Alumni Advisory Board

Back (L to R): James Grimes, James Vinch, Alexander Belman
Middle (L to R): Elizabeth Zimmerman, Jonathan Fox, Clarissa Potter, Jennifer Salvatore, Colleen O'Donnell
Front (L to R): Kathyrn Liss, Tracy Buschner, Allison Ailer, Maria Vitullo, Joseph Alter

The Pre-Law Alumni Advisory Board is a distinguished group of Miami University alumni who advise and support the efforts of the Henry Pre-Law Center.

Traci Buschner, Chair

photo of Traci BuschnerTraci Buschner is the Managing Partner of Guttman, Buschner & Brooks PLLC ("GBB"), located in Washington, D.C. Ms. Buschner has spent almost two decades representing plaintiffs in complex litigation ranging from class actions, personal injury, product liability and government contract fraud. She served as lead counsel in many large recoveries on behalf of workers and labor unions and has handled some of the largest successful False Claims Act actions ever, recovering billions of dollars to the United States government. For example, she successfully represented whistleblowers in False Claims Act cases against pharmaceutical giants like Abbott Laboratories ($1.6B), Celgene ($280M), and Wyeth Pharmaceuticals ($491M), involving illegal efforts to market medication for off-label uses and pay kickbacks to prescribing doctors. Prior to founding GBB, Ms. Buschner worked as an attorney for some of the nation's largest plaintiffs' litigation firms. She serves on the board of the Trial Lawyers Association of Washington, D.C. Ms. Buschner also has been recognized for several years, by Washingtonian Magazine, as a top Whistleblower Lawyer. She graduated from Miami University with a B.A. in English Literature in 1990 and received her J.D. from the University of Louisville in 1995.


Allison Ailer

photo of Allison AilerAllison Ailer has practiced law for sixteen years, working in both the public and private sector as a civil defense attorney. Allison is currently an Assistant Attorney General in the Colorado Department of Law, working in the Tort Litigation Unit. As a tort litigation attorney, Allison defends the state, its agencies, high ranking public officials and other state employees in civil lawsuits for money damages. Prior to joining the Department of Law, Allison was in private practice for ten years. She started her legal career the summer after her first year of law school with a small Pittsburgh plaintiff's law firm. That summer she assisted a plaintiff's attorney win a gender discrimination trial against a Fortune 500 company. After the verdict, they settled multiple other gender discrimination lawsuits against the same company. The second summer of law school, Allison was a summer associate at one of the largest general litigation defense firms in Colorado. She moved to Colorado after graduation to practice with that firm. Her practice area included employment law and commercial litigation. After almost four years, Allison moved to a midsize insurance defense firm to gain valuable trial experience. She went to trial on multiple cases and obtained defense verdicts. Allison is a Miami Merger, with two young sons. She graduated from Miami University in 1993 with a BA in journalism and history. Allison was a journalist before earning a law degree from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.


Joseph C. Alter

Joseph C. Alter has served as Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary of AK Steel Holding Corporation (NYSE: AKS) since May 2015. In that capacity, he oversees the Legal Department and Environmental Affairs Department and serves as counsel to the Chief Executive Officer and Board of Directors. Prior to his current position, Mr. Alter served as Vice President, General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer since May 2014 and Assistant General Counsel, Corporate and Chief Compliance Officer since December 2012. Mr. Alter joined AK Steel in 2009 as Corporate Counsel. Prior to joining AK Steel, Mr. Alter was Corporate Counsel at Convergys Corporation and practiced as a corporate attorney with the law firm of Keating Muething & Klekamp PLL. Mr. Alter serves as a member of the Board of Easter Seals Serving Greater Cincinnati, the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center Foundation and the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber of Commerce. He graduated cum laude from Miami University with a Bachelor of Arts and holds a Juris Doctor from the University of San Diego School of Law.


Alexander Belman

photo of Alexander BelmanAlexander Belman graduated from Miami in 2016 majoring in Political Science and Economics and later graduated from the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law in 2019 summa cum laude. While in law school, Alex served as the Executive Articles Editor of the Journal of Business and Technology Law and as a member of the Moot Court team. After graduation, Alex started as an associate in the real property group at Venable LLP in Baltimore. Specifically, he works on purchase and sale agreements, commercial financing, and commercial leasing projects.




