Outstanding Adult and Juvenile Justice Leaders Honored for their Community Efforts at Chief Probation Officers of California Ceremony
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – December 7, 2023 – Outstanding California probation leaders were recognized for their community contributions with awards from the Chief Probation Officers of California (CPOC). Awardees were celebrated for their work and dedication to transforming adults and youth seeking healthy, productive lives outside the justice system.
“Today, we are honoring our officers and staff who go above and beyond, committing themselves to the safety of our communities,” said Lassen County Chief Jennifer Branning, President of CPOC. “Their work and devotion to ensuring the rehabilitation and success of justice-involved individuals are among the many reasons why they are being recognized today. We are very grateful for the time and close care they give to ensuring our state’s well-being and safety.”
The CPOC Awards Committee evaluated submissions from probation departments throughout the state and selected awardees who have demonstrated exceptional leadership, commitment, and passion for their work. They highlight some of the best in the probation profession and system partners that push the envelope, going above and beyond to keep communities safe and help justice-involved individuals transform their lives in positive ways.
This year, Maria Hernandez was recognized as the Judicial Officer of the Year for her role in presiding over the many criminal justice system reforms sought by the State of California and Orange County. Judge Hernandez spent nine years with the juvenile court and recently launched a Young Adult Court (YAC), which addresses the unique needs of emerging adults charged with felonies in the criminal justice system. YAC is a first-of-its-kind approach to addressing the challenges of young adults in the criminal justice system, borrowing from what we already know about the supportive, client-centered approaches that work best with juveniles.
Additionally, Each year, the 5 CPOC regions throughout California submit their selection for Regional Employee of the Year. The CPOC Awards Committee then chooses one probation employee with the most significant contributions that year. From the Regional Employees of the Year, the training committee then chooses one of those five employees to receive the statewide Employee of the Year. This year’s statewide CPOC Employee of the Year is Deputy Probation Officer Scott Quade from the Sierra County Probation Department.
“Today, we celebrate Officer Scott Quade’s well-deserved recognition,” said Sierra County Chief Probation Officer Chuck Henson. “Officer Quade’s passion for helping the veterans in this community is remarkable and inspiring. He has done some amazing work involving mental health services for veterans as well as those who have become justice-involved, providing resources for their rehabilitation. Investments like these made by probation not only help people rehabilitate and get out of the justice system, it helps create safer communities for us all.”
2023 CPOC AWARD WINNERS
CPOC EMPLOYEE OF THE YEAR AND NORTH REGION EMPLOYEE OF THE YEAR:
Scott Quade| Sierra County Probation
Scott previously served in the US Marine Corps and the California Army National Guard. In 2005, he participated in the Multinational Force & Observers mission, supervising the implementation of the Egyptian-Israeli Treaty of Peace, Sinai, Egypt. Afterwards, he spent eighteen (18) months on the U.S. border assisting the border patrol. He was injured while training to deploy to Afghanistan, ending his military career in 2012 and resuming college afterward. Deputy Quade graduated from the California State University, Chico, in 2013 and ultimately went to work for the Plumas County Probation Department, assigned to adult supervision and oversaw veteran cases. There, he developed a passion for helping other veterans, assisting others through the VA and other resources to ensure those veterans who ended up in the criminal justice system received the services they earned.
In 2021, Scott took a new position with the Sierra County Probation Department, where he is a tremendous asset in connecting veterans with services. He has been instrumental in assisting Sierra County with its first veteran’s court. He co-founded the Plumas County Veterans Collaborative, establishing the first Veterans Stand Downs in Plumas and Sierra Counties that has helped approximately 200 veterans annually. Scott is also a trained facilitator in mental health first aid, with the added training to help teach veterans, firefighters, emergency first responders, and law enforcement.
TIM FITZHARRIS AWARD:
Mini Paxiao | San Bernardino County
Mindi Paxiao has demonstrated exceptional resilience and dedication in her journey from being under formal supervision to becoming a valuable staff member at El Dorado County’s Health & Human Services Agency. In 2020, Mindi was asked to be a panelist at the CPOC-sponsored SB 678 Conference in Sacramento after she completed her programming. She shared her insights into the evolution of community corrections in El Dorado and its impact on her. Big Brother/Big Sisters then hired Mindi as a program manager, where she worked with at-risk youth and their families, connecting them to supportive services. Mindi was then hired by the County Health and Human Services Agency as a Program Assistant, where she worked directly with Justice-Involved individuals through the Department’s Community Corrections Center, which she had graduated from just a few years earlier.
