2021 Minnesota Association for Court Management (MACM) Awards

The Minnesota Association for Court Management announced the recipients of its 2021 awards at its annual meeting in October, 2021.

Cheri Woehler, Hilary Huntley, Cheryl Wallat (accepted on her behalf by her daughter, Jade), Sonja Kruger, Heather Kendall, and Karen Mareck

Coach/Mentor of the Year – Cheri Woehler

Multi-County Court Administrator for Mille Lacs and Benton County District Courts, Seventh Judicial District

Cheri Woehler, Multi-County Court Administrator for Mille Lacs and Benton County District Courts in the Seventh Judicial District, was awarded the Coach/Mentor of the Year award. The award recognizes an individual who fosters trust while encouraging others to achieve their goals without thought of reciprocation. The recipient of the award shares their skills and knowledge with others and provides excellent coaching in the ongoing development and enrichment of others.

Woehler is an advocate for judges and employees, empowering her employees and taking an interest in each of their goals and aspirations. She provides a wealth of knowledge, sharing resources, training, and her personal experiences to help others grow and learn. Woehler is the representative of the Seventh and Eight Judicial Districts on the Legislative and Outreach committee for MACM. She has worked for the Judicial Branch for 31 years.

Early Career Excellence Award – Hilary Huntley

Deputy District Administrator, Sixth Judicial District

Hilary Huntley, Deputy District Administrator in the Sixth Judicial District, received the Early Career Excellence Award. The award recognizes a person who demonstrates achievement in the courts through obtaining a high level of knowledge in a short amount of time, is a quick learner, and a valuable resource to others. The recipient is dependable and consistent while working to achieve success in their local court, district, or for the Judicial Branch and demonstrates outstanding leadership by considering stakeholders when making decisions.

Huntley has had extensive involvement with countless projects over the last year and played a critical role in the Sixth Judicial District’s ability to resume operations during the pandemic. She led her district through challenges and changes by leading by example, being patient, and ensuring others had the resources and training needed to be successful. Huntley is a member of the Court Operations Advisory Workgroup, Exhibit Program, Remote Hearing Improvement Workgroup, Remote Interpreter Workgroup, State Fair Workgroup, Equal Justice Committee, and Change Agent Network. She has worked for the Judicial Branch since 2013.

Pandemic Hero Award – Cheryl Wallat

Fourth Judicial District Facilities Manager

Cheryl Wallat, Fourth Judicial District Facilities Manager, was awarded the Pandemic Hero Award. The award recognizes a person who has excelled and shown vigilant dedication to the court during the pandemic. The recipient has demonstrated exceptional service by leading through operational transitions and being supportive and patient with the teams they lead, while recognizing the importance of the health and safety of everyone.

Wallat led the Fourth Judicial District through COVID-19 safety protocols and preparedness plans. She worked extensively on courtroom set-up, signage, social distancing markings, preparing public court areas, and many personal protective equipment distributions. She was proactive, diligent, and creative in finding sources to fulfill disinfectants, dividers, and cleaning supplies for the district’s 90 courtrooms and six buildings. Wallet’s hard work allowed judicial officers, staff, customers, and partners to safely navigate court spaces during the pandemic and helped ensure access to justice in a manner that prioritized health and safety.

Champion of Change – Sonja Kruger

Deputy District Administrator, Fifth Judicial District

Sonja Kruger, Deputy District Administrator in the Fifth Judicial District, was honored as the Champion of Change. The recipient of this award fosters collaboration to promote innovation by embracing opportunities to utilize technology and other resources to increase efficiencies and productivity in the workplace.

Kruger continually pushes her colleagues in the Fifth Judicial District and across the Judicial Branch to look at different ways of doing business to ensure access to justice and the effective administration of justice. Her enthusiasm and positive attitude led to several reengineering efforts across all areas of court operations, which include the creation of specialized teams, several district-wide teams, new ways to manage case processing across the district, and permanent remote work opportunities. Kruger has worked for the Judicial Branch for 28 years.

Distinguished Service Award – Heather Kendall

District Administrator, Second Judicial District

Heather Kendall, District Administrator in the Second Judicial District, received the Distinguished Service Award. The award recognizes individuals who have a record of outstanding service to the community and the courts and demonstrates leadership by improving the administration of justice and delivery of public service through the application of modern management techniques.

Kendall has effectively led through a time of challenge and uncertainty, providing consistent and detailed information and assistance to the Second Judicial District and across the state. She is one of two members of the Judicial Branch Other Side Workgroup. Kendall has worked closely with District Administrators to develop recommendations and plans that impact judges, employees, justice partners, and the public. She consistently leads with a focus on the future, allowing the courts to be ahead of the curve and mindful of current and pending challenges. Kendall has worked for the Judicial Branch for 21 years.

Lifetime Achievement Award – Karen Mareck

Deputy Director of the Court Services Division in the State Court Administrator’s Office

Karen Mareck, Deputy Director of the Court Services Division in the State Court Administrator’s Office, received the 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award. The award honors a recipient’s many contributions to the court management profession and their years of service to the Judicial Branch.

Mareck was recognized for her dedication to the Judicial Branch and the citizens of Minnesota. Her deep knowledge, understanding, and commitment to the Judicial Branch’s mission of ensuring fair and equal access to justice has benefitted all who work with her and those who utilize the services and support she has helped create. Mareck has led efforts to create workable and innovative solutions that have transitioned court operations in a meaningful and impactful way. She has led and co-led several integral efforts and projects, including the eCourtMN initiative, formalization of the Self-Represented Litigant Program, Court Administration Processes (CAPS) and the CAPs unit, and the Pandemic Response Team. Mareck has worked for the Judicial Branch for 34 years.