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Report of the Judiciary

 

Employee Recognition

 

Nineteenth Judicial Circuit Employees Earn Recognition

 

 

2014

 

Intrigue and excitement brewed at the courthouse on Friday afternoon pending the announcement of the names of the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit’s outstanding employees for the year 2014.The event mimicked a flare of Hollywood similar to the academy awards as music played while the masters of ceremonies, Chief Judge John Phillips, formally dressed in white tie and tails, and Circuit Judge Margaret Mullen, adorned in a black silhouette gown, approached the stage and microphone to begin the festivities.

 

Both judges welcomed all the nominees and guests who had gathered in a capacity filled jury assembly room in the main courthouse in Waukegan as well as those attendees who were able to join via video simulcast at the Hulse Detention Center in Vernon Hills, where Judge Sarah Lessman served as associate MC. The judges thanked everyone who are part of the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit for their continuous hard work and for all that they do to make this Circuit the best in the state.

 

The “Environmental Sustainability Award” is presented to an employee or organization for their dedication to green practices both in the workplace and in the community that promotes recycling, waste reduction and energy conservation. The 2014 award was presented to Tracy Sompolski. Tracy and others have nurtured the fruit and vegetable garden and incorporated the produce into meals at the Hulse Detention Center for many years. This has assisted in meeting the nutritional standards as mandated by the Illinois State Board of Education and has also resulted in saving money toward the many meals served.  Her employment with the Nineteenth Circuit began in May 2006 as  a Principal Juvenile Counselor. She is currently a Principal Probation Officer at Adult Probation.

 

The “Kay S. Finn and Sarah G. Anderson Exceptional Employee Award” is given to a non-sworn administrative employee who demonstrates noteworthy support of the Circuit’s mission.    The recipient of this year’s award was Gina Zastany, Administrative Assistant to the Director of Juvenile Probation. Gina provides excellent customer service and projects a pleasant demeanor with court participants, related agencies and fellow co-workers. She is skilled in all aspects of her job and displays initiative in her job performance. Gina represents the Circuit in a professional manner and is committed to the success of the Circuit’s mission. She joined the Nineteenth Circuit in January 2013.

 

The “Lawrence Bonds Officer of the Year Award” was awarded to Jeffrey R. Martin and accepted by Rose Gray, Director of Adult Probation in Jeff’s absence. Jeff is a Principal Probation Officer in the Intensive Probation Services (IPS) Unit at Adult Probation and has been with the organization for 29 years. He has worked the majority of his career supervising high risk/high need probationers and has an excellent understanding of the intricate details of casework supervision. This award is given to a sworn officer who supports and promotes the values and goals of the organization in terms of dedication, ethics, and delivery of service.  Jeff has been recognized by his co-workers for his willingness to assist others, and his positive attitude and work ethic. Jeff puts the best interest of the organization first and he serves as a role model for others throughout the organization and community. Jeff was hired by the Circuit in 1986. 

 

Susan G. Korpai, of Juvenile Probation, was named the recipient of the “Leadership and Excellence Award.” The award is presented to a judicial staff employee who excels in the areas of commitment to the organization’s values and ethics as well as leadership and innovation. Sue has worked in all aspects of juvenile justice, and her leadership has been recognized several times over the past 37 years for her outstanding contributions in the field of juvenile justice. She is on the clock 24/7 and it is not uncommon to find her in the detention facility on weekends or holidays as well as on the phone late at night to assist with difficult or emergency situations. She has been recognized by her co-workers as an exemplary team player and has gained admiration and respect from all who know her. Sue joined the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit in June 1978.

 

Each year an employee of the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit is selected by co-workers as the “Employee of the Year.” This award is looked upon as the highest honor bestowed on any employee. The successful contender is selected from the twelve employees who were recognized as an Employee of the Month. Nominations are made by fellow employees, with the winners selected by a committee of peers representing the divisions of the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit.

