2016 Minnesota Association for Court Management (MACM) Awards

The Minnesota Association for Court Management announced the recipients of its 2016 awards at its annual meeting in September, 2016.

"Court and government employees often do not receive recognition for their service and achievements. These individuals have gone above and beyond to improve operations and/or coach someone for the benefit of the Minnesota Judicial Branch and the public we serve. Through their dedication to public service and commitment to the court system, we all benefit," said MACM Past President, Vicky Carlson.

Annette Fritz (MACM Past-President), Nicole Korby, Lisa Lane, Marcy Podkopacz, Mary Dalbec, Aaron Williamson (MACM President)

EARLY CAREER EXCELLENCE AWARD:

Mary Dalbec, Court Operations Manager, Criminal – Division V, Fourth Judicial District/Hennepin County Court Administration

The recipient of the 2016 Early Career Excellence Award has been with the Judicial Branch since 2008; all of her years have been with the Fourth Judicial District. She started her career as a senior court clerk and has repeatedly promoted through the ranks including leadworker in 2013, supervisor in 2014 and manager in 2015. She currently is the Court Operations Manager in the Criminal Division over the Violations Bureau, eFiling Unit, Criminal Centralized Unit and Hearing Office in Hennepin County.

In the words of those who nominated her: Mary Dalbec is an “all-in” team player who knows how to get the job done. As you can see from Mary’s rapid career acceleration since 2013, she is invested in her personal growth as a leader and is a huge asset for the Fourth District.

Mary was promoted to Court Operation Manager in January of 2015 and in her first year as a manager led her team through two major initiatives. She inherited the 2/4 project (ViBES to MNCIS) and in January of 2016 led her team through the transition to MNCIS. On top of that, Hennepin County was a pilot county for eFiling and on July 1, 2015 it became mandatory to eFile in Hennepin County. Mary and the unit she is responsible for were heavily involved in the transition from paper to pixels.

Mary took all this change in stride, asked a lot of questions, gave important feedback, but most importantly led her team with confidence.

Through all the craziness that 2015 brought Mary’s area, she always kept a positive attitude. This is one of her strongest assets as a leader. She comes to work with a smile, is very approachable, she doesn’t get down when things get difficult. She invests in herself and in her team. The Fourth District is proud of Mary and is fortunate to have her working on their team!

COACH/MENTOR OF THE YEAR:

Nicole Korby, Court Operations Supervisor, Carlton County

The recipient of the 2016 coach/mentor of the year award has been with the Judicial Branch since 2006. She started as a senior court clerk in Carlton and St. Louis County-Duluth and in 2012 was promoted to Court Operations Supervisor of the civil, family and criminal divisions in St. Louis County-Duluth and is currently a Court Operations Supervisor in Carlton County.

In the words of the person who nominated her: Nicole Korby has mentored countless Minnesota Judicial Branch employees. She has been a resource for mentees as they have made the transition from staff to supervisor. She coaches and mentors staff by making it a point to meet with new staff on a regular basis to check in with them and to identify any training needs. Nicole is approachable to her staff and on many occasions has coached her staff through difficult personal issues.

She has also been great at identifying employees with leadership potential and she has recommended them for programs such as Development in Action. Two of Nicole’s direct reports have been promoted to Court Operations Supervisor in the last year alone.

Nicole also served as a mentor in the 2016 Merging Minds Program. Her mentee was promoted while in the Merging Minds program and Nicole was a great resource for her mentee during this transition.

In sum, Nicole has an indescribable way of lifting up her staff. She is approachable, encouraging, and trustworthy. She encompasses all that it means to be a mentor. She focuses her energy on coaching staff for success, giving equal attention to employees who are excelling and those who are struggling. Her knowledge and experience make her a trusted confidant. The impact she has had on others is just one of the many reasons why she was selected as the recipient of this award.

CHAMPION OF CHANGE AWARD:

Lisa Lane, Court Operations Manager, Civil Court - Fourth Judicial District/Hennepin County Court Administration

The recipient of the 2016 champion of change award has been with the Judicial Branch since 1997; all of those years have been in the Fourth Judicial District. She is currently a Court Operations Manager of the Civil Division but since 1997 has held various positions such as: judicial clerk, acting court specialist and court operations supervisor. Even more impressive is that she has worked in multiple lines of business from juvenile to criminal/traffic to civil.

