Gregory Johnson, Ph.D.
FOUNDER AND CEO
Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Dr. Gregory Johnson is a Vietnam Veteran, and the Founder and Chairman of GPN. He is also a Governor with the National Association of Nonprofit Organization Executives and a member of the American Psychological Association. He is a Bronze member of Human Synergistic, a member of the Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership, a Parenting Presence Ambassador for Parenting 2.0, and an original member of the Healthy Fathering Collaborative.
He sits on the Ohio State Education Advisory Board and the Advisory Board for Case Western Reserve University MOD/MPOD. He is an Affiliate Partner for the COPLTI and an Affiliate of the Father's & Family Coalition USA. He is the Coach and Author of the Concentric Parent, a Coach with the Executive Leadership, and a Member of the National Assoc. Distinguished Professionals.
His career includes being the Director, Employee Relations - Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Vice President of the Mercy Hospitals of Central Ohio, President & CEO of the Lorain County Urban League, OH, Executive Vice of the Urban League of Greater Cleveland, OH, State Director for the March of Dimes, OH, President & CEO for Pinellas County Urban League, FL, Board Member of the Academy Prep Centers of Education, a Committee Member of Pinellas Education Foundation, FL, and a Board Member for The First Tee of Pinellas County, FL.
Dr. Johnson is a graduate of Case Western Reserve, Weatherhead School of Management with a Master’s Degree in Organization Development & Analysis; Barkley University with a Doctor of Philosophy in Organizational Leadership; Dartmouth College - The Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth with a Post Graduate Certificate in Executive Management, Business Administration, Management & Operations, and the University of Michigan with a Post Graduate Degree in Executive Leadership and Management.
Dr. Johnson has received dozens of awards and multiple recognitions including the Lifetime Achievement Award for Volunteer Service from the Corporation for National and Community Service and by the former US President, The Hon. Barack Obama.
Dr. Johnson is married to our President, Dr. Christine Johnson, and together they have three daughters, one son (Deceased) five grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren, plus two much-loved dogs.
Christine Johnson, Ph.D.
President, Chief Marketing Officer, and Chaplain
Dr. Christine Johnson was born in England with several disabilities and was abandoned at birth. She was placed into the hands of social services and later adopted when an infant into a British aristocratic family, who privately educated her raising her in the church of England. Her father was a WW11 Veteran and she was raised to care for military veterans, POWs, and her elders. She has a strong passion for working with animals, the elderly, orphans, and children with special needs around the world advocating for them to receive the best upbringing possible realizing how blessed she was to have been placed with a family who loved and cared for her. After her beloved parents had both died, and after she survived a near-death from meningitis in 1989, She relocated to the USA in 1999 and became a dual citizen in 2010.
Dr. Johnson is a highly respected global humanitarian whose energy and passion for fighting for issues such as civil justice reform and representing those whose voices cannot be heard is widely known. She is President, Chief Marketing Officer, and Chaplain for the Global Parenting Network; Corp Leader and Chaplain #4226 of the International Federation of Christian Chaplains, and a Corp Leader; Archbishop of the Worldwide Anglican Episcopal Communion; Assistant Pastor of the Worldwide Ecumenical, and Family in Missions for Holy Trinity Church and Cultural Arts Center; Senior Advisor/Chaplain for the Hon. Andrew Mizsak/Bedford Democratic Alliance (USA, Australia & United Kingdom), and Senior Adviser and Deputy Chaplain for the Bedford/Walton Hills Democratic Party.
Dr, Johnson served as a United Nations Representative for India, Armenia & the Congo in New York and is a widely sought-after Keynote Speaker, a published Author/Songwriter/Recording Artist with publications housed in the Library of Congress, and a former Radio & TV Host. Her career includes serving as the European Ambassador for the Indian Nations Development Program based on the Navajo Nation in AZ, which served all 585 federally recognized Native American Indian sovereign Nations.
She has served with several Chamber of Commerce branches including Campbell County Chamber of Commerce, Wyoming as Investor Relations Manager and Chief of Staff for Public Policy, Retail Development, and Agriculture, Energy & Natural Resources - the New Jersey State Chamber of Commerce as their small business Manager - and the United International Chamber of Commerce based in New Jersey as President and Chief Executive Officer.
