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Steven E. Yuhas Alumni Special Service Award

Steven E. Yuhas Alumni Special Service Award

Created in 2010, the Steven E. Yuhas Alumni Special Service Award recognizes University of Dayton School of Law graduates who have been deeply involved in the work of the Alumni Association and the School of Law through extraordinary service and exceptional contributions of time, talent and financial assistance.

Gordon P. Kushner ‘91, 2022 Recipient

Gordon P. Kushner is the Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary of ECI Software Solutions, Inc., a privately held international software company based in Dallas, Texas, where he has served as head of the company’s legal department since 2004. In his role, he has overseen 43 acquisitions around the world and helped guide the company through several rounds of private equity funding. Prior to his role at ECI, he was Vice President and General Counsel of thePlatform for Media, Inc., a venture-backed software company that was ultimately sold to Comcast Media. He has also served as Chief Technology Counsel for Baan Development, BV, based in the Netherlands and Corporate Counsel for Milford, Ohio based Structural Dynamics Research Corporation (SDRC). He began his law career in the corporate department of Dinsmore & Shohl in Cincinnati. Gordon received his JD from the University of Dayton in 1991.

In 2018, with the help of ECI, Gordon established a summer law internship program to allow University of Dayton law students spend the summer working at ECI and learning about in-house legal work. Since its creation, four UDSL students have participated in the summer internship program, living in Dallas and working with Gordon and the ECI legal team.

James E. Byrd ’80 ’84, 2021 Recipient

Jim Byrd has served on the University of Dayton School of Law Advisory Council since 2010 and served on the Alumni Association Board for many years. As a member of the Dean’s Advisory Council, he has played an active role in advising on the development and implementation of the online and non-degree programs offered by UDSL and has consistently supported programs of UDSL contributing time and financial support. He is a two-time graduate of UD, receiving his undergraduate degree in Criminal Justice in 1980 as well as his Juris Doctor (cum laude). Jim also joined fellow alumni admitted to the Bar of the Supreme Court of the United States in 2015.

After 22 years of service, Jim retired from LexisNexis — a premier provider of legal and news information and publishing company — as Associate General Counsel and Senior Director. During his tenure, he was part of the legal department senior leadership team and managed the legal affairs of four primary business units. His responsibilities included vendor and customer contracting and other commercial agreements, licensing, publishing, e-commerce, copyright, developing global content acquisition policies, disputes/litigation, compliance matters, and acquisition and divestiture agreements. Before joining LexisNexis, Jim founded an air freight forwarding company where he was Vice President and General Counsel; served as legal counsel for Huffy Corporation; and worked as an associate at Smith & Schnacke (now Thompson Hine) where he focused on corporate law and mergers and acquisitions. He also clerked for The Honorable Carl B. Rubin, Chief Judge, United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio.

Jim is a founder and served as a board member of Mustang Journey, a non-profit corporation dedicated to helping veterans work through post-traumatic stress disorder by domesticating wild mustangs. He has also worked with the Annual Access to Equal Justice Campaign. 

Gerry Greene '02, 2020 Recipient

Gerry Greene started at the University of Dayton School of Law at age 59 after retiring from Proctor & Gamble. Upon graduating from law school, Gerry got a postion with the Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati, which provides free legal service to economically challenged people, where he specializes in Family Law. Much of his work centers around helping victims of domestic violence. Aside from donating his time with Legal Aid (he works for free), Gerry has also given back to the law school. He helped organize and run the law school's Road to Bar Passage Program in the mid-2000s along with Professor Rebecca Cochran. The program was successful in improving the law school's bar passage rate with 100 percent of the students who completed the Program in 2008 passing the July Ohio bar.

Michael W. Mutek '79, 2017 Recipient

For 26 years Michael served as the Vice President and General Counsel of Raytheon’s Intelligence, Information and Services business, a $6 billion business unit of Raytheon Company.  In this capacity, he was responsible for all the legal affairs of the business, and worked on several successful acquisitions in order to help create a cybersecurity business at Raytheon.  In his early career, he served as a Senior Trial Attorney on the Air Force’s Trial Team.  Michael is now Senior Counsel with Steptoe & Johnson LLP where he counsels clients on matters related to the intelligence community and national security issues.

Nationally recognized, Michael is a frequent writer and lecturer on government contracts and corporate law topics, and has testified on government contract issues before Congress.  He is currently a member of the American Bar Association (ABA) House of Delegates, a Fellow of the ABA’s Section of  Public Contract Law and is a past chair of the section.  Michael is also a Life Fellow for the American Bar Foundation.  He chaired the ABA’s Services Contracting Best Practices Task Force, which published “Services Contracting Best Practices:  A guide to Successful Services Contracting.”

Mike has served as a member of the University of Dayton School of Law Advisory Council since 2012 and he and his wife, Patty, have committed to establishing a fully endowed law scholarship for a law student interested in public service who is Catholic with financial need.