In the words of those who nominated her: Lisa Lane has always demonstrated a clear vision through her commitment to preserving the integrity of the court through accurate case records and an eye for ensuring processes best reflect responsible use of resources while creating better outcomes for customers and stakeholders.

She is patient yet persistent. Instead of asking “why should we do it this way?” Lisa asks “Why can’t we?” and “What if?” Just a simple rephrasing of questions has made a lot of impact when soliciting feedback and recommendations. With this approach, she has demonstrated herself to be open-minded, supportive, genuinely interested in what others think and that she has the courage to question the status quo when it means making things better.

Lisa has implemented many initiatives across all four lines of business in the Civil Division in only 18 short months. One change of great significance is her work on the Housing Court Expungement Process which led to a nomination for a Fourth District Award due to the significant budget and time savings it created. Customers and staff have saved significant amounts of time by only having one, instead of three as formerly required, interactions to complete and schedule a motion for expungement. In 2014, there were 406 expungements heard. In 2015 due to legislative changes, there were 673 hearings, or a 60% increase. The initiative implemented by Lisa has allowed staff to maintain reasonable processing times without additional resources. It also directly relates to the strategic plan of the MN Judicial Branch to improve customer service by providing equal treatment and improved customer access to services. Lisa asks tough questions. She is very resourceful and is well versed in statutes, rules, case law and state and local policy. She knows where to find the answers and encourages others to do the same. Because of her approach, she helps the person seeking support become more independent, more self-sufficient and self-reliant or builds relationships and creates collaborative opportunities as the situation warrants. One of the valuable by-products of her approach has been to increase the self-esteem of those she works with, and help them develop into resources for others.

She demonstrates a winning and positive attitude. She has exceptional technology skills and is willing to share them. While she may see things from a different perspective, she doesn’t mandate changes. She asks for feedback and sincerely listens to her staff. Lisa is a Champion of Change because she has fostered an environment where the process towards good change is safe, collaborative and exciting.

DISTINGUISHED SERVICE AWARD:

Marcy Podkopacz, Director of Research and Business Practices Divisions, Fourth Judicial District/Hennepin County Court Administration

In the words of those who nominated her: Marcy is a valued and highly trusted contributor to the Fourth Judicial District and the Minnesota Judicial Branch. As the Director of Research in the Fourth Judicial District, Marcy’s extensive work with the court’s data has been instrumental in the development and implementation of Court Access and fairness studies, by surveying the attitudes of court users and using that information to improve services to the public. She has also been involved with studies gauging the satisfaction of jurors, helping to improve the experience of those doing their civic duties. Marcy serves on committees and panels composed of various justice partners and agencies looking to create solutions to criminal justice problems, such as those seeking alternatives to traditional models for detention for juveniles and adults.

The Fourth District judges actively solicit the input of the Research and Business Practices Units before new initiatives are put into place, which is a testament to the faith that the bench has in Marcy and the department she created and has oversight.

Marcy feels strongly about transparency, whereby all studies written by her and/or the Research Department are publicly available online for viewing. Her institutional knowledge and wealth of experience ensures that she can bring important context to numbers and statistics, helping judges and administrators gain better understanding. She has worked with different lines of business to develop ways to effectively measure, monitor, and enhance employee performance.

Marcy has been very instrumental in promoting the move toward eCourt in the judicial branch and is always a champion for the new and better way of doing things. She was on the forefront of bringing research and evidence-based practices to district courts and she has helped other district courts set up research departments and select proper candidates.

She is self-motivated and dedicated. Her recommendations and decisions always have the best interests of the Courts and justice system in mind. Her work product is stellar and she is highly productive. When work demands are excessive, she rises to the occasion and is able to focus and produce what is required. Marcy is very knowledgeable and takes responsibility for raising issues and pointing out the impact of changes and decisions. Finally, Marcy has worked tirelessly and within unreasonable timeframes to provide data, analysis and recommendations regarding our justice system. She has consistently demonstrated a strong commitment to the Fourth Judicial District Court and the MN Judicial Branch.

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