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2021 Staff Awards

Posted November 29, 2021
3:05 pm

Congratulations to Legal Aid's 2021 Staff Award Winners!

The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland will recognize the following staff award recipients at the 2021 Annual Meeting, to be held online Thursday, December 9. The event features keynote speaker U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland. Learn more and register to watch:

The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland annually recognizes staff through this awards program funded by Legal Aid’s Leadership Fund for Organizational Development. The fund is supported by the Allen Madorsky Memorial Fund and the Alan Gressel Memorial Fund at Legal Aid and numerous other individual gifts. If you are interested in making a gift to support Legal Aid’s Leadership Fund, please call 216-861-5217.

Lyonel Jones Lifetime Achievement Award. . . for a career dedicated to The Legal Aid Society and its clients; named in honor of C. Lyonel Jones (1932 – 2006) who himself dedicated his entire legal career at Legal Aid.

Andrea Price, Esq., Senior Attorney, Economic Justice Group

Andrea Price has worked for The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland for more than 35 years, joining the organization in 1985. Andrea has worn many different hats in her long tenure at Legal Aid. For the last decade, she has been a Senior Attorney in the Consumer and now Economic Justice Groups. She previously worked in the now dissolved Older Person’s Unit, and she continues to passionately serve the needs of seniors through both her casework and community involvement. Andrea has handled a wide variety of cases, including debt collection, foreclosure, bankruptcy, probate, and more. She exhibits a deep interest in her clients’ wellbeing and goes above and beyond to make sure they not only receive legal representation, but also any other services they need.  Beyond her casework, Andrea is a valued member of Legal Aid’s African American Vulnerable Population and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committees. Andrea’s work is clearly fueled by her commitment to justice and concern for her clients – and she inspires her colleagues every day. Her careerlong commitment to Legal Aid’s mission and community more than warrants her receiving the 2021 C. Lyonel Jones Lifetime Achievement Award.

Leadership Award… to acknowledge outstanding staff leadership, tireless efforts for Legal Aid clients and vision for Legal Aid’s work.  The Leadership Award is presented to an individual who makes Legal Aid a better organization, helps others around them achieve more for Legal Aid clients, and creates a team for social justice.

Paige Nofel Kuri, Paralegal, Housing Group

Paige Nofel Kuri joined Legal Aid in 2013.  She is currently a Paralegal 2 in the Housing Practice Group. Over the past two years, Paige has been a leader in implementing Cleveland’s Right to Counsel (RTC) legislation. Paige has created, implemented, studied, and then improved numerous processes to ensure the smooth operation of this brand-new program. Paige provides support for both clients and attorneys at every step of a case. She helped develop and execute trainings for new attorneys, paralegals, and intake staff, and she mentors the new paralegals. Paige has such a deep knowledge of housing law and procedures that a common response to questions among her colleagues is, “Ask Paige.” Paige also exhibits leadership by building relationships with community partners who provide rent assistance. A natural leader, she ensures both that individual client needs are met and that her group operates in an efficient, effective manner, thus making Paige a natural choice for the 2021 Leadership Award.

The Claude E. Clarke Award… recognizes staff members for outstanding service through professional performance and commitment to Legal Aid and its clients, and is named for Claude Clarke (1890 – 1975), who directed Legal Aid’s work for nearly four decades.

Tracy Ayers, Intake Specialist, Volunteer Lawyers Program / Intake

Tracy Ayers joined Legal Aid in 1996 and recently celebrated her 25th anniversary. Tracy has held several roles with us and currently serves as an Intake Specialist. In this role, Tracy compassionately talks with people who are facing loss of their income, shelter, health care, or safety. She guides each applicant through the interview, gathering the information needed to assess the case and ensuring applicants know they have been heard.  Tracy is a leader in the Intake Group, training new colleagues and working to improve the ways we serve clients. She exhibits her commitment to Legal Aid and our clients every day. We are pleased to present Tracy with the 2021 Claude E. Clarke Award.

Erik Meinhardt, Development & Communications Associate

Erik Meinhardt joined Legal Aid in 2018 and immediately had significant, positive impact on the organization. Erik’s role is operational; he works behind the scenes, managing Legal Aid’s Development and Communications Team calendar, database, and many other daily functions. Because of Erik’s work, we have gained and retained supporters. And because of his creativity and drive, we have broadened our community partnerships and outreach to underserved communities – a particularly important feat during the pandemic. Erik’s work kept us in touch with supporters, partners, and client communities throughout the isolating pandemic. His work is outstanding and his commitment to Legal Aid’s clients always shines through. We are honored to recognize Erik with the 2021 Claude E. Clarke Award.

Lisa Splawinski, Esq., Senior Attorney, Health & Opportunity Group

Lisa Splawinski first worked in Legal Aid’s Medical Legal Partnership with MetroHealth. She left in 2017 to serve immigrants near the Mexican border, but returned to Legal Aid after two years away, and has used the expertise she gained to advocate for immigrant clients in Northeast Ohio. Lisa is a leader in Legal Aid’s immigration practice. She has argued and won difficult asylum cases and ended removal proceedings. Lisa builds partnerships with other service providers, Immigration Court, and local detention facilities. A gifted advocate for northeast Ohio’s immigrant community, Lisa continues to push both herself and her colleagues to grow the impact of Legal Aid’s immigration practice. We are pleased to honor Lisa's efforts with the 2021 Claude E. Clarke Award.

Matt Vincel, Esq., Supervising Attorney, Housing Group

Matt Vincel has spent his entire career bringing justice to the lives of people with low incomes. He started his career at Cleveland Legal Aid in 2008 as a Staff Attorney and then moved to Georgia, where he continued his work providing civil legal aid services. Matt returned to Legal Aid in 2019, and now serves as a Supervising Attorney, helping to lead Legal Aid’s growth in eviction defense work. He is a leader in trial and appellate work, and serves as a mentor to other attorneys and paralegals. Matt’s calm and professional demeanor, his well-reasoned arguments, and his persuasive presentation win over clients, colleagues, judges, and opposing parties alike. We are happy to recognize Matt with the 2021 Claude E. Clarke Award.

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