Makiedah Messam

TOLEDO, OH:  The Board of Trustees for Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, Inc. (ABLE)—a nonprofit law firm that provides comprehensive legal representation in non-criminal matters to more than 385,000 people living, working, and raising their families in poverty in northwest and west central Ohio—is pleased to announce that it has named Makiedah Messam its new Executive Director.

Messam brings to the role decades of experience in public interest law, being an integral part of developing and implementing policy that serves and empowers underprivileged communities. Prior to accepting the position, Messam was the Interim Executive Director of the City of Cincinnati’s Citizen Complaint Authority, where she coordinated the agency’s investigations into citizen complaints and oversaw its commitment to strengthening public confidence by ensuring that all claims are investigated diligently with the highest degree of professionalism and promoting accountability in the Cincinnati Police Department.

In addition, she served four years as a Director with the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) in Jamaica. INDECOM’s groundbreaking and transformative work in law enforcement oversight is well known throughout the Caribbean and internationally. Messam holds a Juris Doctorate from the University of Cincinnati College of Law and a Practice Certificate from the University of the West Indies Norman Manley School of Law.

“We are thrilled to welcome Makiedah Messam as our new Executive Director,” says Cassandra Rice, ABLE Board of Trustees President. “She will bring leadership experience and excellent communication skills to the organization. An executive director’s role is to envision an ambitious future and lead our advocates into that future with strength and stability. I am confident that with Messam at the helm, ABLE is in great hands.”

Heather Hall

As part of the Board’s vision for ABLE, the Board also elected to elevate its Interim Executive Director, Heather Hall, to the position of Deputy Director. Hall previously served as the Director of Advocacy for six years and assumed the role of Interim Executive Director in 2023. “Heather Hall has been an unwavering and resilient leader over the past year; we could not envision a future without her. The Board feels that Messam and Hall each bring unique experiences as attorneys and advocates that will only embolden our firm’s strategy for growth,” Rice said.

Breaking from tradition, Messam will be based in ABLE’s Dayton office, bringing executive presence and renewed outreach to the southern part of the firm’s service area. Hall will be based in the Toledo office, continuing to reinforce the firm’s enduring relationships in the northern part of the state.

Messam will officially begin her functions in March 2024. She is ABLE’s 4th Executive Director, and the first person of color to lead the 32-county agency in its 55-year history.

About ABLE: Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, Inc. (ABLE) is non-profit regional law firm that provides high-quality legal assistance in civil matters to help eligible low-income individuals and groups in western Ohio achieve self-reliance, equal justice, and economic opportunity.