Each year, the UMKC Law Foundation and 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 will be recognized during The Big Event on February 17, 2017. The winners will be provided with a recognition gift expressing the appreciation of the UMKC Law Foundation and the Law Alumni Association.

Decade Award – Michael “Shaun” Stallworth (’08)

Shaun Stallworth is Of Counsel at Holman Schiavone, LLC. He was born and raised in the New Orleans, Louisiana, Metropolitan area. After receiving his undergraduate degree from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Stallworth moved to Missouri to begin his legal journey at the UMKC School of Law. During law school, Stallworth developed a passion for advocacy and sought to be involved with any program or project that would further his litigation skills. Stallworth also served as a legal intern to the Honorable Harold L. Lowenstein of the Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District. Following law school, Stallworth worked for several years at a big defense firm representing large companies. Stallworth is also an active member of the Big Brothers Big Sisters and Guardianship and Family Law Matters.

Decade Award – Ashley Atwell-Soler (’08)

Ashley Atwell-Soler is Of Counsel at Holman Schiavone, LLC. Ashley has varied civil litigation experience, including extensive experience in employment law, tort and wrongful death cases, business disputes, and Spanish-language litigation. Before entering private practice, Ashley served as a law clerk for the Honorable Dean Whipple of the Western District of Missouri.


Pat Kelly Service Award – Gary Gose (’97)

The Pat Kelly Service Award is given to the alum who has provided exemplary service to the Foundation and/or Alumni Association.

Gary Gose presently serves as treasurer of the UMKC Law Foundation and as Vice President, Tax and Assistant Treasurer at Compass Minerals International, Inc. He has demonstrated exemplary dedication and service to the Law Foundation. He has maintained a high level of professionalism during this period of change at UMKC School of Law. Gary is also a board of director member at Tax Executives Institute.


Pro Bono/Public Service Award – Gina Chiala (’06)

Gina Chiala is the Executive Director and Staff Attorney for the Heartland Center for Jobs and Freedom. Gina has years of experience with both social justice campaigns and public interest litigation. Motivated by a strong belief that one’s income should not determine the quality of one’s legal representation, Gina began her legal career as a public defender. Gina next joined Slough Connealy Irwin & Madden, Kansas City’s oldest and best known public interest law firm. There, Gina represented low-income clients in cases against abusive credit card companies, pay day lenders, finance companies, car dealerships, and debt buyers. She has received recognition as a National Member of the Order of Barristers.  She also received the Ralph S. Latshaw Award for outstanding studies in criminal law, the National Moot Court Team Competition Award, and awards for excellence in the areas of civil rights, torts, legal writing and constitutional law. Gina sits on the boards of the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights and Neighborhoods of Hope Community Housing. The National Consumer Law Center recently awarded Gina and three other impressive advocates with the Rising Star Award for making a “major contribution to consumer law.” 

Lifetime Achievement Award – Timothy D. O’Leary (’56)

The Lifetime Achievement Award is given to the alum who has achieved outstanding professional success in the legal field throughout a long career.

After 20 years of public service as a Jackson County Circuit Judge, Timothy O’Leary returned to private practice where his experience as a trial judge, in trying hundreds of cases, makes him valuable to clients in the resolution of disputes. His practice concentrates on alternative dispute resolution, including arbitration and mediation, in cases of all degrees of complexity, often involving millions of dollars.

O’Leary has also conducted numerous mock jury trials and has mediated and arbitrated and estimated 2,000 cases since his return to practice. O’Leary is a member of The Missouri Bar, the Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association, Lawyers Association of Kansas City and several other organizations. Throughout his career, O’Leary has always maintained the highest standard of professionalism. He has served on Commissions, Inns of Court programs and Bar Committees as well. O’Leary also served as Special Judge on the Supreme Court of Missouri, the Missouri Court of Appeals-Western District and the Missouri Court of Appeals-Southern District.

Philanthropy Award – Kemper Family Foundations

The Philanthropy Award is given to the alum who has made an outstanding contribution to the public welfare through the legal profession.

The Kemper Family Foundations is a long-time supporter of the School of Law. The School received a $1.4 million gift from the Kemper Family Foundations of Kansas City for the Advocacy Program. The gift will establish the Douglas R. Stripp Chair in Advocacy and the Stripp Fellows Program.  Mr. Stripp, a 1926 University of Missouri graduate, was a well-known lawyer in Kansas City and the Chair honors his legacy of nurturing young lawyers in the early stages of their careers.  The Kemper Family Foundations will be also be recognized as the largest donor in almost 125 history of the law school. 

President’s Award –  Chief Justice Zel Fischer (’88)

Chief Justice Zel M. Fischer was appointed to the Supreme Court of Missouri in October 2008. He is currently serving a two-year term as chief justice from July 2017 through June 2019.He graduated from UMKC School of Law with distinction and served on the Law Review.  Zel served as a law clerk for the Honorable Andrew Jackson Higgins, Supreme Court of Missouri.  He was elected to Associate Circuit Judge in 4th Judicial Circuit.



President’s Award – Mayor Sylvester “Sly” James, Jr

The Honorable Sylvester “Sly” James, Jr. has played a critical role in opening extraordinary opportunities for faculty and students at the School of Law. In all of his roles as an accomplished attorney, leader in the profession, and mayor of Kansas City, he has time and again given his energy and support to law school events and initiatives.  Heralded as one of the most innovative mayors in the country, he has been a partner with the law school in its efforts to provide students opportunities to learn how to be entrepreneurial, tech-savvy, interdisciplinary partners in improving our community.