State of the Cincinnati Bar Foundation

Sep 1, 2020

by Dale A. Stalf, CBF President 


For the 58th year, your Cincinnati Bar Foundation provided much needed funding to support local educational and charitable programs that fulfill the Foundation’s mission of “promoting justice and changing lives through the law”. The trustees and officers of the Foundation, led by President Michael Bailes of U.S. Bank, and the grants committee, led by Tony Osterlund of Vorys, worked very hard this past year to fundraise, enabling the Foundation to make grants designed to: 

  • Encourage knowledge and understanding of, and respect for, the law, particularly in young people
  • Improve the quality and administration of justice for all
  • Support the delivery of legal services at an affordable cost for the poor, elderly and otherwise disadvantaged
  • Promote professionalism and civility in the practice of law


The Foundation’s core guiding principle remains the same: our community is only strengthened when all people, especially those who are most vulnerable, understand the law and have equal access to justice.


This past year was particularly challenging for the Foundation. First, our long-time director, Rene McPhedran, left in April to pursue other opportunities. We wish her well and thank her for her many years of service. Second, have any of you heard about the COVID-19 pandemic?


Despite those issues, through the leadership of Mr. Bailes and all the members of our Executive Committee, and through the tireless efforts of the Executive Director of the Cincinnati Bar Association, Lisa McPherson, and her entire CBA staff, the Foundation had another solid year.

Highlights of the Past Year

I am pleased to report the financial health of the Foundation remains strong. Although we fell short of our budgeted goal of $100,000, raising $90,000 through our annual Investing For Justice (IFJ) Campaign, our investment strategy is sound, and well implemented by a dedicated team at Bahl & Gaynor. Through the Trustees’ adherence to a tight budget, the growth in our investment portfolio, contributions to the IFJ Campaign and money raised through other fundraising events, the Foundation awarded over $105,000 in grants.


Our popular kick-off event for the IFJ Campaign, Rock the Foundation, was held for the first time at the Woodward Theater last November. Thanks to all the talented members of the CBA who performed (especially Greg Shumate of Frost Brown Todd and his band The Drysdales) and to all of you who supported this event. We nearly doubled our budgeted fundraising goal, raising over $8,000.


Although the Spring 2020 grants cycle is not yet complete due to COVID-19, the Foundation made Fall 2019 grants to the following organizations:

  • Dan Beard Council of the Boy Scouts of America, to support its Law Merit Badge Program
  • Cincinnati Bar Association, to cover the cost of its annual Memorial Service
  • Hamilton County Juvenile Court’s Custody and Companionship Clinic, which had its grand opening last October
  • CBA’s Michael H. Neumark CALL Scholarship Fund
  • CBA’s Women Lawyers’ Section, to support its essay contest celebrating the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
  • CBA’s Mock Trial Program, to cover the cost of its annual competition for area high schools
  • Catholic Charities of Southwest Ohio, to support immigration legal services
  • Children’s Home of Cincinnati, to support its Family Visitation Center
  • Cincinnati WORKS, to support its ongoing initiatives to reduce violence
  • Immigrant and Refugee Law Center, to support its volunteer attorney program
  • Impact Northern Kentucky, to support its Regional Youth Leadership Law Day Session
  • University of Cincinnati College of Law, to support its Legal Access Project

Finally, through the generosity of the Dinsmore firm, the Foundation established the Shanda L. Spurlock/Dinsmore Scholarship Fund in February. When fully endowed, this fund will provide an annual scholarship to an African American student attending the University of Cincinnati, the Northern Kentucky University or the University of Dayton law schools, selected by the Black Lawyers Association of Cincinnati (BLAC) based on demonstrated leadership potential and dedication to the community. 

Looking Ahead to This Coming Year, and a Challenge

The most exciting new development of this past year was the Foundation’s creation of a Futures Commission, chaired by Sarah Sparks Herron of Western & Southern Financial Group. This Commission will critically evaluate the current structure and operation of the Foundation and provide detailed recommendations to improve efficiency and effectiveness. An interim report is expected in August, with final recommendations to be made in December.


The Foundation is dedicated to fully endowing the William A. McClain Scholarship Fund and the Judge Julia A. Stautberg Justice Fund before the end of 2020. Once that is accomplished, every restricted fund will be fully endowed. Both funds were established to support worthy and much-needed grants, and I encourage everyone to consider making a donation to these funds today.




The Foundation continues to support the Juvenile Court Custody and Companionship Clinic. The increasing number of relatives in need of legal help due to the opioid crisis has created a significant burden on the Court and the clinic has already had much success. By providing low income clients with advice about school enrollment, health care access and obtaining other benefits, and with assistance in preparing powers of attorney, caretaker affidavits and other necessary court filings, it has made the system function more smoothly and has significantly reduced the number of hearings required. 

The Foundation will also continue to explore new and exciting fundraisers so that it can have an even greater impact on the local community through its grant-making efforts. However, due to COVID-19, the Quid Pro Am golf outing usually held in May and the Rock the Foundation event scheduled for this coming November were cancelled. As a result, the Foundation is in greater need of your support now than ever before. I implore every member of the CBA to support your Foundation by donating to the IFJ Campaign, perhaps at the Silver Level ($250) if you can afford it. And I encourage every local law firm and corporate legal department to become a 100% Firm this year by convincing all of their attorneys to make a $50 (or more) donation or, if necessary, by making up the difference.


I thank all of you for your past support of the Foundation and I look forward to serving as its President this year. With your continuing support, and with the help of my fellow Board members and of Lisa McPherson, Amy Zerhusen and all the other dedicated CBA staff, I am confident that 2020-21 will prove to be another successful year for the Foundation.