Richard Apostolik '77, 2016 Recipient

Rich Apostolik of Summit, New Jersey, is 3-time graduate of the University of Dayton. He obtained his undergraduate degree in business, his MBA, and is a member of the first graduating law class of 1977. Apostolik was unable to attend the awards dinner due to travel issues. He will be presented with his award at a later date.

Apostolik is the CEO and president of Global Association of Risk Professionals (GARP), located in Jersey City, New Jersey. GARP is a not-for-profit global membership organization dedicated to preparing professional and organizations to make better informed risk decisions. The organizations represents over 150,000 risk management practitioners in banking, financial, government agencies, academic institutions and corporations from more than 195 countries. GARP administers the Financial Risk Manager and Energy Risk Professional exams and certifications recognized by risk professionals worldwide.

Apostolik has been a member of the School of law’s advisory council since 2005 and has served as chair since the fall of 2011.  As chair, he has served the council with distinction, leading efforts to revitalize and energize the council with working committees thereby enriching the council’s work to advise and inform the dean. Apostolik spearheaded efforts by the Advisory Council to establish the McGreal Fellows Award to recognize the contributions of Paul McGreal, past dean to the School of Law.  In 2015, he was inducted into the John Stuart Society for his many contributions to the University of Dayton and the School of Law.

Hon. Mary Kate Huffman '90, 2015 Recipient

The Honorable Mary Kate Huffman, adjunct professor and president of the School of Law Alumni Association, along with the Student International Law Mission Delegation, were also recipients of the 2015 Steven E. Yuhas Alumni Special Service Award in grateful recognition of their extraordinary mission service to Agua Viva Guatemala. The student delegation included Kesha Brooks, Hillary Fry, Mali Khantrece, Kyle LaBuff, Kendra Lee, Kim Melchor, Jennifer Nicholson, Kathryn Rettich and Kaelynn Smith.

Bob DeRose '91, 2015 Recipient

Senior Partner with Barkan Meizlish in Columbus, Ohio, Bob DeRose works in the area of “wage & hour/overtime violations”. He is very active in workers’ rights issues and is the former president of the Ohio Association for Justice, a leading trial organization founded in 1954 protecting consumer access to the Civil Justice System. He is a member of the Board of the American Association of Justice. He teaches as an Adjunct Professor at Capital University Law School Graduate Program and is involved in his community.

DeRose has been named a Top 100 Trial Lawyer in Ohio since 2007 by the American Trial Lawyers Association and listed as an Ohio Super Lawyer by Cincinnati Magazine since 2005.  He is listed in the Who’s Who of American Law and was recently voted to the prestigious Melvin M. Belli Society by his peers around the country.

In 2012, DeRose was plaintiffs’ counsel in a civil case that needed a Cy Pres.  He designated the School of Law’s Project & Business Ethics as the recipient of the first award of $12,000 and since that time has designated more than $185,000 towards that program, which is laying the foundation for curricular growth.

William L. Jennewein ’86, 2014 Recipient

Bill Jennewein is a cum laude graduate of the University of Dayton.  He has an LLM in Taxation from Villanova University School of Law, and an LLM in Banking Law Studies from Boston University School of Law.

Jennewein is currently employed as the Vice President and Trust Officer of Park National Bank working in estate planning and specializing in estate taxes.  Prior to joining Park National Bank in 2013, he worked with PNC Wealth Management for 4 years and before that was employed by the IRS for 18 years.   While at the IRS, he served as a National Office attorney advisor overseeing the selection of estate tax returns for the nationwide examination program.

Jennewein serves on the CET Planned Giving Committee of Cincinnati.  This organization is Greater Cincinnati’s leading provider of education and enrichment, in both living rooms and classrooms through PBS, reaching more than 2 million residents, 470,000 students and 37,000 teachers.  He assists donors with creating a legacy through the CET. He also serves the Planned Giving Committee for the Cincinnati Freestore Foodbank, which provides assistance to almost 290,000 people.  He helps donors with their contributions through their estate planning.

Jennewein is an active member of the University of Dayton School of Law Advisory Council and for the last 15 years, he has been a mentor with the Cincinnati Youth Collaborative.

Christopher B. Epley '99, 2013 Recipient

Chris Epley, a 1999 graduate, is actively involved in the School of Law as an Alumni Association Board Trustee, adjunct professor and externship field supervisor. His legal community involvement includes the Ohio Supreme Court Lawyer to Lawyer Mentoring Program, as well as, the Certified Grievance Committee and Bar Exam Committee for the Dayton Bar Association. His experience includes private practice as Christopher B. Epley Co., LPA, the Assistant Prosecuting Attorney for the Vandalia Municipal Court, the substitute magistrate for Dayton Municipal Court and Visiting Judge for Oakwood Municipal Court.

Local community involvement has Epley as the current Oakwood Board of Education Vice President and as a member of Oakwood Rotary. He is also the boys soccer announcer and official basketball scorekeeper for Oakwood Schools.

