2016 Award Winners

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:

Hon. David T. Matia

Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Drug Court


dmatiaJudge David T. Matia has demonstrated a long record of exemplary service as a leader in the areas of prevention, education, and substance abuse treatment. Serving his 18th year as a Common Pleas Court Judge, he started Cuyahoga County’s first Felony Drug Court in 2009. Under his leadership, the Court expanded to a second judge led docket three years ago. The second docket was created to treat those suffering from trauma.


Many new drug court judges tour Judge Matia’s Court for guidance as they build their own programs, including last year’s Mclin Award recipient, Judge Jim Slagle. More than 300 sober individuals have graduated since its inception and participants have a twelve-month recidivism rate of 8.4 percent.


Judge Matia’s efforts to treat dependency go well beyond the Courthouse doors. He advocated extensively for Ohio’s adoption of Medicaid Expansion. Recently he published an Op-Ed piece calling for a shift in how the medical profession treats dependency. He appeared with Governor Kasich at a Statehouse rally regarding Medicaid Expansion. Judge Matia foresaw the benefits that Medicaid Expansion would bring to the criminal justice system in its ability to treat those suffering from mental illness and/or dependency.


Recently, Judge Matia creatively leveraged a grant from the Ohio Mental Health Addiction Services (OMHAS),to enable incarcerated defendants to receive their first shot of Vivitrol in County Jail prior to leaving for treatment. Vivitrol reduces cravings and enables a person new in recovery to be better able to focus on their treatment without the distractions of cravings. This creative approach was made possible by working in collaboration with the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Department.


Four years prior, Judge Matia collaborated with the Sheriff’s Department and others to make the community safer. Judge Matia coordinated the expansion of the Drug Drop Box Program to nearly every police station in Cuyahoga County. This effort involved multiple meetings with those from the Sheriff’s Department, The County Executive’s Office and local police departments. To date, nearly 30,000 pounds of medication have been collected and disposed in an environmentally friendly manner since 2013.


Judge Matia was one of the first to embrace and link with Project D.A.W.N. (Deaths Avoided with Naloxone). Recognizing that leaving treatment was a vulnerable time in one’s recovery process, Judge Matia mandated participation in Project D.A.W.N. before an opiate dependent individual could leave treatment. Drug Court clients have to undergo a short training and receive a Naloxone overdose reversal kit before they are allowed to leave treatment. At his urging, Project D.A.W.N. has become mandatory for other opiate dependent defendants under the supervision of the Cuyahoga County Probation Department.


He received the 2016 Exemplar Award from Recovery Resources and has been recognized by the Cuyahoga County ADAMHS Board for with a Community Collaboration Award. He is an active participant in the County’s Correction Planning Board and the Criminal Justice, Behavioral Health Committee.


Judge Matia serves as President Elect of the Ohio Common Pleas Judges Association with will assume the Presidency this December.



Bio for Hon. David T. Matia

Judge David T. Matia is serving his 18th year as a Common Pleas Court Judge.  Judge Matia started Cuyahoga County’s first felony Drug Court in 2009 in which all participants enjoy a twelve month recidivism rate of under ten percent.  Over 300 sober individuals have graduated since its inception.

In order to combat the opiate crisis, Judge Matia coordinated the expansion of the Rx Drug Drop Box Program to nearly every police station in Cuyahoga County.  Over 27,000 pounds of medication have been collected and disposed of in an environmentally friendly manner since 2013.

Judge Matia currently serves as the President Elect of the Ohio Common Pleas Judges Association and is scheduled to assume the presidency in 2017.  He has served on The Ohio Attorney General’s Opiate Task Force since 2011 and participated on The Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner’s Poison Death Review Committee.   He also meets regularly with the opiate/heroin committees of the Cuyahoga County Board of Health and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Ohio to work to stem the opiate crisis.   The Justice Department is recognizing Judge Matia and other members of the U.S. Attorney’s Committee in a November ceremony in Washington, D.C.

