2019 BHECN Annual Awards


Top row, left to right: Dr. Marley Doyle presents awards to Howard Liu, MD, and Susan J. Boust, MD, Ann Kraft presents award to Ciera Afrank
Bottom row, left to right: Award Display Table 2019, Tina Chasek, PhD, presents award to Ryan and Emily Kaufman 

The Behavioral Health Education Center of Nebraska (BHECN) announced the 2019 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 awareness about and access to behavioral health careers in Nebraska,” said BHECN Director, Marley Doyle. “My thanks and congratulations go to our 2019 honorees for making an impact on the future of behavioral health.”

Distinguished Service Award

The Distinguished service award is BHECNs highest honor and given to individuals who provide inspirational leadership, service, advocacy, and heart in support of behavioral health workforce development in Nebraska. BHECN is proud to present this honor to two individuals who represent these qualities: Dr. Susan Boust and Dr. Howard Liu.  

Dr. Susan Boust served as BHECN’s inaugural medical director from 2009-2011 and was the originator of the idea of BHECN. Susan remains dedicated to behavioral health workforce development serving an integral role in the creation and development of the Wayne State College Task Force for Career Development in Behavioral Health.

Dr. Howard Liu has been involved with BHECN since 2011 and Director from 2012 until earlier this year when he was named Chair of the Department of Psychiatry. BHECN has thrived thanks to Howard’s transcendent and visionary leadership, and together with our key partners, we have moved the needle on workforce development.

BHECN would like to thank both honorees for their groundbreaking and inspiring work towards building the workforce for behavioral health professions and ultimately improving access to mental health services for children and families in Nebraska.

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 individuals this year, Ciera Afrank and Shanna Rosentrater, LMHP.

Ciera Afrank will graduate in May with her Masters of Counseling Degree from Wayne State College (WSC) and is planning to return to her hometown of Newman Grove, Nebraska. Ms. Afrank was chosen to receive the Ambassador Award because of her dedication to building awareness for the behavioral health care field and the need for behavioral health care in rural Nebraska.

As a graduate student at WSC, she has made several presentations on the topic of rural and underserved populations in Nebraska and is currently publishing an article regarding rural mental health needs. Ms. Afrank is a member of the Northeast Nebraska Behavioral Health Network (NeNEBHN) and a hand-selected member of the WSC Task Force on Career Development in Behavioral Health (WSC BH Task Force).

Ms. Afrank is dedicated to both behavioral health practice and rural communities, and she continues to be an excellent ambassador of WSC, BHECN, and rural Nebraska.


Shanna Rosentrater, LMHP has been actively involved in mentoring and recruitment for the behavioral health field for many years. She participated in BHECN’s Ambassador Conferences and has been a core staff member of FARM CAMP since its inception. She actively mentors students and recently developed an idea to introduce behavioral health careers to rural Nebraska youth at an even younger age.

Shanna returned to western Nebraska several years ago to complete her education and has settled into providing clinical services across the panhandle of Nebraska. She understands the rural culture and has an affinity for working with individuals in remote rural communities.

Because of a late-season Nebraska snowstorm, BHECN was unable to present Shanna’s award to her at the April 12 conference. Instead, it will be presented to her at the Rural Provider Network Conference May 17 in Chadron.

Courage Award

The Courage Award was presented to Ryan and Emily Kaufman.

Ryan Kaufman is a US Army Veteran who has worked tirelessly for the needs of veterans in Nebraska. He is a national speaker on the behavioral health needs of veterans and resiliency. Emily Kaufman is a published author, and steadfast partner with Ryan in sharing her story, being married to a veteran with PTSD.

As a peer support specialist, certified in Mental Health First Aid, Ryan is willing to share his experiences with others to raise awareness, combat stigma, and elevate the behavioral health profession. Ryan is currently active in transforming the Veteran’s Home in Grand Island into a place where Veterans can come for a wide array of services, from behavioral health to day to day living needs. Ryan has testified in Washington on Veteran’s issues and shares his story to help educate counselors-in-training on how to recognize and diagnose mental health issues.

As a published author, middle-school teacher, and the founder of “We Care Too”, Emily Kaufman believes sharing her story is a way she can heal, and hopefully reach someone else who is suffering, letting them know they are not alone in this fight when the war comes home. Emily has spoken to numerous groups and spouses of veterans in Nebraska and around the country.

Together Ryan and Emily formed the Resilient Endeavors organization to help educate others on leadership, resilience, communication and determination. Through their organization the Kaufmans are making an impact for consumers, organizations and the citizens of Nebraska to understand behavioral health and veterans issues.


For more stories and updates from BHECN, view our archive or sign up for the newsletter here.