2007-2013 Great Deeds Awards


2013 Great Deeds Awards (Students)

The Center for Ethics, Service, and Professionalism was pleased to present the Student Great Deeds Awards for Trinity 2013.  This award is given up to once per term per campus to recognize students who have demonstrated outstanding commitment to the service of others. Nominations are accepted by classmates, staff, faculty, or members of the community who have witnessed our students going above and beyond in the area of public service, whether through long-term commitment or through a single act of great service.

Debra Steele – Tampa Bay Campus

Tampa Bay's recipient of the Great Deeds award is student Debra Steele.  Debra dedicates her free time to helping others, with a special focus on veterans.  She has spearheaded efforts that have raised thousands of dollars for less fortunate members of the community and participated in numerous community service projects.  Her activities include providing military honors at funerals of deceased veterans, collecting holiday presents and donations for needy children, participating in ceremonies of the Boy Scouts of America, volunteering in the All American Teach In and talking to high school students about the importance of financial responsibility and goals, supporting the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, participating in the Adopt-A-Highway road clean up program, and raising funds for various programs and organizations that help children such as the Cruise for Kids.  Debra is an inspiration for fellow students and a leader on campus.  Debra recently formed the Tampa Bay campus chapter of the Military Veterans Law Student Association and in the short time since the chapter was formed, she already organized a group of students to help at the National Veterans Wheelchair Games event in Tampa.

Kurt Peterson and James Holmes - Grand Rapids Campus

The Grand Rapids campus presented the Trinity 2013 Great Deeds award to two deserving students, Kurt Peterson and James Holmes. Both were honored for their commendable initiative in supporting a first term blind student get settled in Grand Rapids and in organizing a car pool schedule so he did not have to navigate the public transportation system to and from school during some dreadful winter weather.  Assisting a fellow student is not the only great deed that these gentlemen have done.  Kurt is the first to volunteer for pro bono and community service work through Cooley’s campus programming.  He has assisted with the Nonprofit Incorporation Project, and the Pro Bono Bankruptcy Program.  James has assisted with the Nonprofit Incorporation Project, the Tenant Law Project and participated in the West Michigan Mental Health Foundation’s Stomp Out Stigma walk.  In his free time James also serves and delivers food for God’s Kitchen and Degage Ministries, and does home construction work for the elderly.

Nicole Hughes - Lansing Campus

The Lansing Great Deeds Award recipient is Nicole Hughes.  Nicole has participated in the Innocence Project for three terms, consistently putting in significantly more hours than required for credit.  As a classmate pointed out, this is work that simply doesn’t bear immediate fruit.  She does her part and trusts that it will help make a difference in the future, in the hands of Project participants to come.  Her supervisors report that she not only handled her own caseload, but supported the work of her fellow classmates.  Nicole, as an Academic Resource Center Assistant, has impressed one of her supervisors so much that we heard: “A more intelligent, compassionate, sensible person I have never met.  She may be the best we have ever had.”  Nicole has also inspired at least one classmate to be a better person; she was touched by Nicole’s certainty that lawyers can make a better society.

Michelle Berger - Auburn Hills Campus

The recipient of this term’s Auburn Hills Great Deeds Award is Michelle Berger. She assisted with advertising the law school’s summer minority outreach program. The College Pre-Law Summer Institute provides historically underrepresented, low-income, or otherwise disadvantaged undergraduate students over 100 hours of instruction in Torts, Logic and Critical Reasoning, Legal Writing, and Trial Advocacy.  Michelle translated the flyers for the Summer Institute for the Spanish-speaking population and she encouraged the school officials to promote the program. She also talked to parents to help them understand the benefits of the Summer Institute. This was all labor-intensive and done because of her commitment to service.  She has completed pro bono work with Cooley’s Immigration Outreach Program, volunteers as a translator in the Pontiac School District, and works as a bilingual tutor in the school district. Michelle also provides her tutoring skills to the Hispanic Outreach Center in Pontiac, Michigan.