This year, Mindi was selected by the Chief Probation Officer to serve as his alternate to the El Dorado County Commission for Youth in Families, and she is currently in the review process for a position as a Deputy Probation Officer in El Dorado County. From being on active supervision to working alongside Deputy Probation Officers as a trusted peer and colleague, she faced the potential stigma. She changed the hearts and minds of many Probation Officers who were initially not inclined to believe that someone could leap from the criminal mindset to a trusted co-worker. Her personal transformation and commitment to community improvement highlight the effectiveness of probation and correctional practices, and her advocacy and support for at-risk youth and justice-involved individuals have been instrumental in creating safer communities.
JUDICIAL OFFICER OF THE YEAR AWARD:
Maria Hernandez | Orange County
Presiding Judge Maria Hernandez was appointed to the bench as a commissioner in 2006 and appointed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger as a judge in 2009. She was elected as assistant presiding judge of the Superior Court of Orange County in 2021 and then elected as presiding judge in January 2023. Before serving on the bench, she was a senior deputy public defender in Orange County.
Judge Hernandez spent nine years with the juvenile court, serving as the presiding judge of the juvenile court from 2014 to 2018, where she created and presided over the dedicated court addressing commercially sexually exploited children (CSEC) and co-chaired the Orange County Committee relating to boys in the child welfare system. Once in the criminal court system, she recently launched a Young Adult Court (YAC), which addresses the unique needs of emerging adults charged with felonies in the criminal justice system. Leaning on her juvenile court experience, passion for outcome-focused interventions, and a view toward adolescent brain development, YAC provides a collaborative court environment, including the possible reduction or dismissal of felony convictions. Young Adult Court is a first-of-its-kind approach to addressing the challenges of young adults in the criminal justice system, borrowing from what we already know about the supportive, client-centered approaches that work best with juveniles.
CPOC AWARD OF EXCELLENCE:
German Zarate | Orange County
Deputy Juvenile Correctional Officer (DJCO) German Zarate is recognized for his teamwork, service, dedication, and leadership. For the last few years, German has been assigned to the College Occupational Program (COP) at Juvenile Hall, specializing in teaching trades such as painting, refurbishing furniture, gardening, and automotive skills. He was the impetus for creating an auto shop at the Juvenile Hall Multipurpose Rehabilitation Center (MRC). Since the opening of the MRC, German has been certified in the auto shop equipment and has taught classes in the auto shop this past year. Students have learned hands-on skills in vehicle maintenance, including oil changes, tire rotation and balancing, changing a flat tire, brake replacements, transmission flushing, engine repair, and much more.
German has created a space where all youth feel comfortable asking questions and enjoy learning and building their knowledge and skills in the automotive trade. German’s peers, supervisors, administration, and youth respect and appreciate his positive attitude and forward-thinking mentality. In a very moving moment, a youth spent the day working with German, and at the end of the day, he said, “Thank you.” German asked, “For what?” The youth responded, “I didn’t feel locked up today.”
REGIONAL EMPLOYEES OF THE YEAR
SOUTH REGION: Maribel Carvajal | Imperial County
Maribel Carvajal, Deputy Probation Officer III, is the Lead Probation Officer for the Imperial County Probation Department’s Secure Track Program. She has played a vital role in reaching critical milestones throughout the Program’s existence, and she remains committed to the advancement of the Program by introducing creative ideas to further program development. Additionally, Officer Carvajal established a multitude of service offerings for the Secure Track Youth, including mental health services, substance use disorder services, educational services, pet therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, parenting classes, mentoring services, anger replacement treatment, religious offerings, cultural offerings, independent living skills, recreational programming, and art programming. Officer Carvajal has collaborated with Imperial Valley College (IVC) to ensure all Secure Track youth meet educational goals. Most recently, Officer Carvajal was responsible for allowing one of her youths to attend in-person classes at IVC. Officer Carvajal has established multiple relationships with community partners to enable Secure Track youth to gain work experience.
