Ohio State Bar Foundation Welcomes New Class of Fellows

June 29, 2021



COLUMBUS, OH (June 29, 2021) –The Ohio State Bar Foundation (OSBF) is pleased to announce the induction of 21 attorneys to its honorary Fellows Program.

"We are very proud of our 2021 Fellows," said OSBF President Velda K. Hofacker. "They are outstanding lawyers and people who are committed to community service. They will come together this year to create a Fellows Week of Service that will enable the more than one thousand Fellows around the state to make a difference in their communities. The generosity of our Fellows also enables the Ohio State Bar Foundation to provide funding to non-profits around the state who are working to improve the public's understanding of the law and institute improvements in our justice system.  We are excited to have these outstanding individuals join us as we work to improve the lives of Ohioans!"

2021 Fellows Class Members:

  • Sarah Biehl of Bexley first worked at Legal Aid in Chicago before becoming an education law specialist for the Ohio Poverty Law Center. She then focused on policy issues impacting children in poverty with the Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio. Currently home raising her small children, Biehl volunteers her time with the Legal Aid Society of Columbus, the American Constitution Society, and the ACLU of Ohio, serving on its Board of Directors.  Her commitment to helping others earned her the Moritz College of Law Public Interest Law Foundation Excellence in Public Service Award and the Chicago Bar Foundation Kimball and Karen Anderson Public Interest Law Fellowship.   Biehl graduated from The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.
  • Cheri Budzynski of Grand Rapids is a partner in the environmental practice group at Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick. She is a member of the Toledo Bar, Ohio State Bar and American Bar Associations, as well as the Toledo Women’s Bar Association, where she served as president. Budzynski’s peers voted her as an Ohio Rising Star (Super Lawyers magazine, 2014-2017), and in 2021 she was recognized for her practice of environmental law by Best Lawyers in America. She teaches environmental law at the University of Toledo College of Engineering. Budzynski graduated law school from the University of Toledo College of Law.
  • Stephanie Chmiel of Columbus is a partner at Thompson Hine LLP and Vice Chair of Litigation in its Business Litigation group. She was selected as a Rising Star by Ohio Super Lawyers magazine in 2014 and as a Top Lawyer by Columbus CEO in 2015. Chmiel is a member of the Ohio Women’s Bar Foundation, Leadership Columbus 2015 Class, the Ohio Women’s Bar Foundation Leadership Institute, and the Franklin County Democratic Lawyers Club. Chmiel graduated from Cornell Law School.
  • Bryan Everitt of Lancaster practices real estate law, business law, estate planning and probate at Dagger Law. A graduate of the United State Naval Academy, Everitt served in the military for 24 years before pursuing his law degree from Capital University Law School. His professional commitments include memberships in the American Bar Association, Ohio State Bar Association, and the Fairfield and Perry County Bars. In recognition of his dedication to community organizations, including Lancaster Alive, the Rotary Club of Lancaster-Sherman, and Columbus-based Equality Ohio, Everitt was selected as Young Professional of the Year in 2017 by the Lancaster-Fairfield Chamber of Commerce and Volunteer of the Year by the Rotary of Lancaster.
  • Amy Flowers of Columbus is an attorney with Ice Miller Litigation. Prior to joining Ice Miller, Flowers served as bailiff to Judge Cocroft of the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas. She also formerly sat on the Athens City Council, chairing various committees and navigating the legislative process of turning proposals into ordinances. Her professional memberships include the Chief Justice Thomas J. Moyer Inn of Court, LGBT Bar, Ohio Women’s Bar Association, Columbus Bar Association, and the Ohio State Bar Association.  She also currently serves as President of the Ohio University Pride Society Alumni Association. Flowers is a graduate of Capital University Law School.
  • Samuel Goodwater of New Albany is the Managing Partner of the Goodwater Law Firm, LLC and Founder and CEO of the Premier Legal Consultant Group, LLC. He is an active member of the Ohio State Bar Association (OSBA) and is a graduate of its Leadership Academy. Currently, he chairs the OSBA’s Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Section. Goodwater graduated from University of Akron Law School.