Loomy Danso - Ann Arbor Campus

Ann Arbor student Loomy Danso has donated his time, energy and talents, to many causes and programs.  He volunteered as a mentor to Ypsilanti High School students; he takes the time to be available to the students as a tutor, to provide assistance with homework, or to just play games.  He has also served as a Cooley mentor during the Washtenaw County Bar Association’s Bias Awareness Dinner, and has given his time as a guest teacher in Ann Arbor middle schools to teach fourth graders about the First Amendment on Constitution Day.  Loomy is the President of the International Law Society and Vice President of the Christian Legal Society and the Black Law Student Association.  He is the Treasurer of both the Business Law Society and the Student Intellectual Property Law Association.  Through his involvement with these organizations he has coordinated speaker events and spearheaded many fundraising events.  Loomy also provides pro bono legal services under the supervision of licensed attorneys and has participated in the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program. He is a volunteer translator with the Immigration Clinic to provide translation services in French and Twi, and has been court appointed to review active guardianships within the Washtenaw County Probate Court Pro Bono Guardianship Review Project.

2012 Great Deeds Recipients (Faculty/Staff)

Carly Wolf - Tampa Bay Campus

Carly Wolf is not only the Deputy Director of the Tampa Bay campus; she is also a Cooley alumna.  After graduating from Cooley magna cum laude and practicing law in Florida, Carly returned to Cooley to take on the role of Deputy Director for Tampa Bay.  She took on this role with enthusiasm and a willingness to help wherever she could contribute. 

Carly's commitment to public service was exemplified through her work in Cooley's Service to Soldiers Legal Assistance Referral Program.  Long before the Tampa Bay campus opened, Carly began working on the program by helping members of the United States Armed Forces find attorneys to take their cases pro bono in Florida. These service members could not afford to hire attorneys and finding pro bono counsel was no easy task, as the program was breaking ground in Florida and did not have a roster of participating attorneys.  Through Carly's hard work and diligence, approximately 50 service members were matched with attorneys who agreed to provide pro bono representation.  Carly is always willing to pitch in and help when needed and she does so with a smile, setting a perfect example for our students.

Chris Hastings – Grand Rapids Campus

Professor Chris Hastings is the Grand Rapids campus 2012 Great Deeds award winner. He has served the community through long term involvement with programs and projects as well as volunteering for those one time opportunities to assist.

Chris has held leadership roles with local organizations and with the State and Federal Bar. He is a member of the Standing Committee on the Unauthorized Practice of Law. He is an active member of the Federal Bar Association for the Western District of Michigan, and serves on the Board of Trustees for the Legal Assistance Center. He has volunteered his time to train students and local attorneys to handle pro bono federal prisoner’s rights cases. He has also volunteered at the annual Stand Down events, serving area veterans, and has offered legal counsel at area soup kitchens.

Outside of his legal service, his most prominent contributions include extensive service to our area Girl Scouts. He started in the late nineties when his oldest daughter joined the organization. At that time it was Girls Scouts of Michigan Trails. He continued serving through their realignment in 2008 to Girl Scouts of Michigan Shore to Shore. He was instrumental in the construction of Sherwood Lodge, an award winning LEED-certified dining hall at the organizations Camp Anna Behrens. He also orchestrated "Campout on the Calder." Over 100 Girl Scouts spent a weekend camping and celebrating with crafts, concerts, and meals on Calder Plaza. A tent, sleeping bag, that’s impressive! His work earned him a "Thanks Badge," the Girl Scouts' highest honor.

Whether it be spending time to ensure access to legal services for everyone in the community, or taking the time teach and encourage tomorrow’s leaders, I am sure you will agree, Professor Hastings is truly deserving of the Great Deeds award.

Alana Glass - Auburn Hills Campus

By day, Alana Glass is a Career and Professional Development Coordinator at Thomas M. Cooley Law School. For most of 2012, she doubled her work load to take on the role of overseeing pro bono programs at the Auburn Hills campus. She dedicated countless hours to immigration outreach in Pontiac, where she helped resident aliens apply for naturalization.  The program continued its growth under her supervision and is now one of the most popular at the Auburn Hills campus.  She was also founder of the Community Legal Resource Fair, which has become a huge success at the Auburn Hills campus.

But what many people don't know about Alana is that she also spends her evenings giving back to her community.  She volunteers with Project Future and is an assistant girls' basketball coach at The Roeper School.

What we all know about Alana is that she is an instrumental face in the Career and Professional Development Office in Auburn Hills as a coordinator. She advises law students on career planning and job search strategies. What you may not know about Alana is that she is an avid sports fan and she is determined to be an owner of a professional sports franchise. Alana maintains a blog where she talks abut sports from the perspective of the next generation of sports ownership. She also is a contributing writer to Forbes Sports Money where she has penned nearly 40 articles.

