2017 Minnesota Association for Court Management (MACM) Awards

The Minnesota Association for Court Management announced the recipients of its 2017 awards at its annual meeting in October, 2017.

Sara Gonsalves, Lu Ann Blegen, Karen Messner and Nancy Winger

Lifetime Achievement Award - LuAnn Blegen

Court Administrator for Pine County in the 10th Judicial District

Annette Fritz, LuAnn Blegen, Monica Tschumper

The Lifetime Achievement award honors a MACM member who is recognized for their many contributions to the court management profession and for their years of service to the Court. They have earned a high professional regard and the respect of other members in the profession. They demonstrate diplomacy, advocacy, and a consistent professionalism when faced with challenges. They demonstrate outstanding leadership and give selflessly of their time and talent.

The recipient of the 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award is: Lu Ann Blegen the Court Administrator for Pine County in the 10th Judicial District. Lu Ann has been with the Minnesota Judicial Branch since 1980, that’s 37 years folks!

In the words of the person who nominated her: “Lu Ann has a work ethic, contribution and commitment to the Courts that is almost hard to believe”. Her understanding of public service is only outweighed by her understanding of the neutral role required in Court Administration. She is a progressive thinker. She is energized, engaged and always willing to take on a challenge. She was asked to take on the role of Court Administrator in Pine County at a time when the building was old and needing replacement, the Court Administration office, and records were in crisis. She rose to the challenge despite the multitude of potential landmines and liabilities. It was hard work and the end result is that few people could have done the exemplary job that she did with that transition.

Her knowledge and expertise are well known and a she is a valuable statewide resource. She is routinely suggested for different cross functional committees due to her broad range of knowledge and for her poise, and professionalism.

Lu Ann was nominated by Sharon Schubert, Kanabec County Court Administrator. Congratulations to Lu Ann as the 2017 recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award!!

Distinguished Service Award - Karen Messner

Court Administrator for McLeod and Sibley Counties

Vanessa Jeske and Karen Messner

The Distinguished Service award honors a MACM member who has distinguished themselves through a record of service to the profession, outstanding service to the community and courts and demonstrates leadership by improving the administration of justice and delivery of public service through the application of modern management techniques.

The recipient of the 2017 Distinguished Service Award is: Karen Messner the Court Administrator for McLeod and Sibley Counties. In the words of those who nominated her: “Karen is a very influential leader and court administrator”. Karen has worked in the Minnesota Judicial Branch for over 25 years, serving as a court administrator for the last 19 years. She has been elected by her peers to serve as the court administrator representative on the Minnesota Judicial Council, twice. She is presently in her second term on the Council and actively strives to be the voice of court administrators and staff across the courts. She works hard and takes this responsibility very seriously.

Over the years, Karen has been on many state, district, and county committees and workgroups. To name a few, she is a member of the National Association for Management, is a Certified Court Executive and teaches a Court Management Program course. Additionally, she has been involved at the district level with many important committees, including serving on the First District Executive Committee.

One of Karen’s biggest strengths is her proactive approach to advancing the justice system. She has consistently been a leader among her peers in this area. She frequently offers to be a pilot on technology projects and represents the interests of small and medium counties whenever possible. She has served as a role model, mentor, and friend to many in court administration over the years. She genuinely cares about the branch and the public we serve. She supports a positive work and learning environment, often times encouraging staff to attend training to assist with their advancement within the branch.

Beyond the courts, Karen is extremely active in her community and serves in leadership roles in the Rotary, Boy Scouts, local schools, coaching youth sports, and being involved with her church.

Karen has earned a high professional regard and respect from judges, district and court administrators, court staff, justice partners, and others associated with our court system. Karen has distinguished herself in this profession and has proven to be a dedicated leader.

Karen was nominated by Brian Jones and Carol Renn on behalf of the First District Judges and Staff, as well as the public who have been positively impacted by Karen’s leadership and distinguished service.

