Department of Correctional Services photo

LINCOLN - The Nebraska Department of Correctional Services recognized 38 leaders within the agency Wednesday including community service and team members of the year.

Corporal Brian Vilcinskas, a corporal at Tecumseh State Correctional Institution, was among team members of the year and Emily Bobzien, unit manager at Tecumseh, is manager of the year.

Sergeant Denise Pietzyk was recognized with the community service award for building connections with the community of Tecumseh.


Here is the department's press release:

May 29, 2024 (Lincoln, Neb.) – Team members at the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services (NDCS) carry out the mission to keep people safe each and every day. Today, recognition was given to the best of the best for their achievements in 2023 to provide leadership, customer and community service, mentorship, and more at the department’s annual awards ceremony. The event was held at the Lancaster Extension Education Center and honored 38 teammates.

“Today is all about recognizing our people,” said NDCS Director Rob Jeffreys. “Everything we are able to accomplish as an agency starts with the dedicated men and women who bring their skills and commitment to this important work.”

The people who make up NDCS serve the citizens of Nebraska 24 hours a day, seven days a week. NDCS has recognized outstanding leaders within the agency since 1992. Criteria for each award varies and nominations are solicited from across NDCS.

Awards were presented by Director Jeffreys and Assistant Director Diane Sabatka-Rine. Recipients represented each of the agency’s nine facilities and Central Office. Award categories included: Team Members of the Year, Supervisors/Managers of the Year, Leadership, Community Service, In the Line of Duty, Outstanding Ambassador, Customer Focused, Innovation, One Team/One Vision, Excellence in Mentoring, Special Teams Member and Partnership.

This year, NDCS presented the Partnership Award to York University, which provides meaningful education opportunities to the population at the Nebraska Correctional Center for Women through the associate of arts degree program. York University’s longstanding partnership with NDCS reflects their commitment to fostering positive change within correctional facilities, making them an invaluable asset in the pursuit of effective rehabilitation strategies.


List of 2024 NDCS Employee Annual Award recipients

Team Members of the Year:

Nathan Abbott, Unit Caseworker, OCC; Kevin Anderson, Behavioral Health Practitioner IV, OCC; Almedina Bajric, Unit Caseworker, CCCL; Kristin Doty, Sergeant, RTC; Jared Johnson, Corporal, NCYF; Aaron Kennedy, Unit Caseworker, CCCO; Amy Koop, Sergeant, WEC; Dillon Kortum, Corporal, NSP; Jerry Sonnek, Corporal, NCCW; Brian Vilcinskas, Corporal, TSCI

Supervisors/Managers of the Year:

Josh Andrew, Engineering Assistant Administrator, CO; Emily Bobzien, Unit Manager, TSCI; Carrie David, Unit Case Manager, CCCO; Davarius Foreman, Lieutenant, RTC; Christopher Quakenbush, Lieutenant, OCC; Clarice Shields, Food Service Director I, WEC; Agnes Stairs, Psychologist, OCC ; Kayla VanDaam, Unit Administrator, NCCW; Jackie Varicak, HR Specialist Manager, CO; Travese Walters, Maintenance Manager I, NSP


Leadership Award: Teena Lenger, Director of Nursing, NSP


Community Service Award: Denise Pietzyk, Sergeant, TSCI


In the Line of Duty Award:  Austin Quinton, Corporal, RTC


Outstanding Ambassador: Sara Scdoris, Administrative Technician, CCC-L

Customer Focused Award: Amy Miller, Accountant, CO

Innovation Award: Autumn Hester, Administrative Programs Officer I, RTC; Shane Thurman, Sergeant, RTC

One Team/One Vision Award: Initial Classification Work Group: Ashley Bendickson, Unit Case Manager, NCYF; Katessa Franssen, Unit Case Manager, NCCW; Kelsey Hetrick, Unit Case Manager, NCYF; Christine Hinzman, Partnership Program Manager, CO; Michelle Kringle, Case Management Coordinator, CO; Nick Parry, Unit Case Manager, RTC; Westley Thurman, Case Manager, RTC; Kayla VanDaam, Unit Administrator, NCCW


Excellence in Mentoring Award: Devon Strecker, Sergeant, OCC

Special Teams Member: Joshua Bopp, Sergeant, WEC

Partnership Award: York University


*Note: The job title and facility listed for each award winner reflects their job title and facility at time of nomination.

NDCS Facility List

Central Office (CO)

Community Corrections Center – Lincoln (CCC-L)

Community Corrections Center – Omaha (CCC-O)

Nebraska Correctional Center for Women (NCCW)

Nebraska Correctional Youth Facility (NCYF)

Nebraska State Penitentiary (NSP)

Omaha Correctional Center (OCC)

Reception and Treatment Center (RTC)

Tecumseh State Correctional Institution (TSCI)

Work Ethic Camp (WEC)