 

“I am very pleased to present to you the Employee of the Year for 2014, Deborah Cohen-Rojas,” said Judge Phillips. “Deborah is an Official Court Reporter for the Nineteenth Circuit. She is being honored for the tremendous amount of work she did on the Veterans History Project, which involves the recording of oral histories of men and women who served in the Armed Forces. The prepared transcripts of the interviews are then sent to the Library of Congress for preservation so others have access to personal accounts of American war veterans. Deborah volunteered to coordinate the recruitment and training of the several court reporters from around the state who were needed to assist with the taking of these histories on Veterans Day, November 11, 2014. This took considerable time and effort over and above Deborah’s daily duties in serving as an Official Court Reporter for the Court. Deborah is also known for her commitment, dedication and excellent service to the organization.” She was hired as an Official Court Reporter for the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit in October 2009.

 


   

2013

 

“I am very pleased to be here today to have the honor to recognize staff members of the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit for their dedication and commitment to the organization and for the high quality of service that you offer to the community,” stated Chief Judge John Phillips. “Whether you are a finalist today or not, I want to thank all of you for your continuous hard work and all that you do for the betterment of the organization.”

 

The “Environmental Sustainability Award” is presented to an employee or organization for their dedication to green practices both in the workplace and in the community that promotes recycling, waste reduction and energy conservation. This year the Public Service Unit of Adult Probation received the award. Since 1993 the Unit has participated in the Division of Transportation Adopt-A-Highway program that provides work forces to clean designated stretches of highway in Lake County.

 

The “Kay S. Finn and Sarah G. Anderson Exceptional Employee Award” is given to a non-sworn administrative support employee who demonstrates noteworthy support of the Circuit’s mission. The recipient of this year’s award was given to Susan Anderson, Executive Secretary in Juvenile Probation. Susan provides excellent customer service and projects a pleasant demeanor with court participants, related agencies and fellow co-workers. She offers to help wherever needed and willingly participates in group projects. Susan joined the Nineteenth Circuit in May 2001.

 

The “Lawrence Bonds Officer of the Year Award” was presented to Anthony “Tony” Dicriscio, Principle Probation Officer at Adult Probation. This award is given to a sworn officer who supports and promotes the values and goals of the organization in terms of dedication, ethics, and delivery of service. Tony has been recognized by his co-workers for his innovative drive in program development and his determination to better serve the organization. Tony will observe his twentieth anniversary with the Nineteenth Circuit in October.   

 

Kathy Grzanich, Therapist in Psychological Services, Adult Probation, was named the recipient of the “Leadership and Excellence Award.” The award is presented to a staff member who excels in the areas of commitment to the organization’s values and ethics as well as leadership and innovation. Kathy has taken on the leadership role of the division’s training program where she is responsible for the internship/diagnostic practicum selection, orientation, and supervision process that requires interaction between area colleges and universities. She is known to volunteer on projects and accept additional responsibilities. She has been recognized by her co-workers as a team player and for her selfless contributions to the organization. Kathy joined Psychological Services in October 1997.

 

Each year an employee of the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit is selected by co-workers as the “Employee of the Year.” This award is looked upon as the highest honor bestowed on any employee. The successful contender is selected from the twelve employees who were recognized as an Employee of the Month. Nominations are made by fellow employees, with the winners selected by a committee of peers representing the divisions of the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit.

 

The employees of the month for year 2013 included: January-Norman R. Werth, Senior Staff Attorney; February-Amy Weltlich, Senior Clerk, Psychological Services; March-Matthew Bond, Unit Manager, Adult Probation; April-Timothy Craig, Juvenile Counselor; May-Nina Naus, Principal Probation Officer, Adult Probation; June-Mary Vogt, Judicial Assistant, Judicial Operations; July-Jose Fregoso, Juvenile Counselor; August-Phil Kslezak, Senior Probation Officer, Adult Probation; September-Brian Isom, Principal Probation Officer, Adult Probation; October-Danielle Rosen, Principal Probation Officer, Adult Probation; November-Angela Seballos, Principal Probation Officer, Compliance, Judicial Operations; and December-Juvenile Intake.

