Jerry W. Venters, a retired United States Bankruptcy judge in Kansas City, has been elected president of the Board of Trustees of Legal Aid of Western Missouri, a public, non-profit law firm providing legal services for low-income residents of 40 western Missouri counties.

Other officers elected at a recent meeting of the Board are M. Blake Heath, lead attorney in the firm of M. Blake Heath, Trial Attorney LLC, vice president; Shauna Woody-Coussens, managing director of forensics and valuation services for the accounting firm BKD, secretary; and Matthew L. Dameron, an attorney and partner in Williams Dirks Dameron LLC, treasurer. All are residents of Kansas City and will serve during 2017.

Venters served as a federal bankruptcy judge in the Western District of Missouri from 1999 to 2013. Before his appointment to the court, Venters was in the private practice of law in Jefferson City for more than 20 years. In addition to serving on the Legal Aid Board of Trustees, he has been an active volunteer in Rotary International and a member of the board of Next Step KC, a non-profit organization providing free income tax preparation services, a small-dollar loan program, and financial education for low- and moderate-income families.

Legal Aid of Western Missouri provides free civil legal assistance to low-income clients who cannot afford legal services. It has offices in Kansas City, Joplin, St. Joseph and Warrensburg and serves a poverty population of 288,000 persons. It is supported by grants from the federal Legal Services Corporation and private and public foundations, as well as private individual and corporate donations.

“We strive to provide excellent legal services to those in poverty who most need our legal services and can least afford good legal representation,” Venters said. “Legal Aid fulfills a critical role in the Western District’s legal services network.”

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