Christine is a graduate of the International Federation of Christian Chaplains Academy, Gillette citizens Police Academy, Gillette Area Leadership Institute, Halcyon Seminary, the Manchester School of Music, Crown Theological Seminary of New England, Rockhurst University, the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, the Royal Academy of Music, and the Dale Carnegie Institute. Her core competencies include theology, business administration, international diplomatic relations, and cultural awareness, chaplaincy, bereavement and grief counseling for adults and children, public policy, direct sales, event planning, digital marketing, brand development, animation, film production, digital photography, public speaking, music, customer service, project management, executive support, interviewing, technical writing, team building, and mentorship.
Over the last few years, Dr. Johnson has been recognized with over 300 awards including the Woman of Distinction and Lifetime Achievement Awards for such organizations as the Gospel Image Awards, United Nations, Girl Scouts of America, March of Dimes, Lions Club International, and the Desai Eye Hospital in India. In 2017, she received the Gold Medal for Education and the Lifetime Achievement Award for Volunteer Service from the Corporation for National and Community Service and by the former US President, The Hon. Barack Obama.
Honorable Tonya R. Jones, Judge
Judge Tonya R. Jones was elected to the Court of Common Pleas, Division of Domestic Relations, on November 8, 2016, and began her term on January 19, 2017. She is the first African American female to serve as a Judge in the 97-year history of this Court.
Judge Jones graduated from Cleveland State University, receiving her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Social Work in 1993. Upon receipt of her B.A., she began her professional career as a licensed social worker. Her passion and dedication to working with families and individuals resulted in her being employed in various fields of social work including Developmental Disabilities, Mental Health, Domestic Violence, and Child Protection and Advocacy.
Judge Jones graduated from Cleveland Marshall College of Law in 1998. Since that time, she has devoted her professional career to assisting families in crisis. From 2000 through 2014, she maintained a full-time private law practice concentrating in the area of Family Law. She is passionately devoted to this area of the law and is particularly concerned about protecting the best interests of children.
In 2014, Judge Jones was appointed as a Magistrate in the Cuyahoga County Juvenile Court where she presided over delinquency, child support, and child custody cases. She was actively involved in the Court’s implementation of the Child Support Warrant Recall Program and the Custody/Support Project.
Judge Jones’s commitment to families goes beyond her role in the courtroom. She has served in positions of leadership within the community and on the board of many non-profit organizations. In addition, she has voluntarily represented victims of domestic violence, disabled veterans, and individuals impacted by the foreclosure crisis. Judge Jones is a member of the Ohio Judicial Conference’s Domestic Relations Law & Policy Committee, the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association, the Norman S. Minor Bar Association, the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts, and the Ohio Association of Domestic Relations Judges.
Judge Jones is also a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated.
Judge Jones and her husband, Joe, reside in the city of Cleveland with their two children.
Timothy F. Gibbons, M.S.
Currently, Timothy Gibbons is the Director of GreenCarePlus, which is a Global Medical Tourism service based in Cleveland, Ohio, and Sydney, Australia to provide Top 10 Clinical resources for patient care. The organization provides patient advocacy services for best practices in medical care, and a range of advisory services for clients.
Tim has an extensive international healthcare background in marketing, business development, and strategic services. He has worked with dynamic organizations that launched the web-based eCleveland Clinic virtual medicine, where he began his health career as an administrator in Ophthalmology, Nursing Administration, and as a Labor Relations Specialist Human Resources.
He was a founding Director of the H.L Moffitt Cancer Center at the University of South Florida Medical School. He has worked with community-based health care provider organizations including the Heart Foundation, Sister of Humility of Mary, St. Joseph Candler Health Systems - Pacific Care, The Uniting Church, and Silver Chain Home Health Care.
Tim has raised over $15M for a variety of clinical and community programs throughout his career for various NFP. He is the Trinity University Alumni Network Director for NE Ohio and serves on the Christ Church Foundation Committee in Huron, Ohio. He is a Board Advisor to IHOS based in Amsterdam, Netherland, which advances Music and Theatre programs.
Moreen Bailey Frater
Moreen Bailey Frater is Director of Community Relations for the local ABC affiliate, WEWS News 5. She is responsible for News 5’s internal and external philanthropic endeavors and works closely with the Scripps Howard Foundation to support employee volunteer efforts and to fund local non-profit programs which are making a positive impact in the community.
