2017 Award Winners
2017 Award Winners
Mary Newman - 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award Winner
Deputy Chief Mary Newman began her career with the Omaha Police Department (OPD) in March of 1989. She rose through the ranks at the OPD and in 2003, Ms. Newman was promoted to lieutenant and spent the next three years as commander of the internal affairs unit. After being promoted to the rank of captain, Ms. Newman was assigned to command the Criminal Investigations Bureau. On May 31, 2009, she was promoted to the rank of Deputy Chief, overseeing the Uniform Patrol Bureau. For the past seven years, Deputy Chief Newman has been in charge of OPDs Criminal Investigations Bureau, with responsibilities for overseeing both the criminal investigation section as well as the operations section. These two sections encompass auto theft, burglary, homicide, special victims unit, gangs, and narcotics.
Deputy Chief Newman received a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice from the University of Nebraska at Omaha in May of 1998. In 2014 she earned a master’s degree in criminal justice from Bethel University (McKenzie, Tennessee). She is a graduate of the FBI National Academy. She serves as the second Vice President of the Nebraska chapter of the FBI National Academy Associates, chairperson of a local foster care review board, Child Saving Institute board member, and a member of the Nebraska Supreme Court Commission on Guardianships and Conservatorships.
Deputy Chief Newman has been with her spouse, Lynn Thompson, for more than 26 years and they have been married for the past seven years.
Paul Yakel - 2017 Distinguised Service Award
Paul Yakel obtained his Bachelor of Arts in Psychology in 1984 from the University of Nebraska and went on to earn a Master of Science in Agency Counseling from the University of Nebraska at Omaha in 1989. Mr. Yakel’s professional career in the human services field started in 1984 with his employment at a residential substance abuse program in Omaha where he worked for ten years. He then worked in private practice for several years. In 1997, Douglas County District Court started Nebraska’s first adult drug court program and Mr. Yakel was hired as the treatment coordinator through a collaborating behavioral healthcare organization. In 2003, he became the coordinator for the Douglas County Adult Drug Court program and remains in that position today.
Mr. Yakel is an accomplished speaker, presenter, and extremely well-qualified consultant on drug courts locally and throughout the nation. For more than 15 years he has been integrally involved with drug court performance outcomes in research evaluation through his collaboration with UNOs School of Criminology and Criminal Justice and has experience presenting research results at national conferences.
Mr. Yakel’s is most proud of his marriage of 35 years to his wife, Therese, and their two sons. He is very much appreciative of his past and present career relationships and knows you are only as “good as the people you surround yourself with.”
Derek Vaughn - 2017 Community Service Award Winner
Judge Derek Vaughn was raised in Omaha, Nebraska and graduated from Creighton Preparatory High School. He received his bachelor’s degree in business administration with an emphasis in accounting from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln in 1996. He later earned his Juris Doctorate from the University of Nebraska College of Law, graduating in the class of 1999. Mr. Vaughn began working as a Douglas County deputy attorney immediately after earning his law degree. While in the Douglas County attorney’s office, Mr. Vaughn was tasked to the drug court program, young adult court program, and mental health diversion.
Former Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman appointed Mr. Vaughn as a Douglas County court judge in November, 2013. Mr. Vaughn has been a member of the Nebraska State Bar Association, Omaha Bar Association and County Attorneys Association and has previously served on a number of boards and initiatives, including the Nebraska Crime Commission on Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice, the Nebraska Coalition for Juvenile Justice, the Crime Victims Reparations Committee, the Office of Violence Prevention Advisory Board and the City of Omaha Parks and Recreation Advisory Board. He is also a graduate of Leadership Omaha. Mr. Vaughn is currently involved in a number of initiatives, including the Nebraska Supreme Court Committee on Problem Solving Courts, the Nebraska County Judges Association, and Salem Baptist Church Trustee Ministry.
In the past Mr. Vaughn served as an adjunct instructor for the University of Nebraska at Omaha, Kaplan University, and Dana College. He currently teaches for Midland University. He is married to Jacqueline Vaughn and has two children.
Joe Jeanette - 2017 Alumni Achievement Award Winner
Joe Jeanette has worked in the criminal justice system for nearly 46 years and currently serves as the law enforcement coordinator for the United States Attorney's Office for the District of Nebraska. Prior to being appointed to his current position in 1989, he worked for 17 years as a law enforcement officer with the Bellevue Police Department. In his last assignment with the Bellevue Police Department, he served as sergeant of the special investigations unit, investigating narcotics, vice and other special projects.
In his current position Mr. Jeanette provides oversight, coordination and assistance to several projects such as Project Safe Neighborhoods, Project Safe Childhood, Federal Victim Assistance Unit, Offender Re-entry, and other programs dealing with violent crime, drug courts, domestic violence, substance abuse and drug treatment, and juvenile issues.
Mr. Jeanette also serves as the public information officer and training coordinator for the United States Attorney's Office. In addition, he has hosted and coordinated training for local, federal and state officials on such topics as drugs and violent crime, child sexual abuse and enticement, financial investigations and money laundering, crime victim issues, and legal liability for law enforcement managers. He is past president and current treasurer of the Omaha Metro Chiefs Association, and a board member of the Omaha Community Partnership.
Mr. Jeanette serves as an adjunct faculty member in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. He has three children and seven grandchildren.
Chris Sweney - 2017 Rising Star Achievement Award Winner
Chris Sweney began his career as a correctional officer for the Douglas County Department of Corrections in November of 1998. He was promoted through the ranks and was named lieutenant in January of 2008, and assigned as watch commander in January of 2009. In May of 2010, Mr. Sweney accepted the position of accreditation manager. He has a successful track record implementing and managing multiple projects while maintaining compliance with federal regulations, accreditation standards, and legislative changes.
In addition to his work at Douglas County, Mr. Sweney is certified by the American Correctional Association and U.S. Department of Justice to conduct audits of other correctional facilities throughout the United States. He has audited a variety of facilities in more than a dozen states. Locally, he works with the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services as Douglas County’s representative to the Security Administrators Group.
Mr. Sweney earned his degree in criminal justice from the University of Nebraska at Omaha in 2004. He has attended educational seminars hosted by the National Institute of Corrections and American Jail Association, including Strategies for Building Effective Work Teams, Senior-Level Leadership Training, and Dynamics and Challenges of Correctional Leadership. Additionally, Mr. Sweney is a graduate of the National Jail Leadership Command Academy and is a current participant in the inaugural Jail Executive Development Program at the Correctional Management Institute of Texas at Sam Houston State University.