2017 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. Teresa Ballinger 

Marion County Municipal Court


Marion County Municipal Court Judge Teresa L. Ballinger was born in Marion, Ohio and graduated from
Pleasant High School in 1975. She attended Ohio Dominican University in Columbus, Ohio and received
a BA in Psychology/Social Work in 1979. In 1983, Judge Ballinger returned to Ohio Dominican and
completed an education program.

Judge Ballinger began her professional career as a case worker in 1979 at the Marion County Job and
Family Services. In 1980, she accepted a position as a social worker for the Marion City Schools until fall
of 1983. From 1984 through 1995, she taught Social Studies and Special Education at Pleasant High

Judge Ballinger attended law school from 1990 through 1993, receiving her JD in 1994, and was
admitted into the practice of law in the state of Ohio in November of 1994. She began her legal career
in private practice with Ted Coulter, Steve Phillips and Brent Yager on South Main Street in Marion,

In December of 2004 after ten years in private practice, Judge Ballinger was appointed to the Marion
County Municipal Court and, thereafter in November of 2005, was elected to her first term as Judge of
the Marion County Municipal Court. She is currently completing her second term and running
unopposed for her third term.

The Judge’s professional activities include the following: Trustee of the Association of Municipal and
County Judges of Ohio; Founding member of the Ohio Supreme Court’s Specialized Dockets Commission;
Co-chair of Ohio Judicial Conference Specialized Docket Committee; Ohio State Bar Association; Marion
County Bar Association; Rotary International; Junior Service Guild; Women’s Business Council; and
former member Marion Matters Inc. and Marion Bridges Steering Committee.
Since Judge Ballinger has taken the bench in the Marion Municipal Court, she instituted a victim
assistant program at the court, created a “driving-under- suspension” docket to assist and guide
individuals in the acquiring a valid driver’s license, and implemented three specialized dockets to
address mental health, substance abuse, and veteran offender issues. With Judge Ballinger’s position on
the Ohio Supreme Court’s Specialized Docket Commission, she is consistently on the cutting edge of the
most advanced practices, studies and data which she applies weekly to the Making Accountability and
Recovery Count (MARC) Court as well as the Court’s mental health and veterans’ treatment dockets.



Previous Recipients:
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
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:

Commissioner Marilyn Brown


Commissioner Marilyn Brown believes that every resident of Franklin County deserves a high quality of life, built on the cornerstones of inclusive economic development and social justice. Elected by the voters of Franklin County in 2006, 2010, & 2014, Marilyn is currently serving her third term as a Franklin County Commissioner.

Marilyn is committed to advancing policies that create and retain good jobs for Franklin County residents.  Her focus on economic development includes workforce readiness so that these jobs are filled by Franklin County residents, including those who face challenges to sustainable-wage employment. She is a former Board Chair at MORPC, and serves on the Board of Columbus 2020.

Marilyn is committed to advancing smart and fair justice, as demonstrated by her active leadership role in the planning of the County’s new Public Safety Center, and her work advocating for reintegrating ex-offenders as chair of the Franklin County Reentry Coalition. At the national level, she serves as the Vice Chair for the Courts and Corrections subcommittee on Justice and Public Safety at the National Association of Counties (NACo).

She recognizes the importance of community enrichment – especially as it pertains to the arts – both for community development and for the many jobs depending on a vibrant arts community here in Franklin County. She is Vice Chair for the NACo Arts & Culture Commission and currently serves on the CAPA Board and the Host Committee for Girl Scouts of America’s 2017 G.I.R.L. National Council Session.

Marilyn passionately works every day to further the causes and advancement of women’s rights, diversity and inclusion for all people, and open and equitable access to education, housing, and government. She is a vocal advocate for LGBTQ and marriage equality, women’s reproductive rights, protection of workers’ safety and right to organize, and equity for young children among other progressive issues. She is an honorary member of the Columbus Women’s Commission and has served on the Board of Directors of The Center for Family Safety & Healing and on the advisory council of CHOICES, and is a leader against family violence in all its forms.

Prior to elected office, Marilyn worked extensively in economic development, social justice, race relations, and fair housing. She holds a masters’ degree in organizational development from Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University. She and her husband, former Chief Justice of the Ohio Supreme Court Eric Brown, have two daughters – Beryl and her husband Andrew; and Daryn. The Browns have three grandsons, Vincent, Max and Alex. She and Eric are members of Congregation Tifereth Israel.


Previous Recipients:
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

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:

Misty Cromwell


I am the Associate/Care Management Director for the Mental Health & Recovery Services Board where I’ve worked for the last 4 years.

I am the Regional Liaison for the Suicide Prevention Coalitions in our six county service area.  Coshocton, Guernsey, Morgan, Muskingum, Noble and Perry Counties.

Previously, I worked for Six County, now known as, Allwell Behavioral Health Services for 19 years.

I earned my Bachelors and Master of Social Work from the Ohio State University.

I am an Licensed Independent Social Worker.

I am the current chair for the Restored Citizen’s Network in Muskingum County and work closely with our Local Citizen’s Circle.   I became a part of this work in 2013 but was thrust even further as my family and I learned what it was like to be in the throes of the criminal justice system when my sister was incarcerated soon after I came to work for the Board.

I was a licensed foster parent for 8 years.  I had the privilege of caring for children 0-5 years old many who’s birth parents were involved with the criminal justice system.

I am the proud mother of Autumn Cromwell, 7 years old, who I proudly adopted in 2012 because of my time with Muskingum County Children’s Services.

Previous Recipients:
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

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:

Terry Grabowski



Terry was born in Cleveland, OH.  He moved to Geauga County (Bainbridge) at 7 years of age where he lived thru grade school & high school.  He is a 1982 graduate of Ohio University where he graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree majoring in Marketing & Management with minor concentration in Psychology. Upon graduation, he worked as a Sales Representative in the food service and hotel industries in Northern Ohio for eight years. He has been a resident of Lake County (Mentor) since 1988.

In 1990, he made a career change to the criminal justice system starting as a Corrections Officer at the Geauga County Sherriff’s Office where he has been employed now for over 27 years.  He attended Lakeland Community College completing various criminal justice and leadership courses.  Shortly after his promotion to Sergeant in 2004, Terry joined the Ohio Community Corrections Organization (now OJACC) where meetings were held at the Worthington Inn.  In 2006, Terry was elected to the office of Treasurer for OJACC where he served thru 2016 in that capacity.  He has also been a member of the Conference Committee and has also arranged the annual OJACC Golf Outing as part of the conference.

Terry also attended Jail Administrator and Leadership training at the American Jail Association (AJA)  in Aurora, Colorado.    He is a 2012 graduate of Leadership Geauga.  In addition, he has attended numerous AJA conferences around the country over the years.  He also attended several training sessions at the Northeast Counterdrug Training Center in Ft. Indiantown Gap, PA.  He also is the PREA Coordinator for the Geauga County Sheriff’s Office preparing for their first audit early 2018.

Terry has been involved locally with the The National Alliance for Mental Illness, Geauga County.

Terry enjoys golf, fishing, camping and traveling with his wife, four children and four grandchildren.







Previous Recipients:
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 Keith Spaeth