The mission of Ohioans to Stop Execution (OTSE) is to reduce and ultimately end the use of the death penalty in Ohio.
OTSE is a coalition of partner organizations and like-minded individuals working to reduce and end the use of capital punishment in Ohio.
We are faith leaders, community leaders, activists, attorneys, death row exonerees and those who have lost loved ones to violence. OTSE is the state affiliate of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.
OTSE is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, founded in 1988 by individuals and organizations.
If you are opposed to the death penalty in Ohio, you are a member of Ohioans to Stop Executions.
- Learn more about what our members do.
- Learn more about becoming a partner organization.
- Sign up for our newsletter.
Board of Directors
The Rev. Canon Will Mebane, Chair
Will serves as the Chair of the Board of Directors. He is the Canon at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Cleveland, Ohio. Will was born and raised in Durham, North Carolina. He earned a Masters of Divinity from Yale Divinity School and a diploma in Anglican Studies from Berkley Divinity School also at Yale University.
Prior to entering the seminary and ordained ministry, Will worked in a variety of capacities including managing 50th Anniversary Celebrations commemorating the entry of Jackie Robinson into Major League Baseball, the 1995 Special Olympics World Games, and the 1998 Elton John World Tour. He is a founding board member and served as vice president of AMISTAD America, Inc.
Will has volunteered for nonprofit organizations addressing HIV/AIDS, affordable housing, refugee resettlement, the education of urban youth and other social concerns. Will is chaplain to the Wilma Ruth Combs Union of Black Episcopalians Chapter in Northern Ohio and is the Cuyahoga Mission Area Council liaison to Greater Cleveland Congregations.
Melinda is the Vice-chair of the Board. She was elected to serve in this capacity in 2013. Her personal story with Ohio’s death penalty is remarkable. Melinda’s mother, Judith Johnson, was murdered in 1998. Melinda spent the next eight years of her life working to prove the innocence of her then-husband Clarence Elkins, who was wrongfully convicted of the murder. Melinda’s family began to move forward with their lives in 2009 when the true culprit was brought to justice. Her exhaustive work, and that of the Ohio Innocence Project, led to the exoneration of Clarence Elkins in 2005.
Rev. Lucy Waechter Webb
Lucy serves as the Secretary of the Board of Directors. She is the Associate Pastor at the Summit on 16th United Methodist Church in Columbus. Lucy provides pastoral care to students at the Ohio State University and to the congregations within the university community. Lucy also leads small group studies and chairs the Campus Team committee. She has been an active in fundraising efforts for campus ministry and in the areas of leadership development and collaboration with local non-profits.
Prior to joining the Board, Lucy worked as a prison chaplain at Metro State Women’s Prison in Georgia and as a case manager for individuals being released from prison. Lucy also served as a volunteer chaplain at the Georgia Classification and Diagnostic Prison in Atlanta, GA, the same prison whereGeorgia conducts executions.
Sr. Marilyn Hoffman, CDP, CPA
Sr. Marilyn is the Treasurer of the Board of OTSE. She is a Certified Public Accountant and a member of the Congregation of the Divine Providence. Sr. Marilyn brings expertise to OTSE that will ensure the continuation of sound fiscal policies and planning for success into the future.
Germaine is an at-large member of the Board of Directors. She works for Catholic Charities of the Toledo Diocese, where she serves the community in bereavement ministry, jail and prison ministry and social justice. Germaine holds a Master’s degree in Theology and earned a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work. She has worked in the Lucas County Juvenile Court, Family Services of Northwest Ohio and Bethany House, a shelter for abused women and their children.
Rev. Sala W. J. Nolan Gonzales
Sala serves as a Minister within the United Church of Christ.
Rev. Nolan’s portfolio has included addressing human rights and criminal justice issues, including political imprisonment, the death penalty, youth incarceration, reentry from prison to community, and patterns of systemic injustice. She has worked with indigenous populations on sovereignty and land rights issues, and the right to practice traditional religions while incarcerated. She has worked on initiatives in South Africa, Palestine, the Marshall Islands, Puerto Rico, and with indigenous people in the South Pacific and the continental United States. Sala ministers to men on death rows around the United States as a spiritual advisor. In her role accompanying condemned individuals, she has witnessed five executions of men to whom she ministered.
