2019 Award Winners
2019 Award Winners
Honorable W. Mark Ashford - 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award Winner
W. Mark Ashford received his B.A. from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1974 and his J.D. from Creighton University School of Law in 1978. He was a district court judge for District 4 in Nebraska, serving in this position from 2000 to 2018. He also served on the Douglas County Adult Drug Court from 2008 to 2018.
One cause in which he immersed himself was the establishment of the Veterans Treatment Court, a diversion program started by the Douglas County Attorney’s Office for former military members who found themselves on the wrong side of the law and facing felony charges. Ashford jumped on board to get the ball rolling in Douglas County and was the first judge to oversee the program. He proudly presided over the program’s first graduation in June 2018.
Ashford’s wife, Deb, observed that Mark had many good friends and outside interests. He enjoyed watching sports, especially golf, and attending PGA and USGA golf tournaments in various locations around the country. He loved to travel and his favorite vacation destination was Florida, where he enjoyed going to the beach, trying new restaurants and attending professional baseball’s spring training and seasonal games. However, nothing could match the happiness that he gleaned from going to Disney World’s theme parks and Epcot – a magical place that he never grew tired of visiting. Mark had a deep love for his two sons, Steve and Sam, and was passionate about spending as much time as possible with them. In addition to traveling, Mark was a history buff, an avid reader, and a huge Husker football fan. Professionally, Mark was determined to be a fair and impartial judge no matter what type of case was in front of him. Ashford began making plans to retire in 2019. He passed away unexpectedly August 1, 2018.
Honorable Vernon Daniels - 2019 Distinguished Service Award Winner
The Honorable Vernon C.R. Daniels graduated from Doane College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science. He received his Master of Arts degree in Political Science and Doctor of Law Degree from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. He is a recipient of the Lyndon Baines Johnson Scholarship and was a two time recipient of the Reginald Heber Smith Fellowship.
In 2001, he was appointed by Governor Johanns to the bench of the Separate Juvenile Court of Douglas County, Nebraska. He is a member of the Nebraska Supreme Court Commission on Children in the Courts as well as a member of the Governor’s Children’s Task Force. He has served on the Supreme Court-Nebraska State Bar Association’s Minority and Justice Task Force and serves as a current member of the Implementation Committee of that task force. He is a former Chairperson of the LB 1184 Treatment Team. In 2009, Governor Heineman appointed him to the Nebraska Coalition for Juvenile Justice. He served for three years on the Legislation Committee of the Nebraska State Bar Association and is a current member of the Midlands Bar Association and American Bar Association. In 2006, he was elected to the Board of Trustees for Doane College where he serves on the Academic Affairs Committee. He is the recipient of the Nebraska State Bar Association’s 2011 Diversity Award as well as their 2013 Award of Appreciation. He has been awarded the Child Saving Institute’s 2011 A. W. Clark Award; the Urban League’s 2012 Government Leader Award; and Charles Drew Health Center’s 2012 Community Service Award.
Judge Daniels enjoys mentoring new attorneys as well as law students at the University of Nebraska-College of Law and the Creighton University School of Law, where he currently serves as an adjunct professor. In 2014, Judge Daniels was selected as a Fellow of the Nebraska State Bar Foundation.
Youth Emergency Services - 2019 Outstanding Community Service Award
Youth Emergency Services, Inc. (YES) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit that has provided emergency services to runaway, homeless and near-homeless youth ages 16-21 for 45 years. YES is a National Safe Place organization, responding to hundreds of crisis calls every year, and is the only organization in the Omaha Metro Area focusing directly on helping runaway and homeless youth turn their lives around in a positive direction.
YES was founded in 1974 by a group of community volunteers who noticed homeless youth occupying areas of Omaha’s Old Market district. To offer them safety and support they opened the “YES House,” which is known today as the “YES Shelter.” The shelter has been in the same building since the 1990s. As the economy has shifted and the needs of the youth in crisis grew, so has YES. We opened our Street Outreach Program in 1999, and in 2008 YES launched its Transitional Living Program and Maternity Group Home Program. YES added a mentoring program in 2010 and Sex Trafficking and Job Readiness in 2016 to help young people gain tools to succeed. YES began providing Housing Prevention services in 2018. The array of services provided by YES is based on national research for best practices for homeless and near homeless youth.
In the past year, YES has provided services to nearly 4,000 homeless and near homeless young people through its array of services overseen by 22 full-time and 15 part-time staff members. YES has been the recipient of the following awards: Woodmen of the World Community Partner Award in 2013; Non-Profit of the Midlands Catalyst Award 2015; CSG Cares Certificate of Appreciation 2017 in recognition of their outstanding dedication and impact to the Omaha community.
Greg London - 2019 Alumni Achievement Award Winner
Greg London began his career with the Sarpy County Sheriff’s Office in 1988. During his tenure with Sarpy County, London has been the commander of the Administration, Road Patrol and Jail Divisions. He was promoted to Chief Deputy in December 2014. London holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice and a Master’s degree in Public Administration. Both degrees were earned at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. London also graduated from the FBI National Academy and he completed the FBI Law Enforcement Executive Development Program.
London sits on boards for the Archdiocese of Omaha, Leadership Sarpy, Concord Mediation and the Sarpy County Sheriff’s Office Foundation. In February 2019, Governor Pete Ricketts appointed London to the Nebraska Police Standards Advisory Council. He is also a member of the Knights of Columbus.
Sherie Thomas - 2019 Rising Star Award
Lieutenant Sherie Thomas joined the Omaha Police Department on October 5, 1998 after graduating from the University of Nebraska at Omaha with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice. As an officer, Lieutenant Thomas worked in the Uniform Patrol Bureau in all four precincts on all three shifts. She also worked as a school resource officer at Beveridge Magnet School, Monroe Middle School and Blackburn Alternative High School. Lieutenant Thomas spent six years as a detective in the Domestic Violence Unit. She was promoted to the rank of Sergeant in October 2010 where she served in the Customer Service Unit, Internal Affairs Unit, the Training Unit and the Uniform Patrol Bureau. She was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant in March 2017 and is currently assigned to the Internal Affairs Unit.
Lieutenant Thomas earned her Master’s degree in Public Administration from Bellevue University in September 2012. She believes in giving back to the community and volunteers on a regular basis. Some of her volunteer activities include coaching baseball with the Police Athletics for Community Engagement (PACE) at the Boys and Girls Club, mentoring young women through the Parrish Alternative Program, and doing community service projects with her sorority sisters. She is an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. She is the chairperson of the Omaha Northwest High School Law, Public Safety and Security Advisory Board and has served as the Vice President of the Black Police Officers Association of Omaha from 2013-2017 and currently serves as the Secretary. She is a member of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives and serves as the President of the Nebraska chapter. She is a member of Leadership Omaha Class 41, a leadership program to develop effective leaders who will strengthen the community. She also serves on the Nebraska Special Olympics board. Lieutenant Thomas is married to Barry Thomas and they have three daughters — Trinity, Brea and Sierra.