Alana encourages others to take a stake in their community and become involved. She is truly deserving of the 2012 Great Deeds Award.

Gina Torielli - Ann Arbor Campus

Professor Gina Torielli is the very deserving Great Deeds Award recipient for the Ann Arbor campus in 2012. She is the Director of the Graduate Tax Program and collaborates with the State Bar of Michigan and the Institute of Continuing Legal Education to promote and build the reputation of Cooley's graduate tax program and enhance employment opportunities for Cooley students. Beyond her job-related duties, Professor Torielli gives pro bono assistance to nonprofit organizations and their founders with tax and corporate issues. She is an officer of two charitable organizations, Michigan's Children (which advocates on policy issues on behalf of all children in the state of Michigan) and Solar Circle (which promotes solar cooking in two communities in Tanzania).

Professor Torielli has been instrumental in reviving the Washtenaw Asset Building Coalition and building the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program (VITA). Professor Torielli brings service opportunities to the Ann Arbor students as well, helping them get certified for the VITA program and overseeing their efforts at community sites. As a result of her efforts, income tax assistance is readily available to low-income citizens in Washtenaw County.

Her presence and involvement on campus are well known. Professor Torielli offers mock interviews and provides sound advice and tips for students beginning their employment search. She also supports student organizations and their programs by helping them obtain 501 (c )(3) tax exempt status. This term she involved her entire classes in "Making Meals Happen" by leading the "green bean drive." This helped Cooley's Ann Arbor campus provide 200 Thanksgiving meals to needy families in Washtenaw County.

Not only does Professor Torielli involve her classes in supporting campus activities, she also gives her own time to volunteer and to donate vegetables she has grown to the food bank at Food Gatherers, an organization that exists to alleviate hunger and its causes in the Ann Arbor community. She volunteered weekly and invited students to volunteer with her which provided the students wonderful mentoring and access to one of their professors on campus. Professor Torielli worked side by side with the students and created memorable moments with them, especially the moment an underground bees' nest was discovered while gardening!

Her commitment to Cooley, the students, and the community, make Professor Gina Torielli a shoo-in for the Cooley Great Deeds Award.

2011 Great Deeds Recipients (Faculty/Staff)

Katherine Fleming – Lansing Campus

Katherine Fleming, who has been with Cooley for 13 years, is the very deserving Great Deeds Award recipient for the Lansing campus in 2011. Kathy was instrumental in organizing the Angel Food program in Williamston, which provided meals and financial support for struggling families in the Greater Lansing area. Kathy is also well known among her colleagues for organizing campus support for low income families around the holidays. She collects gift cards, gifts, and monetary donations and then shops for families in need and delivers a fine holiday on behalf of the school.

Marjorie Gell - Grand Rapids Campus

Marjorie Gell engages in community activities that welcome new and diverse members, and that encourage the arts in Grand Rapids. As a dedicated member of the Arts Council she has volunteered as Chair of the Council's popular Art Prize fundraiser. Her work has also benefited Cooley, after endless efforts, a local sculptor has been commissioned to create a statue of Thomas M. Cooley for the school's campuses. She was also instrumental in having Cooley be a proud 2009 and 2010 Art Prize venue for local artists.

She recently completed a year of tutoring an immigrant who was studying English to earn his naturalized citizenship. During the weekly sessions, she was accompanied by her daughter (what a great example) who helped the immigrant's son with his English. Due to her dedication and enthusiasm the man was able to pass his citizenship test. She accompanied him and his family to the Gerald R. Ford Museum for his swearing-in before Judge Bell. We mentioned the "above and beyond," the suit he was wearing that day was brand new, compliments of Marjie.

She also volunteered her time to help a couple with end of life issues, a terminally ill man and his wife. Not with just a will and POAs, she went beyond in noticing that the woman would have trouble supporting herself as a widow. Her biggest obstacle to employment would be her decayed teeth and lack of a confident smile. With that, our award winner instigated the "Change a Smile" campaign. Students, faculty, and staff donated their spare change. Well over $600 was raised for the Mel Trotter dental clinic and the client. She has a new smile, confidence to look for a job, and the clinic was able to purchase some new equipment.

This commitment to the community, the legal profession, and Cooley truly make Marjie deserving of the Great Deeds Award.

