Newsroom > DHHS News Release

For Immediate Release
October 28, 2015

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

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Lincoln Employees to Be Recognized as
DHHS Employees and Supervisors of the Year

October is Nebraska State Employee Recognition Month

Lincoln—Fourteen Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) employees in Lincoln are being 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 and supervisors of the year will be honored on Thursday, October 29 with a reception at the Capitol Rotunda, a reception at the Governor’s Residence and a DHHS recognition at the Cornhusker Hotel.

“These employees and supervisors are an inspiration to all of us and I want to thank them for their hard work and dedication,” said Courtney Phillips, DHHS CEO. “It is a true honor to be nominated by your peers for this recognition.”

The following people will be recognized as DHHS employees of the year:

Vonda Apking, a health licensing coordinator, with DHHS’ Division of Public Health (PH), was nominated by her coworkers for her positive attitude, strong work ethic, sense of humor and willingness to help with new employees.
Coworkers of Julie Docter, a program coordinator with DHHS’ Division of Medicaid and Long-Term Care (MLTC), described her as dedicated state employee who readily takes on new challenges. 

Tate Hurlburt, an information technology support analyst with DHHS’ Information Systems and Technology section, was described by his coworkers as a problem solver who provides guidance to the other members of his team.

Coworkers of Paula Jones, a social services worker with DHHS’ Division of Children and Family Services (CFS), said she is a key member of their team. They also noted her professionalism, work ethic, accountability and sense of humor.

Susan Kelly, is a service coordinator with DHHS’ Division of Developmental Disabilities (DD). She was nominated by her coworkers for being kind-hearted, professional and putting the people she serves first.

John Sweazy is a pharmacist at the Lincoln Regional Center (LRC). His coworkers wanted to recognize him because he “genuinely cares for the success of the hospital and is dedicated to the patients it serves.” LRC is part of DHHS’ Division of Behavioral Health (BH).

The following people will be recognized as DHHS supervisors of the year:

Cynthia Brammeier, an administrator with MLTC’s State Unit on Aging, was nominated by her coworkers for her ability to rally her team, manage by example and create a work environment of trust and respect.

Brenda Coufal, is a health program manager with PH. Coufal was nominated for her ability to lead by example. Her coworkers said she “has a pleasant and congenial demeanor which leads to a peaceful and harmonious workplace.”

Coworkers of Richard Kreifels, a DD service coordination supervisor, nominated him because of his “dedication to the department, his team and the individuals he serves.” Kreifels’ coworkers also noted his willingness to adapt to change, as well as his knowledge, experience and good judgment.

Molly Krolikowski, a child and family services specialist supervisor with CFS, was nominated by her coworkers for creating a team environment that makes work enjoyable. They also said she is supportive, encouraging and organized.

Lois Little is an information technology business system analyst supervisor with DHHS’ Information Systems and Technology section. Her coworkers said she “accepts new assignments as a challenge” and “demonstrates a commitment to service and high quality in her work.”

Office services manager, Kyle McConnell, with DHHS’ Operations, was nominated by his coworkers who said he is a leader who serves people with excellence.

David Nicklas is a horticulturist supervisor at LRC’s Arboretum. His coworkers said he has “dedicated his career to making the grounds of the Lincoln Regional Center a prominent landmark and an accredited Arboretum.” They also noted Nichklas’ pride in his work and support of LRC’ maintenance department.

MLTC program manager, Melanie Standifer, was nominated by her coworkers because she “loves people, work hard and always tries to lift the spirits of those around her.” They said she manages with expertise and efficiency.