2012 - February Minnesota Association for Court Management (MACM) Awards

Congratulations to Marsha Unthank of the Fourth Judicial District who was selected as the recipient of the 2012 MACM award for Distinguished Service

For more than a decade, Marsha Unthank has had a vision for the future of the judicial branch and the firm belief that employees are our most valuable resource. Marsha is very highly respected by the leaders in the Minnesota Judicial Branch, judicial officers, administrative staff, the court's stakeholders, customers and members of the community. She is known by all for her intelligence and insightfulness, both in an operational context and in a context of understanding the important role education, employee development and change management plays in effectively leading an organization. She is able to impassion people to use their talents to accomplish together what we could never accomplish alone. Marsha is adept at resolving problems quickly while maintaining her strong working relationships with others. She is respected by all for her skill in building and maintaining a court that serves the taxpayers and the community through improved use of technology and staffing models that realize efficiencies.

Marsha Unthank is one the most innovative leaders in the Minnesota Judicial Branch in the area of recommending and implementing ground-breaking ideas to improve court operations and realize cost-savings. She is proactive in recognizing what the technological changes to the court will mean for our employees and has worked diligently to put the resources in place to provide the necessary training for this new skill set. Marsha was instrumental in improving the Fourth Judicial District Court's performance management practices to ensure higher standards are reached on a continuous basis. Marsha also played an integral part in establishing the court's Emerging Leader's Network Program and in making the Fourth Judicial District Court a pilot site for the Results Only Work Environment (ROWE) initiative.

Marsha has a vision for staffing that strives to meet the needs of our Fourth Judicial District Court judicial officers and has worked collaboratively with the Fourth Judicial District Court Labor Management Committees of both the AFSME and Teamsters Union. She recently negotiated a memorandum of understanding with the Court Reporter Union. The manner in which Marsha handled this difficult and delicate initiative was every bit as important as the idea itself. She demonstrated respect and regard for the employees, who returned the favor by demonstrating their mutual respect and regard for her. Marsha recognizes that the court needs to work collaboratively with our justice partners and the community. She inspires a vision of sharing a common direction and a sense of community by tapping into the strengths of one another to move forward.

Marsha has always been one to remind both the Bench and her colleagues across the state of the personal nature and impact of our business decisions on our court employees. She consistently fights to put a human face on the decisions our court makes to ensure we consider employee morale and employee concerns at every stage of the process, and seeks to implement change in the least disruptive manner possible. Marsha has been and continues to be the conscience of the 4th Judicial District. Congratulations Marsha!

Congratulations to Carol Melick of the Fifth Judicial District who was selected as the recipient of the 2012 MACM award for Coach/Mentor of the Year

Susan Love presented to 2012 Coach/Mentor of the Year award to Carol Melick

Wikipedia defines the word mentor as a term meaning someone who imparts wisdom to and shares knowledge with a less experienced colleague. This description fits Carol Melick to a tee! Carol is like a walking encyclopedia when it comes to court administration. Having been with the courts since 1979, she has seen a tremendous amount of change and gained a vast amount of experience. After serving as the chief deputy for several years, she was appointed Court Administrator for Brown County in September 2000. In April of 2008, she added Nicollet County and in 2010 she added Watonwan County.

Having such broad geographic responsibilities, it would be logical for Carol to lose touch with the casework of her counties and focus only on management issues. However, Carol continues to stay abreast of all case type changes. She continually enriches her staff through training, guidance and support to ensure they are completing their work effectively, efficiently and according to the proper statute or rule. Despite her vast responsibilities as court administrator of three counties, she NEVER hesitates to drop what she is doing when staff brings her a question. She is known as a real "Sherlock Holmes" and will investigate an issue until she finds the solution.

While she serves as a mentor/coach to all her staff, she in particular can be credited with the skills and knowledge of her three court operations supervisors. Carol has developed all three to become almost as diverse and knowledgeable as she is. Because of her multiple county assignment as well as her responsibilities on state, district and local committees, there are many times when she is in a location one or fewer days a week. As a result, she recognized the need for dependable, strong, and competent court operations supervisors and has developed them to assist, manage and supervise in her absence. One of her court operations supervisors had the following comments:

It is hard to even put into words how much Carol deserves this award. I have worked with her for 24 years. When I started this position, Carol trained me and encouraged me; she gave me the confidence to do what seemed like an overwhelming job at the time and was my role model in developing my own skills to be the person I am today. While she may not be physically present in our county every day, her presence is definitely felt here in the on-going work ethic she has instilled in all of us.

In addition, Carol is always eager and willing to share the wisdom and knowledge she has acquired over the years with less experienced supervisors and administrators. She is always one of the first to respond to email questions on processes and procedures. She also mentors new Court Administrators; even working on Saturdays (without pay) to provide one-on-one training.

Despite being with the courts for years, Carol is not tied to doing things "just because we've always done them that way." She serves as a great example to others by always being open to try something new and different in hopes it will lead to more efficiencies. There are many responsibilities of a court administrator and most people do not understand what the job entails so cannot fathom the requirements to manage not just one but three counties. It takes a person that is conscientious, organized, understanding, patient, firm but fair, very accurate and takes pride in what they are doing and one who is willing to share their knowledge with others. We can truly say, without hesitation, Carol is respected by all she has contact with – judges, employees, attorneys and the public. She is among the best and brightest in the judicial branch. Congratulations Carol!

Congratulations to Linda Sandberg of the Fifth Judicial District who was selected as the recipient of the 2012 MACM award for Community and Association

Annette Fritz presents the 2012 MACM Community and Association Award to Linda Sandberg

This nominee constantly gives back to her community. She walks in the Relay for Life, chaperones many youth activities, holds bake sales at her church, runs the concession stand for the booster club, and attends high school sporting events even though all of her children have now graduated. Whenever a volunteer is needed, Linda is the first to raise her hand.

She brings this same selfless attitude not only to her work but to the MACM organization. She takes on the tough tasks that require her to pour additional time and energy into her work. Examples include volunteering to work with EDGE participants so they better understand & get the most from 360 Degree Review results; she helps conduct the Fundamentals of Human Resources segment of the EDGE program; She serves on the state Safety Committee and is currently the Secretary of MACM. Previously Linda held the position of Treasurer for MACM.

Linda is admired for her giving nature towards others even when tragedy or difficult times strike her personal life. A few years ago she didn't hesitate to donate a kidney to her brother so that his quality of life would be better even though there was a risk hers would decline. Sadly, she lost her sister this past summer after a very long and courageous battle against cancer. But, instead of succumbing to the sadness of the situation, Linda did what she always does…..she organized a benefit dinner, helped plan her nephew's wedding, helped her sister put together a memory book and video so the grandchildren she would never get to meet could know her just a little bit.

As Winston Churchill said "We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give." Linda already has a long list of accomplishments and volunteer activities that count towards a very fulfilling life. She could rest on that but she won't. She just keeps going and going. Congratulations Linda!