Julie Mullens - Ann Arbor Campus

Julie Mullens, Director at the Ann Arbor Campus, is very generous with her time and resources, but within the Cooley community and in the greater Ann Arbor community. Julie is the Ann Arbor campus United Way campaign leader and is largely responsible for the high participation rate at the campus. Monies collected are helping to fulfill the needs of countless people. Julie is a very active member of the local Kiwanis group as well, which volunteers time and other resources to worthwhile causes throughout the region.

Julie's dedication to the campus is also evident. Each week, she posts inspirational quotes around the campus. Students and staff appreciate these uplifting quotes (especially around exam time!). Additionally, Julie goes beyond the call of duty with the various programs campus offers, making sure that the tables are decorated for the season so that all of the events are very inviting to the participants.

2010 Great Deeds Recipients (Faculty/Staff)

Christine Church – Lansing Campus

Assistant Dean and Professor Chris Church began the Hurricane Relief project in 2007, and since then the group (having morphed into the Disaster Relief Legal Association student organization) has sent well over 200 students to disaster-stricken areas to provide assistance with clearing titles for devastated homes, assisting the public defenders with criminal cases, clearing backlogs of family law and divorce cases, helping people obtain and maintain public benefits, and helping people stay in their homes.

And perhaps the greatest testament to what Chris has achieved is the fact that she even convinced students to finance their participation. Students had to pay nominal amounts for their travel to disaster areas or raise funds. This meant that Chris not only found service opportunities and lodging for the students, but she also helped students get creative about financing their adventures. And then, illustrating her commitment to teaching and not just doing, Chris taught student leaders how to navigate many of these tasks themselves and was always on stand-by for consultations. Chris travels right alongside these students every trip to make sure things go smoothly, during term break, taking her away from her family and her R&R time, which says so much about her dedication to helping those in need, and to modeling ethics, service, and professionalism for our students.

Sherry Batzer - Grand Rapids Campus

Professor Sherry Batzer has a heart for assisting those less fortunate. Her work with Kent County, prior to coming to Cooley, brought to light the legal needs of those living with mental and physical disabilities. Since her first term at Cooley she has worked tirelessly with residents of Ferguson Apartments, and is now part of the planning to expand the pro bono programming to Weston Apartments. Both complexes are owned by Dwelling Place, a nonprofit organization that focuses on the once homeless, and those living with disabilities.

Sherry has also prepared wills and power of attorney documents for Spanish speaking seniors, and Heartside neighborhood residents. She has offered educational presentations in the community and is currently working on a very difficult and complicated pro bono case that is expected to go to trial early this year. She is always looking for ways to help, always the first to volunteer.

Florise Neville-Ewell - Auburn Hills Campus

Professor Florise Neville-Ewell won the award for 2010 in Auburn Hills based on her work with TenCore™ and the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion.

TenCore™ is a foreclosure prevention program that provides basic consumer information to individuals who are trying to avoid foreclosure and save their homes. Florise started this project several years ago, and it has grown to include a web site, a student organization at the Auburn Hills Campus, and community outreach. As part of this, Florise regularly speaks at churches and other community centers all over metropolitan Detroit, and has been recognized by the US Attorney's Office in Detroit as an authority in this area. Her work, which involves Cooley students, has helped hundreds of individuals learn about their rights in foreclosure proceedings. The program has been noticed by the American Bar Association, which has asked Florise to present this concept to various sections of the ABA as a possible national model for helping to deal with the foreclosure crisis.

The Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion is a longstanding, non-profit, social justice organization that advocates for better race relations in metropolitan Detroit.

During the past year, Florise has invested hundreds of hours of her time to work with the Roundtable to present "From Redlining to White Flight: The History of Housing Segregation and the Importance of Regionalism" which was presented at the AH campus on October 29th. As with TenCore™, Florise involved dozens of our students in this program, providing them and the community with a wonderful educational experience. We have other worthy recipients, like Professor Monica Nuckolls for her work with Project Future, who we would like to nominate next term, but Florise's combined work for TenCore™ and the Roundtable stands a cut above. I would be happy to answer any questions that you or the selection committee might have.

Norm Fell - Ann Arbor Campus

Professor Fell has been actively involved in the community. He served on Board of Directors Neighborhood Senior Services for Washtenaw County. He serves on the Board of Directors Tri-County Office of Aging. In this regard, Professor Fell has had numerous speaking engagements on legal rights and services for the elderly.