Kevin Werner, Executive Director
Kevin Werner has been the director of Ohioans to Stop Executions since October 2007. Under his leadership the organization has grown by thousands of new members and includes a staff of two organizers.
Kevin is a graduate of Wheeling Jesuit University in Wheeling, WV. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science in 2000. He served as a Jesuit Volunteer in Detroit, MI, from 2000-2001 and worked for the Jesuit Volunteer Corps: East as an area director for the New England province.
He has a background in community organizing with national organizations including Clean Water Action and Working America, a community affiliate of the AFL-CIO. He has worked on numerous state and national campaigns, ranging from environmental concerns in Maryland to state elections in Texas.
Kevin is responsible for directing the staff, managing day-to-day operations and campaigns, communications and media, fundraising, board development, administrative functions and organizational strategic planning.
Kevin can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 614-560-0654.
Allison Smith, Admiral
Allison Smith joined OTSE’s staff in June 2012.
Allison earned two degrees in Creative Writing from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. During her time at Miami, she was a founding sister and president of Alpha Epsilon Phi sorority as well as working part time as a Development Intern for Miami University Hillel.
Allison’s roots in the cause can be traced back to her grade school years when she watched the movie, The Green Mile. Since then, the death penalty has become her issue and has demonstrated her passion for repeal in many ways. She wrote the only anti-death penalty speech at her high school’s pro-life speech contest; and in college, she wrote and self-published a small book of poetry exploring the issue of capital punishment as her capstone project.
Allison is responsible for media, internal communications and fundraising efforts.
Allison can be reached by email, email@example.com and by phone at 513-846-9777.
Abe Bonowitz, Grand Chancellor
Abe joined OTSE as our campaign consultant in September 2013, focused on central Ohio organizing and our statewide legislative strategy.
Abe is a native of Columbus who was involved with OTSE in its early years, back when Bob Domer, Adele Shank and Jana Schroeder were among the regulars at OTSE meetings. Before he left Ohio in 1994 he served as Amnesty International’s Central Ohio Area Coordinator and held a part-time support position with the death penalty section of the Ohio Public Defender Commission.
For those who don’t know him, Abe is one of the leading organizers in the abolition movement. Abe had a hand in each of the legislative repeal victories thus far, starting with when he served as the Field Manager for New Jerseyans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, which passed its bill in 2007. He then worked as the Director of Affiliate Support for the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty and was directly involved in the repeal victories in New Mexico, Illinois, Connecticut and Maryland. He founded Floridians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty and has served on the boards of the National Coalition, the Journey of Hope …From Violence to Healing, and Amnesty International USA.
Currently Abe serves OTSE, the Delaware Repeal Project, and the Catholic Mobilizing Network as a Campaign Strategy & Tactics Consultant. He lives in Cheverly, Maryland with his wife, Beth Wood (another OTSE veteran!) and their son Isaac, who attended his first OTSE meeting when he was just 6 days old. With lots of family and friends still here, Abe looks forward to this opportunity to spend more time in Ohio and to help us move the ball forward toward legislative reforms and ultimately repeal of Ohio’s death penalty.
Abe can be reached at at firstname.lastname@example.org or 561-371-5204.
Peter Kobak, Jedi Sentinel
Peter Kobak joined OTSE’s stall in Fall of 2013. He is a recent graduate of Loyola University Chicago, where he studied Political Science, Psychology, and Philosophy. He has a history of organizing and wielding the 21st-century weapons of technology and social media to his advantage.
Peter can be reached by email, email@example.com and by phone at 216-688-1180.
OTSE was incorporated as an Ohio non-profit on April 15, 1988. In the formative years, OTSE worked to raise awareness and education around state executions as Ohio began executing again in 1999.
Since then, OTSE has worked on various campaigns for a moratorium on executions and a death penalty study. OTSE also brought the nationally-renowned speaking organization Journey of Hope to Ohio in 2005.
OTSE hired its first staff member in 2007 and has since expanded to include three staff members and thousands of members.
Now OTSE is engaged in a legislative campaign ensure that the recommendations from the Task Force to Review the Administration of the Death Penalty are implemented. We believe these recommendations will make the death penalty a little fairer until Ohio realizes we are better without the death penalty entirely.
Click to read more about the history of the death penalty in Ohio (DRC’s website or document w/ updated info from old History page.)