Allison Cohen, Executive Director
Allison was born and raised in rural Southwest Ohio. She attended Miami University in Oxford, Ohio where she received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Creative Writing with a focus in fiction. In 2012, she moved to Cincinnati and became the first director of Communications and Development for Ohioans to Stop Executions. Though she explored other career paths, including earning a Bachelor’s in Nursing from Xavier University, she remained deeply involved with death penalty abolition work as a volunteer. She also volunteered her communications skills for Tamar’s Place, Christian Outreach and Wellness Center, and Starfire. She is happiest when she is putting her words to work for the causes close to her heart.
Board of Directors
Margery M. Koosed, Co-Chair
Margery M. Koosed is the Aileen McMurray Trusler Professor Emeritus at The University of Akron School of Law. Her writing focuses on death penalty litigation issues. She teaches Criminal Law, Constitutional Criminal Procedure, and seminars in criminal process, capital punishment litigation and mistaken convictions.
Professor Koosed received her B.S., cum laude, from Miami University and J.D. from Case Western Reserve University. A member of the Akron Law faculty since 1974, she served initially as a Lecturer in Law and Coordinator of the Appellate Review/Legal Clinical Program, and later as a Visiting Professor at the Case Western Reserve University School of Law. Her bar admissions include the U.S. Supreme Court; the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit; the U.S. District Court for the Northern and Southern Districts of Ohio; and Ohio.
Professor Koosed is a member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the American Bar Association and the Ohio State Bar Association, and other professional associations. She served two terms as a commissioner on the State Public Defender Commission, chairing the State Public Defender Commission’s Committee on Capital Defense Counsel Qualifications. She recently served on the American Bar Association’s Ohio Death Penalty Assessment Team and previously served as coordinator of the Ohio Death Penalty Task Force. She has also served as a member of the Executive Committee of the Association of American Law Schools Section on Criminal Justice and as an acting judge of the South Euclid Municipal Court.
Professor Koosed is a frequent presenter on death penalty issues at litigation seminars and symposia.
Rev. Dr. Crystal Walker, Co-Chair
Rev. Dr. Crystal Walker has a Masters of Divinity degree from Payne Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry degree from United Theological Seminary. Crystal’s ministry focus is on women who have experienced domestic abuse, rape and/or incest. She is the founder of Pastors Against Domestic Violence, an ecumenical ministry that trains pastors to be courtroom advocates for victims of domestic violence (women, men and children). Crystal is also focused on many additional social injustices in the city of Dayton. She is also a strong advocate against the death penalty and for stricter gun laws. She lost her son Edward age 28 to gun violence.
Crystal is married to Rev. Shelby Walker and is the mother of (5) Children from a blended family, Tamica Mathews (Daytona Beach, FL), Edward Powers (deceased) and Frank Powers (Indianapolis, IN), Jonathan Walker (Indianapolis, IN), Jamie Walker (Indianapolis, IN) and the proud grandmother of (6) granddaughters (Amani, Lili’Anna, Faith, Kyndal, Symira and Justice) and (3) grandsons (Kingsley, Xavier and Phil).
Jonathan Mann, Vice Chair
Jane Bohman, Secretary
Jane Bohman serves as the co-convener of the Miami Valley chapter of Ohioans to Stop Executions, a grassroots volunteer organization that holds public education events and execution vigils, as well as supporting the work of OTSE. From 2001-08, Jane served as the Executive Director of the Illinois Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. The Coalition educated the public on the flaws and injustices in the Illinois capital punishment system and promoted humane and effective alternatives to the death penalty. Jane expanded the Coalition through outreach to criminal justice, student and faith-based organizations throughout Illinois. She took a leadership role in the successful campaign to have then-Governor George Ryan commute all Illinois death sentences in 2003. She testified before numerous legislative bodies and appeared on CNN, the PBS Newshour and other national news outlets. Jane is a 1993 graduate of Chicago-Kent College of Law and received their Public Service Award in 2004. She received her B.A. with honors from the University of Chicago in 1988. In 2004 she was named by Crain’s Chicago Business as one of Chicago’s 100 Most Influential Women for her work against the death penalty. Jane is the mother of a teenage son and serves as Treasurer of his high school’s athletic boosters’ association.