Professor Fell has also participated in the National Innocence Project Conferences and committee for creation of National Project Network. He has also worked tirelessly with National Innocence Project and National Criminal Defense Lawyers Association in creating and promoting model legislation addressing systemic problems with the criminal justice system and wrongful convictions. Professor Fell collaborated with Innocence Projects at University of Wisconsin, Cardozo Law School and Northwestern University.

Professor Fell is a participant and active member of Michigan Campaign for Justice.

Professor Fell participated in the State Bar of Michigan Law Day and judged State Regional High School Moot Competitions.

In 2009, Professor Fell was named a Leader in the Law by Michigan Lawyers Weekly. The award is given for an attorney who best exemplifies the noble tradition of the legal profession.
Jennifer Bylsma - Student

Jennifer Bylsma, a U.S. Army Reservist, participated in a bone marrow drive while completing basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., several years ago. She was contacted last year and told she was a match for a 68-year-old gentleman with leukemia. Bylsma said she knew little about the man, but she says she pictured a grandfather wanting every chance to recover and enjoy his children and grandchildren.

Her donation required two trips to Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, D.C., to confirm the match and for the actual procedure.

"Many of us would have refused just because of the inconvenience; many students would have refused due to the demands of law school. Not Jennifer!" noted presenter Karen Rowlader, Assistant Director of the Center for Ethics and Professionalism at Cooley's Grand Rapids campus. "This young lady we are honoring today does not "stand down" to any challenge."

Rowlader added, "Not only did she donate bone marrow to a complete stranger, she is also willing to put her life on the line so that we may enjoy our rights as Americans. We are proud of Jennifer's accomplishments in law school and as a military intelligence officer. We are also inspired by her compassion for others."

2009 Great Deeds Recipients

Julie Clement – Lansing Campus

Julie Clement, associate professor and recipient of this year Great Deeds Award at the Lansing campus, has had an incredible impact on the lives of over 4000 people. She has done so much for her community of Portland, Michigan that literally every resident has benefitted from her tireless service.

Portland, an idyllic Midwestern town just west of Lansing, can boast of a boardwalk along the river, and a cultural Arts Center because of Julie's exceptional grant writing skills. Without her leadership and annual polar plunge fundraiser the Portland Arts Council would have no operating budget. Julie also offers her expertise, compassion and patience to serve as the city's "Plain Language Consultant" and currently as Mayor Pro-Tem. Anyone that can so positively touch the lives of so many is very deserving of recognition. by the Cooley Center for Ethics, Service, and Professionalism through its Great Deeds Award.

Danielle Hall – Grand Rapids Campus

Danielle Hall, Career Service Coordinator at the Grand Rapids campus, continually gives of her time and talents to a long list of charitable causes. Each week for the past two and a half years she has tutored grade students at Campau Park Elementary, an inner-city school that is supported through Heart of West Michigan's United Way "Schools of Hope" program. Danielle also volunteers for United Way's "Day of Caring." This year she cooked and served lunch to residents at a low income housing complex in Grand Rapids. While there she took the time to talk to the residents, get to know them, and be a friend.

For many years Danielle has given Cooley students, faculty and staff, as well as their families and friends, the opportunity for socializing and camaraderie while raising money for breast cancer research by organizing a Cooley team to participate in the American Cancer Society's "Making Strides – Walk for a Cure" Grand Rapids event. She has also been a long time supporter of the Lowell Pink Arrow Project, and worked hard at the recent opening of Gilda's Club, a community support facility, in Lowell, Michigan.

As Community Service/Pro Bono community Chair for the Women's Lawyers Association of Michigan Danielle is always researching and presenting community service and pro bono opportunities to the members of WLAM. Her enthusiasm and commitment to Cooley and to the communities in which she works and lives are deserving of recognition.

Audra Foster – Auburn Hills Campus

With no expectation of recognition Audra Foster, Campus Director at Auburn Hills, is very generous in giving to the school community and the community at large.

She routinely drives from Lansing to Auburn Hills to volunteer with Oakland County's "Meals on Wheels" program to deliver meals to area seniors. Audra organizes the Red Cross blood drives at the campus, and was instrumental in organizing, collecting and delivering over 200 Thanksgiving food baskets to needy families in Pontiac, Michigan. Her caring nature is also revealed when she arranges for cards, flowers, and prepared meals to be sent to faculty, staff and students who are ill, having a baby, or grieving the loss of a loved one. She even takes is upon herself to send congratulatory cards to Auburn Hills graduates that pass the bar.