Letitia S. Block

photo of Letitia BlockLetitia S. Block is the Director of Law for the City of Hamilton, Ohio. In this capacity, Letitia serves as the City’s chief legal advisor, and counsels both the legislative and administrative branches of City government. This includes drafting ordinances, negotiating contracts between the City and other parties, defending the City in legal disputes, and advising on wide-ranging legal matters. Prior to serving as Director of Law, Letitia served as Director of Human Resources and Assistant Law Director — Labor and Employment Counsel for the City. As Assistant Law Director, Letitia served as lead counsel in negotiations for several collective bargaining agreements with ten labor unions and represented the City in various labor and employment proceedings before federal and state agencies and courts. Before joining the City, Letitia practiced law for several years with the national law firms Baker & Hostetler LLP and Thompson Hine LLP, advising public and private sector clients on labor and employment law issues and defending them in employment discrimination litigation.

Letitia is a mentor for the Summer Work Experience in Law (SWEL) program and other programs, and is a member of the Black Lawyers Association of Cincinnati (BLAC). Letitia served as Chair of the BLAC Scholarship Committee for many years. Letitia is an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Phi Psi Omega Chapter, and Jack and Jill of America, Inc., Cincinnati Chapter.

Letitia graduated cum laude from Miami University with a Bachelor of Arts. She received her Juris Doctor degree from The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, where she was an Articles Editor of the Ohio State Law Journal and received several awards for the highest grades in her class section.

She has been listed as an Ohio Super Lawyers Rising Star, a YWCA Outstanding Women of Achievement honoree, and in Cincinnati’s Forty under 40 class.


Kellie Charles

Kellie CharlesKellie Charles was appointed as a district court judge in Ramsey County, the Second Judicial District of Minnesota by Governor Tim Walz in 2020. She is chambered in St. Paul, Minnesota. District court judges preside over criminal, civil, family, juvenile, civil commitment, probate and housing court matters. Judge Charles currently handles a criminal assignment and hears cases beginning at arraignment through trial and sentencing. Before her appointment, Judge Charles spent her entire legal career practicing criminal defense as a Hennepin County public defender in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She represented indigent clients in adult, juvenile, and child protection cases at the trial and appellate court levels. For the last seven years of her time there, she managed the appeals and special litigation team, the treatment court team, the felony probation violation team and the law clerk program. Additionally, since 2009, Judge Charles has served as an adjunct faculty member at Mitchell Hamline School of Law teaching in a variety of courses including Advanced Trial Advocacy, Legal Practicum, Psychiatry and the Law, Appellate Advocacy, and the Expert Witness Training Academy. She also teaches with the National Institute for Trial Advocacy (NITA). Judge Charles volunteers as a mock trial judge for the University of Minnesota Law School and as a food server at the Friends of Dorothy Day Center. Judge Charles graduated from Miami University in 1993 with a B.A. in Political Science and Journalism. She received her J.D. cum laude from William Mitchell College of Law in 1997. She lives in St. Paul with her husband and two children.


James Grimes

photo of James GrimesJames Grimes was appointed as an administrative law judge with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in 2014. As an administrative law judge, he adjudicates cases involving alleged violations of federal securities laws and regulations. Before being appointed, Judge Grimes spent 13 years in the Civil Division of the U.S. Department of Justice where he served as a senior litigation counsel representing federal agencies and officers in district and appellate courts. He began his legal career as an officer in the U.S. Navy's Judge Advocate General's Corps. While in the Navy, he first served as a trial defense counsel defending service members before courts-martial and administrative discharge boards and later served as an appellate counsel representing the government before military appellate courts. Judge Grimes graduated Phi Beta Kappa and cum laude from Miami University in 1992, and graduated with honors from the Ohio State University College of Law in 1995.


