Outstanding Adult and Juvenile Justice Leaders Honored for their Community Efforts at Chief Probation Officers of California Ceremony
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – December 9, 2021 – Outstanding leaders in the probation profession from throughout California 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 the transformation of adults and youth who are seeking to live healthy, productive lives outside of the justice system.
“We are proud to honor our highly educated and trained officers and staff who showcase a commitment to their probation clients and the safety of our communities. Their ability to connect justice-involved individuals with the resources and tools they need to succeed, combined with their ability to appropriately balance opportunity and accountability, sets members of this profession apart,” said Orange County Chief Steven Sentman, President of CPOC. “This year’s awardees provide hope, help and accountability needed to transform lives and create long-term safety in our communities. We appreciate all they do to deliver sustainable, common sense 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 helping justice-involved individuals transition to a healthy pathway.
This year, Honorable Sergio C. Tapia II was recognized as the Judicial Officer of the Year for his role in presiding over the many criminal justice system reforms sought by the State of California and the County of Los Angeles including pre-trial and AB 1950. Judge Tapia worked with the Los Angeles Probation Department to bring together stakeholders to develop a process to address the new sentencing requirements as well as how to apply the new law to existing probation grants.
“I am honored to receive recognition from an organization that helps restore hope and rehabilitate justice-involved individuals,” said Honorable Sergio C.Tapia II of the Los Angeles County Superior Court. “Probation has a vital role to play as a connector between the courts and services to justice-involved individuals that help people turn their lives around while building and maintaining positive ties to their communities.”
Each year, 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. This year’s statewide CPOC Employee of the Year is Lisa Vetter (full bio below) from the Inyo County Probation Department. Lisa epitomizes the work of probation as she developed a year-long evidence-based domestic violence therapy program that grew in the first year to help serve many people needing intervention while reducing barriers and helping address behaviors to enhance safety for victims and the community.
“We are thrilled that Lisa Vetter has been recognized as the CPOC Employee of the Year,” said Inyo County Probation Chief Jeffrey Thomson. “Lisa has demonstrated her commitment to helping each individual who is under our supervision transform their lives onto a healthier pathway. Her work to reform our domestic violence program has helped change lives and make life safer for victims. Officers like Lisa help promote Inyo probation’s vision of community, pride, and progress.”
2021 CPOC AWARD WINNERS
CPOC EMPLOYEE OF THE YEAR and CENTRAL REGION EMPLOYEE OF THE YEAR:
Lisa Vetter | Inyo County
Deputy Probation Officer (DPO) Lisa Vetter came to the Inyo County Probation Department in 2018. Prior to working in Inyo County, DPO Vetter spent seven years as a DPO in Mono County. Officer Vetter was hired as a DPO II and was recently promoted to a DPO III for her outstanding efforts in providing probation services to the clients of Inyo County.
DPO Vetter was assigned the Domestic Violence caseload and was tasked with organizing and supervising the caseload by risk level while making sure that community safety was a priority. Soon after taking over the DV caseload, DPO Vetter realized that the current provider of the only 52-week DV program in Inyo County was not utilizing an evidenced-based curriculum nor was there any options available for clients in the south county, forcing them to drive 45-60 minutes each week for class. DPO Vetter took it upon herself to make things better and she sought out training on domestic violence and became a facilitator to administer the Corrections Counseling Institute’s Moral Reconation Therapy in the treatment of domestic violence. Using MRT in her curriculum, DPO Vetter got to work to create a full 52-week program that would meet all state mandates pursuant to Penal Code Section 1203.097. Within the first year, the program grew to four groups of both male and female clients including a group for the south county clients. The classes are free of charge and currently have forty clients attending.
TIM FITZHARRIS AWARD:
Toula Moua-Eccles| Merced County
Toula Moua-Eccles is the Career Educator for the Phoenix Project and has provided exceptional assistance to our clients referred to the program. In 2016, the Merced County Probation Department started the planning phase with the Merced County Office of Education to provide educational and vocational assessments and job training programs for our clients. In March 2017, the Phoenix Project commenced with Toula on board. The mission of the Phoenix Project is to inspire adults through education and training that will lead to successful employment. The services provided to the clients include personalized career action plans, vocational and aptitude assessments, education assistance, and vocational training.