 

“On behalf of the judges and staff of the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit, I am very pleased to announce that the Employee of the Year for 2013 is Brian Isom,” said Judge Phillips. “Brian is currently a Principal Probation Officer in the Domestic Violence Unit of Adult Probation. He is known for his dedication and professionalism and is committed to provide excellent service to his clients. Brian’s outstanding performance is an invaluable asset to the organization.” Brian has been with the  Nineteenth Circuit since February 1999.

 

A new award was added for 2014 to be known as the “Extra Mile Award.” This award is presented to an employee who demonstrates excellent performance, outstanding leadership, attains highly successful accomplishments, and one who goes far beyond job expectations and achievements. “It is my honor to present the first “Extra Mile Award” to Steve Fabbri, an Assistant Director of Adult Probation,” stated Judge Phillips. Next year Steve will celebrate thirty years with the organization.

 

Also honored at today’s ceremony was Jan Mosley, an Official Court Reporter, who was recognized for her twenty-five years of meritorious service. 

 


   

2012 

 

The 2012 Employee of the Year is James Schelinski, Principal Probation Officer.   Jim is a generous person willing to step in whenever anyone is in need.  When an officer is absent, he volunteers to meet with their clients so that any important matters can be addressed.  He is also known to walk fellow staff to their cars after late night operations and helps others dig out their cars during extreme snowfalls. In addition to his generosity, Jim shows genuine determination to assist his clients to become productive citizens of the community.  He is a Cognitive Outreach Groups (COG) co-facilitator and provides ongoing reinforcement of COG principles with his clients during their office visits.

 

Jim’s 40th anniversary with the court organization is December, 2013.

 

Other employee awards included:

 

The 2012 Environmental Sustainability Award winner is Robert Kocanda, Office Automation Specialist.  This award is presented to the person (sworn or non-sworn staff) in the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit who is noted for his or her dedication to Green Practices both in the workplace and in the community.  Robert has initiated and implemented several “green” programs since joining the courts in 2007, including the ink recycling program utilized on all three campuses (Courts, Adult and Juvenile) and the  collection  and recycling of all of the court’s computers, old cell phones and related electronic equipment. 

 

The recycling program he created has saved the courts thousands of dollars in disposal fees, has helped reduce clutter and waste, and has provided a safe and sustainable end-to-end process for various court items. 


The 2012 Bonds Officer of the Year Award recipient is Robert Geidner, Principal Probation Officer in the Sex Offender Unit.  The award is named in honor of Lawrence (Larry) Bonds, Principal Adult Probation Officer who was employed with the Circuit from May 15, 1984 to his death on April 6, 1997. This award is presented to the sworn officer (Probation Officer or Juvenile Counselor) who best exemplifies the highest effort to the Circuit’s Mission. The nominee consistently exhibits a high degree of professional behavior and competence and is recognized for these qualities by colleagues, the Court, the community, and by clientele. This officer contributes in a meaningful way to the organization’s culture by measurably going beyond the boundaries of the job in program development, service delivery, and a positive approach to duties. Nominees for this award embody the values of the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit in terms of ethics, willingness to learn, loyalty, dedication, and passion. The officer is a role model.

 

Bob first joined the courts in 1988 in Juvenile Probation and later transferred to Adult Probation.  He has been a dedicated, positive, and hard working member of the Sex Offender Unit for the past twelve years.  Bob has embraced Evidenced Based Practices as the best technique for supervising his cases. He regularly facilitates Cognitive Restructuring groups (COG) for sex offenders and researches new computer technology for monitoring sex offender activities on the internet.  Bob has co-chaired the Sexual Assault Council Treatment Committee for the States Attorney’s Office, assisted in the Judicial Court Order revision project, and was instrumental in the redevelopment of the Sex Offender Manual. Bob serves as a reliable resource to other staff.


The Kay S. Finn and Sarah G. Anderson Exceptional Employee Award is named in honor of both Kay S. Finn, Principal Adult Clerk, who worked with the Circuit from July 29, 1985 to her death on April 16, 1999 and Sarah G. Anderson, Executive Adult Secretary, who was employed with the Circuit from April 18, 1991 to her death on February 20, 2001.  This award is presented to the non-sworn employee who best exemplifies the highest effort in support of the Circuit’s mission. This employee provides excellent customer service and is distinguished by multi-faceted talent and focused efforts that result in outstanding achievement.

