Login | July 21, 2018

Two UA employees receive “30 for the Future” awards

Legal News Reporter

Published: September 12, 2017

It’s been about five years since Akron native Anoo Vyas moved back to Summit County and became an adjunct professor at The University of Akron School of Law.

Since starting at Akron Law, he’s taught at the Small Entrepreneur and Economic Development (SEED) Clinic and the Trademark Clinic and served as a former visiting professor of clinical law.

In January, Vyas became co-director of The University of Akron’s Experiential Learning Center for Entrepreneurship and Civic Engagement, which provides hands-on, community-based experience to students.

But his commitment to teaching and assisting his students is only part of the story.

Vyas also founded and serves as president of PechaKucha Akron, which holds quarterly storytelling events where entrepreneurs, artists, scholars and others present and engage with the greater Akron community.

A member of Leadership Akron’s Signature Class 34, Vyas also founded NEXTOhio, a startup conference in Akron, where founders, programmers, investors and community members discuss how to open and build successful businesses.

His efforts have not gone unnoticed. This year he received one of the Greater Akron Chamber’s “30 for the Future” awards.

Presented annually to young professionals between the ages of 25 and 39, the awards recognize the recipients for positively impacting their industries and the greater Akron region.

Recipients are nominated by members of the Greater Akron Chamber and regional profit and nonprofit organizations and selected by independent committees that take into account professional accomplishments, leadership and community service.

“I was very surprised and excited to get the award,” said Vyas, 36. “There are so many young professionals in Akron working to make a difference. I feel honored to be a small part of the energy and excitement of the city and region.”

Born in Akron and raised in Munroe Falls and Stow, Vyas received his bachelor’s degree in biology from The Ohio State University and his juris doctor from the University of Cincinnati College of Law. He also holds an LL.M. in intellectual property law from The University of Akron School of Law.

He began his career in 2007 as an associate at Thompson Hine in Cleveland, where he handled business litigation. Vyas later returned to the University of Cincinnati, where he served as a supervising attorney for the law school’s domestic violence legal clinic.

Gary Spring, director of the SEED clinic at Akron Law, recruited Vyas.

“I was a full-time faculty member at Akron Law when I recruited Anoo,” said Spring. “I had taught as a visitor at the University of Cincinnati a few years before when he was there.

“At the time I recruited him he was back in the area working on developing an app.

“Anoo is a very high energy person with significant experience,” said Spring.

“He also wrote code and did software development, which I thought would be very beneficial to Akron Law.”

Spring said he would have been surprised if Vyas had not been selected as a “30 for the Future” award recipient.

“He is a terrific person with good character, who has been a tremendous asset to our community,” said Spring.

While he initially set out to go to medical school, Vyas said his respect and interest in the law won him over.

“The thing I love most about the law is that it’s an instrument of justice,” said Vyas. “I take that responsibility very seriously.

“When I assist a client, I really feel like I’ve done something important with my day.”

Vyas is not UA’s only “30 for the Future” award recipient.

Kevin Smith, director of the Institute for Leadership Advancement at the university’s College of Business Administration, was also chosen.

Born in Sandusky and raised in Norwalk, Smith obtained a bachelor’s degree in English from The Ohio State University.

“I am a first generation college graduate,” said Smith. “I planned to teach high school English. It was the only job I was really familiar with in my hometown and it seemed like a viable option.”

During his time at Ohio State, Smith also played tuba in the school’s renowned marching band.

He started law school at Ohio State, but quickly changed directions, leaving to begin a master’s degree program in higher education administration at Ohio University.

“I made a decision that I wanted to stay in higher education while in law school,” said Smith. “While serving as a graduate assistant at Ohio University, I got hired to start a leadership center.”

After seven years as assistant director of the school’s Amanda J. Cunningham Leadership Center, which he started, Smith left Ohio University in 2012 to begin his current position at The University of Akron.

“I enjoy my job at The University of Akron immensely and pinch myself at least once a week,” said Smith. “The institute is designed to help students become leaders in their communities. We do this through our courses, co-curricular workshops and events, global immersions and leadership experience projects.

“We take students to Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and other countries where they have the opportunity to immerse themselves in a different culture while engaging in team work and intense personal reflection,” said Smith. “The real goal is to provide a deep cross-cultural intelligence that transforms their leadership style once they return home to Akron.”

In addition to his position at The University of Akron, Smith is a member of the Rotary Club of Akron, Ohio and serves on the board of the nonprofit organization, “Life Is Good No Matter What,” which seeks to provide “Escapes” (weekend getaways, etc.) to adults with an advanced cancer diagnosis. To date, the charity has provided 50 “Escapes” to Ohio residents.

Last year he and his wife Kelli spent their second Christmas together as a married couple in Louisville, Kentucky serving meals to over 2,000 people at a homeless shelter.

They currently live on the border of Akron and Cuyahoga Falls and have one daughter, Savannah, and another daughter due in late September.

Smith said he was extremely surprised when he learned he’d been selected as a “30 for the Future” award recipient.

“Despite my personality, I have a difficult time receiving recognition,” said Smith. “I also limit my volunteer work to only those things to which I can give 100 percent of my efforts, rather than sign up for a large number of events and boards to simply build my resume.

“Volunteering helps us learn about ourselves and makes us better citizens,” said Smith, 36.

 Andy Platt, executive director of corporate outreach and professional development at UA has known Smith since he joined the university.

“The Institute for Leadership Advancement was funded by a gift from The J.M. Smucker Company during the time that I worked for the company,” said Platt. “I was involved in the hiring process while I was at Smucker.

“Kevin’s passion for students and their development stood out to me,” said Platt. “He is incredibly enthusiastic and he has used that enthusiasm to bring success to students through the Institute’s offerings.

“He’s done a phenomenal job at the university, increasing the breadth and depth of our program offerings not only in the College of Business Administration but throughout the entire campus,” he said.

Smith, Vyas and the other recipients were recognized during a ceremony on Sept. 7 at the Hilton Akron/Fairlawn.