In the four years that the Phoenix Project has been running, Toula has enrolled 126 clients into the program. As of August 2021, 78 clients have completed vocational training and 67 have become gainfully employed. Graduates from the program have been employed in such career areas as Class A Truck Driving, Welding Technology, Industrial Maintenance Mechanic, and Automotive Technology, among others. Additionally, 15 clients who never completed high school received assistance from Toula to earn a diploma or GED. Toula ensures clients have the clothing, tools, and transportation assistance needed to progress through the training, interview, and hiring process. The help that Toula provides does not go unnoticed, as she is one of the first people that clients contact to share the wonderful news of their new employment.
JUDICIAL OFFICER OF THE YEAR AWARD:
Honorable Sergio C. Tapia II | Los Angeles County
During Judge Sergio C. Tapia’s tenure as Supervising Judge of the Los Angeles County Superior Court – Criminal Division he presided over the many criminal justice system reforms sought by the State of California and the County of Los Angeles. He is currently overseeing the California Judicial Council’s Pretrial Pilot Grant out of the Clara Shortridge Foltz Central Superior Court and the Pretrial PREP pilot, which is using a standardized pretrial assessment tool to determine the eligibility of detained defendants for pretrial programming and release to the community while pending trial. As Supervising Judge during the last year, Judge Tapia oversaw the implementation of State Senate Bill 1950, which reduced the maximum term of probation for most offenses to two years. Judge Tapia brought together the District Attorney’s Office and the Office of the Public Defender, Alternate Public Defender, and Probation to develop a process to address the new sentencing requirements and develop a process to the application of the legislation to existing probation grants.
By appointment of Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye of the California Supreme Court, Judge Tapia served on the Judicial Council’s Advisory Committee on Providing Access and Fairness, the Traffic Advisory Committee, and the Futures Traffic Working Group. In 2019 Governor Gavin Newsom appointed him to serve on the Governor’s Judicial Selection Advisory Committee for Los Angeles County.
CPOC AWARD OF EXCELLENCE:
Oswaldo Guerrero | Imperial County
Officer Oswaldo Guerrero began his career with the Imperial
County Probation Department in October of 2015 and with his
consistent dedication and commitment to his work, he has made
plenteous impact in the lives of the youth he serves — working
in unity with families to restore homes and preserve family
reunification in a healthy environment.
Officer Guerrero‘s performance during his assignment in the Wraparound Services program has included diligent work with high-risk clients at risk of removal from the home. These clients have been diagnosed with and experienced symptoms of depression, anxiety, suicidal tendencies, drug addiction and additional symptoms relating to mental health. To aid in stabilizing the family and preventing removal, Officer Guerrero has been involved in scheduling Child Family Team meetings, assessing and recognizing family needs and addressing those needs with appropriate community referrals. In addition, Oswaldo has been creating case plans with youth and family input, working in close collaboration with other county agencies to ensure adequate support to the youth. Further, Officer Guerrero has made significant efforts to reduce detentions among youth out of compliance by addressing risk factors and providing ongoing interventions such as increasing family involvement, creating crisis plans, and identifying additional supports for youth in the community.
REGIONAL EMPLOYEES OF THE YEAR
SOUTH REGION: Karyn Milligan | Santa Barbara County
Karyn Milligan is the Research and Special Projects Manager of the Santa Barbara County Probation Department. Karyn joined the Probation team in 2016, and the impact of her optimism and tenacity was immediately noticeable and continues to this day. Receiving the Santa Barbara County Probation “Star” Award in just her second year should have been the first clue to how invaluable Karyn would become to the Department. In addition to holding a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice and a Master of Public Administration, Karyn has also served on the Board of Directors for the Association for Criminal Justice Research; it is clear Karyn is passionate about her field. Many of the new initiatives Karyn took on, including the Quality Assurance Committee and implementation of Evidence-Based Practices (EBP) training and monitoring, highlight her focus on providing accurate, data-driven results. Ensuring fidelity with programming and data capture of initiatives for multiple programs and stakeholders has changed performance metrics for the Department and the County as a whole. Demonstrating measurable outcomes has allowed identification of areas needing improvement and has helped to drive countywide initiatives for the criminal justice population through the Juvenile Justice Coordinating Council (JJCC) and Community Corrections Partnership (CCP).
Most notably this year, Karyn has performed stellar work around Racial and Ethnic Equity and Inclusion (REEI). Karyn and her team outlined the Relative Rate Index (RRI) illustrating disparate outcomes at multiple criminal justice decision points. Karyn will be the first to deflect the spotlight and give all credit to her team, but it is her innovation, bold ideas, and infectious positive attitude that drive the success of the Research and Special Project Team. Her enthusiasm, openness to new approaches, and ability to relay information in layman’s terms brings out the best in her team, resulting in professional, user-friendly presentations and documents that garner praise across all county departments.