Congratulations Karen Messner as the 2017 recipient of the Distinguished Service Award!!

Champion of Change - Sara Gonsalves

Self Represented Litigant Program Manager for State Court Administration, Court Services Division

Aaron Williamson and Sara Gonsalves

A champion of change is a person who fosters collaboration to promote innovation by embracing opportunities to utilize technology and other resources to increase efficiencies and productivity in the work place.

The recipient of the 2017 champion of change award is Sara Gonsalves, the Self Represented Litigant Program Manager for State Court Administration, Court Services Division.

Sara has been contributing to improvements to self-represented litigant services in many ways. She works on large scale changes to our systems, tests new technology and has increased services.

Sara leverages all available technology that can benefit customers while ensuring ease of use for them and staff. There are also countless ways in which she has fulfilled the need to better serve court customers and in the process has increased all court employees’ awareness of the need for more services, better communication, and simpler processes.

She has worked with the Fourth District Family Court Bench to establish a valuable model for reviewing self-represented litigant filings. She keeps the needs of staff and customers a priority in every decision yet has a progressive view that challenges the status quo. She is patient yet persistent and a professional representative of the Minnesota Judicial Branch.

Sara has played a key role in implementing electronic tools for selfrepresented litigants across the state. Sara has been effective in recognizing and addressing the concerns of both internal staff and external users and she understands the need for her staff to be present in the local courts where new tools are piloted. Sara leads her team well and ensure that each pilot implementation proceeds as smoothly as possible.

Over the last year, Sara she has increased the awareness of the assistance that the statewide self-help center staff provides to self-represented litigants and she has offered her own and her staff’s expertise on self-represented litigant matters to court administrators statewide.

Sara was nominated by: Sarah Lindahl-Pfieffer and Karen Mareck from 4th District and SCAO.

Congratulations Sara Gonsalves as the 2017 recipient of the Champion of Change award!!

Coach/Mentor of the Year - Nancy Winger

Deputy District Administrator in the Ninth Judicial District

Jamie Majerus and Nancy Winger

A coach or mentor is a person who fosters trust while encouraging others to achieve their goals without thought of reciprocation. They share their skills and knowledge with others and provide excellent coaching in the ongoing development and enrichment of others.

The recipient of the 2017 Coach/ Mentor of the Year is Nancy Winger the Deputy District Administrator in the Ninth Judicial District.

In the words of those who nominated her: Nancy embodies the ideals of a coach and mentor. She is someone who truly cares about people and will do whatever she can to help them succeed. According to Strengths Finder, Nancy is a WOO and she has leveraged this to develop strong relationships with those she supervises, works with, and even comes into contact with for brief periods of time.

She spends much of her day connecting with people. She takes the time to talk to everyone, giving them feedback, and helping them to develop. The most impressive testament to Nancy’s mentorship is that people she regularly connects with are often heard to say that they admire her and that she is an inspiration to them.

Nancy is extremely approachable and is a great listener. As a mentor, she builds people up, and sets a good example by sharing her optimism. Nancy is truly invested in people and wants to share her knowledge and support. Individuals at all levels of the organization, including judges, seek her counsel and know that she is genuinely interested in them and their concerns. Nancy tends to put people at ease and they feel comfortable going to her knowing that they have a trusted resource.

Nancy is very humble and goes about her work as a coach and mentor quietly and tries to deflect attention away from herself. She has distinguished herself throughout her career as a court leader who cares about people, takes the time to listen and advise, and has pride from afar when she sees them succeed.

Nancy also spends a considerable amount of time mentoring community members who are struggling with health issues. It is well known that she has given people good information and a sense of peace as they face what’s perhaps the most difficult time of their lives. For this alone, she is greatly respected.

Nancy Winger is a well-deserved recipient of the MACM Coach/Mentor of the Year Award. She was nominated by the Ninth Judicial District managers.

Congratulations Nancy Winger as the 2017 recipient of the Coach/Mentor of the year award!!

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