Henry E. Hockeimer, Jr.

photo of Henry E. Hockeimer, Jr.Henry E. Hockeimer, Jr., is the Practice Leader of Ballard Spahr's White Collar Defense/Internal Investigations Group. Hank's practice focuses on white collar criminal defense and securities fraud/litigation. He represents businesses and individuals facing investigation by state and federal authorities, and has represented clients in federal and state courts throughout the United States. Hank's jury trial experience is extensive, both in private practice and as a former federal prosecutor. Hank's practice also focuses on complex civil litigation. He has represented large and mid-sized corporations in a wide spectrum of civil matters, including contract disputes, actions involving intellectual property and trade secrets, product liability matters, and insurance coverage disputes. Prior to joining Ballard Spahr, in the spring of 1995, Hank was appointed as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. As a federal prosecutor, he tried several high-profile public corruption, major fraud, and domestic terrorism cases, including the successful prosecution of the leader of a major anti-government "Patriot" group. During his tenure in the U.S. Attorney's Office, he served as the Domestic Terrorism Coordinator and was a member of the FBI's Domestic Terrorism Task Force. Hank graduated from Miami University in 1985, and received his J.D. from The Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law in 1989.


Steve Kessing

photo of Steve KessingStephen M. Kessing is a partner in Cravath's Corporate Department and serves as Practice Lead of the Firm's Banking and Credit Practice. He advises financial institutions, corporate borrowers and private equity sponsors on a broad range of finance transactions, including complex syndicated loan transactions, capital markets transactions, restructurings and debtor-in-possession financing, as well as mergers and acquisitions. Mr. Kessing has extensive experience representing U.S. and international companies across such diverse industries as aerospace (AerCap, Alliant Techsystems, Atlas Air, SMBC Aviation Capital, Tenax Aerospace), consumer (Anheuser‑Busch InBev, British American Tobacco, Unilever, Vista Outdoor, Worldstrides), financial services (Element Financial, Lazard, White Mountains), healthcare (Akorn, AmerisourceBergen, HLS Therapeutics, Johnson & Johnson, Novartis), hospitality and leisure (Starwood Hotels, Universal Orlando), industrials (AdvanSix, Honeywell, J.M. Huber, Martin Marietta, Minerals Technologies, Olin, Stanley, Synthomer), information technology (Conduent, Genpact, Xerox), media and entertainment (Cox Enterprises, Graham Holdings, Reservoir Media Management, Univision), technology (D+H, FactSet, IBM, JD Power, Orbotech, Zotec Partners), telecommunications (Cincinnati Bell, CyrusOne, Frontier) and utilities (PG&E). Mr. Kessing has also represented J.P. Morgan, Wells Fargo, Credit Suisse, Citibank, Bank of America, Barclays, Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs in syndicated loan, equity, high‑yield bond and leveraged acquisition transactions. The Legal 500 US reports Mr. Kessing is "a key name for sports financing" and he has advised on financings involving teams in each of the major sporting leagues. His private equity clients have included Eurazeo, NTC Group and Sound Point Capital. Mr. Kessing has been repeatedly recognized as a leading lawyer in banking and finance by Chambers USA, The Legal 500 US, IFLR1000 and Super Lawyers.  He is described as "incredibly savvy and very commercial." Mr. Kessing is a repeat author on market trends in leveraged finance published by Lexis Practice Advisor and he serves as the Board Secretary of the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering. Mr. Kessing was born in Akron, Ohio. He received a B.S. from Miami University in 1995 and an M.B.A. from the University of Southern California in 2001. Mr. Kessing received a J.D. magna cum laude from Duke University School of Law in 2005 where he was elected to the Order of the Coif. He was also awarded the Faculty Award for Outstanding Achievement in Commercial Transactions and Bankruptcy.


Kathleen Kolodgy

photo of Kathleen KolodgyKathleen Kolodgy is partner with Maloney, McHugh and Kolodgy in Chicago, Illinois.  She a health care attorney representing health systems, hospitals, medical staffs and other providers in regulatory, contractual and medical staff matters. She has worked as in-house counsel in hospitals and started her career began as a litigator at Dinsmore in Cincinnati, Ohio. She received her A.B. in Political Science from Miami in 1980, and her J.D. from the University of Cincinnati College of Law in 1985 where she was elected to the Order of the Coif. She currently serves as the President of the board of The Village Chicago and is a trustee of the Retirement Research Foundation.