Sharon McGraw, Treasurer
Sharon McGraw has lived in northeast Ohio for most of her adult life. Her background is in nonprofit administration and development. She has also worked in the field of education and holds a doctorate in education from Northeastern University. She currently works as the Director of Development and Communications for the Phillis Wheatley Association in Cleveland.
Sharon is eager to put her skills and experience to work to ensure that Ohio’s death penalty is repealed. She lives in Orange Village, OH with her husband. She is the mother of 4 adult children and 2 grandchildren.
Hajja Rukiye Z. Abdul-Mutakallim, Founder and CEO of The Musketeer Association. Lives in College Hill, Cincinnati, OH. Counseled, Advised, and Instructed on three (3) different Continents and countless number of villages, towns, cities, and states.
A Recent Documentary Firmed and Record, September 29th, 2020 (to air by Nov or Dec, 2020) – A & E, “Law & Crime Show, host Dan Abram, an ABC Network Production, a featured segment for that month (when it will air).
Sept/2020, Featured Guest Host on Radio Show, “Talking Drums”, hosted by Oginga Khamisi, Station WAIF-88.3 FM (twice featured).
Documentary – “The Power of Forgiveness” that won 2019 Webby Award 1st Place as best short documentary.
Humankind video – released in 2017 – 44million+ viewers and still growing
Co-Author of the Newly Released Published Book, “Loss, Survivor, Thrive”
Guest appearance on The Tamron Hall Show, Channel 12 Liz Bonis Show, Channel 9th The Mona Morrow Show (A New Day), the Mustafa Hosny Show in Cairo, Egypt (and many more guest appearances); Guest Panelist on “Candid Community Conversations” host Samina and Shakila, a community base virtual Zoom Show. Topic this week, “Protests, Peace, & Justice”
A featured “Speaker” on the Moth Show and the Radio Show, “Praylive.com”.
Recently (Aug/2020) Led in Cincinnati OH, a “Silent, Peaceful Sit-In” Stance Against VRF (violence, racism, fascism) requesting 5,000 people to sign a Petition to “Stop VRF”. The sit-in lasted 13-nights and 14 days. Nearly 4,833 people signed. It made headline news on all local networks.
2019, Ohio State Capital- Written, Recorded, and Spoken four (4) page proponent testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee and placed as the quote the week, “Children are not born with guns in their hands…” in the Hannah News Network, A Capitol Hill exclusive News Report. 2-major newspapers reported as frontpage story of the day in Ohio’s Cincinnati & Columbus City’s Major Newspapers.
In 2020, asked to be a Board Member for the agency, “Ohioans to Stop Executions (OTSE); Member of the NCRC (National Community Reinvestment Coalition); Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) and Prokids Volunteer 2019; Awarded in 2018 by the YWCA (Certification of Appreciation) and IRUSA the Award of Compassion;; Spokesperson and Instructor for Islamic Affairs for The Crescent Moon Association; Disaster Relief Trained Volunteer of IRUSA; Advocate Coordinator for Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice; Advocate Volunteer for Moms Demand Action; Lectured at Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Maritime Transport; Director of Islamic Seminary of Understanding;
LaShawn Ajamu is a Canton native who has become all too familiar with the issues facing both Ohio homicide survivors and individuals wrongfully convicted. In 1997, LaShawn’s brother, James Nero, was murdered in Canton, Ohio following a minor traffic accident. When James asked for the other driver’s insurance information, the driver returned with a gun and shot James twice.
In 2003, LaShawn met a man named Kwame Ajamu at a bus stop in Cleveland. They rode the bus together for six months. Kwame was then just a guy who had been labeled a convicted felon, a murderer. In 1975 Kwame–who then went by the name Ronnie Bridgeman–was sentenced to death along with his brother and his best friend for a murder the teenagers did not commit. The three teenagers were resentenced to life after Ohio’s death penalty law was ruled unconstitutional in 1978. Shortly after Kwame was paroled, he met LaShawn. In 2011 the case against LaShawn’s husband and co-defendants had fallen apart. The Ohio Innocence Project uncovered evidence of police misconduct. In December 2014 LaShawn’s husband was officially exonerated of all charges.