Mass Incarceration is also a topic of interest to Judge Matia.  He assisted in the formation of an ad hoc committee of judges and other decision makers with Director Gary Moore of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections to tackle Ohio’s prison population crisis.

He is a graduate of Case Western Reserve University School of Law and Miami University.





Previous Recipients:
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
Honorable G. Haas Honorable Michael J. Sage Judge Linda Tucci Teodosio

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:

Phillip Nunes

Alvis, Inc.


phils-photoPhil Nunes has held a number of leadership positions during his 27 years in community corrections. He currently serves as chief program officer at Alvis Inc. where he oversees state-wide programs operated by Alvis Inc. He is also responsible for new program development and projects the agency engages in state-wide.


Throughout his career, he has worked at the organization level, state level, national and international level to promote the improvement of community corrections.  He has served as president of the International Community Corrections Association, and president of the Ohio Community Corrections Association. He has served as an advisory member of the Ohio Criminal Sentencing Commission for many years and currently participates in the Ohio Criminal Recodification Committee. Phil is also past president of OJACC and served as co-chair for the Juvenile Justice Initiative for Voices for Ohio’s Children. Phil has participated in the OJACC Community Corrections Collaborative since its inception and currently serves as co-chair.


On the national level, he has participated in the NIC Community Corrections Collaborative Network in which he contributed the paper, “Safe and Smart Ways to Solve America’s Correctional Challenge.”  Phil’s dedication and commitment to the field of community corrections has assisted with policy changes and legislative changes to promote the improvement of community corrections.


Bio for Phillip Nunes

Mr. Phil Nunes brings extensive experience totaling 27 years in management and non-profit operations. Phil is the Chief Programs Officer at Alvis, Inc. overseeing all state-wide programs operated by Alvis House which includes; community corrections programs, drug and alcohol, and developmental disabled programs. Phil is also responsible for new program development and projects the agency is engaging with state-wide.


Prior to joining Alvis, Phil was the Executive Vice President of Program Operations for Volunteers of America of Greater Ohio which included community corrections programs, veteran programs, affordable housing programs and emergency shelter housing operations.


Phil is Immediate Past President of the International Community Corrections Association.  Additionally, Phil is Past President of the Ohio Community Corrections Association and Past President of the Ohio Justice Alliance for Community Corrections.  Phil has served on numerous state and national committees and continues to work on many legislative and policy advocacy matters impacting community corrections.


Phil is a United States Army Veteran.

Previous Recipients:
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

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:

Veronica Perry, CPO

Medina County Court of Common Pleas


v-perryIt with pleasure that I nominate Chief Probation Officer, Veronica Perry for this award.  I have known Veronica professionally for over 22 years.  Even as a line officer with the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas, Adult Probation Department, Veronica embodied leadership, wisdom and compassion for her co-workers and those under the Court’s supervision.  Veronica was often tapped by those in administrative positions for her guidance and consultation.  Veronica could always be counted on to provide solid, informed and forward-thinking advice and solutions.


Because of these skills, Veronica quickly advanced to positions that allowed her to formally demonstrate these attributes . Shortly after serving in the capacity of Probation Officer Supervisor with the Cuyahoga County Adult Probation Department, Veronica was selected to lead the Medina Court of Common Pleas, Adult Probation Department.  In her capacity of Director of Probation, Veronica acquired her Master’s Degree in Justice Administration from Tiffin University, was an adjunct Criminal Justice Professor at Baldwin Wallace College, mentored Chief Probation Officers as they adjusted to their new roles, was accepted into the Court Managers’ Program through the Ohio Supreme Court’s Judicial College, and has significantly advanced her Court toward implementing evidence-based practices.  She has developed and implemented many innovative and successful programs in her Court, including a robust training, development and continuous quality assurance program.


During these last several years, Ohio has seen some of its original community corrections leaders retire. These retirements have created opportunities for others to take the reigns and represent the field in its national reputation of excellence.  Veronica quickly accepted this challenge and assumed many of these leadership responsibilities. Some of these include becoming the Vice President of the Ohio Chief Probation Officers’ Association, co-chairing OJACC’s Adult Community Collaborative, and chairing OCSS’s Governance Committee.


