Ohio Justice Alliance for Community Corrections


2023 OJACC Achievement Award Recipients

OJACC created four awards to be given to Ohioans whose work has contributed to the improvement of community corrections.

Representative C. J. McLin Award

The late Representative C.J. McLin, Jr., during his tenure in the General Assembly, actively worked to improve community corrections through funding and legislative change. The award is given annually to an elected official in Ohio who has worked towards the improvement of community corrections in Ohio.

Awarded to:

State Representative Phil Plummer

Nomination information:

Representative Plummer is a member of the Ohio 135th General Assembly representing House District 39, the Dayton area.

Rep Plummer puts the concerns of Ohioans first as he has throughout his career as Montgomery County Sheriff and now as a State Representative. Whether he is supporting the work of the Alzheimer’s Association, calling on state and federal leaders to update hazardous material transportation safety, protecting social security benefits for Ohioans, advocating for domestic violence support programs, or ensuring the success of the Violent Crime Reduction Grant Program, Rep Plummer demonstrates his steadfast commitment to our state and its citizens.

Rep Plummer sits on the Criminal Justice Committee and is a champion for community corrections. He is a forerunner, as sheriff and as a state representative, in supporting our programs that recognize people whose involvement in the criminal justice system is rooted in behavioral health problems such as addiction, mental health conditions, or trauma.

Rep Plummer devotes himself to making our communities healthier and safer for everyone.

This award is presented to Rep Plummer in honor of C. J. McLin Award, who served Daytonians for 22 years in the Ohio House of Representatives.

Previous Recipients:

Hon. Teresa Ballinger
Honorable David T. Matia
Honorable Jim Slagle
Senator Merle Kearns
Sheriff James A. Telb
Honorable Charles E. Brown, Jr.
Commissioner John Dowlin
Honorable James D. Henson
Honorable Nancy R. McDonnell
Representative Cliff Skeen
Honorable Elinore Marsh Stormer
Honorable James A. Shriver
Chief Justice Thomas J. Moyer
Honorable Thomas E. Louden
Honorable John Trebets
Speaker Vernal G. Riffe
Honorable James Ray
Representative Tracy Maxwell Heard
Justice Evelyn Lundberg Stratton
Honorable James DeWeese
Senator Rob Portman
Lieutenant Governor Mike DeWine
Honorable John M. Durkin
Honorable Luann Cooperrider
Michael J. Sage
Judge Linda Tucci Teodosio
Honorable G. Haas
Senator John Eklund
Judge Keith Spaeth
Senator Charleta B. Tavares
Judge Sherrie Miday
Senator Nathan Manning

Dr. Bennett J. Cooper Award

Dr. Bennett J. Cooper was the first Director of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction in Ohio. During his lifetime he has created many improvements in public policy towards corrections. He has worked on a national level to try to institutionalize needed changes. This award is given to a correctional administrator or policy maker who has shown a lifetime commitment to the improvement of community.

Awarded to:

Lanaya McDonald

Nomination information:

Director Chambers-Smith tasked Lanaya to:  Revitalize and resurrect the Ohio Correctional and Court Services Association (OCCSA); coordinate a state-wide Audit and Leadership Summit; and increase the number of ODRC staff as trained and accredited auditors for the American Correctional Association (ACA). This effort put OCCSA back on the national stage.  As part of this task, Lanaya assumed the position of OCCSA President, created a new board of officers, and swiftly hit the ground running.

Under Lanaya’s leadership and in a very short period of time, the board was selected and swiftly coalesced and committed to furthering the mission and future of OCCSA.  Lanaya and the Board, worked collaboratively to successfully execute a well-attended and high-caliber Summit that resulted in elevating the external perception of the association and 26 ODRC staff becoming trained ACA-Accredited auditors allowing them to audit prisons in other states and bringing that experience and knowledge back to Ohio.

Additionally, during the height of COVID, Lanaya was instrumental in coordinating and expanding access to virtual learning opportunities for individuals who are incarcerated in ODRC prisons to improve the reentry process and reduce recidivism.  This initiative as endured to this day due to its demonstrated success.  Additionally, Lanaya was appointed to oversee the ODRC housing initiative with the goal of reducing homelessness for individuals leaving Ohio prisons.  Lanaya continues to educate and advocate for these efforts across the state.

Lanaya is a resourceful and collaborative professional who does not shy away from challenges.  Her unwavering commitment to the growth and excellence of rehabilitation in corrections and reentry is exceptional.

Under Lanaya’s leadership, Ohio’s presence is once again known at the national level for Ohio’s chapter of ACA and OCCSA will once again have a seat at the table.