Audra routinely supports various fund raising projects at Cooley and in the community by encouraging participation through raffle prizes she purchases herself. Audra's giving nature, combined with her dedication and willingness to go above and beyond when helping others is a true inspiration to others, and makes her an excellent choice for the 2009 Great Deeds award.

Shady Yassin - Student

The Center for Ethics, Service, and Professionalism is pleased to recognize Mr. Shady Yassin as the inaugural recipient of the Student Great Deeds Award. Mr. Yassin went above and beyond what we expect from each other when faced with life-threatening danger.

Shady Yassin was sitting inside the Bitter End Coffee House around 1:30 a.m. on November 19 when a man brandishing a rifle rushed through the front door and ordered patrons to turn over their laptops and other valuables. While customers began complying with the gunman's command, Shady recognized an opportunity to disarm the bandit. He slammed him against a wall and wrestled the weapon away, even chasing the scared would-be robber down the block. As shop owner John Sprite said, "He came in and lost his gun and his pride."

We are proud of Shady's accomplishments in law school, and inspired by his bravery. Perhaps the experience will lend itself well to his planned career in criminal defense law (of course!).

In 2010 the award process will be expanded to include Cooley students. Nominations for Cooley students, faculty and staff for the 2010 Great Deeds Award are accepted throughout the year at www.cooley.edu/ethics. Questions about the award and the nomination process can be directed to Heather Spielmaker, Director of the Center for Ethics, Service, and Professionalism at spielmakeh@cooley.edu.

2008 Great Deeds Award Recipients

Nancy Wonch - Lansing Campus

Professor Nancy Wonch has been with Cooley since 2002 as part of the Professionalism Department. During her employment, she has been an inspiration to her colleagues through her outstanding contributions to our community.

Since 2002 Nancy has served as chairperson of the Lansing Education Advancement Foundation, and was also chair of the Lansing Citizen Bond Forum which devised and recommended to the Lansing School District a plan for a successful 2002 bond campaign. That work, coupled with her fundraising talents, helped the Lansing School District realize their goal of building a beautiful, safe, comfortable new middle school where Lansing's 6th through 8th graders can prepare for the rigors of high school. Her efforts have also led to the establishment of six new scholarships for Lansing students. Her productive participation led to her invitation to be part of the Lansing School District Superintendent's Advisory Committee.

As president of Advent House Ministries, Nancy's commitment has touched the lives of the organization's 2000 clients who face many challenges, including homelessness and abuse.

Aside from sitting on the Beekman Therapeutic Riding Center's Advisory Board, Nancy really enjoys her position as volunteer horse-feeder at the Beekman Stables, where she not only supports the stable in offering therapeutic recreation for residents living with multiple disabilities, but where her close attention to detail also saved a horse named Cruiser from a potentially deadly illness in 2008.

Aletha Honsowitz - Grand Rapids Campus

Through excellent example and leadership Aletha has inspired everyone at the Grand Rapids campus to participate in the Heart of West Michigan United Way campaign. Each year since the campus opened, her efforts as coordinator have resulted in Cooley's Grand Rapids campus achieving a 100% participation rate, as well as exceeding the campus' monetary goals each year. Aletha also organizes the participation of students, faculty and staff in the local United Way Day of Caring. She has been the treasurer of the Cooley Alumni Association Board of Directors, and was chair of the Cooley Alumni Association Special Events Committee from 2004-2007.

Aletha shares her time and talents with many in the Grand Rapids and Lansing communities. She has served on the Board of Directors of Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Greater Lansing, was a 2006 Athena Award nominee, and was named a Woman of Achievement at the 2007 YWCA Tribute! Awards. Aletha also received the Marion Marshall Award for Volunteer Service from the Capitol Area United Way in 2002. Her dedication to Cooley students and to the individuals she has helped in surrounding communities makes her an inspiration to all who meet her.

Stevie Barachkov - Auburn Hills Campus

Professor Barachkov brings energy and enthusiasm for community service to the Auburn Hills campus. In 2008 Professor Barachkov raised $800 on behalf of a Pontiac Northern High School student in need. She also organized and launched this year's Prom Dress/Tuxedo Drive to benefit students at Pontiac Northern High School. The program collected 93 dresses towards the Pontiac Northern Prom Dress Drive. She has also facilitated the donation of jewelry, shoes, purses, and tuxedo money to the cause.

