NDCS teammates honored at annual awards ceremony

NDCS teammates honored at annual awards ceremony


CONTACT Dayne Urbanovsky, Director of Strategic Communications

OFFICE 402-479-5799 | dayne.urbanovsky@nebraska.gov


May 29, 2024 (Lincoln, Neb.) – Team members at the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services (NDCS) carry out the mission to keep people safe each and every day. Today, recognition was given to the best of the best for their achievements in 2023 to provide leadership, customer and community service, mentorship, and more at the department’s annual awards ceremony. The event was held at the Lancaster Extension Education Center and honored 38 teammates.

“Today is all about recognizing our people,” said NDCS Director Rob Jeffreys. “Everything we are able to accomplish as an agency starts with the dedicated men and women who bring their skills and commitment to this important work.”

The people who make up NDCS serve the citizens of Nebraska 24 hours a day, seven days a week. NDCS has recognized outstanding leaders within the agency since 1992. Criteria for each award varies and nominations are solicited from across NDCS.

Awards were presented by Director Jeffreys and Assistant Director Diane Sabatka-Rine. Recipients represented each of the agency’s nine facilities and Central Office. Award categories included: Team Members of the Year, Supervisors/Managers of the Year, Leadership, Community Service, In the Line of Duty, Outstanding Ambassador, Customer Focused, Innovation, One Team/One Vision, Excellence in Mentoring, Special Teams Member and Partnership.

This year, NDCS presented the Partnership Award to York University, which provides meaningful education opportunities to the population at the Nebraska Correctional Center for Women through the associate of arts degree program. York University’s longstanding partnership with NDCS reflects their commitment to fostering positive change within correctional facilities, making them an invaluable asset in the pursuit of effective rehabilitation strategies.


List of 2024 NDCS Employee Annual Award recipients

Team Members of the Year:

Nathan Abbott, Unit Caseworker, OCC; Kevin Anderson, Behavioral Health Practitioner IV, OCC; Almedina Bajric, Unit Caseworker, CCCL; Kristin Doty, Sergeant, RTC; Jared Johnson, Corporal, NCYF; Aaron Kennedy, Unit Caseworker, CCCO; Amy Koop, Sergeant, WEC; Dillon Kortum, Corporal, NSP; Jerry Sonnek, Corporal, NCCW; Brian Vilcinskas, Corporal, TSCI

Supervisors/Managers of the Year:

Josh Andrew, Engineering Assistant Administrator, CO; Emily Bobzien, Unit Manager, TSCI; Carrie David, Unit Case Manager, CCCO; Davarius Foreman, Lieutenant, RTC; Christopher Quakenbush, Lieutenant, OCC; Clarice Shields, Food Service Director I, WEC; Agnes Stairs, Psychologist, OCC ; Kayla VanDaam, Unit Administrator, NCCW; Jackie Varicak, HR Specialist Manager, CO; Travese Walters, Maintenance Manager I, NSP

Leadership Award: Teena Lenger, Director of Nursing, NSP

Community Service Award: Denise Pietzyk, Sergeant, TSCI

In the Line of Duty Award:  Austin Quinton, Corporal, RTC

Outstanding Ambassador: Sara Scdoris, Administrative Technician, CCC-L

Customer Focused Award: Amy Miller, Accountant, CO

Innovation Award: Autumn Hester, Administrative Programs Officer I, RTC; Shane Thurman, Sergeant, RTC

One Team/One Vision Award: Initial Classification Work Group: Ashley Bendickson, Unit Case Manager, NCYF; Katessa Franssen, Unit Case Manager, NCCW; Kelsey Hetrick, Unit Case Manager, NCYF; Christine Hinzman, Partnership Program Manager, CO; Michelle Kringle, Case Management Coordinator, CO; Nick Parry, Unit Case Manager, RTC; Westley Thurman, Case Manager, RTC; Kayla VanDaam, Unit Administrator, NCCW

Excellence in Mentoring Award: Devon Strecker, Sergeant, OCC

Special Teams Member: Joshua Bopp, Sergeant, WEC

Partnership Award: York University

*Note: The job title and facility listed for each award winner reflects their job title and facility at time of nomination.