Over the past five years, she has spearheaded Scripps Howard Foundation/News 5’s Employee Literacy Program which to date has donated more than twenty-five thousand books to Cleveland area children who do not have books of their own at home. One of her key roles is to ensure that News 5 is in compliance with all FCC regulations.
Moreen is the station’s liaison for Academic Challenge. She oversees News 5’s scholarship program, community partnerships, and station sponsorships and manages station-related community campaigns. She works closely with the station’s sales department and produces Spotlight 5, a daily two-minute commercial segment for clients.
Moreen holds a B.A. in Journalism from The Ohio State University and an M.Sc. in Organizational Development and Analysis from Weatherhead School of Management, Case Western Reserve University.
Philip A.Wenk, PhD., MBA
Dr. Philip Wenk earned his BSBA and MBA from Xavier University. He went on to earn his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology specializing in trauma. He is currently pursuing a Doctoral degree in Behavioral Management.
He has served on numerous Advisory Boards, Boards, and Committees. Most recently, Philip founded the Wenk Family Foundation. Their family foundation provides funding to over 40 local agencies. Additionally, Philip has created several programs to provide much-needed interventions for underserved or not-served populations. One of his programs called the Power of Harmony, which provides music therapy and mentorship to incarcerated young men, is being taken nationally.
He started his first foundation right out of college. He provided after-school programs for children in the project areas. President George H. W. Bush awarded Philip with the National Point of Light for his effort to help empower children.
In a prior position as a Senior Technical Consultant for the Department of Housing & Urban Development, he was awarded a Presidential Citation by President William Clinton.
To date, he has helped raised significant funds in service to the nonprofit sector and recently accepted the position as the first Social-Innovator-in-Residence at John Carrol University.
In his career, he has started multiple successful businesses as well as founded or co-founded several organizations to address lacking community needs. He is always willing to serve when asked.
His most treasured experience is being the father to 3 amazing sons and one guardian angel.
Dr. Terrence L. Elliott
Dr. Terrence L. Elliott served as a lay minister to the ministry, until being relocated by military service to Heidelberg Germany. While there, he served as a lay–minister to Greater Mount Zion in Manheim Germany, and then became a lay minister to the Army’s Mark Twain Village Full-Gospel Church in Heidelberg, Germany. In 2014, as part of T.L. Elliott ministries, he established a teaching service entitled “The Voice” that was designed as a teaching ministry/gathering for believers as to why we believe what we believe and why we do what we do).
Dr. Elliott is a graduate of Beacon University of Columbus, Ga with his degree and education in the field of Biblical Studies, while also having a prior educational background in Chemistry and Engineering from attending St. Xavier University of Cincinnati, Ohio. He also is a graduate of the Canaan Theological Seminary and College obtaining his Doctoral Degree in the theological field of Divinity. He works in the field of academia as both the Assistant Director and class Instructor of Doctoral, Masters, and Bachelors courses for Canaan Theological Seminary & College’s Kentucky Campus, currently located in Radcliff, Ky under the direction of Bishop Dr. Wilhelmina Jackson. In 2006, he became a published author for a book in the field of Eschatology entitled, “The Kingdom Is Coming.”
Dr. Elliott is a Chaplain of the International Federation of Christian Chaplains (IFCC) under the Corp leadership of our President. Dr. Christine Johnson and is a Certified Belief Therapist (CBT) in the area of Christian Counseling through the Therapon Institute.
In his government profession, he represents the non-clinical functions of the Army Substance Abuse Program (ASAP) and is also a Substance Use Disorder & Clinical Care (SUDCC) policy writer, a prevention analyst in the areas of substance abuse, suicide, sexual assault/harassment and risk assessments for the entire Army force. His field of expertise also has afforded him the opportunity to have a wealth of experience performing as a manager for adolescent counselors for the Army who are performing their services in overseas assignments.
Dr. Elliott is married to Stephanie Elliott who embraces a blended family of six children ranging from 29-11yrs of age: Patrick 32yrs old, Briana 29yrs old, Destiny and Selah 21yrs old, Terrence 17yrs old, and Naomi 14yrs old. Two of their children have special needs that range from autism to albinism and limited vision. He has seven grandchildren: Nyelle, Roman, Isaiah, Skylar, Kensley, Kacie, and Ananias. He is of great help and comfort to so many families who also suffer from the agony of losing their baby to miscarriage and SIDS, as he has experienced both traumas on multiple occasions. Along with our President Dr. Christine Johnson, who has also experienced several miscarriages, they are coordinating counseling and bereavement services to help and guide our GPN families.
