When Foundation board member Stephanie Olivera Mittica’s parents immigrated from Argentina to the United States in the 1990s, they were motivated by the possibilities life in a new country offered, especially for their children.

“Ever since I was young, I have been aware of the opportunities I was given as an immigrant,” Mittica said. “The law has always fascinated me, and I thought a law degree could really empower me to help other people.”

Now an associate at Roetzel & Andress in Akron, Mittica is a labor and employment attorney with a thriving practice, but she still remembers where she came from.

“I’m very grateful for the opportunities I have and the life that I’m able to live on a daily basis because of the very difficult decisions my parents made,” she said.

Mittica pays it forward through her practice and by supporting organizations that serve new Americans. At Roetzel, she and a colleague developed a small employment-based immigration practice that helps clients navigate employment-related immigration issues, including I-9 employment eligibility verification, employment-based visa sponsorship, and other business immigration matters.

“It gives me pride to help,” she said. “We’re helping the employer, but we’re also helping individuals who need the employment sponsorship and need to ensure that their petitions and applications are submitted as strongly as possible.”

She pairs her day job with an extraordinary commitment to community service. As a board member of the International Institute of Akron (IIA), she has been a champion of the nonprofit since 2017. A lifeline for immigrants and refugees resettling in the Akron area, IIA helps new Americans access resettlement and legal services.

Through IIA, an Ohio Access to Justice Foundation grantee, Mittica became involved with the Foundation, joining a board of legal leaders working to increase access to justice across the state. Although she’s relatively new to the board, she’s already joined the Foundation’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) committee, which helps identify opportunities to improve DEI in Ohio’s civil justice system.

“I certainly think there’s a huge gap in legal services in the United States,” she said. “To the extent that I can help, in even the most minor way, I want to be part of that mission.”

In everything she does, she honors her parents’ sacrifice in leaving it all behind to start over in the U.S.

“As much as I can, I want to give back to the community,” she said. “It helps me focus on the reason I wanted to become an attorney, which is to help people who need it.”

The Ohio Access to Justice Foundation’s Board of Directors serves from around the state and is committed to improving access to justice. Meet the Board.