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Supreme Court Recognition Program

Outstanding Court Supervisor / Administrative Employee

John Dougherty has worked for the Douglas County Court for over 40 years.  As a supervisor of the Probate Division, John has always provided exceptional leadership within this division.  With the new guardianship and conservatorship changes, John took on the challenge of working with the Douglas County Court to implement the new process for the 3000+ guardian/conservator reports that his division handled annually.  He made sure staff understood the changes and has always been available for questions and/or concerns.  In the first year, Douglas County Court had to send corrective action notices out on 100% of the guardianship cases.  This increased the duties of the staff tremendously in addition to their regular workload.  John looked at the situation and figured out how to best address it so the court could get the information needed and still be efficient while keeping staff motivated.  With John’s leadership the division met the challenges. John also worked with the Volunteers Assisting Seniors to develop their support for the court and guardians and conservators. John assisted countless guardians, conservators and attorneys with questions about the new reporting requirements, in addition to being a resource for other courts during implementation.  John retired at the end of last month.  His knowledge of the courts and probate has been invaluable.  He will be missed by his staff, the judges and the public.  John’s work ethic, knowledge and ability to motivate and lead others are attributes the courts would want in all their supervisors. 

Diversity Leadership Award

Ellen Faltys has been with the court system for 25 years and 20 of those years as Clerk Magistrate in the Colfax County Court.  Ellen continues to make multiple contributions to the Nebraska Judicial Branch.  This year Ellen Faltys is being presented the Diversity Leadership Award.  This award recognizes employees for exceptional efforts to promote diversity within the Judicial Branch.  The population of Schuyler, Nebraska, has a predominantly Hispanic population.  The importance of attracting a Spanish speaking employee in the Colfax County Court was recognized by Ellen but she knew she had not seen many applicants with these skills in the past.  This year when Ellen had a vacancy she tried a different approach for recruiting Spanish speaking applicants.  She made copies of the job notice and distributed them to more than 30 local businesses.  As a result, she received several Spanish speaking applicants, all of whom indicated they had heard about the job through one of those notices.  Ellen was successful in hiring a bilingual employee to better serve her community.  This kind of leadership promotes workplace diversity and inclusive service to the public.

Outstanding Customer Service Award

Jody Bousquet has worked in the Sarpy County Court since 2010.  She started as a temporary employee and it was soon recognized that she has fresh energy, was a quick learner and had the desire to serve clients coming to court.  Jody soon accepted a full time position and took on the new challenge of learning Probate including all the new requirements for reports in guardianships and conservatorships.  She continues to convey this knowledge to the many confused and sometimes angry or fearful guardians and conservators as well as attorneys.  She has the ability to do this in terms the public can understand. She is always willing to take their questions or concerns. Jody regularly assures fearful guardians or conservators who are asked to come to court that most likely something needs to be clarified and there is no reason to be anxious about seeing the judge.  Her supervisor has received several comments on how helpful and pleasant Jody is in helping people.     Employees who are recognized for this award are those who anticipate clients’ needs, and serve as role models to others through positive interactions, demonstrate a willingness to fill in whenever needed and always perform at a high level.                                  

Outstanding Probation Officer (LaDonna Snell Probation Officer Award)

Abby Kossow is a Community-Based Intervention (CBI) probation officer in Probation District #4A in Omaha supervising high-risk offenders.  She began her Probation career in December 2006.  Abby is part of the gang unit that works out of the North Omaha Probation office.  Abby attends monthly gang intelligence meetings with the Omaha Police Department and collaborates almost daily with other law enforcement agencies to help ensure public safety and promote harm reduction.

Abby’s nominator indicated her “probationers are faced with socio-economic barriers and she utilizes outside agencies to assist with resume’ writing, employment retention, and job skills…  Most days find Officer Kossow in the field interacting with her probationers and their families.  Abby is very family-oriented and she includes the probationer’s family members in preparing a case plan.  This enables her to help address issues in family relationships…Abby’s tone with her probationers is the same even tone she shows her peers at work.  She is slow to raise her voice or escalate any situation and quick to try to talk someone down when they are escalating…She works with her probationers on a daily basis to confront harmful thinking patterns which can quickly escalate into imminent threats to community safety.

Abby is an Officer Safety trainer for the Nebraska Probation System.  She believes strongly in verbal de-escalation tactics and avoiding needlessly risky situations.  She consistently goes above and beyond normal expectations and is doing an exceptional job representing Probation as part of a community-wide endeavor to bring meaningful, sustainable change in the lives of her probationers.

Outstanding Probation Employee (Jean Miller Memorial Award for Probation Support Staff)

Carol Larson, who is a Senior Secretary in Probation District 4A in Omaha, began her employment in February 1994 in what was then Probation District #4 serving Douglas County District Court.  She is better known as “Dex” in the office because she has all the State of Nebraska telephone numbers in her head and she doesn’t understand the word “impossible.”  What seems to be an insurmountable task, she accomplishes with ease.  She has the ability to find what is lost, organize chaos, and still crack a joke or tell a dog story.  She goes out of her way to assist anyone with a concern or a problem.