  • Magistrate Kani Hightower of Copley presides over the small claims and evictions dockets at Akron Municipal Court while also practicing as a trial attorney in the areas of domestic relations, civil, criminal, juvenile, probate and appellate law at Lynda Harvey Williams & Associates LLC. She has been an Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of Akron School of Law, serving as bar exam coordinator for five years and operating its Summer Writing Center. Hightower also served as Clerk of Council for the City of Aurora and earned the designation of Certified Municipal Clerk. Hightower graduated from the University of Akron Law School.
  • Charles Hollis of Cincinnati established the Hollis Law Firm LLC in Cincinnati in 2013 as a solo practitioner in the areas of personal injury and immigration. He has assisted clients from over 100 different countries with their immigration matters and has presented both nationally and internationally on U.S. immigration topics. He has been designated a “Super Lawyer” by Super Lawyer Magazine since 2014. Hollis mentors new lawyers in the Supreme Court of Ohio’s Lawyer to Lawyer Mentoring Program and serves on the Advisory Board of Soteni International, as well as the Board of the Cincinnati-Kharkiv Sister City Partnership.  He is past president of the Cincinnati USA Sister Cities Association.  Hollis graduated from the University of Cincinnati College of Law.
  • Magistrate Marshall Gary Lachman of Centerville presides at the Montgomery County Juvenile Court, where he focuses on protecting children. Previously as a practicing lawyer, Lachman often worked with indigent defendants. He has also represented children who have been abused and neglected as a Guardian ad Litem. His professional memberships include the American Bar Association, the Ohio State Bar Association, and the Dayton Bar Association.  He has received the Office of the Public Defender Gideon Award for his honorable, consistent, and recognizable effort to ensure equal justice for the indigent in the community. Lachman graduated from the Ohio State University Moritz School of Law.
  • Jane Messmer of Columbus is an Assistant State Public Defender in the Ohio Public Defender’s Office. Previously, she held positions as an associate at Squire Patton Boggs in Cleveland and then as a staff attorney for Legal Aid in Cleveland. She has served as an Assistant Federal Public Defender, as well as Director of the American Bar Association’s Criminal Justice Section. She volunteers for clinics hosted by the Legal Aid Society of Columbus. Messmer is a member of the League of Women Voters and the Ohio Jail Voting Coalition, which advocates for enforcement of voting rights of its members. Messmer graduated from the University of Michigan College of Law.
  • Jay Edward Michael of Columbus specializes in trust and probate law at his firm, Jay E. Michael LLC. He is a certified specialist in estate planning, trust and probate law, and he frequently lectures on probate and real estate issues for the Ohio State Bar Association and Columbus Bar Association, where he has served as president.  He consistently has been honored as a Columbus CEO Top Lawyer and an Ohio Super Lawyer. Michael graduated from Capital University Law School and is a recipient of Capital University’s Distinguished Alumnus Award.
  • Magistrate Moira Murty of Dayton was a staff attorney for the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas before becoming a magistrate for the Montgomery County Juvenile Court. She primarily oversees cases involving children’s abuse, neglect and dependency. Murty is a member of the Dayton Bar Association, as well as the Ohio State Bar Association. She also served as mentor for the inaugural class of the Montgomery County Female Leadership Academy. Murty graduated from the University of Dayton School of Law.
  • Gabriella Neal of Columbus is Corporate Counsel for Safelite Auto Glass. Previously, she practiced at Pickrel Schaeffer & Ebelin in Dayton as a member of its business law and real estate team. She also was a staff writer and editor for the Dayton Law Review. Neal graduated from the University of Dayton School of Law
  • Matthew Oyster of Columbus is currently the Ohio Casino Control Commission’s General Counsel and Director of Licensing & Investigations in Columbus. Before joining the Commission, Oyster was an Assistant Attorney General in the Charitable Law Section of the Ohio Attorney General’s Office. He is also a Certified Public Manager, a volunteer at the Legal Aid Society of Columbus and coaches the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law Gaming Law Moot Court Team. Oyster is a long-time mentor in the Supreme Court of Ohio Lawyer to Lawyer Mentoring Program. Oyster graduated from Ohio Northern University Pettit College of Law.