NORTH REGION: Kimberley Denbow | Shasta County Probation
Kimberley Denbow began her career with the Shasta County Probation in 2018. Kim quickly embraced the mission of the department and had a strong desire to learn more and expand her skill set. Kim’s professionalism, intelligence, and personality were quickly recognized and her promotion to a Deputy Probation Officer in July of 2019 was a natural progression within the department. Upon her promotion, Kim was assigned to the Adult Investigations Unit. While in the investigation unit, Kim has continued to impress as she has quickly learned the various report formats, Court preparation requirements, court coverage, and she is the backup officer for Prop. 63. Her attention to detail and thoughtful approach make her an excellent court report writer. Additionally, she has garnered the respect of her co-workers and other agencies in the adult system. Kim utilizes evidence-based practices in her day-to-day duties and has worked to not only apply these to her reports and supervision plans, but she also has excellent rapport with the offenders and victims. This is vital when you are tasked with gathering the necessary information to provide the court with an appropriate recommendation and conditions to support community safety. In addition to her day-to-day duties, Kim supports the process of hiring new staff and is certified to administer the computer voice stress analysis (CSVA). Kim does well with this task as she is approachable and easily gains rapport with the applicants. She often administers the CVSA’s after her normal workday and since being certified has completed approximately 11 CVSA’s.
SACRAMENTO REGION: Stephanie Clark | El Dorado County
Deputy Probation Officer Stephanie Clark possesses a rare depth of compassion and empathy as an officer. Two specific examples demonstrate these traits for both people and furry “non-people.” With a demonstrated compulsion to target and stabilize her client’s humanitarian needs, Stephanie stands out amongst her peers. As the purveyor and coordinator of our relationship with the Food Bank of El Dorado, she ensures that her unhoused clients, as well as clients from the caseloads of other officers, receive items from our food pantry on a weekly basis. The food pantry was established by Stephanie several years ago and has provided both daily sustenance to the Day Reporting Center clients but also to many of the family members of clients as they take bags of wholesome groceries to their loved ones suffering with food instability.
During the provision of mutual-aid, as the Caldor Fire required one-third of El Dorado County residents to evacuate their homes, Stephanie volunteered for over 100 hours on the detail. As an animal lover and rescuer, after assisting in the evacuation of thousands of El Dorado County residents, Stephanie returned to many of the same homes to care for pets and livestock citizens had to leave behind.
While carrying herself as a consummate professional in the field, she practices the philosophy of improving public safety through the development of relationships based on trust and respect. In more ways than one, Stephanie has demonstrated her belief in her client’s ability to project a better version of themselves and that Stephanie will be right by their side to support them along the path.
BAY REGION: Joey Mason | Alameda County
Joey Mason is the first Community Outreach Worker for the Alameda County Probation Department (ACPD) and has paved the way for other peers and individuals with lived experiences. Joey embodies ACPD’s vision of having a vibrant and exemplary workforce and a robust system of wraparound care. As a Community Outreach Worker, Joey serves as a liaison between Probation Officers, community-based providers, local jails, and prisons, and ACPD clients.
Joey’s dedication to positively transforming lives is apparent throughout his outreach and engagement with clients and stakeholders. He approaches clients with understanding, openness, compassion, and optimism. He is skillfully able to use his lived experiences to engage clients, as well as employ cognitive behavioral interventions, motivational interviewing, and strong interpersonal skills. He uses humor, relatable experiences, and authenticity to motivate clients and guide clients in their change talk and progress. As the first Community Outreach Worker, Joey has used this platform to drive innovation within the Department, continuously elevates client and community voices, and emphasizes the critical importance of retaining justice-impacted staff. Joey is working within his passion and purpose. Through this, he continues to inspire staff, clients, and other system partners. He is an ally and an advocate to ACPD clients and families and is an asset to the community.