 

The 2012 recipient is Candace Timokhin, Senior Secretary in Adult Probation.  Candace provides the organization with a wealth of services through her daily duties and her commitment to excellence.  She is always willing to volunteer for added responsibilities, offer assistance, and to act as a back-up.  Candace creates a very positive image of the organization through her exceptionally pleasant demeanor when addressing clients and members of the public. She takes pride in every phone call, every letter, and every piece of her work.  Candace’s wonderful attitude and unquestioned commitment to the organization has remained unwavering since she joined the courts in 2007.

 

The 2012 Leadership and Excellence Award recipient is Robert Verborg, Senior Research Analyst, Court Administration. Bob is a very dedicated professional to the field of research, performance management, statistics and studying the outcomes of each of the court organization’s divisions. Bob joined the courts in 2004. Among his many accomplishments, Bob was selected in 2011 and 2012 to present his research findings at Rutgers University’s Public Performance Measurement & Reporting Conference.  He has published four articles over the last several years with two additional articles pending, and he was instrumental in developing the court organization’s policy for release of court records waiver for researchers performing work on court resources.  Bob has brought much energy and insight to the court’s research, performance management and evidence-based practices.

 


 

2010

 

“I believe the highest honor bestowed on an employee of the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit is being named the “Employee of the Year,” said Chief Judge Victoria Rossetti. “And, I am happy to name Beverly Brooks as the Circuit’s “Employee of the Year for 2010.” The selectee is chosen by a committee of peers and is one of twelve employees who had been previously recognized as an employee of the month during the year. Nominations are based on quality of service to the public and the court system, competency, and efficiency of overall performance.

 

Beverly Brooks is a principal probation officer in the Adult Probation’s Group Reporting Unit.  She supervises Spanish speaking clients and frequently helps them with special needs. She goes the extra mile to help her clients and strives to keep them on the right pathway to succeed. Ms. Brooks joined the court system in 1994 and, after a brief interval, she returned in 1998. Beverly has a B.A. degree from the University of Wisconsin at Parkside.

 

Beverly Brooks was nominated and selected as the January employee of the month for 2010. The other employees chosen as 2010 employees of the month included: February-Frank Morelli, Adult Probation; March-Robert Kocanda, Judicial Information Servicers; April-Molly Bonner, Adult Probation; May-Patrick Maher, Juvenile Detention and Probation Services; June-Karin McLafferty, Juvenile Detention and Probation Services; July-Daniel Filson, Juvenile Detention and Probation Services; August-Danielle Christopherson, Juvenile Detention and Probation Services; September-Juanita Hillsman, Juvenile Detention and Probation Services; October-Susan Nutgrass, Juvenile Detention and Probation Services; November-Laura Chavez, Adult Probation; and December-Jesus Rodriguez, Juvenile Detention and Probation Services.


Other employee awards included:

 

A new award this year is called the “Environmental Sustainability Award.” It is presented to an employee noted for their dedication to green practices both in the workplace and in the community and someone who promotes and practices recycling, waste reduction and energy conservation.

 

“I am pleased to announce that our first winner of the “Environmental Sustainability Award is Sharon Lawrence,” said Judge Rossetti. A senior probation officer in Adult Probation, Sharon is actively involved in promoting recycling efforts and monitors environmental news tips to encourage and motivate others to consider green practices in their daily lives. She has also served as liaison for the United Way employee giving campaign for several years. Sharon earned her B.A. in Social Work from Andrews University and her M.S.W. from the University of Illinois. She has been a staff member of Adult Probation since May 1980.

 

The Lawrence Bonds Officer of the Year Award. 

 

This award is named in honor of Lawrence (Larry) Bonds, a principal adult probation officer who was employed with the 19th Circuit from May 15, 1984 until his death on April 6, 1997. The award is presented to a sworn probation officer or juvenile counselor who best exemplifies a high degree of professionalism and competence and is recognized for these qualities by colleagues, the Court, the community and clientele. Additionally, the person contributes to the organization’s culture; goes beyond the boundaries of the job in program development; service delivery; has a positive approach to duties; participates in professional and community organizations; and is a role model for others. 

