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For Immediate Release
October 27, 2014

Contact Kathie Osterman, Communications and Legislative Services, 402-471-9313,

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Lincoln Employees Recognized as
DHHS Employees and Supervisors of the Year;
October is Nebraska State Employee Recognition Month

Lincoln – Eleven Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) employees from Lincoln were recently recognized as employees and supervisors of the year.
October is Nebraska State Employee Recognition Month. State agencies are allowed to select one employee and one supervisor of the year for every 500 people employed by the agency.
The employees will be honored Tuesday, Oct. 28, with a reception at the Capitol Rotunda, a reception at the Governor’s Residence and a DHHS recognition at the Embassy Suites.
“It is a true honor when someone is nominated by their peers for this recognition,” said Kerry Winterer, DHHS CEO. “These employees and supervisors are clearly an inspiration to the people they work with and the people they serve. They are role models for all of us.”
The following people were recognized as DHHS employees of the year:
Kris Azimi, an IT business systems analyst coordinator with the Division of Medicaid and Long-Term Care, was recognized for “always going the extra mile to help her coworkers,” and for being a team player who “approaches projects with a positive attitude.”
Bryson Bartels, legislative coordinator with Communications and Legislative Services, was nominated for his “excellent working knowledge of the legislative process and his broad-based understanding of the work of the department” which allows DHHS “to react, respond and lead on legislative issues important to our work and mission.”
Nichole Bouc, a resource developer with the Division of Children and Family Services, was described by her coworkers as “an exceptional employee who is always conscious of the DHHS mission.” They said she approaches her work with a positive attitude and is “always respectful and helpful.”
Joan DeVries is a safety specialist at the Division of Behavioral Health’s Lincoln Regional Center (LRC). She was nominated by her coworkers because of her compassion, dedication and her “constant commitment to excellence.”
Kelly Ostrander, administrative assistant with the Division of Behavioral Health, was nominated because of her “amazingly positive personality,” and her “excellent administrative skills.”  Her coworkers said she develops positive working relationships with everyone and is a true asset to DHHS.
The following people were recognized as DHHS supervisors of the year:
Kim Collins, a program analysis and research administrator in Financial Services, was nominated for being a “great teacher and mentor” who “drives her employees to better themselves both professionally and personally.”
Denise Drake is a child support enforcement supervisor with the Division of Children and Family Services. She is being recognized for her “willingness to take on new responsibilities and help out other supervisors,” and for being “open and approachable and clearly defining her expectations for her staff.”
Catherine Gekas Steeby is a Division of Medicaid and Long-Term Care administrator. She was nominated by her peers for “effectively supporting her team” through a recent departmental transition. Her coworkers said she “put in extra time and effort to ensure the timely delivery of services.” 
Howard Isaacs, a health program manager with the Division of Public Health, was nominated by his coworkers for creating a work environment where his employees feel empowered and “always strive to do their best.”
Jennifer Jennings, with the Division of Behavioral Health, is a certified master social worker supervisor at the Lincoln Regional Center. She was described in her nomination forms as “dependable,” “friendly,” and a “great role model for other supervisors.” Her coworkers said she “treats people with dignity and respect” and “takes on new tasks to challenge herself and become a knowledgeable resource for others.”
Leo Vestecka, a warehouse manager with DHHS’ Information Systems and Technology, was nominated by his coworkers for being “conscientious, well organized and industrious.” They said he is a “major factor in maintaining morale” and he inspires his team to provide “fast, efficient service.”
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