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Strong board will lead OSBF to successful 2014

Stephen F. Tilson takes the helm as president of the Ohio State Bar Foundation (OSBF). A Life Fellow of the Foundation, Tilson will lead a talented group of 21 volunteer attorneys who are committed to promoting public understanding of the law and improvements in the justice system. Joining Tilson and president-elect Lee E. Belardo on the board this year are Mary Amos Augsburger, Velda K. Hofacker, Martin E. Mohler, Kathleen A. Stoneman and Nirakar C. Thakur.

Stephen F. TilsonStephen F. Tilson, President
As a partner in the firm Hottenroth, Garverick, Tilson and Garverick Co., LPA, Tilson began his one-year term as President on Jan. 1.

When asked what keeps him engaged in the Foundation, Tilson replied, “That’s easy: The people and my love of the law. Our staff, board, donors and grantees are doing wonderful things for the public and the legal system. The OSBF is one of the best organizations I’ve ever encountered.” In 2013 alone, the Foundation provided nearly $800,000 in grants to worthy law-related organizations throughout Ohio.

As president, Tilson would like to take that energy and increase awareness of the Foundation, saying, “We are the charitable arm of the Ohio State Bar Association and we revel in our relationship with the OSBA and in our opportunities to serve both the profession and the public. Our Foundation has a terrific staff. Our trustees are some of the finest, hardest-working lawyers I’ve encountered anywhere. Our committees involve superb attorneys from around the state. I invite everyone to surf our website for more details about who we are, what we do, and how to become involved in our work: www.osbf.net.”

Outside of the Foundation, Tilson is a member, delegate and past governor of the OSBA. He has also served as the chair of the board of editors for Ohio Lawyer magazine. On the local level, he is a member and past president of the Crawford County Bar Association. Previously, he has been involved in many community organizations including the Galion Area Chamber of Commerce, the William F. Unckrich Foundation, the Crawford County Community Mental Health Board, the Crawford County Business/Education Advisory Council, the Galion Community Center/YMCA and Planned Parenthood of North Central Ohio. Having received his B.A. with honors from Ohio Wesleyan University, Tilson attained his J.D. with honors from The Ohio State University.

Lee E. BelardoLee E. Belardo, President-elect
Lee E. Belardo is set to become president of the OSBF on Jan. 1, 2015. As a member of the Audit and Finance Committee as well as the Grants Committee, Belardo said, “The OSBF is a dynamic organization where the highest ideals of our legal system are pursued with vigor and enthusiasm. I look forward to seeing what a small group of well-intentioned attorneys will do next.”

As a solo practitioner in Avon, Belardo’s volunteer experience and involvement in many organizations will serve him well when he becomes president next year. He is a current member of the Ohio Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism, and also serves as a City of Avon councilman at-large. Belardo is a former board member for the Ohio Center for Law-Related Education and a sustaining member of the Ohio State Bar Association, having served on many committees including past terms on the OSBA Board of Governors and its Council of Delegates. He is also a member of the Lorain County Bar Association, the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association, the Lawyers Guild of the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland and the American Bar Association. In addition to his professional associations, Belardo serves in leadership roles at Saint Teresa of Avila Catholic Church and with the Boy Scouts of America.

Belardo received his B.S. from Youngstown State University and his J.D. from Cleveland State University’s Cleveland-Marshall College of Law.

Mary Amos AugsburgerMary Amos Augsburger
Augsburger is the new executive director of the Ohio State Bar Association, the fourth executive director in its 133-year history and the first-ever female. She was nominated to become an OSBF Fellow in 2013 and has since donated her time to the organization. “The OSBF is the legal community’s voice for good here in Ohio, and I am fortunate to be learning more about the great work and impact of our Foundation as executive director for OSBA.” 

In her spare time, Augsburger serves as a board member for the Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation. She earned her undergraduate degree from The Ohio State University and her law degree from Capital University Law School.

Velda K. HofackerVelda K. Hofacker
Having graduated with a B.A. from the University of Akron and a J.D. from George Washington University, Hofacker has been with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office as an assistant attorney general for more than 25 years. Through her work in the Court of Claims Division, Hofacker has represented the state effectively in many cases over the years as a litigator.

She has also worked extensively with OSBF since her induction to the 2004 Fellows Class and has been active in the community via the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Franklin County, St. Vincent de Paul Society, Ohio Reads Program, Junior Achievement, Ohio Jaycees and the American Red Cross.

Martin E. MohlerMartin E. Mohler
As president-elect of the Ohio State Bar Association, Martin E. Mohler will serve ex-officio on the OSBF’s Board of Trustees. He has served the northwest Ohio community for almost 40 years as a partner in the Toledo firm of Shindler, Neff, Holmes, Worline & Mohler, LLP. 

Having earned his J.D. from the University of Toledo College of Law, Mohler has since invested much time in professional and community organizations. In addition to his service as an OSBF Fellow and as a past president of the Toledo Bar Association, he continues to be an active member of the Toledo, Ohio and American bar associations, and a life member of the Sixth Circuit Judicial Conference. He recently chaired the Government Affairs Committee of the OSBA Board of Governors and the OSBA Commission on Judicial Candidates. In addition, Mohler is a member of the Toledo Bar Association Pro Bono Board, and has served on the boards of Advocates for Basic Legal Equality and Legal Aid of Western Ohio, and the Toledo Legal Aid Society.

Kathleen A. StonemanKathleen A. Stoneman
A graduate of the University of Akron School of law, Stoneman has more than 30 years of legal experience. In 2011, she opened a practice in Carrollton to help members of the community address their general legal needs as well as those associated with oil and gas leasing. 

Stoneman served on the Ohio Supreme Court Commission that developed the Ohio Child Support Guidelines and has served on the OSBA Council of Delegates. She became an OSBF Fellow in 2007, and has been active in her community as a member of the Carroll County Mental Retardation/Developmental Disabilities Board, as past chairperson of the Carroll County Foundation, and as a member of the Carroll County Bar Association.

Nirakar C. ThakurNirakar C. Thakur
Since 1999, Thakur has been a solo practitioner in Toledo. He is a certified specialist in estate planning and probate law who has been recognized as a Super Lawyer. He is a frequent speaker at programs for OSBA Continuing Legal Education

As an OSBA member, Thakur has also been active in many OSBA committees including the Estate Planning, Trust, and Probate Law Specialization Committee. He is also a member of the Lucas County Bar Association, the Toledo Bar Association and the Toledo Estate Planning Council. In 2008, Thakur joined the OSBF Fellows Class that worked to organize a summit on reentry initiatives for ex-offenders. Thakur not only has a J.D. from the University of Toledo Law School, but also earned an M.B.A. in finance from the University of Toledo.

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