Awards

Each year, the UMKC Foundation and Law Alumni Association recognize exceptional alumni and friends of the School of Law with joint awards acknowledging philanthropy, leadership, service to the School of Law and the legal community, and lifetime achievement. Honorees are recognized during The Big Event.

The winners will be provided with a recognition gift expressing the appreciation of the UMKC Law Foundation and the Law Alumni Association.

Honorees recognizd during The 2020 Big Event:

Decade Award – Lindsay J. Runnels (‘09)

Lindsey RunnelsLindsay J. Runnels practices at Morgan Pilate LLC. She has spent ten years working in the defense of indigent prisoners seeking to overturn their sentences and death penalty cases. She worked as a full-time clinical professor at UMKC where she directed the Wrongful Convictions Clinic, She taught and supervised students in the investigation and litigation of innocence cases at both UMKC and MU. She has assisted with the cases of wrongfully convicted individuals including Rodney Lincoln, Lamonte McIntyre and Dale Helming. She received the Missouri Bar Association Young Lawyers Section Pro Bono Award in 2014. She is a member of the Board of Directors for The Midwest Innocence Project. 

Pat Kelly Service Award - Stephen J. Cosentino (’97)

Steve Cosentino is a Partner at the law firm of Stinson LLP. He served as President of the Law Foundation Board of Trustees from 2011 – 2013, and he is a former member of the Law Alumni Association Board of Directors. He is a co-founder and committee chair of the Bob Downs Annual Scholarship Golf Tournament that funds three significant scholarships at the UMKC School of Law. He has been a supporter of the Pat Kelly Scholarship Poker Tournament and speaks often at UMKC CLE sessions. Steve is a great ambassador and advocate for UMKC School of Law devoting efforts to recruiting high caliber law students and increasing the profile of the law school within the community.

Pro Bono/Public Service Award – Crissy Del Percio (’13)

Crissy Del PercioCrissy Del Percio is an attorney at Legal Aid of Western Missouri. As a law student, she worked in the Domestic Unit at Legal Aid of Western Missouri where she helped serve victims of domestic violence, and divorce cases. After graduation she was hired full-time as an Order of Protection Attorney at Legal Aid. She has served as the co-chair of Domestic Violence Alliance CLE for several years. As part of her service to the community, she plans and executes an annual session for lawyers and nonlawyers to learn about domestic violence. She is also co-chair of the Juvenile Law Committee. In addition, Crissy was the President of the UMKC Family Law Society from 2011-2013.

Outside of her Legal Aid position, Crissy visits women a local domestic violence shelters to help share information and answer legal questions. She instructs a pro se clinic to help people who can’t afford an attorney, but need assistance with the pro se forms so they can get a divorce. She received the Young Lawyer of the Year Award in 2019 from Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association.

Lifetime Achievement Award – The Honorable Sandra C. Midkiff (‘75)

Judge Sandra MidkiffJudge Midkiff serves as a Judge for the Sixteenth Judicial Circuit Court. She graduated with honors in 1975 in a class of more than 200 men. Judge Midkiff started her career in law when female lawyers were still few and far between, especially in litigation practice. Following graduation, she owned and operated a private law practice. In her 26 years of private practice, she litigated many different types of cases including employment discrimination, civil rights, sexual harassment and business and commercial torts.

In 2002, Judge Midkiff was appointed Circuit Judge for Division 1 of the 16th Circuit Court of the Jackson County, Missouri. In 2008, she received the Benjamin Cardozo Award for Judicial Courage and Excellence from the Missouri Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. She was a Board Member of Jackson County Law Library for several years and served as the Program Chair. Currently, she is a member of the Missouri Commission on Judicial Retirement & Discipline. She is an original member of the Association for Women Lawyers for Greater Kansas City where she has taken many female attorneys under her wing and provided mentorship.

Philanthropy Award – Jack and Helyn Miller Foundation

The Jack and Helyn Miller Foundation has provided a significant scholarship each year for a 1L, 2L and 3L law student. During the past 25 years, the Miller Foundation has funded in excess of $1 million in scholarships at UMKC Law.

