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.

Nominations for the Law Foundation and Law Alumni Association joint awards can be made at any time. The award categories, criteria and nomination form available here.

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

Honorees recognized during The 2024 Big Event, Saturday, February 24, 2024.




2024 Big Event /  Register online before Feb 9, 2024

2024 Honorees

Decade Award - Joanna Orscheln (’14)

Joanna Orscheln is a Partner at Krause and Kinsman Law. Prior to joining the firm, Joanna was an Assistant Prosecuting Attorney in Jackson County, Missouri in the Special Victims Unit. During this time, she gained significant trial experience, and prosecuted crimes involving domestic violence and sexual assault. From there, she spent over 5 years practicing as a civil defense attorney. She successfully defended fortune 500 companies, privately owned companies, and insurance companies in various types of litigation across the county. She is currently representing over 6,000 clients in the Boy Scouts of America Litigation. Joanna recently lobbied the United States Congress with the AAJ’s Women’s Trial Caucus to end forced arbitration in discrimination cases, and has presented at the Women’s Trial Institute.


Butch Rigby is the founder and owner of the Screenland Companies in Kansas City in 2008. Butch is the founder and Chairman of Thank You Walt Disney, Inc., dedicated to the preservation of Walt Disney’s first cartoon studio, “Laugh-O-Gram Studio”, located in Kansas City, Mo. After Law School, Butch went to Hollywood to work in the film industry crewing motion pictures.


David Mayer’s practice concentrates on the safety of children and the elderly. He has a particular emphasis in assisting those who have been sexually abused or harmed by the negligence of other parties. David has helped many clients receive compensation for injuries or damages they suffered, including disabled children who have been neglected or abused; children injured by dangerous conditions in stores; injury or death to the elderly from negligent nursing homes and transportation companies; injuries at swimming facilities; and various automobile claims against negligent drivers.



Traci Stansell, an alum of UMKC School of Law in the year 1993, commenced her legal career as a prosecutor specializing in property crimes. Over the span of three decades, she displayed exceptional dedication and proficiency. From prosecuting drug offenses to assuming leadership as a trial team leader in 2004, Traci's journey has been marked by versatility and leadership. Her commitment extended beyond the courtroom, nurturing budding legal talent, and mentoring young attorneys in their career beginnings. Elevating her career trajectory, in July 2023, Traci assumed the pivotal role of Chief Trial Assistant in the Special Victims Unit. Her focus shifted to prosecuting cases involving domestic violence, sexual offenses against both adults and children, and child abuse, showcasing her unwavering dedication to safeguarding vulnerable individuals.


PHILANTHROPY AWARD – Professor Julie Cheslik

Julie M. Cheslik is a revered legal scholar known for her exceptional leadership and contributions in law. Graduating with honors from the University of Iowa, she earned a Bachelor of Arts with highest distinction in 1982 and later, a J.D. with high distinction from the University of Iowa College of Law in 1985. Admitted to the Missouri Bar in 1985, Julie began her esteemed career as a law clerk to United States District Judge Joseph E. Stevens Jr. Following her tenure at Stinson, Mag and Frizzell specializing in commercial litigation and corporate practice, she joined the faculty of the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law in 1989. With expertise in teaching courses like Property I and Property II, Land Use, and Estates and Trusts, Julie's impact transcends the classroom. Her editorial leadership at The Urban Lawyer, role as the Associate Dean for Students, and establishment of prestigious scholarships at UMKC showcase her enduring commitment to legal education and the future of the legal profession.


Cary Powers has served the UMKC School of Law as its alumni and constituent relations officer for more than 14 years, but she has served Kansas City’s legal community for more than 40 years. Her professional and personal relationships exemplify Cary’s commitment to that community and have been the most meaningful part of her career. Cary led the Kansas City Irish Center as its executive director for two years in 2008-2009, before her role at the UMKC School of Law. But her presence was solidified in the legal community when she started as a receptionist in 1983 for the Kansas City Bar Association.


Latricia Scott Adams is a distinguished figure serving as the Director of Legal Aid of Western Missouri’s pro bono program, known as the Volunteer Attorney Project (VAP). Her journey with VAP commenced in October 1989 when the program had only 264 enrolled attorneys. Since assuming the role of VAP Director, Latricia has exhibited unwavering dedication to its growth and success.

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD– The Honorable Jon R. Gray (’76)

He was appointed by the Mayor of Kansas City, Missouri, to serve on the Kansas City Human Relations Commission and as Chair of the Liquor Control Board of Review of Kansas City, Missouri. Judge Gray was nominated by the Sixteenth Circuit Court Nominating Commission to fill a vacancy on the Circuit Court of Jackson County, Missouri. He was appointed Circuit Judge by Missouri Governor John Ashcroft on December 5, 1986, and assumed office on January 1, 1987. He was retained in office by voters at General Elections held in 1988, 1994, 2000 and 2006. From 1987-2009, he served as a faculty member for the National Institute for Trial Advocacy in regional and national trial practice programs, and formerly served as faculty for the Kessler-Edison Program in Trial Techniques at the Emory University School of Law. During the 2007 — 2008 bar year, Judge Gray served as Chair of the National Bar Association Judicial Council, the oldest and largest association of Black judges and judicial officers. He is also a previous recipient of the Urban League of Greater Kansas City Difference Maker Award, the Lewis W. Clymer Award from the Jackson County Bar Association, the Carl R. Johnson Humanitarian Award from the Kansas City, Missouri Branch of the NAACP, the H. Michael Coburn Community Service Award from Legal Aid of Western Missouri, the Rosa Parks Award from the Jefferson City NAACP, the Thurgood Marshall award from the NAACP Chapter at the Jefferson City Correctional Center and the Stanley D. Davis Award for Excellence in Professional Development from Shook, Hardy & Bacon LLP.


For Full Bios of all Awardees, please click here