Epley received the Montgomery County Common Pleas Court, Juvenile Division, Special Recognition Award in 2009 and was recognized in the Dayton Business Journal's 40 Under 40 Award in 2006.

One nomination for the Yuhas Award stated, "Chris volunteered our office for UDSL externs to learn the profession as part of their 192 hour course requirement as well as taught Appellate Advocacy to second year law students.  In addition Chris served as the faculty advisor for UDSL Moot court teams, where I witnessed first  hand the respect and loyalty he received from the students.  Finally, I have observed Chris volunteering for the Dayton Bar Association by serving on 2 substantive law committees during our years together as a firm.  In addition Chris consistently shows the same passion and dedication to his clients.  Even in trying circumstances he is able to see the bigger picture and protect the interests of children by serving as a court appointed representative.  I know he would be a well deserved recipient of the award.  Chris truly embodies the Marianist philosophy of 'learn, lead and serve.'"

Tom Whelley II '77, 2012 Recipient

Tom Whelley has been a consistent and loyal supporter of the law school since graduating in 1977. He is a member of the School of Law’s Advisory Council and teaches civil trial practice at the law school.  

He also serves on the boards of the Dayton Early College Academy and the Law Leadership Institute and has served as president of the Legal Aid Society of Dayton and the Dayton Bar Association, and as chair of the Western Ohio Chapter of the Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Whelley is a partner in Dinsmore & Shohl’s Dayton office He has extensive experience in litigating complex business cases, including shareholder disputes, accounting malpractice, broker dealer actions, and other related fields. Previously, he worked at Chernesky, Heyman & Kress and Thompson, Hine & Flory.

“I believe community service is a learned behavior,” Whelley said, crediting his parents, professors and “icons” of the Dayton community for instilling him the importance of service.

“This institution has been wonderful to me,” Whelley said. “My legal career started here and it only made sense that over the years I give back.”

In 1994, he received Dayton Law’s Distinguished Alumni Award. While in law school, he was editor-in-chief of the University of Dayton Law Review.

Jeff Rezabek '97, 2011 Recipient

Jeff Rezabek has operated his Dayton law practice since 2003. He also serves as a substitute magistrate with the Dayton Municipal Court. Rezabek has been a Guardian Ad Litem since 1998 and has assisted the CASA Program and the Dayton Bar Association in the training of GALs since 2000. He started his legal career at the firm of Charles Smiley and Associates in 1998, and was recognized as partner two years later.

He was named the GAL of the Year in 2003 by Montgomery County Juvenile Court's CASA Program, and Attorney of the Year in both 2003 and 2009 by the Appointed Council Program of the Montgomery County Common Pleas Court.

An active and valued member of the School of Law¿s Alumni Association, Rezabek has served on the association's Board of Trustees since 1998 and plays an instrumental role in organizing the School's annual Honorable Carl D. Kessler Scholarship Golf Tournament. He received the Alumni Association's President Award in 2005.

Rezabek also received his undergraduate degree, in psychology and history, from the University of Dayton in 1991.

Judge Mary Kate Huffman, president of the Alumni Association, presented the Yuhas Special Service Award to Rezabek, praising his dedication to service, "whatever the need or occasion." "We can always count of Jeff," Huffman said. "He is always there for his community, for the law school and for the students."

Rezabek said that he was exposed to University's mantra to "Learn, Lead and Serve" throughout his time as a student at Dayton, first from Bro. Raymond Fitz, who was president of the University when Rezabek was an undergrad, then from Fran Conte, who was dean while Rezabek was a law student. Today, the current dean, Lisa Kloppenberg, has taken that philosophy, Rezabek said, "and run with it." Rezabek also noted that the students in the Class of 2011, who graduated earlier in May, had contributed more than 12,000 hours of community service during their time in law school. UDSL students, he said, are "challenging us to do more" and to serve our communities more.

Steve Yuhas '85, 2010 Recipient

Steve Yuhas served as president of the School of Law's Alumni Association from 2002 to 2010. He was instrumental in the association's efforts to increase involvement of alumni in activities at UDSL. He received the Distinguished Alumni Award in 2001 for his many contributions to the School and the Dayton community.

In honor of his dedication to the School of Law and his accomplishments as president of the Alumni Association, the School created the Steven E. Yuhas Alumni Special Service Award in 2010. The award recognizes a University of Dayton School of Law graduate's extraordinary service and contributions to the Alumni Association, the School of Law, its students as well as the community. The award recognizes individuals who have been deeply involved in the work of the Alumni Association and the School of Law through exceptional contributions of time, talent and financial assistance.

Steve graduated from the School of Law in 1985, and received his undergraduate degree in criminal justice from the University of Dayton in 1982. He has been practicing law in Dayton for over 25 years and specializes in Plaintiff's Worker's Compensation, Personal Injury, Divorce, Juvenile Court work and Criminal Law. Steve is currently practicing with Thorson, Switala, Mondock and Snead "of counsel". He served as president of the Alumni Association from 2002 to 2010.


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