LaShawn has been a tireless advocate for victims’ rights. She addressed the Ohio legislature in 2015 about the true needs of Ohio’s murder victims’ families. She testified before a joint legislative committee studying the needs of homicide survivors. LaShawn has also been published by The Toledo Blade in 2017. An excerpt from her July 22nd article reads as follows:
In 1997, my brother, James Nero, was brutally gunned down in a road-rage incident in Canton. After a minor accident, James insisted that the other driver provide his insurance information. Instead, the driver returned from his car with a gun and shot my brother in the face. Then he shot James again, point-blank as he lay on the pavement…
James was just 20, and a proud father to an 18-month-old son. He was engaged to be married to his son’s mother. Like every 20-year old, he had many plans and dreams. I thank God that I saw James on the last day of his life, because during our last time together, he hugged me and told me that he loved me. At least I have that to remember him by…
Instead of wasting resources trying to execute a handful of killers, Ohio can do better for all victims’ families. My family could have used counseling and other kinds of support instead, which I believe would have helped our recovery and grief. Ohio does provide some support to victims’ families, but it varies greatly among Ohio’s 88 counties. Fix that. Trained, certified, qualified mental health professionals must be available to any family experiencing homicide. They should be available to all, without disparity of access based on race, economics, geography, or prior unrelated encounters with law enforcement. Fix that too.
Jack D’Aurora is a business lawyer with The Behal Law Group and a contributor to The Columbus Dispatch op-ed section. Jack has written about the enormous costs of the death penalty, why judges should be appointed and not elected, human trafficking, gun policy, payday loans and other legal and social justice issues.
In his law practice, Jack handles litigation matters involving contract and real estate disputes and other issues that arise in business relationships. He has successfully argued before the Ohio Supreme Court in Allen v. McBride.
A native of Steubenville, Ohio, Jack graduated from Notre Dame and was commissioned in the U.S. Navy in 1977. He received his Naval Flight Officer wings in 1978 and was assigned to an F-14 squadron in San Diego in 1979. During two western Pacific deployments, he logged over 300 carrier-arrested landings aboard the U.S.S. Kitty Hawk. He obtained his law degree from Georgetown.
Jack‘s wife, Debbie, is a nurse executive, and they have four adult children.
Michael Hartley is the President of Swing State Strategies, where he utilizes his over two decades of political, policy/issue, public relations and corporate experience to work with clients on their public affairs, policy issue and political strategy needs.
Most recently, Hartley spent over four years as the Vice President of Government Relations for the Columbus Chamber of Commerce, where he led the advocacy effort at the local, state and federal levels on behalf of the Central Ohio business community.
Prior to his time with the Chamber, Hartley spent over thirteen years developing a reputation as one of the best political operatives in Ohio, serving a leadership role in a number of high-profile campaigns and government offices. His roles included: Ohio Campaign Manager for New Day for America, the Super PAC supporting Governor John Kasich, for the 2016 Ohio Republican Primary; Director of Public Liaison and Senior Staff member for Governor John Kasich where he directed all outreach efforts from the Governor’s Office; five Ohio statewide campaigns, including as Deputy Campaign Manager for Kasich Taylor for Ohio in 2010, Campaign Manager for Stivers for Congress in 2008 and Ohio Political Director for Bush/Cheney re-election in 2004; as well as serving in director positions in the Attorney General’s and Auditor of State’s Office.
Hartley received his Bachelor of Arts degree in History and Secondary Education from Baldwin-Wallace University. He lives in Circleville with his wife Samantha and two children, Xavier and Sofia.
David Stebbins recently retired after 12 years at the Capital Habeas Unit in Columbus. Stebbins spent 15 years in private practice litigating capital cases, two years at the Capital Case Resource Center of Tennessee, and 10 years as the first Director of Death Penalty Litigation Section of the Ohio Public Defenders Office. Stebbins received his law degree from the Cleveland Marshall College of Law and received his Masters of Arts in History from Cleveland State.
Former OTSE Board & Staff Members
Kevin served as Executive Director of OTSE from 2007-2019. During his tenure as director, he was responsible for directing the staff, managing day-to-day operations and campaigns, communications and media, fundraising, board development, organizational strategic planning and changing light bulbs. He now proudly serves on the board of Ohioans to Stop Executions and works for broader criminal justice reform at the Ohio Justice and Policy Center.