Kathryn C. Liss

photo of Kathryn C. LissKathryn Liss is the Director of the Schiller DuCanto & Fleck Family Law Center and a law student advisor at DePaul University College of Law in Chicago. Prior to working at DePaul, Ms. Liss practiced solely in the area of family law in the Chicagoland area for over ten years handling cases involving divorce, paternity matters, adoptions and orders of protection. She also served as a court appointed child representative and Guardian ad Litem in Cook County. Ms. Liss has completed mediation training at Northwestern University as well as the Houston Family Law Trial Institute program. While in law school, she attended a comparative family law course in Granada, Spain, was a dean's scholar, worked in the International Human Rights Law Institute, and authored a published Law Review article. Ms. Liss is actively involved in the Chicago Bar Association and previously served as chair of the Young Lawyers Section. She founded and currently serves as chair of the CBA’s Human Trafficking Committee. Ms. Liss also serves on the Chicago Bar Foundation's Board of Directors, the Chicago Bar Association's Editorial Board, and previously served as a past member of the Chicago Bar Foundation's Young Professional Board and the Center for Conflict Resolution's Board of Directors. She also teaches adoption law as an adjunct professor at DePaul University College of Law. Ms. Liss received her bachelor's degree in in psychology from Miami University (Ohio) and her J.D. from DePaul University College of Law.


Maria K. O'Keeffe

photo of Maria K. O'KeeffeMaria K. O'Keeffe is a J.D. candidate, class of 2022, at the University of Chicago Law School. Maria serves as the Managing Editor of the Chicago Journal of International Law and a student advocate in the Criminal and Juvenile Justice Clinic. In June 2021, Maria will join Steptoe & Johnson as a summer associate and looks forward to her future experience with the litigation team. Prior to law school, Maria worked as a paralegal for a boutique labor law firm in Washington, D.C. She graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Miami University in 2017, with a B.A. and M.A. in political science.




Nathan A. Sales

photo of Nathan A. SalesNathan A. Sales served at the U.S. Department of State as Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights (acting) and as Ambassador-at-Large and Coordinator for Counterterrorism; he was also Special Presidential Envoy to the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS.  Prior to that, he was a tenured law professor, teaching and writing in the fields of national security law, constitutional law, and administrative law, as well as Of Counsel at the law firm Kirkland & Ellis LLP.  Ambassador Sales previously was Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Office of Policy at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and Senior Counsel in the Office of Legal Policy at the U.S. Department of Justice.  He began his legal career as a law clerk to the Honorable David B. Sentelle of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.  He graduated from Duke Law School magna cum laude, where he joined the Order of the Coif and was Research Editor of the Duke Law Journal.  Ambassador Sales is a 1997 summa cum laude graduate of Miami University, where he majored in History and Political Science and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa.


James J. Vinch

photo of James VinchJames J. Vinch is a senior attorney at the United States Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, DC where he practices in the Office of Civil Enforcement specializing in enforcement of violations of the Clean Water Act. Jim works with the Department of Justice in negotiating and litigating complex civil cases in federal court. He also advises the agency on legal and policy matters involving the Clean Water Act and other federal laws. Jim graduated from The Ohio State University College of Law, where he was a member of the Order of the Coif and was Research Editor of the Ohio State Law Journal. After graduation, Jim clerked for the Honorable Leroy Contie, Jr. of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Jim then practiced law at Dinsmore & Shohl LLP in the corporate practice group. During that time, Jim also served as an adjunct faculty member at The Ohio State College of Law teaching legal writing and appellate advocacy. Being an avid outdoor enthusiast in his spare time cycling, backpacking and fly fishing, Jim decided to merge his love of the outdoors with his professional aspirations and went on to The George Washington University Law School receiving the Randolph C. Shaw Fellowship in environmental law, where he worked in academia, earned an LLM in environmental law and published articles on environmental law. The LLM served as a springboard into his career at the Environmental Protection Agency where he has practiced for the past 16 years. Jim is a 1984 graduate of Miami University where he was a History and Political Science major. Jim will be the Karl and Helen Wiepking Distinguished Visiting Professor in Political Science for the 2021-2022 academic year. Jim will be the Karl and Helen Wiepking Distinguished Visiting Professor in Political Science for the 2021-2022 academic year.