Director of Training Curriculum
Kimberly Smith is a wellness advocate, urban youth educator, and community engagement expert. For the past 14 years Kimberly Smith has served as Founder of Wings of Discovery; a Not-For-Profit that was founded with the purpose to educate youth through travel. Coupled with her years in the urban sector, Kimberly has also worked as a Project manager for several building projects, community engagement initiatives, and small business start-ups on the south side of Chicago. She is most known for her ability to navigate through challenging tasks, and those who have worked with Kimberly commend her for being a joyful, inspiring, and straightforward person. Kimberly also has served as a Property Manager for the Chicago Housing Authority in years past, which led to the opening of her own property management company, 'Resurgence Mogul' in 2016.
She served as the President of the LSC – Local School Council at Martha Ruggles School and has served as a board member for a myriad of organizations. Kimberly is a business owner and partners with other companies to strengthen alliances. She collaborates with other non-profit organizations, including 'Tomorrow is Today,' in Washington, D.C.
She is a Certified Youth Practitioner, Life Coach, Parent Ambassador/Concierge, Mandated Reporter and certified in Positive Youth Development.
She has received a number of leadership recognitions, including the 'Unsung Hero Award.'
She has been featured in 'Barron’s Magazine,' and the 'Institute for Justice Liberty & Law Magazine,' as an Entrepreneur and business owner.
Tina McCauley graduated from Kent State University with a Bachelor of Science, May 2002, and a Bachelor of Science, May 1998, majoring in Physical Education Major: Leisure Service Management, and minoring in Education and Business Management. She graduated from John Carroll University Ashland University with a Masters of Education, and in May 2004 Reading Endorsement in June 2011. She majored in Educational Administration and received her Administrative License in May 2010.
From 2002-Present, Tina has served as the Assistant Principal of Shaker Heights City Schools, Shaker Hts., Ohio. Her duties include training, scheduling, and facilitating benchmark testing and state testing; Leads, guides and facilitates the Positive Behavior Intervention and Support Team; Supervises and evaluates the instructional staff using OTES and support staff, and is responsible for monitoring student behavior, discipline, and resolving problems. She has developed 5 Elementary Building Master Schedules including common planning time, teacher-based teams, literacy and math blocks, and travel time.
Tina is a member of the District Evaluation Committee, the District RTI Committee, the District Testing Committee, and Director of SELF(2016-2019)/Jumpstart (2020), where she is responsible for developing new programs, evaluating the effectiveness of the programs by surveying staff, students and parents, Hiring, training, and manage the staff.
LEADERSHIP AND HONORS
Tina has been honored with many awards including the 2019 US Waterski Volunteer of the Year, 2019 American Barefoot Club Volunteer of the Year, Lifetime Member of USA Swimming, 2016 USA Swimming Outstanding Service Award, 2016 Lake Erie Swimming Governance Award, PCA Double-Goal Coach Trainer, Former Member of the USA Swimming Age Group Development Committee, A former member of the USA Swimming Sports Medicine and Science Committee, 2011 Speedo Championship Series Section 3 Meet Director, 2007 Central Zone Meet Director, 2006 Central Zone Head 12 and under Coach, 2005 Central Zone Assistant 12 and under Coach, Received the Marie Hyde Apple Award for Outstanding Senior for the School of ESL and Nominated for the Mary Beth Ickerman Award for Outstanding Junior in Physical Education.
CURRENT CERTIFICATIONS AND TRAINING
Tina is certified for the K-12 Educational Administrative Licensure, K-12 Physical Education Teacher, K-12 Reading Endorsement, Google Level 1 Educator, Making PYP Happen, PYP for PE, IB Pedagogical Leadership PYP (April 27, 2018), Trauma-Informed Classroom Trainer, Positive Coaching Alliance Double-Goal Coach, Current register USA Swim coach, ARC Lifeguard, ARC First Aid, and ARC Professional Rescuer, YMCA Program Trainer Orientation, YMCA Principles of Aquatic Leadership, YMCA Teen Director, YMCA Working with 9-15-year-olds, YMCA Swimming Coach, YMCA Preschool Swimming Instructor, YMCA Youth, Adult Swimming Instructor, and Principles of YMCA Competitive Swimming and Diving.