Officer Carvajal’s accomplishments and accolades speak volumes. If you talk with any of Officer Carvajal’s youth, they will undoubtedly mention her unwavering efforts to provide them with opportunities for their development, her advocacy efforts, and how much she enjoys celebrating their accomplishments.
SACRAMENTO REGION: James Corry | Placer County
Deputy Probation Officer James Corry is assigned to the Placer County Probation Outreach Team and supervises a probation caseload of 45 homeless individuals throughout Placer County. James sees each person as a challenge and often adjusts his approach to each person to make a personal connection. His unique skill allows him to connect with people, gaining their respect and compliance. Over the last year, James has assisted the homeless population in many ways. James drives the Probation Outreach Vehicle throughout the county to connect with the unsheltered population. He has coordinated multiple camp cleanups and shopping cart pick-ups, distributed water during a heat wave, worked overnight at a warming center during a storm, physically set up tents at the Mobile Temporary Shelter, purchased a plant for a homeless probationer, taken a homeless person to lunch while filling out an application for services, transported people to the pharmacy to get their medication and to the hospital to receive care, evaluated and placed individuals on 5150 holds, and put dozens of people into shelters, residential treatment programs and other county programs. In addition, James does hold people accountable when necessary, conducting over 25 arrests for new law violations, warrants, probation violations, and PC 290 violations.
Those he encounters describe him as fair, honest, and respectful. One client recalled living in a homeless camp for over three years and was in a very dark place. She described James as her guardian angel. “He showed up, and he knew that I needed help, and he knew what to do. He is the reason I am back with my family.”
BAY REGION: Kelvin Brooks| Solano County
Kelvin Brooks is a Senior Juvenile Correctional Counselor (JCC) at the Solano County Juvenile Detention Facility (JDF). He is persistent and dedicated and continuously thinks of ways to provide positivity to the youth of Solano County. Kevin has brought in various relevant and impactful guest speakers for his “Hour of Power” program. Every week, a member or leader in the community comes into the JDF facility to inspire their youth through motivational speaking. Whether it is small business owners, master social workers, American politicians, or social justice activists, their children experience incredible stories and journeys of hope and success.
Kelvin is committed to providing college opportunities for his youth by maintaining a close partnership with the Students Overcoming Adversity & Recidivism (SOAR) Program, which works with the Solano Community College. He works with the SOAR program to ensure interested youth meet with counselors, enroll in college courses, and have the necessary materials to be successful college students. Kelvin’s efforts to bring innovative and effective programming into his JDF have been outstanding, and his commitment to helping the youth is unmatched.
CENTRAL REGION: Vicki Martin| Stanislaus County
The Stanislaus County Probation Department has employed Vicki Martin for over 18 years, and she presently serves as the department’s fiscal manager. She is exceptionally hard-working, intelligent, and dedicated. Each month, she provides a five-minute training during meetings that covers something related to the department’s budget. Vicki has also given two recent department budget trainings to Deputy Probation Officers interested in promoting or simply wanting to learn more about the budget process. She is solely responsible for monitoring, managing, and submitting budget documents for the department budget, totaling over $90 million for 275 allocated positions, ranging from Probation Corrections Officers to support staff to management and Deputy Probation Officers.
A fiscal manager is likely an easily overlooked position when providing community safety and offender rehabilitation. Still, Vicki proves daily that her role is essential for the department to meet its mission.
TRAINER OF THE YEAR:
Augustina Simms | Solano County
Agustina Simms is a Supervising Probation Officer at the Solano County Probation Department overseeing the Juvenile Court Unit. Agustina has served probation for 19 years and has been a CPOC Foundation’s Supervisor Leadership Academy (SLA) facilitator since 2019. In addition, she co-founded “Engaging Others” training, where she helped groom new CPOC Foundation trainers in their journey. Agustina has extensive knowledge of leadership and a passion for instructing. She consistently gets praised for her vibrant and dynamic personality, making the attendee experience unique and relevant. Agustina continues receiving excellent reviews for being well-prepared, flexible, and adaptable. Agustina is an extraordinary trainer who excels in her delivery and takes pride in coaching and developing her fellow trainers. Agustina goes above and beyond to engage and connect with each attendee effectively.
CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF PROBATION SERVICES ADMINISTRATORS (CAPSA) EMPLOYEE OF THE YEAR:
Chelsey Chapelle | Shasta County
Chelsey has been a fixture in the CAPSA community since 2010. She has served on the board for the Northern Region for over 13 years, including seven different stints as the Region Chair. She has been the current chair for the Northern Region since 2021. Chelsey is always a vital piece in the planning of local meetings for the region, as well as the planning and execution of the annual conference. This year she has mentored other members of our CAPSA board to ensure they are prepared to carry the torch when she eventually retires. She is an outstanding voice for the counties that make up the Northern Region.
Outside of her impact directly on CAPSA and those other counties in the Northern Region, she is a driving force for change in her county of Shasta. She has been the Assistant Chief for numerous years. This year has helped guide the department through the many idiosyncrasies of SB 823, including bringing multiple youths back from DJJ, being a guiding hand as the population in the facility has increased dramatically post covid, being a champion for evidence-based practices, and being a mentor and coach to many of those working in the department. Her work ethic is second to none, and her positive impacts on those locally and statewide will be felt for decades.
CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF PROBATION INSTITUTION ADMINISTRATORS (CAPIA) EMPLOYEE OF THE YEAR:
Marguerite Harris | San Luis Obispo
Marguerite Harris, Deputy Chief Probation Officer with San Luis Obispo County, is a long-standing and active member of the California Association of Probation Institution Administrators (CAPIA). Marguerite holds the Central Region Chair and will move into the Legislation position in 2024. Marguerite is responsible for facilitating CAPIA regional meetings and attending executive board meetings. Marguerite brings energy and passion to each session, has a strong work ethic, and genuinely cares about creating meaningful work that benefits her local community and statewide. Additionally, she plays a critical role in CAPIA’s annual conference planning. Marguerite gives careful thought and consideration to details. With a focus on staff wellness, she has coordinated several after-hours conference activities, such as hiking and yoga on the beach.
Marguerite is also on the Executive Steering Committee for the Board of State and Community Corrections Juvenile Titles 15 and 24 Regulation Revisions. Marguerite represents Probation Institutions, provides valuable insight into current practices, and responds to how particular recommendations may affect the actual operation in an unintended manner. Her confidence, knowledge, and experience are why she is recognized.
PROBATION BUSINESS MANAGERS ASSOCIATION (PBMA) EMPLOYEE OF THE YEAR:
Nikki Moeszinger | El Dorado County
Nikki is a dedicated and selfless advocate for the field of probation. With a strong commitment to PBMA, she continuously serves her colleagues, offering her time, expertise, and support. Her efforts have played a crucial role in strengthening PBMA as an affiliate organization and encouraging probation colleagues across the state to participate. Nikki’s supportive, tenacious, can-do attitude and grit make her an invaluable asset to the field of probation and a true advocate for its advancement.
PROBATION IT MANAGERS ASSOCIATION (PITMA) EMPLOYEE OF THE YEAR:
Haleh Soltani | San Mateo County
Haleh currently serves as the PITMA president. Many credit her as the primary reason behind the success of the May 2023 Annual PITMA Conference. Given the time constraints, Haleh ensured that the board stayed the course, pivoted when needed, and maintained a positive and professional approach to developing the conference’s agenda and program. This achievement would not have been possible without Haleh’s invaluable knowledge, experience, and professionalism.
The Chief Probation Officers of California (CPOC) is an association of all 58 counties with a shared identity as law enforcement leaders. CPOC is committed to a research-based approach to public safety that promotes positive behavior change. Their leadership guides policy and practice in prevention, community-based corrections, secure detention for youth, and direct human services. CPOC’s goal is to prevent crime and delinquency, reduce recidivism, restore victims, and promote healthy families and communities.
For more information about CPOC, please go to www.cpoc.org.
Media Contact: Laura Dixon email@example.com 510-384-3020