2018 BHECN Annual Awards


Top row, left to right: Howard Liu, M.D., presents awards to Jennifer Alquicira and Nancy Foster, Ph.D.
Bottom row, left to right: Howard Liu, M.D., presents awards to Kristen Hembree, Ph.D., and Joe Evans, Ph.D. 

The Behavioral Health Education Center of Nebraska (BHECN) announced the 2018 Annual Awards honorees, recognizing individuals who make a significant impact in the behavioral health field in the categories of distinguished service, ambassadorship and courage.

“The BHECN Awards are a way to honor individuals who are mentoring others and advocating greater access, awareness, and information about behavioral health careers in Nebraska,” said BHECN Director and Child Psychiatrist, Howard Liu, M.D. “My thanks and congratulations goes to our 2018 honorees for making a difference in behavioral health.”

Distinguished Service Award

The Distinguished Service Award, BHECN’s highest honor, was presented to Joe Evans, Ph.D., for his groundbreaking work in integrating behavioral health providers in primary care clinics to improve access to mental health services for children and families in Nebraska.

His 20-year mission has resulted in 42 integrated behavioral health clinics serving more than 225 different communities across Nebraska. This program also attracts dozens of interns and postdoctoral fellows and has been replicated across the country. Dr. Evans, BHECN’s clinical director and a Munroe-Meyer Institute (MMI) professor of psychology, has been the recipient of more than $19 million in grants and funding to support training and expanded services during his career.

"He is truly a pioneer and visionary," Dr. Liu said. "He has given his entire career to helping those who are most underserved in health care."

On April 24th, Dr. Evans was presented the University of Nebraska's Innovation, Development and Engagement Award (IDEA) for his work in this area.

Ambassador Awards

The Ambassador Award, which recognizes individuals for their outstanding efforts in mentoring behavioral health students and trainees in Nebraska, was awarded to two deserving individuals this year, Nancy Foster, Ph.D., and Kristen Hembree, Ph.D., both clinical psychologists and MMI faculty members.

Dr. Foster, an outreach psychologist with Kearney Pediatrics Clinic and MMI assistant psychology professor, has recruited and trained students in behavioral health programs from across the nation as a successful supervisor in the MMI's national internship program.

Many of the students Dr. Foster has recruited and mentored have stayed in and around central Nebraska, continuing to provide behavioral health services in rural and underserved areas of the state.

Dr. Hembree, a licensed psychologist and MMI assistant psychology professor, was recognized for her successful outreach and mentoring to high school and college students on the diverse range of career options in the behavioral health field.

Dr. Hembree has served as a mentor to rural college students through a Virtual Mentorship Network. Her work in developing and implementing UNMC’s High School Alliance Behavioral Health course has given her a platform to reach out to students and providers where she is able to help build the future behavioral healthcare workforce in Nebraska.

Courage Award

The Courage Award was presented to Jennifer Alquicira, a graduating senior at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Alquicira was recognized for her outstanding commitment and efforts in promoting mental health awareness through her position as president of NAMI on Campus, the student-run chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and as a student ambassador board member for NAMI Nebraska.

“I have had numerous opportunities to observe the dedication, commitment, and passion that Jennifer brings to the behavioral health field,” said Cheryl Campbell, a UNO counselor and advisor for NAMI On Campus. “I have found her to be one of the most creative and enthusiastic student leaders I have ever worked with.”


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