TRAINER OF THE YEAR:
Chris Van Orden | Napa County
Chris Van Orden is the Continuum of Care Reform (CCR) Specialist for Napa County Probation Department and currently works in the Juvenile Placement Unit. Chris is a Child and Family Team (CFT) Facilitator and Trainer for the County of Napa and has worked with numerous county departments in that capacity. He is also the probation representative on the county’s Resource Family Approval (RFA) team. Chris has facilitated CPOC’s “Child and Family Team Facilitation” training, as well as “California Integrated Core Practice Model” course. Not only has he delivered these trainings, but he has represented Probation in a statewide workgroup. Chris played a key role in adapting these trainings to be specific to Probation, ensured that they were interactive and assisted in developing other Probation trainers. Attendees of his training found Chris not only to be an extraordinary trainer, but also a model CFT Facilitator. The constant use of positive reinforcement and reflections elicited strong participation and engagement from the attendees. The participants expressed appreciation of how Chris brought the practical application to the training.
CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF PROBATION SERVICES ADMINISTRATORS (CAPSA) EMPLOYEE OF THE YEAR:
Amy Potter | Solano County
Amy Potter is the President of the California Association of Probation Services Administrators (CAPSA), a role she stepped into during the global pandemic. She has previously served as Bay Region Chair, Vice Chair, and Executive Vice President of CAPSA. Amidst rapid changes and severe challenges for Probation departments, she is recognized for taking the lead of CAPSA with purpose, dignity, and passionate leadership. Amy led CAPSA board members in building out the questions and definitions which would be utilized for a survey on data collection relative to SB 823. The goal of the survey was to have a way to collect consistent statewide data that can be used to formulate a narrative about what is happening with SB 823 realignment across the state. She has also worked with CAPSA board members and the PBMA President, Dana Schultz to compile an extensive Probation Funding Stream Matrix that lists the grant funding for Adult and Juvenile.
Amy led and completed all of these assignments while working her day job as a Juvenile Services Manager for Solano County. In this position she works tirelessly to implement protocol and new legislation, support and supervise her staff – all while being a wife and mother of three children. Amy’s dedication to CAPSA has helped this organization flourish during challenging times.
CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF PROBATION INSTITUTION ADMINISTRATORS (CAPIA) EMPLOYEE OF THE YEAR:
Shannon Gonzales | San Joaquin County
Shannon Gonzales joined the CAPIA E-Board in 2016 planning to be her region’s secretary. CAPIA President Chief Joe Frontella immediately recognized Ms. Gonzales’ abilities and asked her to take over as the E-Board’s Secretary. Shannon took the position over with aplomb and immediately began making updates to practices and standardizing processes. In the last five years since she has taken the role of secretary, she has become a rock in which the organization is built upon. Three presidents now owe a debt of gratitude to her and her abilities. Shannon has dedicated her career to the field of Probation since 1995. She has served her community in various capacities such as a Group Counselor Assistant with San Joaquin County, a Probation Officer for Stanislaus County, and as an employee with the case management system company Synovations. Through her career experiences, Ms. Gonzales remains dedicated to serving the field of Probation and always works toward ways to improve how Probation serves the community.
PROBATION BUSINESS MANAGERS ASSOCIATION (PBMA) EMPLOYEE OF THE YEAR:
Angelina Coffey | Nevada County
Angelina Coffey seamlessly stepped into the Interim PBMA President role to lead the Association. This is especially notable as she has directed and overseen all the tasks needed to organize this year’s Fall Conference. In doing so, Ms. Coffey has faced many challenges, several of which have been caused by or resultant of COVID-19. She is calm and collected under pressure, and she exudes strong leadership. She has had to make many important and critical decisions. Through it all, she balanced decisiveness with seeking membership input. She manages her departmental responsibilities while completing every PBMA assignment, meeting every deadline. She keeps the membership well-informed and even helps lead the North, Bay Area, and Sacramento joint-regional meetings, providing support to the newer regional chairs. In addition, she often volunteers to be a helping hand, whether she feels equipped or not; she will “figure it out” with you.
PROBATION IT MANAGERS ASSOCIATION (PITMA) EMPLOYEE OF THE YEAR:
Ino Cubing | San Mateo County
The PITMA Board would like to acknowledge Ino Cubing for all of his years of hard work, constant support, and dedication to the PITMA Board and the Bay Area Region. When the San Mateo IT Manager who had been a critical member of the PITMA Board took a job with the County Sheriff’s Department, Ino stepped in to take over her projects including working on the path to develop the PITMA website. This year, Ino has taken on the official role of Webmaster, but his work to get our soon-to-be-launched website started long before his official appointment. His work has helped towards achieving the goal to combine the PITMA website with PBMA’s MemberClicks site.
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 the areas of 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 510-384-3020