RUSSIA — A Russia resident has been named to the Dayton Business Journal’s prestigious Forty under 40 list for 2018.
Michael Mayer, 36, was honored along with 39 other Dayton area movers and shakers at a dinner, May 17, at the Marriott at the University of Dayton.
They were selected from among 150 nominees for excelling at their jobs and for their participation in community organizations.
Mayer is a litigation attorney at the firm of Faruki Ireland Cox Rhinehart & Dusing PLL, which has offices in Dayton and Cincinnati. He sits of the board of Kettering-based Brigid’s Path, a nonprofit organization that provides in-patient medical care to drug-dependent newborn babies and support and education to their mothers and families.
“Forty under 40 has been a feature for at least 20 years,” Caleb Stephens, the journal’s editor-in-chief told the Sidney Daily News recently. “Mayer was nominated by another member of his law firm. A group of independent judges base their decisons on community and business leadership.”
Stephens said nominators answer survey questions about a candidate’s accomplishments, awards and milestones.
Mayer, a New York City native who grew up in Troy, Michigan, would rather talk about Brigid’s Path than his own achievements.
“I’ve been a board member since 2015, the first board meeting,” he said, Tuesday, May 29. An aunt of the organization’s founder works at the Faruki law firm. When she put the word out that Brigid’s Path wanted an attorney on the board, Mayer volunteered.
“I’m not the organization’s attorney,” he said. “I’m a litigation attorney. That’s not directly applicable to being on the board. But at the same time, any help I can provide, I will.”
He may not be its attorney, but he could be its public relations person. Mayer is very proud of what Brigid’s Path does and what it has accomplished in three years. In January, it opened its medical facility.
“The founder was a foster mother who fostered two drug-dependent babies. It’s called neonatal abstinence syndrome. She had to figure out how to wean them and care for them. (Brigid’s Path) is an organization that should end up saving taxpayer dollars in the long run. These babies are born in the hospital and then go into intensive care. They’re on Medicaid. It’s expensive. Now a baby can be transferred to Brigid’s Path. It’s a cheaper cost, and the environment is better for the baby. Each one has its own room with soundproof walls, soft lighting. We’ve had 13 babies so far,” he said.
“We want to make sure the mother finds resources to help her get off the habit,” he added.
It’s not the first time Mayer has been connected to a nonprofit agency. As an undergraduate at the University of Michigan, where he earned a Bachelor of Business Administration, he served as the school’s executive director of Dance Marathon, an initiative that raised money for Children’s Miracle Network hospitals.
“I love organizations that help people who have no say in the circumstances they’re in, like babies born with a drug addiction or kids at the Dance Marathon with spinal bifida or muscular dystrophy. It’s one small way to help,” Mayer said.
He credited his colleagues and his family for their support, without which, he stressed, he could not have made the Forty under 40 list.
His wife, the former Lindsay Grogean, is a Russia native. The couple met in Chicago. Mayer earned his law degree there at DePaul University and got his first job at the law firm of Freeborn & Peters.
“I decided to join a softball team at the arm-twisting of a coworker,” he said. Lindsay was on the team. They married, lived in a trending area of Chicago and had their first child, Maximus, now 8.
“When baby No. 2 was on the way, we thought it was time to come closer to family. We moved back to Russia,” Mayer said. The family now includes Elliot, 5, and Francesca “Frankie,” 3.
Mayer has been with the Faruki firm for six years and appreciated the opportunity the Forty under 40 dinner gave him to connect with Dayton professionals from varied companies.
“It was nice to meet all the other award-winners. I’m in the bar association. Sometimes you get (caught in knowing only other lawyers). It was nice to get this cross section — people in health care, folks who start their own IT businesses, people with the Dayton Dragons and Dayton’s women’s basketball,” he said.
The son of a man who worked for the Detroit Redwings and Detroit Pistons organizations, Mayer had thought he would work in the sports industry like his father. He learned as an undergrad that such a move might be harder than he anticipated.
“I thought about teaching. Then I heard that Michigan had a fantastic business school. A business degree will never hurt. But after I got my BBA, I decided I didn’t want to do that,” he said. “My best friend’s mother had gone back to school to get a law degree. She got me a job as a clerk in a small firm in Detroit. So I got introduced to law. I thought, ‘A law degree will never hurt me either,’” Mayer said. He got a scholarship to DePaul University and lived on the north side of town when Sammy Sosa was making headlines on the ballfield.
Mayer and his roommate would watch Cubs games on TV.
“(Sosa would) hit the ball. We’d turn off the TV and open the window and hear the roar (from the stadium),” Mayer said.
While he misses the plethora of restaurant options Chicago offers, he thinks Dayton is a big enough city to satisfy any urban longings he might still have.
“Dayton is fantastic,” he said. “It’s gotten so much livelier just in the six years I’ve been here. I love how living (in Russia), I can drive to Dayton, work downtown, get that urban feel. And Shelby County is great, too. Sidney has a gorgeous courthouse.”
He appreciates that the law firm also allows him to work from home when he needs to.
“With a working wife and active kids, it’s been invaluable. Russia and more generally Shelby County is just an outstanding place to raise a family. The quality of the people, it’s a safe area, the quality of education — it just can’t be beat,” he said.
When he’s not working or volunteering, Mayer’s favorite thing to do is play with his children. They like to read together, and the boys, like thier father, are history buffs. They enjoy spending time at the playgrounds in Russia and Versailles, and they play a lot of baseball and soccer.
“My father-in-law is trying to get me to start a soccer team here,” he said.
His in-laws, parents, wife and several co-workers attended the Forty under 40 ceremony in Dayton.
“One of the reasons I’m humbled (to get the award) is that you have to be nominated by someone else,” Mayer said. “In my case, it ended up being two people that I work with every day. To me, that’s special.”
Reach the writer at 937-538-4824.