Denis Murphy Award

Denis Murphy

Denis Murphy

The Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation, Inc. presents the Denis Murphy Award annually to recognize outstanding advocacy in Ohio's legal aids.

The Denis Murphy Award was created in 1998 to honor the Foundation's founding board president. The award is given each year and is intended to recognize outstanding leadership and advocacy within Ohio's legal aids. For more information on Ohio Legal Aid, visit: ohiolegalaid.org.

Past Award Recipients

Elaine E. Fink is the 2016 Denis Murphy Award recipient

2015 Denis Murphy Award

Angela Lloyd, Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation Executive Director, Elaine E. Fink, 2016 Denis Murphy Award Recipient and David Kutik, Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation Board President.

Elaine E. Fink, Legal Aid of Southwest Ohio's Managing Attorney-Children and Education Practice Group, is the winner of the 2016 Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation Murphy Award.

Ms. Fink, a career legal aid attorney, is a nationally recognized expert in education law and led the creation of TeamChild, a partnership between schools, Legal Aid, and the Hamilton County Juvenile Court, which helps to keep high-risk children in school. She also led the development of Kids in School Rule! (KISR!), a nationally recognized partnership between Hamilton County Job and Family Services, Cincinnati Public Schools, Legal Aid and the Hamilton County Juvenile Court. She is the co-founder and director of Child HeLP, Legal Aid's partnership with Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center which received a top national award this year from the National Center for Medical-Legal Partnerships.

She was nominated for the Murphy Award by Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati board members and executive director Mary Asbury, who said that, through her work, Fink "has transformed opportunities for children in Southwest Ohio."

The award was be presented to Ms. Fink on December 13th at the Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati board of trustees meeting.

Rhonda Moore and Ellis Jacobs are the 2015 Denis Murphy Award recipients

2015 Denis Murphy Award

Rhonda Y. Moore, 2015 Denis Murphy Award Recipient and John B. Pinney, Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation Board Member.

Rhonda Y. Moore, a lawyer and Executive Director of Cincinnati-based Pro Seniors, is a winner of the 2015 Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation Murphy Award.

Ms. Moore left private law practice in 2001 to become the Pro Seniors Executive Director. Under her leadership the organization has become a leading statewide advocate for Ohioans 60 years and older. She oversees a staff of 22 attorneys, eight ombudsmen, and staff and volunteers for the Senior Medicaid Patrol. In 2014 Pro Seniors was recognized by the Center for Elder Rights Advocacy for its Legal Hotline, a telephone legal advice line for seniors, which served the most number of clients, at the lowest cost per call, in the country.

She was nominated for the Murphy Award by Pro Seniors' Board of Trustees, which stated Ms. Moore is "a respected nonprofit leader in Greater Cincinnati and is recognized as an exceptionally hardworking, dedicated collaborator."

The award was presented to Ms. Moore during Pro Seniors' 40th Anniversary Celebration at the Sharonville Convention Center.

2015 Denis Murphy Award

Murphy Award Winner Ellis Jacobs, right, with wife, Desiree Nickell, second to right, and OLAF board member, and award presenter, Gary Leppla with wife Patti.

Longtime Dayton area lawyer Ellis Jacobs is a winner of the 2015 Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation Murphy Award.

Jacobs, a Dayton native, joined the Legal Aid Society of Dayton in 1987 and is an attorney in the Dayton office of Advocates for Basic Legal Equality (ABLE), a successor organization. In addition to representing individual clients of ABLE, Jacobs has over the years assisted a number of community organizations devoted to environmental, housing and health matters. He is also a past chair of the Yellow Springs Planning Commission.

He was nominated for the Murphy Award by Dayton attorney Gary Leppla, a member of the Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation Board of Trustees, who said of Jacobs "Ellis has been a tower of dedication and strength in Dayton and statewide communities on essential issues."

The award was presented to Jacobs during the Miami Valley Access to Justice Awards Gala at Sinclair Community College.

Marie B. Curry is the 2014 Denis Murphy Award recipient

2014 Denis Murphy Award

(Left to right) Marie Curry, 2014 Denis Murphy Award Recipient and William D. Dowling, Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation Board Member.

Marie B. Curry, a Managing Attorney for Akron-based Community Legal Aid, is the 2014 Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation Murphy Award winner.

Ms. Curry manages Community Legal Aid's Stability, Safety and Health Unit and implemented the organization's Health Education and Advocacy Law Project, now in operation at Akron Children's Hospital Locust Pediatric Group and at Summa Women's Health Center. The project trains doctors and hospital staff to evaluate patients, primarily low-income women and children, for issues affecting health that may have a law-related solution.

She was nominated for the award by the members of the unit she manages, who said "Marie's community relationships have enriched existing collaborations and enhance Legal Aid's ability to connect with our most vulnerable populations."

The award was presented to Ms. Curry on December 3, 2014, during a reception at the NEOMED Wellness Center in Rootstown.

Helenka Marculewicz is the 2013 Denis Murphy Award recipient

2013 Denis Murphy Award

(Left to right) Angela Lloyd, Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation Executive Director, Helenka Marculewicz, 2013 Denis Murphy Award Recipient, and H. Ritchey Hollenbaugh, Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation Board President.

Helenka Marculewicz, retired executive director of the Greater Dayton Volunteer Lawyers Project, is the 2013 Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation Murphy Award winner.

Marculewicz was the executive director of the Greater Dayton Volunteer Lawyers Project for 25 years; from its creation until her retirement in December of 2013. Helenka is a nationally recognized expert in pro bono program management. About half of Dayton Bar Association members volunteer for the Project, which refers cases in which the client cannot afford to hire an attorney to lawyers who agree to represent the client at no charge.

The award was presented to Marculewicz on December 12, 2013 during the Project's 25th anniversary celebration at Dayton's Sinclair Community College. She was nominated for the award by a group of her professional peers in Ohio, who stated "Her expertise has been an essential resource freely given to other pro bono legal programs in Ohio and around the country, and her impact on civil legal aid in Ohio is indelible."


2012 - Peter Iskin - The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland

2010 - David Dawson - The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland

2007 - Ross Collins "Col" Owens - Legal Aid Society of Southwest Ohio

2005 - Thomas Weeks - Ohio State Legal Services Association

2004 - Joseph R. Tafelski - Advocates for Basic Legal Equality

2003 - The nine work group leaders and the Chair of the Ohio State Planning Steering Committee: Tom Weeks, Chair (Ohio State Legal Services Association), John Schrider (Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati), Ed Marks (Advocates for Basic Legal Equality), Beth Kowalczyk (Ohio State Legal Services Association), David Dawson (The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland), Eugene King (Ohio State Legal Services Association), Dave Ball (Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation), Jane Foulk (The Legal Aid Society of Columbus), Robert Clyde (Ohio Legal Assistance Foundation), Mary Asbury (Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati)

2002 - Jeanne Deimling Johns - Advocates for Basic Legal Equality

2001 - Stephanie M. Jackson and Harold L. Williams - The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland

2000 - Gary Smith - Ohio State Legal Services Association

1999 - Ken Curtin - The Legal Aid Society of Columbus