2018 Award Winners
2018 Award Winners
Chief Justice Michael Heavican - 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award Winner
On October 1, 2006, Michael Heavican took office as Chief Justice of the Nebraska Supreme Court. Prior to joining the Nebraska Supreme Court, Chief Justice Heavican was a Deputy Lancaster County Attorney from 1975 to 1981, and Lancaster County Attorney from 1981 to 1990. He joined the United States Attorney's Office for the District of Nebraska in March, 1991. During his employment with the U.S. Attorney's Office, he served as Acting First Assistant U.S. Attorney, Criminal Chief, and Acting U.S. Attorney. He was appointed U.S. Attorney for the District of Nebraska on September 21, 2001, by President George W. Bush.
While U.S. Attorney, Chief Justice Heavican served as a member of the Attorney General's Advisory Committee and as Chair of the Controlled Substances Subcommittee of the Attorney General's Advisory Committee.
Chief Justice Heavican recently served as President of the Conference of Chief Justices and Chair of the Board of Directors of the National Center for State Courts (2013-2014). In addition, in 2011 Chief Justice John Roberts of the United States Supreme Court appointed Chief Justice Heavican to serve as a member of the Committee on Federal-State Jurisdiction of the Judicial Conference of the United States, and he served in that capacity from 2011 to 2016. Chief Justice Heavican currently serves as Chair of the Criminal Justice Committee of the Conference of Chief Justices.
Chief Justice Heavican received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1969, and his Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Nebraska College of Law in 1974.
Bob Blanchard - 2018 Distinguished Service Award
Bob Blanchard obtained his Bachelor of Science in Administration of Justice from Portland State University in 1980. In 1990, after spending several years of working in retail loss prevention management and juvenile group homes, he began a career as a Nebraska State Probation Officer.
Throughout the 1990s Mr. Blanchard held various positions within probation, including working as a traditional probation officer, Intensive Supervision Officer and Coordinator of the Intensive Supervision Probation Unit. In 2004, he entered the Problem Solving Court arena, where he had the opportunity to become the Coordinator for the Douglas County Young Adult Court. In 2011, he was named Nebraska’s Outstanding Probation Officer receiving the “LaDonna Snell” Memorial Award. In 2013, Mr. Blanchard and the Young Adult Court team received the Advancing Justice and Cooperation in Nebraska Enforcement, Law Enforcement Coordination Award.
In 2016, Mr. Blanchard became coordinator for the newly created Douglas County Veterans Treatment Court, the first in Nebraska. He served in this position from its inauguration date of November 4, 2016 to the date of his retirement from Nebraska State Probation on December 22, 2017.
Mr. Blanchard works with the Metropolitan Community College in their 180 Re-Entry Assistance Program. That program provides incarcerated individuals and those transitioning from correctional facilities with re-entry services and support.
We are very proud of Bob’s 27 years of service to the state of Nebraska and the strong collaborative relationships he has built over those years.
He is married with 3 sons and 3 grandsons, plus one on the way!
Willie Barney - 2018 Community Service Award Winner
Willie Barney is the founder, president, and facilitator of the Empowerment Network, a united group of residents, leaders, and organizations working to facilitate positive change in our community. Launched in September 2006, the Network works collectively to improve the quality of life for African-Americans, North Omaha, and the Greater Omaha area. The movement is based on 13 Covenant Areas and a strategic plan that focus on individual, leadership, and community empowerment with the goal of transforming Omaha into a great city, in every zip code and neighborhood!
For over 22 years Mr. Barney has worked in media, strategic planning, marketing, advertising, communications, community building, and facilitation. He is president of SMB Enterprises, LLC, a company that provides positive events, media, and entertainment in the greater Omaha area. SMB is the parent company of Revive! Omaha Magazine and Revive! Twin-Cities Magazine. He is also president of WDB Resultants, LLC, a consulting firm that specializes in strategic planning and marketing, communications, community organizing, and facilitation. His experience includes work with corporate, non-profit, and faith-based organizations.
He has been an active volunteer and actively involved in his church. Barney graduated with a double major in economics and business administration from St. Ambrose University, Davenport, Iowa. A strong supporter of life-long learning, he has continued his education through advanced leadership training including the Summer Leadership Institute for Community Development at Harvard University and Executive Leadership and Management Training at the Northwestern University Media Center in Chicago.
Dawn Irlbeck - 2018 Alumni Achievement Award Winner
Dawn M. Irlbeck earned her doctoral degree from the University of Nebraska at Omaha School of Criminology and Criminal Justice. She is an associate professor in the Department of Cultural and Social Studies - Criminal Justice Policy at Creighton University.
She has been the principal researcher on projects with both state and municipal police agencies, particularly focusing on police interactions with minority community members as well as the experiences of Latino police officers. She has been co-principal investigator on research and evaluation projects funded by federal, state, and local agencies, including Weed & Seed, NIJ Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation Grant, Nebraska Office of Violence Prevention Gun Violence Reduction Strategy, and the Omaha, Nebraska Police Department Shotspotter Gunshot Detection and Location System.
Irlbeck has authored or co-authored articles, book chapters, co-edited a special edition journal and other publications focusing on policing, including Mission Based Policing (co-authored with John Crank, Rebecca Murray, and Mark Sundermeier), which was nominated for the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences 2012 Outstanding Book Award.
Darci Tierney - 2018 Rising Star Achievement Award Winner
Lieutenant Darci Tierney began her career at the Omaha Police Department in 1994 working the overnight and evening shifts predominantly in North and South Omaha. She continued to work the evening shift in North and South Omaha after being promoted to sergeant. As a sergeant, she spent three years in the Internal Affairs Unit where she found her passion for bridging the gap with our community. Shortly after being promoted to lieutenant, she was assigned to the Public Information Office where she currently works to engage the public and foster good community relations.
Lieutenant Tierney was one of the front runners of social media in law enforcement. She and her team created one of the top social media programs in law enforcement. Through her leadership, the Omaha Police Department is able to provide transparency and positive engagement with not only our citizens, but citizens across the globe. She is also highly involved in several first responder related foundations, working to make the Omaha Police Department a premier law enforcement agency. She was honored to be part of the Horses of Honor Project and continues to find ways to connect with the community to make Omaha a fantastic place to live, work and play.
Lieutenant Tierney was recently certified as a Gallup Strengths Coach and serves as a Gallup Engagement Specialist with the Omaha Police Department. She is currently working on creating opportunities for first responders to be well balanced and resilient by focusing on body, mind and spirit. Lieutenant Tierney never shies away from controversy. From her perspective, “it's just another opportunity to shine.”