Previous Recipients:

Commissioner Marilyn Brown
Phillip Nunes
Maureen O’Connor
Geno Natalucci-Persichetti
Grafton S. Payne II
Lynn Grimshaw
Sandra Cannon
Reginald A. Wilkinson
Honorable Lynett M. McGough
Edward Rhine
Karhlton Moore
Loran Alexander
Ralph Starkey
Linda Janes
Senator Bill Seitz
James Kura (posthumous)
Randy J. Gorcz
Candace Peters
Hon. Nancy A. Fuerst
Joseph Janesz
Jill Goldhart
Terry Collins
Sara Andrews
Robert Denton
James Wichtman
Thomas J. Stickrath
Gary C. Mohr
Cynthia Mausser
David Ervin
Judge Ted Barrows
Christopher Galli

Dr. Simon Dinitz Award

Dr. Simon Dinitz, through his work at the Ohio State University, has dedicated his life to improving the knowledge base of corrections. He has served on state and national commissions whose purpose was to improve corrections. As an educator he has also been responsible for training many correctional practitioners in the state. This award is given to a community correctional practitioner who has made contributions to the improvement of community corrections in Ohio.

Awarded to:

Molly Gauntner

Nomination information:

Molly has dedicated over 29 years to outstanding contribution to the field of community corrections through her work in adult felony and misdemeanor courts in Cuyahoga and Franklin Counties and currently, as the Vice President of Correctional Programs in Cuyahoga County with Oriana House. She has worked in a variety of capacities over her career, including:  Chief and Deputy Chief Probation Officer, Director of State Community Corrections Act grant funded diversion programs, Co-Coordinator of the Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Court; Cognitive Skills Facilitator; and Substance Use Case Manager.

Molly has been a trailblazer for evidenced-based practices.  In her roles in probation, she assessed needs related to evidence-based practices and implemented new, science based approaches to probation. Molly engaged national experts and changed the landscape of probation interventions for officers and probationers served.

Molly has passion and ability to work with others. She was able to find funding to implement and add services to the probation population and found innovative ways to extend IDAT funds for much needed services.  Just about anyone that has worked with Molly would likely agree that when she puts her mind to something, it gets done.

Through her tireless advocacy efforts through the Ohio Chief Probation Officers Association (OCPOA), the Ohio Justice Alliance for Community Corrections (OJACC) and her time on OJACC’s Adult Community Corrections Collaborative, as well as many other boards and committees, Molly has lent her expertise and voice to help the entire field of community corrections.

This experience and commitment to the continued improvement of community corrections makes Molly Gauntner an ideal candidate to receive the Simon Dinitz award for 2023.

Previous Recipients:

Misty Cromwell
Veronica Perry, CPO
Jennifer Burnside
George Pownall, Ph.D.
Eugene Gallo
Tony Ingram
Anne Connell-Freund
Ed Dimond
Wendy Niehaus
Denise Robinson
Donna Martin-Hamparian
George Farmer
Gayle E. Benson
Merel Pickenpaugh
Mary Spottswood
Dr. Edward J. Latessa
Linda Modry
Gayle Dittmer
Bud Hite
James J. Lawrence
Mike Cantrell
Gary Yates
Brian Lovins
William D. Kroman
Daniel Peterca
Christopher T. Lowenkamp
Melissa Litteral
Juli A. Tice
Tracy Walcnciej
Cheryl Gerwig
Scott Fulton

James Wichtman Award

Jim Wichtman was one of the founders of the Ohio Community Corrections Organization, now known as the Ohio Justice Alliance for Community Corrections. Jim dedicated his career to the progressive development of community corrections with great passion and commitment. In 2006, the OJACC Board of Trustees voted to create an award in Jim’s name to honor an OJACC Board Member who has dedicated themselves to OJACC’s mission.

Awarded to:

Veronica Perry

Nomination information:

When Veronica Perry joined the OJACC Board of Trustees in 2020, she graciously accepted the challenge of chairing the, then, Newsletter Committee. Through Veronica’s leadership, that committee was expanded to the Public Outreach Committee which includes, not only the newsletter, but the enormous project of creating a newly designed website and the establishment of a social media presence for OJACC. Her can-do, forward thinking attitude led to the success of this project.

Veronica also co-chairs the OJACC Community Corrections Collaborative, a group of community corrections associations that work with the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections to represent the mutual interests of state funded adult community corrections for the overall effectiveness and efficiency of adult community corrections.  Veronica’s vast background and experience in probation, her advancement of evidence-based practices and ability to work with others to find effective solutions, makes her extremely valuable in this position.

Beyond Veronica’s work with OJACC, she serves at the Chief Probation Officer for the Medina County Court of Common Pleas. She is also active in the Ohio Chief Probation Officers Association, chair of the OCSS Governance Committee as well as many other boards and committees.

Veronica is a true leader and innovator in community corrections. Her hard work, dedication and commitment to promote and support effective community corrections makes her a natural choice for the James Wichtman Award.

Previous Recipients:

Terry Grabowski
Anne Connell-Freund
Sharon Weitzenhof
Justice Evelyn Lundberg Stratton
M. Phillip Nunes
Scott Sylak
Honorable Kenneth Spicer
Kristina Hawk
Corey Schaal
Maria Nemec
Gayle Dittmer
Judge Keith Spaeth
E. Edward Sparks
Molly Gauntner
Ro-Ellen Sinkewich
Kysten Palmore