Later in the year she, together with two of her Cooley classes, adopted a family and supplied the family's Christmas dinner and gifts.

Other 2008 projects include: a charity drive for the Oakland County Homeless Education Initiative resulting in the donation of back packs, school supplies and gift cards for the organization; a charity drive for Macomb Intermediate School District that resulted in the collection and donation of $595 in gift cards and two large boxes of socks, hats, gloves and school supplies; and presentations on the law to two Practical Law classes at Rochester Adams High School.

2007 Great Deeds Award Recipients

Fred Puffenberger - Lansing Campus

Things you might not know about Fred:

• Former president of the National Association of College Stores and now central board member of the National Association of College Auxiliary Services.

• Board of directors and volunteer for Hospice of Lansing.

• Board of directors of Child and Family Services of the Capital Area.

• Volunteer on the Michigan Foster Care Review Board Program administered by the State Court Administrator's Office of the Michigan Supreme Court.

• He has his own baseball card.

• He has put a golfball through a moving train car and a shopping center.

Martha Moore - Auburn Hills Campus

From sock drives to meal preparation, Martha is always willing to help out with a good cause. This year Martha has been especially involved with the Interim House (a domestic violence shelter in Detroit), and she has set a wonderful example of community service for the students she brings along.

In addition, Martha has taken on a leadership role in promoting character development in Pontiac schools, helping young students write and perform skits about manners and speaking to older students about Kid Crimes.

Martha further advocates ethical behavior as secretary of the Attorney Grievance Commission. And I have heard that Martha even hosted 50 Cooley BALSA students in her home for a five course, home cooked meal.

Nelson Miller - Grand Rapids Campus

Since 1999, Nelson has helped low income and minority communities in Muskegon, Benton Harbor, and Grand Rapids with their legal needs through his pro bono service. At last count, he had assisted approximately 1,000 individuals. He not only met with clients but kept records and created a manual and guide to help non-profit centers seek funding and evaluate the needs of their constituents. His actions have helped 48 non-profit organizations to offer recreation, mentoring, housing and food pantries services to their clients. Nelson is also the author of many legal publications, serves on various boards and is active in the State Bar as a member of the Representative Assembly and the Equal Access Initiative Committee.

Tony Alvarado, Deputy Director of Admissions - Michaelmas Term 2007

I have been asked to give a synopsis of Tony Alvarado's service to The Thomas M. Cooley Law School and the surrounding community, and I am honored to do so. Due to space and time limitations, I am not able to list ALL of Tony's worthwhile accomplishments, but I will attempt to mention a few of his more notable achievements:

Cooley for Kids - Tony, by mere default, has become a Cooley ambassador of sorts. One of Tony's worthwhile causes is the Cooley for Kids campaign. Tony not only prompts the Cooley community to become involved, he also makes us aware of the children in our city who may not have had the opportunity to partake in one of life's simple pleasures – a baseball game. He motivates the employees and students to give from their hearts to sponsor children in our community for a Lugnuts game so they may experience a warm afternoon at Olds Stadium and taste a real ballpark frank. He works with the Student Bar Association and gives them the opportunity to get involved in efforts to raise money for this worthwhile campaign. Over the years, Tony has kept the Cooley family motivated, and together we have sent over 1000 local children to the game.

C.A.H.E.N. Award - Tony is very active with the Capital Area Higher Education Network (C.A.H.E.N.). C.A.H.E.N is a non-profit organization that acknowledges an outstanding adult learner from each member school who goes above and beyond the "norms" of what a "typical" college student might offer. Tony, as it turns out, is not only the Cooley Representative for this group, he is the President of the organization. Nominations for this award are sought from faculty and staff of the various member schools. Once the nominations have been submitted, the C.A.H.E.N. Selection Committee then decides upon a winner. Once the winner from each member school is announced, a reception for the award winners and their families is hosted by Cooley. This reception, because of the merits and accomplishments of the recipients, is referred to by Tony as a true "love fest" among the attendees.

Cooley Race for Education - Tony gives of his time and energy to support the Cooley Race for Education. His efforts toward the success of this program are tireless. Tony has been a part of the volunteer staff since the race's inception, and now assists as a committee chair. He never has to be asked to help out – he's just there and does what it takes to make the race fun for everyone involved.

