Professor and four alums receive honors at alumni luncheon

Alumni and Faculty Luncheon; wide shot of the entire room with several tables of alumni and faculty listening to a speaker give remarks

The law school hosted an alumni luncheon at the stunning art deco Silver Grille in the old Higbee building downtown on April 10 with several hundred alums and faculty in attendance. A professor and four alumni selected by the Law Alumni Association received honors at the luncheon. In addition, a surprise tribute film was shown in honor of the end of Jessica Berg and Michael Scharf’s more than ten years of service as co-deans, and the President of the Alumni Association announced the launch of an initiative to raise $1 million to endow a student scholarship named for Berg and Scharf. 

The Distinguished Teacher Award was presented to Ayesha Bell Hardaway (LAW ’04). Hardaway is an extremely popular and effective teacher whose research focuses on criminal law, policing and the intersection of race and the law. She has represented individuals who are unable to hire private counsel as a clinician in CWRU School of Law’s Health Clinic, Civil Litigation Clinic and Criminal Clinic. As director of the Law School’s Social Justice Law Center and director of the University’s Social Justice Institute, Professor Hardaway serves students and the broader community in the exploration of pressing social justice issues through research, community conversations, guest lectures and curricular offerings.

The Distinguished Recent Graduate Award went to Justin Bibb (LAW ’18, MGT ’18). As the 58th Mayor of Cleveland, Ohio, Bibb and his Cabinet (including several other law alums) have made major progress on a wide range of initiatives including unprecedented support for public safety and an ambitious plan for the revitalization of Cleveland. A leader among the nation’s mayors, Mayor Bibb serves as chair of the national bipartisan coalition of Climate Mayors and vice president of the Democratic Mayors Association. 

Established in 2015, the Joan Gross ’76 Annual Fund Award is awarded to a member or members of the alumni association at large, who best exemplify the extraordinary leadership of Joan Gross (LAW ’76) by fostering a culture of philanthropy for the law school. This year’s winners were John Krajewski (LAW ’85) and Judy Steiner (LAW ’87). John was managing partner of Stark & Knoll law firm for over 20 years. Judy recently retired from Banner Bank as Chief Risk Officer. John and Judy are both first generation college graduates who have been married for 37 years. They have established a scholarship at the law school to assist first generation college graduates like themselves.

In honor of the Law School Centennial in 1992, the Law Alumni Association established the Centennial Medal to recognize exceptional meritorious achievement. It is the highest honor that the law school bestows on one of its graduates. This year the Centennial award went to Judge Mary Jane Trapp (LAW ’81). Judge Trapp served as a judge on the Eleventh District Court of Appeals from 2007 to 2013 and from 2019 to the present. She was the Court’s Presiding/Administrative Judge in 2009, 2010 and 2021. She has also served as a visiting judge on the Supreme Court of Ohio and as President of the Ohio State Bar Association.