In her current position, Carol prepares the sentencing and review lists for Thursday morning court and then processes files following court, processes supply orders, prepares probation orders, enters cases in NPACS, works closely with the Douglas County Clerk’s office, finds lost/misplaced files for court, sorts files, closes files, and helps out at the receptionist’s desk when needed.

Her nomination form indicates “she provides a wealth of knowledge to officers and peers.  She is an exemplary employee who exudes professionalism paired with spirit...Carol goes above and beyond to make others aware of what happens on cases when she receives the files back from the court and is always willing to help officers with file delivery to make the officer’s job easier.  She takes great pride in getting the sentencing list for county court completed and gets the glitches out before the big county court day.  She does most of the supply ordering for District #4A.  She is always hunting for the best stapler, paper clips, etc.  We all know she likes to shop so this is the perfect job for Carol.

Carol is the glue that holds together the various pages and chapters of the big book entitled Adult Probation.”

Outstanding Probation Supervisor (Bob Keller Memorial Award for Probation Supervisor)

Jan Johansen began her Probation career as a probation officer in the North Platte office in September 1980 which was then Probation District #9.  Jan has supervised many probationers over the years, conducted presentence and predisposition investigations and has seen the business of Probation change many times during her 33 years of service.

The Nebraska Juvenile Service Delivery Project was piloted in Douglas County initially and in January 2012, LB985 expanded the project to Probation Districts #11 and #12.  Jan was then appointed to the newly-created Juvenile Resource Supervisor position for that area.  She took this position not knowing really what the position would require, but she was and continues to be tireless in her pursuit of knowledge as an advocate for the probation officers.  Jan has shown guidance and patience when working with officers attempting to address the needs of juveniles and their families, while remaining true to Probation objectives.  Along the way Jan encountered snags in rural Nebraska that the Project did not experience in Douglas County.  She continues to answer questions posed by officers and her ability to convey information in a clear and concise manner provides assurance that these questions will continue to diminish with time.

With the passing of LB561 in July 2013, the Juvenile Service Project has gone statewide and Probation District #12 now has its own Juvenile Resource Supervisor so Jan can concentrate solely on Probation District #11.

Her nominator indicates “Jan’s accomplishments, work ethic, productivity, and her superior performance have made the Juvenile Service Pilot Project in Districts #11 and #12 a success…Jan has been a leader in the district and on the state level changing the way Nebraska State Probation does the business of Probation on the juvenile side.”

Outstanding Team

The Culture Committee of Probation District #5 was created in 2011 and was tasked with helping build a more positive working environment throughout the 11-county district.  The committee members are Jill Spale, probation officer, Columbus; Jill Pokorny, probation officer, Wahoo; Christina Werner, support staff, York; Nick Luchsinger, probation officer, Columbus; Lance Hall, probation officer, Schuyler (Lance has since transferred to Probation District #4J in Omaha); and Carrie Rodriguez, chief deputy, Columbus.

The Committee implemented ideas across the district to help foster more positive working relationships among peers as well as develop recognition of accomplishments.  Some of the activities include Employee of the Quarter, Years of Service Recognition, and holiday/welcome baskets.  The committee also sponsors potlucks at staff meetings, snacks at staff meetings, team building exercises, sends out cards for birthdays, sympathy, new baby, weddings as well as encourages “Shout Outs” which are emails sent throughout the district when an employee wants to take a moment to give a co-worker a pat on the back or a thank you.

The Committee has been tasked with creating the type of environment they want to work in and be a part of, and to create ownership among the Probation District #5 employees in holding each other accountable to that standard and expectation.

Employee of the Year

Corey Steel began his Probation career as a drug technician in May 1998 in then Probation District #15 (now District #3A) in Lincoln.  He became an Intensive Supervision Probation Officer in Region F based in Fremont in September 1998.  He then transferred to Probation District #20 (now District #3J) in Lincoln until May 2000.  Corey resigned to take a position with Lancaster County as a Juvenile Justice Coordinator where he worked until October 2007.  While there he had oversight of all juvenile graduated sanctions programs, county juvenile grant funding, and county funded juvenile services.  In October 2007, Corey came back to Probation to fill the newly-created Juvenile Justice Program Specialist position in the Office of Probation Administration.  In this position he worked diligently for the betterment of statewide juvenile services.

In April 2011, Corey was appointed Acting Chief Probation Officer for Probation District #4J in Omaha until the new Chief Probation Officer was appointed in October 2011.  In December 2011, he was appointed Acting  Chief for Probation District #1 in Beatrice while current Chief Sarah Rinne was out on leave until February 2012.  In July 2012, Corey was appointed to the newly-created position of Assistant Deputy Administrator for Juvenile Services in the Office of Probation Administration and in July 2013 was appointed Deputy Probation Administrator for Juvenile Services.

His nominator advises that Corey “has been an inspiration for Probation staff his entire career, but never more so than during 2013.  His vision of how juveniles should be supervised, how they should receive services, and, in general, what is best for juveniles and families has been extraordinary…His proactive approach to LB561 and all juvenile matters…the relationships he has built throughout government and communities is impressive…He really has gone above and beyond and the results speak for themselves.”