Other Involvements - Some of Tony's other involvements include: The Greater Lansing Boys and Girls Club (he has raised hundreds of dollars for this organization), Big Brothers/Big Sisters, the Cooley Tsunami Relief Fund, the Red Cross Empty Bowls campaign, Loaves and Fishes Homeless Shelter, and his church's fundraising efforts.

On a personal note, Tony owns a home in Portland and has enjoyed living there for many years. Tony has an extremely large extended family that loves and appreciates him. They all are very proud of Tony and his many accomplishments.

"Tony has worked for The Thomas M. Cooley Law School for 25+ years. His loyalty and dedication to his job, most especially to the students, cannot be compared. Tony Alvarado is one of the kindest, most caring individuals I know. I am very proud to call him my friend."

-Jill Pullum

Joan Vestrand, Assistant Dean and Professor - Trinity Term 2007

Please join the Center for Ethics, Service, and Professionalism in congratulating this term's Great Deeds Award winner, Assistant Dean and Professor Joan Vestrand.

Joan and Professor Martha Moore have developed an academic and personal success program in cooperation with Pontiac Northern High School in Oakland County.

This initiative began with a program on character, conduct, and personal success that Dean Vestrand presented to incoming 9th grade students in conjunction with the district's new 9th grade academy. It developed into a "Success on Saturdays" program two Saturdays each month that is open to Pontiac Northern students and their parents. Cooley students from the Oakland BLSA chapter and the Oakland SBA are helping Dean Vestrand and Professor Moore with this program. The Saturday program focuses on personal success, including academic success, and also involves community service.

Pontiac Northern officials, along with the students and their parents, are thrilled about this program. Parents are attending the Saturday sessions with their children, and are as excited as their children, if not more so, about writing personal codes of conduct, making commitments about the education of their children, and making promises about their lifestyles.

Because of this very generous contribution of time and dedication to the young people of Pontiac, Joan was nominated by many of her colleagues for the Great Deeds Award. This award, which was the idea of Professor Judy Frank, hopes to recognize staff and faculty at Cooley who go above and beyond in the area of community service.

Jill Pullum - Hilary Term 2007

Jill Pullum is a Cooley community service treasure. Jill will be receiving her 25th anniversary recognition this year and has served this institution in many capacities including assistant to Dean LeDuc and secretary to many lucky professors.

But being a wonderful wife and mother and working full-time just isn't enough to keep Jill satisfied. Jill has a laundry list of public service under her belt, and it is for that reason that she was promptly nominated for the Great Deeds award by both Dean Amy Timmer and Professor Judy Frank. Amy Timmer says that she nominated Jill because "Jill has a heart of gold." Judy Frank echoed that sentiment and added that she couldn't "think of anyone at Cooley more deserving of this award." Kristin Taylor is happy to see Jill recognized for her service, and adds introducing her to her husband to Jill's list of "Great Deeds."

Over the years Jill has been active in the PTO at various Grand Ledge area schools. Aside from assisting with administrative duties, she has partnered with her beautiful daughter Bailey to become a fund-raising powerhouse. With the support of the Cooley community, Jill and Bailey have won top-seller gift certificates every year, which Bailey uses to buy holiday gifts for under-privileged children.

Jill is also a 4-H leader and volunteer. While this position requires a great deal of training and commitment, Jill enjoys teaching the students to cook, caroling to seniors as a group over the holidays, and helping organize the Eaton County Fair.

Jill also acts as a volunteer coordinator for her church's concession stand at MSU Women's Basketball events. Money raised is used to send children to summer camp and to support other worthwhile causes.

Cooley is fortunate to have this particular employee interacting with so many groups and individuals, as she has become quite an ambassador for the law school. Jill loves her job, and everyone who knows her inside and outside of work is aware of that. She is proud to share the news about Cooley with the many people ask. She also fosters good will within the building when she "adopts" students, inviting them into her home for dinner with her family.

Please join the Center for Ethics, Service, and Professionalism in congratulating Jill Pullum on being the first recipient of the Thomas M. Cooley Great Deeds Award, and in thanking her for her service and promotion of our school and its mission.

Heather Spielmaker
Assistant Director-Service and Professionalism Programs


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Heather Spielmaker
Director of the Center for Ethics, Service, and Professionalism
(517) 371-5140

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