Davis-Dunnings Bar Association holds 17th Otis M. Smith Scholarship Banquet

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By Roberta M. Gubbins

Legal News

The Davis-Dunnings Bar Association held the 17th Otis M. Smith Scholarship banquet at the Eagle Eye Golf Club on April 26, 2013. Janene McIntyre, President and new Lansing City Attorney opened the ceremony, welcoming all who came to honor outstanding members of the legal community and acknowledge deserving individuals with scholarships.

Shauna Dunnings presented the scholarship awards to:

Felix H. Sharpe II, of Thomas M. Cooley Law School, received the Justice Otis M. Smith scholarship, which recognizes leadership ability. Sharpe, an investigator for the State of Michigan Office of Financial and Insurance Regulations, has been on the Honor Roll or Dean's list every term he has been enrolled in law school. He is on the Law Review editorial staff and the school's Grade Appreciation Board. He also volunteers as a student advocate with the Michigan Unemployment Insurance Project.

Yasmeen Qadimasil was awarded the Hon. John W. Davis Scholarship for her academic achievement. Qadimasil's undergraduate degree is from Tuskegee University in Alabama, her Master of Science degree in biology from Howard University in Washington, DC and she is currently an honor student at Thomas M. Cooley Law School. She is a graduate student assistant in the illustrious Academic Resource Center, secretary of the Patent Law Student Association and the Diversity Chair for the Black Law Student Association. She was on the team winning 5th place at the National Negotiation Competition in Dallas, TX in February of this year.

Stephanie Williams, Michigan State University College of Law, was awarded the Stuart J. Dunnings, Jr. Scholarship. Williams, a second year student, devotes time to mentorship and community outreach through her membership and participation in the National Black Law Students Association, Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Lansing, Sisters United-African-Heritage Alliance in addition to other community organizations. She plans to open a women's legal aid clinic in Lansing to provide legal services for indigent women in the area.

"This award recognizes our volunteers," said McIntyre, presenting the President's award to Nicole A. Evans. "We look for someone who goes up and beyond in giving to our association. Nicole A. Evans is our 2013 awardee. Throughout her educational career and 20-year tenure with the City of East Lansing, Ms. Evans' passion for people is exhibited through her involvement with various professional, community and local service organizations including Meals on Wheels, Elder Law of Michigan, Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, Habitat for Humanity, Rebuilding Together, Michigan State University YouVote Committee and Ingham County Triad. She also serves as chair of the Elections/Voting Committee for DDBA."

Donald Reacher awarded Sterlin Mesadieu, Esq. the Rising Star. Mesadieu is the founder of the Mesadieu Law Firm, PLLC. A Thomas M. Cooley graduate, he represents clients throughout Michigan. He focuses his practice on criminal defense, family law and civil litigation.

"The Humanitarian award is given to individuals or organizations who have distinguished themselves in direct service to others in the Lansing community," said McIntyre, presenting the award to The Turning Point of Lansing. "This organization provides young African American males, grades 7 through 12, with an opportunity to explore the daily challenges they face as they work to achieve success in life."

Wayne W. Lynn, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Turning Point accepted the award. "Our slogan," he said "is Transforming Boys to Men. It is important to us to be sure that the young men understand what it takes to be a man. We appreciate this award acknowledging what we do."

McIntyre presented Paula D. Cunningham the Trailblazer award. The award recognizes a person in the Lansing community whose pioneering achievements in their field opened new opportunities for minorities in the Lansing community. Cunningham is the President and CEO of Capitol National Bank, the first woman and first African American to ever hold that position.

The Hon R. George Economy was awarded the 2013 Distinguished Barrister award. This award recognizes an outstanding member of the legal community whose distinguished career demonstrates exemplary character and service to his community. Judge Economy was selected for his many accomplishments both as a lawyer and as Ingham County Probate Judge for the past 28 years. For 25 of those years he has cleared his schedule for one special day in December to finalize adoptions, a Christmas tradition that he describes as magical: making "forever families" official. He is active in numerous professional and community organizations.

The Davis-Dunnings Bar Association (DDBA) was founded in 1981 as the Lansing Black Lawyers Association. Led by Judges Clinton Canady III and Hugh B. Clarke, Jr., along with several other African-American attorneys in the Lansing area, the Association developed its first bylaws. DDBA was formally incorporated in 1983. It is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that strives to provide programs and services that meet the needs of its members and non-member minority law students and attorneys, as well as the underrepresented and underserved members of the greater Lansing community.

Sponsors for the banquet included The Stuart J. Dunnings, Jr. Foundation, Forster Swift Collins & Smith, PC, and Miller Canfield (Platinum); Michigan State University College of Law and Sparrow (Gold); Sinas Dramis Law Firm (Silver); and Thomas M. Cooley Law School and Alane & Chartier (Bronze).

Published: Mon, May 13, 2013

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