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2022 Staff Awards

Posted November 15, 2022
10:00 am

Congratulations to Legal Aid's 2022 Staff Award Recipients!

The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland will recognize the following staff award recipients at the 2022 Annual Meeting, to be held on Friday, December 2. Learn more and purchase tickets.

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.

  • Alexandria Ruden, Esq., Supervising Attorney in Legal Aid’s Family Law Group
    With Legal Aid since the 1980’s, Alexandria Ruden has dedicated her career to protecting survivors of domestic violence, both through legal representation and policy advocacy. Alexandria’s efforts to prevent and reduce further victimization for survivors of domestic violence do not end at the steps of the courthouse. She has been in the forefront of systematic changes in laws and policies impacting countless lives. In the 1980s, Alexandria was instrumental in arguing for the expansion of the domestic violence statute to include former spouses. In the 1990s, Alexandria’s activism was essential to the State of Ohio’s adoption of HB 335, legislation enhancing victim safety and holding batterers accountable. Later, she envisioned and helped implement the Domestic Violence Department at the Cuyahoga County Domestic Relations Court. She serves Legal Aid and survivors with consummate dedication, tirelessness, and passion for justice.

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.

  • Jennifer Kinsley Smith, Esq., Senior Attorney, Health & Opportunity Group
    Jennifer Kinsley Smith joined Legal Aid in 2018 and has emerged as an invaluable leader of our Medical-Legal Partnership at St. Vincent Charity Medical Center. She developed expertise in public benefits and is recognized for empathically working with and advocating for clients with severe mental health challenges. A natural team-builder, Jennifer has cultivated key relationships with community partners and her leadership extends across her work at Legal Aid and beyond.

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 E. Clarke (1890 – 1975), who directed Legal Aid’s work for nearly four decades.

  • Corrylee Drozda, Esq., Senior Attorney, Health & Opportunity Group
    Corrylee Drozda joined Legal Aid in 2018. She had an immediate impact and has been an integral part of the growth of our immigration practice. The diligence with which Corrylee handles her cases is remarkable. She leaves no stone unturned in her research and advocacy. She is creative and exhibits grit as she advances novel legal arguments. Corrylee has had notable success for her clients, obtaining favorable decisions for clients who faced removal from the United States.

  • Katherine Hollingsworth, Esq., Managing Attorney, Economic Justice Group
    Katherine Hollingsworth came to Legal Aid in 2011 as an Equal Justice Fellow. When she joined the organization, Cleveland was in the middle of a foreclosure crisis. With zealous commitment, Katherine devoted herself to learning the tools of consumer law in order to achieve economic justice for our clients. Her dedication to issues of economic equity have led her to take leading roles on initiatives to eliminate predatory payday loans in Ohio, fight against elder fraud, and organize the Worker Information Line to provide guidance for vulnerable workers.

  • Haley Martinelli, Esq., Supervising Attorney, Family Group
    After working with Legal Aid as a law student intern, Haley Martinelli joined the organization in 2019, where she has been an invaluable leader and contributor to the Family Group. Haley’s measured and thoughtful approach allows her to serve as an effective advocate. Haley has led and co-counseled several significant litigation and advocacy efforts. She was also a leader on Legal Aid’s team that designed ways to safely continue representation of clients in court during the early days of the pandemic.

  • Deborah Petit-Frere, Intake Specialist, Volunteer Lawyers Program / Intake
    Deborah Petit-Frere joined Legal Aid as an Intake Specialist in 2019. As she accompanies clients navigating the intake process, Deborah exemplifies patience and kindness. She makes our clients feel comfortable, safe, and heard as they seek Legal Aid’s assistance. She is a critical team player and collaborator who helps train new employees, supports our receptionists, and is always willing to step in and provide assistance to her co-workers.
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