Veronica has positioned herself as an expert and leader in the field.  She is a true collaborator and genuine friend and colleague.

Bio for Veronica Perry

Ms. Perry began her career at the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas, Adult Probation Department in October of 1989.  Ms. Perry holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Kent State University, where she majored in criminal justice. In addition, she completed her Masters in Justice Administration from Tiffin University in 2004.

During her tenure with the Cuyahoga County Adult Probation she held several progressively responsible probation officer positions culminating with an appointment to Supervisor in 1997.

In the fall of 2000, Ms. Perry was hired by her current employer, Medina County Court of Common Pleas Adult Probation Department.  She oversaw the reorganization of the department upon her arrival in October of 2000 and again in September of 2011 when HB 86 went into effect requiring Evidence Based Practices be utilized in probation.  This reorganization has expanded the department’s in-house services and the probation department now offers cognitive behavior therapy, parenting, and other various changing offender behavior groups in-house.  In addition, there are in-house counseling, quality assurance and educational specialist programs that are administered by the department.  She is also the director of the specialized dockets for mental health and drug court participants.

Ms. Perry is the President elect for the Ohio Chief Probation Officers Association for 2017 and 2018.  Additionally, she is an active member in numerous professional organizations including the American Probation and Parole Association; The National Association for Probation Executives, Ohio Chief Probation Officers Association, and she sits on several criminal justice boards.

Previous Recipients:
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

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:

Anne Connell-Freund

Oriana House, Inc.



ann-connell-freund_smallAnne has been a very active board member of OJACC for many years. She has served on the OJACC Adult Collaborative and conference committee and served as OJACC President from 2014 -2015.

Anne’s straightforward approach to leadership and commitment to quality services exemplifies the intent of this award.

In addition to serving in a leadership role for OJACC, Anne is the current Executive Vice President of Operations for Oriana House, Inc. and the president of the International Community Corrections Association (ICCA) as well as past president for the Ohio Community Corrections Association (OCCA).



Bio for Anne Connell-Freund

Anne Connell-Freund is the Executive Vice President of Operations for Oriana House, Inc. Oriana House is a private, non-profit organization that operates community corrections and chemical dependency programs, specifically Halfway Houses and Community Based Correctional Facilities (CBCF).


Anne is responsible for overseeing the overall operation and management of residential, non-residential and diversionary community corrections programs, cognitive skills, treatment, employment, and education programs as well as developing and implementing new programs, and continuous quality improvement.  In addition, she supervises grants administration, project construction, and the research department.  Anne’s successful career with Oriana House began in 1989 as a caseworker coordinator and progressed to her current position as Executive Vice President of Operations.


Anne received her Bachelors of Science degree followed by her Master’s degree from The University of Akron.  She served in active duty for the U.S. Army from 1977-1981, and worked as a Military Intelligence Analyst during her career as a Reservist from 1985-1992.


Anne is the recipient of the 2003 Professional Achievement Award from the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, 2008 Leadership Award from the Ohio Community Corrections Association, 2008 Simon Dinitz Award and 2016 James Wichtman Award from the Ohio Justice Alliance for Community Corrections.


Presently, Anne is the president of International Community Corrections Association (ICCA); past President of the Ohio Justice Alliance for Community Corrections (OJACC); as well as board member and past president of the Ohio Community Corrections Association (OCCA).  Additionally, Anne serves on numerous statewide coordinating and collaborating committees for community corrections.  She is also a Vice Chair of the Summit County Children Services Board in Summit County, Ohio.







Previous Recipients:
Sharon Weitzenhof
Justice Evelyn Lundberg Stratton M. Phillip Nunes Scott Sylak
Honorable Kenneth Spicer Kristina Hawk Corey Schaal
Maria Nemec Gayle Dittmer Keith Spaeth