Kevin is a graduate of Wheeling Jesuit University. He served as a Jesuit Volunteer in Detroit and worked for JVC as an area director. He has a background in community organizing with national organizations and has worked on numerous state and national campaigns, ranging from environment to state elections.
The Reverend Dr. Jack Sullivan, Jr.
The Reverend Dr. Jack Sullivan, Jr., is an ordained minister in the Protestant Christian denomination known as the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the US and Canada. He served as OTSE’s board chair from 2017-2019. On January 1, 2019, he became the Executive Director of the Columbus-based Ohio Council of Churches. Dr. Sullivan’s prior ministry been as Senior Pastor of First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Findlay, OH, Executive Director of Murder Victims’ Families for Reconciliation, Senior Pastor of Fifth Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Cleveland, OH, and as Regional Minister and President of the Northwest and Pennsylvania Regions, respectively, of his denomination.
A nationally known public speaker, social justice advocate and death penalty abolitionist, Dr. Sullivan is Co-Chair of the Disciples Justice Action Network, and is a member of many community and civic organizations including the murder victims-families-led Journey of Hope…From Violence to Healing, and the National Action Network. In addition, he is a life member of both the NAACP and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. Dr. Sullivan has published an array of writings including a chapter in, “Black Religion After The Million Man March,” edited by Garth Kasimu Baker-Fletcher, Orbis Books, 1998.
A native of Cleveland, OH, Dr. Sullivan holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Interpersonal Communication from Ohio University, Athens, OH; a Master of Divinity degree from Lexington Theological Seminary, Lexington, KY; and a Doctor of Ministry degree in Economic and Social Justice from United Theological Seminary, Dayton, OH where he studied with Dr. Otis Moss, Jr. and the late Dr. Samuel DeWitt Proctor. He has engaged in doctoral studies at Gonzaga University, Spokane, WA and has received an honorary doctorate from Bethany College, Bethany, WV.
Dr. Sullivan is married to Rev. Sèkinah Hamlin, who is the Director of the Faith and Credit Roundtable for the Center for Responsible Lending, Durham, NC. Together they have five children, Nia, who is Field Officer/Social Worker for the Project Enhancing Girls in Sierra Leone; Imani, of Cleveland, OH; Jacquelyn, a third-year honors student at Guilford College, Greensboro, NC; and Kelly and Jackson, in first grade and pre-kindergarten, respectively.
Charles E. Keith
Charles has been an advocate for change for over 20 years. He has dedicated his life to educating others about the death penalty. Charles lost one brother to homicide and another to wrongful conviction. His brother Durant was murdered in 1998. His brother Kevin was sentenced to death in 1994 for a crime he did not commit.
Though Kevin’s death sentence was commuted in 2010, Charles is still fighting to free him from prison.
The Rev. Dr. Mendle Adams
Mendle is an ordained minister of the United Church of Christ with degrees from Indiana Wesleyan University, Christian Theological Seminary, Aquinas College and Harvard University. He received his doctorate of sacred letters from Temple Bible College & Seminary of Cincinnati, Ohio.
Mendle has pastored churches in Indiana, North Dakota, Kansas, Oklahoma, Kentucky and Ohio. While serving as Ecumenical Campus Minister at Oklahoma State University, professor Adams received training and certification from the Supreme Court of Oklahoma for training of Mediators for the Oklahoma Justice System. His ministries have included travels to Palestine/Israel, The Philippines, Nicaragua, and the Ukraine. He is a published co-author of the text book Touching Center: Adventures in Christ Consciousness.
Jon Paul Rion, Esq.
Jon Paul is an attorney in Dayton. He is president of Rion, Rion & Rion, L.P.A., Inc., a three-generation criminal defense firm founded in 1938 by his grandfather. Jon Paul has tried cases in 27 states and hundreds of felony trials, including death penalty cases. His work garners his law firm of seven attorneys a national reputation. He is a lifetime member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers who is board certified in the field of criminal law and a fellow of the American Board of Criminal Defense Lawyers.