 

“Danielle Rosen, senior probation officer in the Adult Probation Domestic Violence Unit, is this year’s recipient of the Lawrence Bonds Officer of the Year Award,” stated Judge Rossetti.  Danielle’s accomplishments include facilitating “Moving On” groups for female offenders and “Thinking for a Change,” cognitive groups for male offenders. She is an avid supporter of cognitive groups to reduce recidivism and continues to facilitate high risk male groups. In 2010, Danielle trained and received certification in the Ontario Domestic Assault Risk Assessment (ODARA) that allows her to administer risk assessments on high risk offenders in violation of the Bischoff law. She and Keith Cooprider, another probation officer who also earned the certification, have completed twenty ODARA assessments.

 

In May 1997, Danielle graduated from the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. She earned a Master’s degree in Forensic Psychology from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology in December 2005. She began her career as an adult probation officer in the Domestic Violence Unit in March 2006 and was promoted to senior probation officer via the career path program in November 2009.

 

The Kay S. Finn and Sarah G. Anderson Exceptional Employee Award.

 

The award is named in honor of Kay S. Finn, principal adult clerk, who was employed with the Circuit from July 29, 1985 until her passing on April 16, 1999 and for Sarah G. Anderson, executive adult secretary, who worked for the Circuit from April 18, 1991 until her death on February 20, 2001. The Finn/Anderson Award is presented to a non-sworn administrative support employee who best exemplifies commitment to the organization, excellent customer service, demonstrates high achievement, and promotes a positive impact in the work environment. This individual’s multiple talents and focused efforts result in outstanding service to others.

 

This year’s Finn/Anderson Exceptional Employee Award was presented by Judge Rossetti to Kevin Dowe. Kevin is considered a highly valued member of Adult Probation, and he has worked there as a clerk since April 1998. His primary responsibilities include conducting urinalyses and DNA testing for probation officers’ clientele. In addition to other duties that include front desk assistance, mail runs, copying and organizing materials for distribution, Kevin willingly offers his assistance wherever he can help. He is well respected by his colleagues and clients he works with on a daily basis.

 

The Leadership and Excellence Award. 

 

The recipient of this award is an employee who best illustrates the mission of the Court to the citizens of Lake County, the judiciary, and fellow employees by setting the highest standards in leadership and excellence. His professional involvement demonstrates dedication and commitment to the organization’s values and ethics, and he is recognized for his outstanding contributions and professionalism. “It is my pleasure to present the Leadership and Excellence Award for 2010 to Keith Cooprider,” said Judge Rossetti.

 

Keith Cooprider is a principal probation officer and unit coordinator in Adult Probation’s Pretrial Unit. He joined the 19th Circuit in October 1983, was promoted to senior probation officer in 1985 and became a principal probation officer in 1989. Keith received his undergraduate degree from Northern Illinois University and an M.A. degree from Loyola University in 1984.

 

Keith is extremely knowledgeable in pretrial services and shares this knowledge with other probation officers to help resolve the problems and challenges they are faced with on a daily basis.  In 2010, Keith voluntarily participated in training with probation officer Danielle Rosen in the Ontario Domestic Assault Risk Assessment (ODARA). Their certification allows them to conduct risk assessments on offenders charged with felony violations of orders of protection in connection with the newly enacted Bischoff Law. To date they have completed twenty ODARA assessments, thereby increasing information made available to judges when setting bond in these cases. 

 

Keith is involved with relevant professional organizations such as the Pretrial Committee of the Illinois Probation and Court Services Association (IPCSA); the National Association of Pretrial Services Agencies; and the Pretrial Justice Institute focus group on national pretrial issues.  In June 2009, Keith’s written work entitled “Pretrial Risk Assessment and Case Classification—a Case Study” was published in an edition of Federal Probation. He was named the Circuit’s “Employee of the Year” in 2009.

 

At the end of the program, Judge Rossetti thanked all the employees for their outstanding service and commitment to excellence in serving the public.

 
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Employee Recognition