Arnold R. Tomkins, Esq.
Senior Adviser and Board Member
Arnold R. Tompkins is a graduate of Bowdoin College and Howard University Law School and has many years of government experience at multiple levels of strategic decision-making positions. He has served under two Presidents of the United States in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as Assistant Secretary of Management and Budget, Counselor to the Deputy Secretary, Acting Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, and served under the Ohio Governor as Director of the Department of Human Services (over 4,000 employees and a biennial budget of $18 billion).
In addition to special leadership positions in government, he has consulted City, County, and State Human Service and Economic Development agencies, as well as governmental and Fortune 500 corporations. As an entrepreneur, Mr. Tompkins has been the owner of a construction school, Building Trades Institute, and as part-owner of a Design and Build Contracting Company, Innervest Group LLC.
Mitchel Jenkins is a Senior Loan Officer for Your Home Financial in Ohio since December 2019. In the past, he has served as a Laon Officer for NewRez LLC, a Mortgage Loan Officer for Union Home Mortgage Corp, a Home Mortgage Consultant for Wells Fargo Home Mortgage and was a Senior Mortgage Banker for Quicken Loans in Ohio.
Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Mitchel has an enormous amount of pride in his great city. He has been married to his wife of over 10 years, and they have 3 remarkable children together.
Doug Shelby attended Michigan State Department of Commerce, Lansing Michigan 1975 - 1991 holding the positions as an Economic Policy Analyst, Housing Development Officer, Housing Management Officer, Director of Planning and Market Analysis, Community Development Office Director, and Member of the Executive Committee.
From 1991 - 1996 he held the position of Strategic Planning Director and Housing Development Director for the Georgia Housing Finance Agency, in Atlanta, Georgia.
From 1996-2013, Doug was with the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, in Cleveland, Ohio, where he worked as their Field Office Director of the Cleveland, Ohio region, which included the 35 northernmost counties in Ohio with a total population of 5.5 million people.
In 1987, Doug was ordained as a Deacon. He is a Past member of United Hope M. B. Church, Lansing, Michigan, and New Emanuel M. B. Church, Atlanta, Georgia. Currently, he is a member of the Second Calvary Missionary Ba[tist Church in Cleveland, OH, where he serves as a Deacon.
He is a graduate of Holy Ghost High School, Jackson, Ms.; Michigan State University, E. Lansing, Mich. including Postgraduate studies in Economics. Currently, he serves as Board Secretary of the Emerald Development and Economic Network Corporation (EDEN).
Gia Hoa Ryan
When Ms. Gia Hoa Ryan came to the USA from Vietnam in 1971, she discovered that there were only a few Vietnamese people living in Cleveland, Ohio. They had left their country in 1975 when Saigon was taken over by Communist forces on April 30 that year. Many people left Viet Nam as they were understandably fearful for themselves and their families. They escaped oppression and came to North America to begin new lives. When Gia arrived in Ohio, she discovered her people were struggling with limited housing, few business prospects, and obvious food insecurity.
An organized process of resettlement was birthed, known as the Vietnamese Information Services (VIS,) which consisted of twelve agencies and community groups in a coalition with families, churches, and groups of volunteers who agreed to be sponsoring families. Owing to bad weather in 1977 and 1978 in Cleveland and Ohio, many Vietnamese were forced to seek a warmer climate, and out of 15,000 who came, the community lost more than half.
In the late 1970s, the community stabilized, and many families remained in Cleveland to help their relatives relocate from Viet Nam under the family reunification program. The relocation program was extended to include former South Vietnamese citizens who were suffering imprisonment for their allied involvement with the US and to children of Vietnamese women and soldiers from the USA and other countries. They discovered the city to be an accepting community of good reputation, with opportunities for housing, employment, business, and education.