Stacy K. Parker
Stacy is a professor at Muskingum University where she teaches in the criminal justice department. She focuses extensively in the area of courts and corrections, including an extremely popular course called Death Penalty. Professor Parker has presented papers on the death penalty, student attitudes about campus police, homicide, and clemency at national conferences of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences and the American Society of Criminology. She is recognized for her outstanding teaching skills as well as her significant research projects. Prior to academia, she worked as a prosecuting attorney in West Virginia and Ohio counties.
Professor Parker earned her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the West Virginia University College of Business and Economics. She earned her law degree from the West Virginia University College of Law. She also holds a Master’s Degree from the University of Cincinnati.
Chris, a long-time resident of Cleveland Heights, has been in the financial services industry for over 30 years. He is currently a Senior Vice President in the Risk Management Group of PNC Financial Services, Inc. He holds an M.B.A. in Finance from the University of Rochester’s Simon School of Business.
Chris has been the Treasurer for Plymouth Church in Shaker Heights, and has been an active member in a number of non-profit organizations over the years, including Family Promise of Greater Cleveland and the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless.
Adrian has a Masters of Social Work in Community Organizing and a B.A. in Political Science, English, and Crime & Justice both from the University of Michigan. After experiencing the incarceration of loved ones in her youth, she devoted her college education to becoming actively engaged in issues related to criminal justice system reform, including prisoner reentry, arts workshops in prisons, clemency campaigns for incarcerated domestic violence survivors, and prisoner advocacy. She moved to Ohio over a decade ago to serve as Ohioans to Stop Executions’ Northern Ohio Organizer for four years.
Adrian has a background working with youth in out-of-school time settings and currently works in higher education connecting college students with civic engagement opportunities at area nonprofits in Cleveland. She is also a part-time Masters of Nonprofit Organizations student at Case Western Reserve University.
Colleen Dailey is an Ohio native who returned to her home state in 2017 after working in Washington, DC for 20 years in the field of community economic development. A graduate of the University of Dayton (BS in Biology) and the University of Colorado (MPA), Colleen has managed national programs and worked on federal policy campaigns to advance economic justice. She also served as the Executive Director for two local economic development agencies in DC between 2005 and 2013.
Currently a caregiver and a self-employed managment consultant, Colleen is eager to put her skills and experience to work to ensure that Ohio’s death penalty is repealed. She lives in Columbus, OH with her husband, two children and her mother.
Jennifer A. Pryor, Director of Organizing and Community Outreach
Jennifer A. Pryor is passionate about judicial reform in all of its parts. As a grassroots community organizer, she has been invited into the personal trauma of many community members and is committed to playing a role in eliminating systematic trauma.
Jennifer is a mother of one son and a very involved auntie to twenty, twelve of whom are Ohioans. She has a desire to end executions in Ohio and reform Ohio’s judicial system for them. While a student at Northern Michigan University, she developed an insatiable appetite for learning and is always seeking more knowledge.
Jim and Nancy Petro
Jim Petro is a life-long Ohio civil servant: city councilman, county commissioner, state legislator, state Auditor, state Attorney General, and Chancellor of the Board of Regents. He served on the House Judiciary Subcommittee that crafted our death penalty statute in 1981. He advocated for passage of the bill then. Later, as Attorney General from 2003 to 2007, he oversaw 19 executions and reviewed many other death sentence cases. His work gave him an up-close view of our death penalty system in practice, which is much different from theory or intention. He learned that the death penalty is not meeting the standards it was adopted for, certainly not deterrence or cost-savings, and that the risk of error in imposing the death penalty on the innocent and/or undeserving, and the unequal application of the penalty outweighed its purported benefits. He views repeal as necessary. He was the first state Attorney General to work with an Innocence Project and received the Champion of Justice award from the Innocence Network. He and his wife Nancy authored “False Justice: Eight Myths that Convict the Innocent”. They now reside in Florida.
Nancy Petro co-authored the award-winning book “False Justice: Eight Myths that Convict the Innocent” with her husband Jim. She serves on the Advisory Board of the National Registry of Exonerations and is a regular contributor to online forums on innocence and miscarriages of justice. In past years she taught art, operated a graphic design firm, and engaged in extensive writing on varied topics. She met Jim at Dennison University, served on the University’s alumni advisory council, and continues to assist in alumni activities.