Kanye West visited and witnessed a viral moment. She was also invited to discuss criminal justice advocacy at the Cleveland Browns Social Justice Summit.
Other notable accolades include being named a 2019 and 2020 Rising Star by Super Lawyers and collaborations with HBO star Michael K. Williams to take on juvenile justice issues in Ohio.
Kim’s passion for her work is matched by the passion she puts into her personal life. Kim has two daughters, age two and four. She loves exploring the world with them and sharing in their curiosity. They love cooking together, making art, and traveling.