In 1993, Ms. Ryan formed the 501c3 Friendship Foundation with a small group of Vietnamese people, Vietnam veterans, and friends. They have sponsored over a thousand volunteers including students, teachers, business professionals, medical staff, attorneys, and veterans. The programs have provided some $29 million dollars of assistance both cash, and in-kind services such as donations, scholarships, clothing, housing, food, school supplies, medical equipment, and medicines. One of the major projects of Friendship Foundation and of the Vietnamese Community has been the Vietnamese Cultural garden on Dr. Martin Luther King Boulevard, in Cleveland, which began in 2012 after observing other groups creating theirs. memorial projects such as the Vietnam Veterans and Veterans Plaza. Ms. Ryan and the group have participated in One World Days for seven years, and in parades, where they carry their flags, and thrill audiences with performances of cultural dance and song.
Ms. Ryan is the proud mother of two children, and grandmother of two grandchildren. After Fifty years of dedicated service to the city, state, and nation, she is honored and respected as the longest living Vietnamese person in Cleveland and the state of Ohio.
Norm & Pam Craig
Pam Craig is a retired educator with over thirty years of expertise and holds a master’s degree in Education. She is an Adjunct Professor at Kenyon College / Gambier, OH, and a passionate Sunday School Teacher, Coordinator of Camp Calvary and Vacation Bible School, and a former Board President for Esperanza Threads, Inc. She is a Board Member of Pass It on MAAT – Director of Education, a wife and mother, reading tutor, and a member of the Claude E. Watson Scholarship Committee
Deacon, Norm Craig has been in the financial services industry for over 35 years. He has worked in sales and marketing as well as 30 years of experience on the management side. He has earned the Chartered Life Underwriter designation (CLU), the Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) designation, and the LUTCF designation. He is licensed to sell life, health, and annuities as well as holding his Series 6 (Securities License), and Series 26 (Registered Principal) license on the investment side. Craig has educated over 20,000 attendees to his Financial Preparation Seminars on Personal Financial Management, including Fortune 500 companies, small businesses, professional associations, and Nonprofit organizations. Norm was a frequent speaker at the State of Ohio “Women & Money” Conferences. He has appeared on TV and been written about in newspapers across the Midwest. Norm serves as the Treasurer for Pass It On MAAT, a Non-profit organization that focuses on Literacy, African American History, and Culture.
Rev. Diego Diaz was born and raised in The Lower East Side in NYC. Via scholarships, he was able to attend the prestigious prep-school - The Hotchkiss School and attended Fordham afterward. He lives in New Jersey with his wife and is the proud father and grandfather of many beautiful children.
Before his calling to the ministry, he was a Foreign Currency Exchange Trader for various Wall Street Firms. He was licensed with The NY Stock Exchange and the Chicago Board of Trade serving as a Vice President for various firms. After 14 years in this career, he served as a Correction Officer of New York City at Riker's Island for 25 years.
Rev. Diaz is a Chaplain #4496 with the International Federation of Christian Chaplains and serves under the Corp leadership of our President Dr. Christine Johnson. This dynamic Corp is dedicated to working with the most vulnerable people within our communities in the USA, serving in prisons, homeless shelters, soup kitchens, and in schools, and programs that work with substance abuse issues.
Rev. Diego Diaz
Dee Bays Walker
Dee Bays was born in Mansfield, Ohio, trained as a chef, and worked in restaurants as an apprentice. She also ran a training center for animals.
She is undoubtedly one of the most passionate and benevolent female leaders in the state, who consistently offer humanitarian aid to the most vulnerable men, women, and especially children facing unimaginable hardship daily. She is the head of the nonprofit organization, 'Church of Eternal Light.'
Dee's childhood was fraught with domestic violence, which led to her being alone from the age of thirteen. Dee went on to have children and grandchildren of her own, and as a result of her childhood trauma, she has dedicated her life to be that loving light for others. She is a beloved and highly respected community partner to our President, Christine Johnson, who works with her to help provide furniture, food, toys, clothing, etc. to people in most need.
Joseph P. Meissner, Esq.
After graduating from St Ignatius High School, Joseph Patrick Meissner attended Xavier University in Cincinnati where he majored in History and minors in Mathematics and Philosophy. He also participated in ROTC and was commissioned in the United States Army upon graduating.
Before entering active military service, he attended Harvard Law school where he was co-chair of the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Committee and was the founder and co-editor of the Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Journal. This publication, a student-run Law review, is completing 54 years of publication.
