Employee Excellence Award Winners
The Trial Court honored 19 exemplary employees at a ceremony in the John Adams Courthouse on May 28, 2008. This year, the awards recognize Trial Court employees who embrace continuous improvement, as they strive for excellence in judicial administration. A 12-member interdepartmental committee selected the following winners from more than 200 nominations.
**Employee of the Year
Robin Balicki, Eastern Hampshire District Court
Robin Balicki is known not only for her knowledge and expertise but also for her concern for the entire District Court community – all who staff or visit the court.
She joined the Trial Court in 1985 as an entry level employee in the Probation Office and now keeps the office of the Clerk Magistrate in “top running order” as the Acting Office Manager. She has ably overseen the expansion in the court’s jurisdiction and increase in business.
Robin recently played a pivotal role in the court’s move from Hadley to Belchertown, coordinating a multitude of issues involved with the design, construction and relocation. She served as a tireless liaison with the contractors, the administrative office and court staff to ensure that the court would be ‘up to par’ and the move would be smooth. The move took place with no interruption in court service thanks to her exceptional efforts.
Robin embodies this year’s theme -- embracing continuous improvement while striving for excellence in judicial administration. Those who nominated Robin described her as a shining illustration of true public service excellence.
**Employee Excellence Award Winners
Boston Municipal Court
Boston Municipal Court/ Dorchester Division
After more than 28 years in the Dorchester Court, Cynthia Roberts still arrives daily with energy and contagious optimism. And her pleasant, professional manner in the face of every challenge creates a more positive environment for all of her colleagues.
She seeks opportunities to learn and finds ways to improve the delivery of services, as she targets the time standards objectives defined by court metrics. She supervises the civil department but never hesitates to assist other units.
Cynthia’s work ethic, compassion and thoughtfulness are well known. She highlights every employee as an important asset by celebrating birthdays and coordinating remembrances. A court officer who nominated her put it quite simply – “she’s great.”
Boston Municipal Court/Central Division
Maureen Towle’s hard work and attention to detail have earned her the respect and warm regard of her colleagues and the public in the fast-paced, high volume small claims arena of the Boston Municipal Court’s Central Division.
In her eleven years at the court, Maureen or “Mo,” as she is affectionately known, has shown a persistent willingness to learn every aspect of the business of the Clerk’s Office. As a case coordinator, she displays exceptional proficiency.
She detests inactivity and her devotion to her work is infectious, as she regularly asks how she can be helpful. Her cheerful demeanor and fantastic disposition make the Central Division a better place to work and conduct business.
Springfield District Court
Judith Viamari plays an integral role in the busy Probation office of the Springfield District Court where she transferred after the first 15 years of her 32-year career in the Clerk’s Office. As a Probation Operations Supervisor, Judy’s knowledge of the court system and her sense of humor keep the people and the paper moving smoothly in this court that arraigns almost 1,000 people monthly.
Her rapport with lawyers, court officers, probationers and victims set a positive, professional tone in the front office where she takes responsibility for all that happens at the non-stop counter.
Despite Judy’s much-maligned support for the Yankees, she keeps everyone relaxed. When she is not there, the office is not the same, and that says it all.
Marlborough District Court
Nicholas ‘Nick’ Giamogianis is renowned throughout the Commonwealth as a proverbial ‘font of information.’ As the Head Administrative Assistant for the Judges Lobby in the Marlborough District Court, he receives calls from colleagues across the state who consult him on how to process all types of fiscal and personnel matters.
In addition to supporting operations, Nick demonstrates his depth and versatility by managing all mental health issues in the Court, maintaining confidential case files and scheduling examinations by mental health professionals.
As one of his nominators noted, Nick ‘stands out as an exception in a world of complacency.’ He is a unique individual who brings a sense of humor and spirit to the job every day.
Housing Court / Southeast Division
In 2007, Barbara Dinn was instrumental in two major Housing Court initiatives – the implementation of MassCourts across the department and the court’s addition of a location at the new Plymouth Trial Court.
Barbara served as the Southeast Division’s Local User Expert for MassCourts throughout 2006, which involved many training and program development sessions in Boston. She provided valuable input to tailor the software to the court’s needs and she ably provided training and rollout support for all Housing Court divisions.