The scholarship honors the legacy of Jack Miller who graduated from the Kansas City School of Law in 1932. When Miller graduated, he did not have enough money for travel expenses to take the bar exam. He established the scholarship to help other law students avoid financial difficulties, like those that he encountered, and to help develop future community leaders.

President’s Award – Debbie Brooks (’01)

Bebbie BrooksDebbie Brooks, retired Assistant Dean of Admissions for UMKC School of Law. When she attended UMKC Law, Debbie co-founded the Midwest Innocence Project and was awarded the Harry S. Truman Leadership Award. After her retirement, she has continued her long association with volunteerism at UMKC and in the community.

Debbie has established the Alan E. Brooks Endowment Scholarship with the UMKC Law Foundation in the memory of her husband. She is a member of the Foundation’s Board of Trustees. She volunteers as a member of the Board of Trustees for the Chancellor’s African American Leadership Council, and on UMKC’s Multicultural Affairs Committee. Debbie is the current president of the UMKC Women’s Council, Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey and chair of the Kansas City Food Advisory Board. She is a member of the Missouri and Jackson County Bar Associations and Black Female Attorneys. She continues to serves as a guide and mentor for those seeking higher education.

The Jay B. Dillingham Award – David C. Stoup (’77)

David StoupDavid Stoup is the Chairman of Trilogy Spa Holdings, an exclusive spa management company. The company creates, unique, high performance hospitality spa environments in four-and-five star properties. David is also the Chairman and CEO of Healthy Lifestyle Brands, a licensing company that specializes in the Health & Wellness space. During his thirty-year career, David has founded and reinvented a variety of companies and concentrating on firms with upscale consumer products and services. He is a director for the Amazon Conservation Team, Founder of YPO’s Global Youth Exchange and Board Member of St. Joseph’s Medical Center. He is also an active member of World Presidents Organization (WPO) and Chief Executives Organization (CEO).

During his third year in law school, David was elected by students from all law schools in the country to serve as President of Law Student Division of the American Bar Association. David, along with this his family members, have honored Art Stoup – their father and 1950 alumnus of the law school- by establishing the Arthur H. Stoup Courtroom in the UMKC Law building. The Stoup Courtroom is modeled after a district courtroom and has the most advanced technology systems available for legal teaching and learning.

Past Honorees

Abe Kuhl is a Partner at Young Jakobe & Kuhl LLC. In his ten years of practice, Abe has made outstanding contributions to the legal profession and has a well–deserved reputation in the legal community. He is a respected member of the family law bar, both in Eastern Jackson County and the state of Missouri. Abe is an adjunct professor at UMKC School of Law and serves on the Law Alumni Association Board. He serves as Chairman of the KCMBA DomesticRelations committee, serves as the President of the KCMBA Family Law Section and past member of the Board of Directors for the KCMBA, and is currently serving on the board of the Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Foundation. He also volunteers his time to charitable organizations and causes, in the Lee’s Summit and Kansas City areas. He provides pro bono legal services to victims of domestic violence through the Volunteer Attorney Project and provides pro bono legal services to our military veterans through the Military Matters program.

Blake Heath is the owner of M. Blake Heath, Trial Attorney, LLC. He focuses his practice on helping clients in complex personal injury suits, product liability claims, medical malpractice lawsuits, and insurance coverage disputes. Blake started giving back to UMKC School of Law almost immediately after he graduated. He started serving on the Pat Kelly Poker Tournament Committee in 2010, and he took over as chair of the committee in 2013, a role he still holds. Blake also serves on the Law Alumni Association Board, and he is a member of the Bob Downs Golf Tournament Committee. In addition to his work with the various committees, Blake has taught continuing legal education seminars through the UMKC School ofLaw such as the mock civil trial put on at the law school each year. Blake has not only given back his time to the Law School, but he has also supported theSchool financially as a consistent donator to the Law Foundation and events held for the law school.