He entered active duty in the Army in 1967 and served during 19680169 in Vietnam. He reported to Viet Nam in June 1968 and was assigned to the S-3 Section of 5th SFGA, as the Commander of the 21st Military History Detachment at 5th Group. He researched and wrote various studies including on the Battle of Duc Lap as well as missions to Cambodia, I Corps, and IV Corps. In his off-duty time, he taught English to Vietnamese students at the Vietnamese Friendship Society in Nha Trang. Mr. Meissner also served in the US Army Reserve from 1969 until 1991, primarily with the 2nd POG in Parma Ohio. He served as Commander of the 350th PSYO Company, Strategic Intelligence Section Leader, Instructor with the 2202 USAR School, and with the J-9 at SOF in Florida. In addition to his military and legal career, he has been the Treasurer of the Friendship Foundation of American Vietnamese from December 1993 to the present. He has participated in 35 missions to return to Viet Nam for humanitarian work. Meissner has returned to Vietnam some thirty-five times on humanitarian missions under the leadership of Director Gia Hoa Ryan who originally established the Foundation in 1993. Meissner has written and published three books; “The Green Berets and Their Victories” which is on the Vietnam war; “Legal Warriors” which covers some fifty years of his legal practice to help the poor and others in need in the Greater Cleveland area; and “We Celebrate Our Mother and Father” which remembers the lives of the wonderful parents of Joseph and his two brothers Robert and Brian and his two sisters Anne and Rose. He also has written and published some thirty essays and articles on a wide variety of subjects from war to family history to the practice of tipping.
Returning to civilian life in 1969, From 1969 to 2012 Joseph worked as an Attorney-in-Charge of various Cleveland neighbor offices and Senior Attorney for the Cleveland Legal Aid Society, a non-profit that employs over 50 attorneys that provide comprehensive legal services and representation to Cleveland’s poor, elderly, and less fortunate citizens. The accomplishments of Joseph Meissner over the span of his Legal Aid career are near legendary. From 1975 until 2005, he was in charge of Legal Aid’s Economic Development Section. Since 1976 he has represented community groups fighting for telephone programs that ensure that low-income households can obtain and maintain necessary telephone service. For eleven years he was the Chair of the AT&T Lifeline Advisory Board which assisted in providing two million dollars of aid to community groups and assisted tens of thousands of families to gain telephone lifeline services.
Over the years Joseph has represented and assisted many senior citizens groups and some 250 other community groups on issues impacting them and their neighborhoods. He represented the Neighborhood Environmental Coalition in the battle against air pollution. These included cases involving corporations such as J&L Steel, Republic Steel, and CEI. He represented civic groups in many PUCO proceedings including some twenty-five rate cases, nuclear plant prudence cases, and other utility matters. Joseph and the clients he represented fought to establish the Percentage of Income Payment Plan in 1983 which is used every year by up to 400,000 families in Ohio in order to maintain their gas and electric services. Finally, he advocated for and won the establishment of the Fuel Fund Programs (generously funded by FirstEnergy) which has provided over twenty million dollars of assistance to low-income, senior, and other vulnerable households in Ohio. He also has provided legal assistance to some fifty different businesses operated by immigrants and moderate-income families.
Eight years ago, Joseph Meissner transitioned from the Legal Aid Society and opened a legal practice on Cleveland’s near west side from which he now serves the poor and moderate-income individuals and businesses. He also serves as legal counsel for the Citizens Coalition which brings together community groups to focus on utility and environmental matters. This Coalition especially helps many poor and vulnerable families during this time of the coronavirus pandemic.
Attorney Meissner has journeyed twice to Turkey and to Istanbul with Niagara Foundation-related Foundation. He has edited a book on Turkey including Fethullah Gulen entitled “Turkish Delights.” He has spoken at various Turkish community events including at the Cleveland event honoring him and others for their contributions to the Community. He has also written three articles on Turkey and Fethullah Gulen. Joseph Meissner’s wife, Zora, passed on fifteen years ago, and he is the proud father of three children.
Bronze Star for service in Vietnam and the Army Commendation Medal in Vietnam, Niagara Foundation Award for Community Commitment, 2014, Cleveland Hall of Fame, Inducted 2014, Cuyahoga County Outstanding Veteran of the Year, 2013, The General Robert McClure Lifetime Achievement Award, 2009, Empowerment Center Award, 2009, Consumer Protection Association Award, The Neighborhood Environmental Coalition, and five awards from the Vietnamese Community of Greater Cleveland.