Throughout her involvement with MassCourts, Barbara continued her duties as Office Manager for the Housing Court’s three locations in the Southeast Division, which included an active role on the team responsible for adding a Housing Court location in Plymouth. Her colleagues know they can always count on her.
Housing Court / Boston Division
Vincenzo ‘Vinny’ LoBuono, is the ‘go-to guy’ at the Boston Division of the Housing Court for most things but especially for computer issues. Therefore, he was enlisted to support the department’s rollout of MassCourts, in addition to his varied duties as Sessions Clerk.
Vinny played a key role in the planning, training and implementation of MassCourts Full in its first multi-site deployment. He also played a pivotal role in evaluating aged cases when the court adopted metrics based on time standards. He reviewed over 50,000 cases to determine disposition status and update electronic records.
When he sees a problem to be solved, Vinny doesn’t wait to be asked. He always takes the initiative to fix it or help others fix it.
Kim Howe Lawrence
Juvenile Court / Essex County
Probation Officer Kimberly Howe Lawrence plays a critical role in developing strategies to help juveniles in Salem. She is a tireless advocate for probation field work who has located runaways and prevented gang activity.
She helped launch the Juvenile Drug Court and worked diligently with DSS, DYS and local agencies to almost single-handedly create the Juvenile Day Reporting Center, now a vital source of services for CHINS and Probation clients.
Kim has built strong relationships with the police departments in many communities and has become a role model through her Night Ride work in Salem. Kim has gone above and beyond the call of duty too many times to count.
Juvenile Court / Suffolk County
Lauren Monterio routinely finds creative ways to improve operations in the Juvenile Court. She is a take-charge person who is never afraid of a challenge. As an Operations Supervisor in the Clerk’s Office, Lauren has always contributed beyond her job description in developing procedures, delivering training and supervising projects.
Single-handedly, Lauren successfully and efficiently runs the court’s most challenging satellite session in Dorchester. Her vast knowledge of that operation makes her the go-to person there on any question or issue.
Since no task is too big or too small, she leads the office by example. And because Lauren’s leadership inspires and motivates others, she is a tremendous asset to the Trial Court.
Mary ‘Geeda’ Rodrigues
Juvenile Court / Barnstable County – Town of Plymouth
Mary ‘Geeda’ Rodrigues joined the Probation Service almost 30 years ago as a staff secretary and, in 2000, achieved her lifetime goal of becoming a Probation Officer. She embraces the concept of teamwork with her court colleagues and with all social service agencies.
Without fanfare she goes the extra mile to help every probationer reach maximum potential. For the holidays, Geeda enlists the support of her colleagues, to sponsor local families experiencing hardship.
Although she will retire in June, Geeda’s influence as a caring professional will continue to impact those she encountered throughout her remarkable career.
Office of the Commissioner of Probation
Office of the Commissioner of Probation
As a data entry operator in the Office of the Commissioner of Probation, Kristina Gaudet interacts with Probation employees across the state and provides assistance that makes a huge impact.
Identity Specialists and Local User Experts are among those who encounter challenging new scenarios in MassCourts and are relieved to receive cheerful, behind-the-scenes support over the phone from Kristina. Her confidence and understanding build the confidence, knowledge and skills of all who seek her help -- from court staff to Chief Probation Officers.
Kristina also has taken on the challenge of visiting Probation offices to deliver MassCourts training, which has allowed her to meet some of those colleagues face-to-face. She extends her professionalism and positive attitude to all new endeavors.
Probate and Family Court
Ann Marie Passanisi
Probate and Family Court Administrative Office
For more than a year Ann Marie Passanisi has been laying the groundwork to assure a smooth transition to MassCourts for the Probate and Family Court. She has assumed these new duties with gusto.
Ann Marie understands and responds to the struggles of staff in the local courts and proposes workable solutions. Her hard work and nergy, along with her organizational skills and attention to detail have inspired members of the MassCourts implementation team.
One nominator said that Ann Marie makes her feel honored to participate in the MassCourts process. And she is confident that with Ann Marie’s leadership they will have the smoothest MassCourts rollout yet.
Ethel ‘Dee’ Walkus & Karen Wehner
Probate and Family Court / Barnstable
Ethel ‘Dee’ Walkus and Karen Wehner were nominated as a leadership team that inspires excellence in Barnstable’s Probate and Family Court. As the Registry’s Operations Supervisors, they possess a wealth of experience and always get the job done.
