"It is one of the highlights of our year to be able to honor individuals who are mentoring others and advocating greater awareness for behavioral health careers in Nebraska," said BHECN Director Marley Doyle, MD. "My thanks and congratulations go to our 2020 honorees for making an impact on the future of behavioral health."
This year, BHECN created the Champion Award, a new award category that recognizes professionals who are champions for behavioral health in their community.
"As we were reading through the award recommendations this year, it became clear that an additional award was needed to recognize behavioral health professionals who provide outstanding service to people living with mental illness," said BHECN Ambassador Program Coordinator Ann Kraft. "We have had an award that recognizes consumers or family members (the courage award), but not one that specifically recognizes professionals."
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, honorees will receive this year’s awards by mail, although BHECN leaders hope to eventually recognize honorees in a public setting.
The 2020 award recipients are listed below in the Nebraska communities in which they practice.
Kearney -- Hugo Gonzalez Nieto, MD, Distinguished Service Award
Beatrice -- Kim Hill, PhD, LP, NCSP, Ambassador Award
Scottsbluff -- Carrie Howton, PhD, LIMHP, Ambassador Award
Omaha -- Marian Perry-Burse and Havalynn Russell, Courage Award
Lexington -- Ann Young, PMHNP, APRN, Champion Award (new award)
Chadron -- Chelsea S. Turner, Champion Award (new award)
Distinguished Service Award - Kearney -- Hugo Gonzalez Nieto, MD
The Distinguished Service Award is BHECNs highest honor and given to individuals who provide inspirational leadership, service, advocacy and heart in support of the behavioral health workforce in Nebraska. Dr. Gonzalez received his medical education in Mexico and completed his residency and fellowship training in Texas. He worked in New Mexico for five years and was chief of psychiatry at the New Mexico Behavioral Health Institute in Las Vegas, New Mexico. In 2007, Dr. Gonzalez and his family moved to Kearney. He is the medical director of behavioral health services at Richard Young Hospital in Kearney. In 2012, he partnered with BHECN, UNMC and Creighton to establish one of the first rural training sites for psychiatry residents at Richard Young Hospital. Dr. Gonzalez’s groundbreaking and inspiring work contributes to building the workforce for behavioral health professions and ultimately improving access to mental health services for children and families in Nebraska.
Recipients of the Ambassador Award are below. The award recognizes individuals for their outstanding efforts in mentoring behavioral health students and trainees in Nebraska.
Beatrice -- Kim Hill, PhD, LP, NCSP, a licensed practitioner (LP) and a nationally certified school psychologist (NCSP). Hill works for the Beatrice Community Hospital & Health Center (BCHHC) and is a clinical psychologist at Beatrice Women & Children's Clinic. A native Texan, she earned her PhD from the University of Texas at Austin and then moved to Nebraska to complete her internship at Boys Town. She completed her postdoctoral fellowship at the Munroe-Meyer Institute at UNMC in several rural hospitals and was then hired by BCHHC as their first psychologist. She was nominated for the BHECN Ambassador Award for inspiring work to create a new behavioral health fellowship position at BCHHC. She facilitated communication between hospital administration and the Munroe Meyer Institute to establish the fellowship and supervised the trainee. At the end of the fellowship, the hospital hired the newly trained psychologist who now provides behavioral health services in Beatrice and at a clinic in Wymore. The fellowship is considered a big success for workforce recruitment and demonstrates the value of mentorship that has been central to Dr. Hill's work within the community. Since Dr. Hill was hired by the hospital, the behavioral health team has grown to include four full-time providers, two support staff, one in-home interventionist, one psychology intern and several psychology graduate student trainees.
Scottsbluff -- Carrie Howton, PhD, LIMHP, is a licensed independent mental health practitioner (LIMHP), instructor and mental health therapist at Western Nebraska Community College (WNCC) in Scottsbluff. Prior to WNCC, Dr. Howton was a mental health therapist at Options in Psychology and a clinical therapist at the Regional West Medical Center in Scottsbluff. She is recognized for her work in implementing six new human service courses at WNCC, all of which meet the Nebraska education requirements for initial licensure as an alcohol and drug counselor. She has organized behavioral health conferences, which has allowed rural students to explore careers that might otherwise not have known. She graduated from high school in Oshkosh, and her father, lives in Lewellen.
Recipients of the Courage Award are below. It recognizes outstanding service and outreach to the community by a consumer of behavioral health services or a family member.
Omaha -- Marian Perry-Burse has raised her two great-grandchildren since they were toddlers. One of the children, Kaleo, was diagnosed with autism. Every day, Perry-Burse works to assure Kaleo has every advantage in his school and community. She advocates for support services for children with developmental disabilities and about the importance of insurance reform for children with an autism spectrum disorder. She also has increased the awareness of autism in her community and assured children with disabilities have a voice and are heard.
Omaha -- Havalynn Russell is a peer-support specialist formerly with Lasting Hope Recovery Center (LHRC) in Omaha. Russell recently joined Nebraska Medicine in the newly created Adult Psychiatric Emergency Services unit. While at LHRC, she met with students on psychiatry rotations and shared her personal experiences with mental health. Russell also coordinated a monthly program called "Stories of Hope," about people living with mental health or recovery from addiction. She teaches classes on "The Power of Words" both locally and nationally. The workshops highlight the impact of labels and how certain words can help or hurt people living with a mental health diagnosis.
Below are the recipients of the newly created Champion Award recognizes outstanding service and behavioral health outreach to the community by a professional.
Lexington -- Ann Young, PMHNP, APRN, has been an advanced practice registered nurse specializing in family medicine in Lexington since 2000 and returned to school in 2014 to complete a Post Master's Certificate in psychiatric mental health nursing. She works at the Lexington Regional Health Center. The Lexington community has a wide variety of ethnicities and cultures, requiring an equally diverse range of services to address mental health. Young collaborates with the hospital's interpreters and excels at treating patients whose first language is not English. Her ability to work in a crisis mode is noteworthy and in demand. She also has been instrumental in mentoring a growing group of LIMHPs and CSWs. She is active in supporting the underserved populations in the Lexington community through many local organizations and leads a mental health support group at the local jail. Young is from Pierce. Her parents are Rick and Connie Droescher."
Chadron -- Chelsea Turner is a services coordinator with Western Community Health Resources in Chadron and the entire Nebraska Panhandle. Turner provides support and resources to patients with a severe to persistent mental health diagnosis. She regularly goes above and beyond to provide compassion and empathy for her client base, including creating a Community Essentials Pantry, which provides items not covered by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). She works with several community organizations to make connections between services, consumers and professional partners. Turner is passionate when it comes to helping patients with eating disorders and enjoys supporting Nebraska's youth. She is continuing her education at Chadron State College and plans to practice in a therapy setting in the panhandle.
The Behavioral Health Education Center of Nebraska (BHECN), pronounced "beacon," was established in 2009 by Legislative Bill 603 to improve access to mental health and substance use disorder services, commonly referred to as behavioral health services, for all Nebraskans through the development of a skilled workforce. It is a unique partnership among the state legislature, academic institutions, and community partners to create a statewide workforce solution for the shortage of licensed behavioral health professionals. For more information about BHECN, visit www.unmc.edu/bhecn.
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