The Honorable Karen L. Krauser serves as a Circuit Judge for the 7th Judicial Circuit Court. Judge Krauser has dedicated her career to public service. She began as an assistant prosecuting attorney with the Clay County Prosecutors Attorney’s Office, eventually working her way to the role of Deputy Chief. Judge Krauser has worked to improve the quality of our justice system and the overall betterment of the legal profession thorough her appointed positions and dedicated efforts on multiple committees and sub committees. She also generously devotes her time, energy and resources to many professional and charitable organizations.

Fred’s first trial experience was as a criminal defense lawyer, often appointed, with little or no pay. He continued to practice criminal defense until he moved over to plaintiff’s side personal injury, civil rights and discrimination cases. Fred is now a solo practitioner at the Law Office of Fred Slough. He continues to work on litigation and is also a mediator. Fred is a member of the Missouri Bar, the Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys, the National Employment Lawyers Association – Kansas City, the National Lawyers Guild, the Kansas City Metropolitan BarAssociation and the Missouri Association Against the Death Penalty. In addition to Missouri state courts, Fred is admitted to practice in the Supreme Court of the United States, 10th and 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, United States. District Court for the Western District of Missouri and the U.S. District Court for theDistrict of Kansas.

The Kansas City Estate Planning Symposium (KCEPS) has been associated with the UMKC School of Law since 1981.Since then, the UMKC Continuing Legal Education program provides services to this organization and presents three seminars that attract more than 1,000 professionals each year. Additionally, to encourage law students to consider the field of estate planning as a career, the KCEPS Prize was established in 1999 and is annually awarded to students who write an exemplary paper on an estate planning or taxation problem or who distinguish themselves during an internship in a law firm that specializes in estate planning. In 2017, KCEPS established the Myron Sildon Endowed Scholarship that is awarded to 3L or LLM taxation students. The scholarship honors the legacy ofMyron Sildon, the founder of the organization. KCEPS has not only made significant financial commitment to the UMKCSchool of Law but has helped expand the reputation of the law school to the estate planning community and beyond

The Honorable Lajuana Counts is a magistrate judge in the U.S. District Court for the WesternDistrict of Missouri. She served asAssistant United States Attorney for the Western District for nearly thirty years. Lajuana’s enthusiasm for service seems limitless. She is the immediate past president of the Law Foundation and her continuing service to UMKC earned her the prestigious Bill French Award. She has served on the Jackson County BarAssociation since it was founded and is a past president. Within the KCMBA, she served as co-chair of the diversity initiative and was in line to serve president before her judicial appointment took precedence. The same story of service and leadership can be found through her involvement in the National BarAssociation, the Association for Women Lawyers of Greater Kansas City, the UMKC Women’s Council, and the Lawyers Encouraging Academic Performance.

The Honorable Lajuana Counts is a magistrate judge in the U.S. District Court for the WesternDistrict of Missouri.  She served asAssistant United States Attorney for the Western District for nearly thirty years. Lajuana’s enthusiasm for service seems limitless. She is the immediate past president of the Law Foundation and her continuing service to UMKC earned her the prestigious Bill French Award. She has served on the Jackson County BarAssociation since it was founded and is a past president. Within the KCMBA, she served as co-chair of the diversity initiative and was in line to serve president before her judicial appointment took precedence. The same story of service and leadership can be found through her involvement in the National BarAssociation, the Association for Women Lawyers of Greater Kansas City, the UMKC Women’s Council, and the Lawyers Encouraging Academic Performance.

James R. Hobbs is a shareholder at Wyrsch Hobbs & Mirakian, P.C.  He has an active practice in the areas of white-collar criminal defense, criminal defense, and commercial litigation.  He represents individuals and businesses.J.R. is a past president of the Law Foundation and continues to serve as an adjunct professor at UMKC School of Law. He is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, Fellow of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers, Fellow of the American Board of Criminal Lawyers, a Fellow in the InternationalSociety of Barristers, and a member of the American Board of TrialAdvocates.  He has served on the MissouriAppellate Judicial Commission and is currently a member of the Missouri SupremeCourt Commission on Race and Ethnic Fairness. J.R. Hobbs is a past recipient of the Lon O. Hocker Memorial Trial Lawyer Award bestowed by the Missouri Bar Foundation and recipient of the Dean of the Trial Bar, awarded by the Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association.