Together they promote a standard of excellence within the registry staff and have instilled a cooperative working culture within the courthouse. They lead their staff by example -- going the extra mile to ensure that the court achieves excellent time standards results for case processing.
Dee and Karen are unfailingly helpful and courteous to attorneys, pro se parties and staff, which is reflected in the many positive reports and letters on their effectiveness given to the Register, Judges and Judicial Case Manager. They possess a key quality for great public servants -- even temperaments – and are the glue that holds their office together.
Superior Court / Suffolk County
Assistant Clerk for Criminal Business in Suffolk County Paula Sordillo joined the Trial Court 40 years ago and through her dedication has moved steadily up the career ladder.
As clerk in the session that manages homicide cases from arraignment through final pretrial conference since 2004, Paula has been a continuing force in guiding cases to resolution. She has contributed significantly to the reduction in time between indictment and resolution.
Paula enjoys the goodwill of all involved in criminal cases – judges, defense counsel, prosecutors, law enforcement, jurors and other clerks. She also provides dedicated oversight of the large volume of post conviction motions in cases where the trial judge has left the Superior Court.
In addition to Paula’s professional expertise, she is a generous colleague, who contributes greatly to the morale of her session and the Clerk’s office.
Superior Court / Berkshire County
For years, Judicial Secretary Pat Wadsworth has served the Trial Court above and beyond the call of duty. She schedules all of the medical malpractice tribunals in Berkshire, a challenging and time consuming task. It’s not easy to locate and schedule doctors willing to appear in court in Berkshire County for a modest fee.
Pat has the knowledge and expertise to perform all functions in the Clerk’s office and her efforts to lighten the load there are greatly appreciated. Her hard work, dedication to duty and cheerful attitude positively impact her colleagues every day.
Pat is known throughout the courthouse and is a helpful friend to all. In his nomination, Judge Dan Ford wrote that Pat should know that her hard work, dedication to duty and cheerful attitude do not go unnoticed.
Administrative Office of the Trial Court
Court Officer Steve Mendonca is known as a ‘man of few words,’ who never gets rattled, despite the extremely busy, hectic atmosphere in the New Bedford District Court.
When dealing with crowds or confrontations in the courthouse that could topple anyone’s composure, Steve always handles it in a calm, orderly manner. And his calmness generates calm among others.
As he moved among courthouses in New Bedford and Fall River over 23 years of service, Steve has been a fixture at the main entrance, routinely earning a bonus day of vacation for not using any sick time. He is knowledgeable, widely respected and the ‘go to guy’ for any task.
Now, Steve’s courageous battle with illness keeps him from the courthouse. The judges, fellow court officers and colleagues in probation and the Clerk’s Office sorely miss their outstanding teammate and the ‘backbone’ of the New Bedford District Court.
Office of Court Interpreter Services – Chelsea District Court
At the Chelsea District Court Ines Reynal is known for her impeccable skills and very professional manner, as she sometimes works three or four different sessions throughout the day. When translating, Ines always uses clear language and shows kindness and respect.
She is caring and understanding for all parties – the victim, defendant, and members of the court. She communicates, more than simply translates, and so becomes an ambassador for the court system.
Ines also goes the extra mile for her coworkers. She never hesitates to assist in the courtroom or at the counter, despite short notice or a crushing caseload. And, as noted by one of her nominators, she always does so with ‘grace and aplomb.’
Pasquale ‘Pat’ Niro
Court Facilities Bureau
High ideals are nothing new to Pat Niro. For 32 years he has made the condition of the Milford District Court his highest priority. In fact, fulfilling his duties as a Building Supervisor is a labor of love.
The building is a model of cleanliness and building systems efficiency. In crisis, whether mechanical or environmental, Pat keeps staff informed and calm, while the issue is quickly resolved. He stops by on weekends just to make sure the building is OK and working extra time is never an issue.
Pat loves whatever he does, whether his work or personal pursuits, and invests all of his efforts with a full measure of passion. That is surely the secret to his success as he still goes strong at 81 years of age with 62 years of marriage and a mere 32 years of service to the Trial Court.