  • Patrick Piccininni of Columbus currently serves as the Chief Ethics Officer for the Ohio Secretary of State. Previously, he served as Chief Legal Counsel for the Ohio Department of Transportation, as an Assistant Prosecuting Attorney for Franklin County, and as an Assistant Attorney General for the Ohio Attorney General’s Office. He volunteers for a wide range of organizations, including the Columbus Bar Association, the Mid-American Association of State Transportation Officials, St. John the Baptist church, and the Cub Scouts. Piccininni graduated from the University of Dayton School of Law.
  • Jennifer Rausch of Columbus is the Legal Director of the Human Trafficking Initiative at the Ohio Attorney General’s Office. Previously, she served for almost 17 years as an assistant prosecuting attorney at the Franklin County Prosecutor’s office; for 6 of those years she was Director of the Special Victims Unit. Today she focuses on preventing and educating about human trafficking issues, as well as assisting task forces to build human trafficking cases and develop legislative policy to ensure Ohio addresses the full scope of human trafficking. Rausch graduated from The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.
  • Kyle Shelton of Akron is a litigation attorney at the Brouse McDowell firm. He recently was honored in the inaugural edition of The Best Lawyers in America: Ones to Watch for the Commercial Litigation section (2021) and as a Rising Star by Super Lawyers (2019). Shelton is active in the Akron Bar Association and its Leadership Academy, the Akron Zoo and its PAW Committee, and the National Defense Bar Organization. Shelton graduated from the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.
  • Magistrate Elizabeth Tekavec of Painesville Township sits on the Ashtabula Juvenile Court bench. She has previous experience as an Assistant Prosecuting Attorney and Juvenile Division Supervising Attorney at the Lake County Prosecutor’s Office and as Director of Capital Development for the Lake County Family YMCA. She is a member of the Ohio State Bar Association and a 2020 graduate of its Leadership Academy. She also belongs to the Ashtabula County Bar Association, the Lake County Bar Association, and the Ohio Association of Magistrates. Tekavec graduated from the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law.
  • Dustin Torres of Columbus founded Torres Law LLC in 2012 after beginning his career in New York City. He focused his early career on litigation, small business law, debtor-creditor law, restaurant law and entertainment law. After relocating his family to Columbus, he continued practicing in those areas. Torres gives back to his community by volunteering at the United Way, Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, and the Salvation Army. Torres graduated from New York Law School.
  • Magistrate Jennifer Towell of Akron started her career as a Navy JAG Lieutenant at the Washington, D.C. Navy Yard Legal Services Office. She also spent time as the director of a division of LexisNexis and as an attorney with Brouse McDowell before becoming a magistrate for the Akron Municipal Court. Towell is a nationally recognized advocate for individuals with down syndrome, serves on the United Disability Services Board, and is the legal director of Akron’s local nonprofit Stand Up for Downs. The Greater Akron Chamber’s Young Professionals Network recognized Towell’s accomplishments by selecting her for a 30 for the Future award in 2013. Towell graduated from the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law.
  • Mindy Yocum of Dublin is the founder of the Yocum Law Office and is “of counsel” for the Office of Barkan Meizlish, where she practices social security disability law. In 2018, she was nominated for the ABA Louis M. Brown Award for Legal Access for her work in increasing access to justice and in 2017, she was recognized by the American Bar Association as a “Legal Rebel” for her innovative approach to the practice of law that provides legal representation to clients of modest means. She is a member of the Columbus Bar Association, the Ohio State Bar Association, and the American Bar Association. Yocum graduated from Capital University Law School and later received the university’s Ambassador Award.

About the Ohio State Bar Foundation: The Ohio State Bar Foundation is a 501(c) (3) public charity that works to advance the law and build a better justice system. Through our grants and programs, we educate and perform outreach to the public to make the law fair for all Ohioans. For more information about the Ohio State Bar Foundation, please visit OSBF.org. 



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