Champions for Behavioral Health

Every year, we recognize individuals who have demonstrated their commitment to behavioral health as citizens, professionals, legislators, and more.

Since 2015, we have presented awards in four categories: Citizen of the Year, Professional of the Year, Legislator of the Year, and President's Award.

Without advocates in the community, NABHO would be unable to accomplish its mission to ensure that quality behavioral health services are accessible to everyone in our state. We are currently seeking nominations for the 2021 NABHO Awards. If you would like to nominate an individual or entity for an award in any of the above category, please let us know! You can email your thoughts to our Executive Director or complete a nomination form by following the links below:

Nomination Form: Citizen of the Year

Nomination Form: Professional of the Year

Nomination Form: Legislator of the Year

2022 Conference Award Presentations

Citizen of the Year

George, Hope Spoke Therapy Dog. George is featured in this video from about 1:16 to 1:18.

George became the first therapy dog for HopeSpoke in 2002. He served in this capacity for 10 years until his death at age 13 earlier this year. He quickly became everyone's favorite coworker with his big personality and wagging tail. When you were with George your mood improved and he brought sunshine into every interaction. George came to work daily and spent time in many therapy sessions over the years in Outpatient Therapy, Extended Day Treatment, and our Therapeutic Group Home. George was often the first to hear about the trauma that individuals had faced in their past. In group therapy sessions George knew who needed him and would often go to that individual and place his head on their lap. The work of behavioral health is challenging for staff. George equally brought joy to the staff whether it was grabbing him for a walk after a tough session, hearing his paws clicking in the hallway when he came to greet you or to protect your trash can from his search for people food. This 100+ pound St. Bernard/Lab mix was worth his weight in gold for thousands of individuals including staff over his ten years of incredible service at HopeSpoke and in the Lincoln community. He is forever loved and remains in our hearts.

Legislators of the Year

State Senator Anna Wishart (Legislative District 27, Lincoln). Senator Wishart introduced LB976 related to CCBHCs.

State Senator Myron Dorn (Legislative District 30, Gage County). Senator Dorn introduced LB762 for rate increases in Behavioral Health.

Professionals of the Year

Susan Henrie, CEU of South Central Behavioral Services. Susan, a true visionary who will retire this year, has been a stalwart supporter of NABHO since it's founding and a tireless advocate for the behavioral healthcare and child welfare systems in our state for more than 40 years. She has worked to move the system forward, bring evidence based practices to central Nebraska, break down barriers, increase access to care, and reduce stigma over the course of her amazing career.

Bridget Johnson, Boys Town. Bridget has worked at the Boys Town Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facility for over 15 years as a clinical therapist. She has consistently modeled the highest level of integrity in her position while treating some of the most challenging youth in the state/country. Bridget not only works to treat the youth in the program, but she also mentors and coaches her fellow therapists. Her door is always open to them for support and advice on finding resources in the community and developing creative therapeutic interventions. As her supervisor, I find her expertise invaluable to the team. Bridget looks for opportunities to increase her own development through trainings and research and shares this knowledge with her team as well. Her relentless positivity and advocacy for the youth she serves has energized our team throughout one of the most challenging years. I would like to nominate her for this recognition as she has given so much to our youth, the community and her team here at Boys Town. It is most deserved. Thank you.

President's Award

Jay Conrad, former Executive Director of Houses of Hope. Jay Conrad has dedicated his professional career to the improving the behavioral health community and services within Nebraska. As a founding member of NABHO and active participation through the years, he created a foundation of strong advocacy for quality behavioral health services for Nebraskans. His knowledge, expertise, and wisdom supported the core values of NABHO. His work to increase public knowledge on behavioral health issues include representation of the substance use population on a variety of boards, during his 40 years of leadership in the community. I am honored to award Jay Conrad the NABHO President's Award.


View the 2020 Awards Ceremony


2020 Citizens of the Year

Todd Duncan, Chief Deputy, Lancaster County Sheriff's Office

Nebraska Educational Television


2020 Professionals of the Year

Margaret (Peg) Reit, RTC Administrator, Boys Town Behavioral Health

Marilyn Rhoten, Vice President, CHI Health Behavioral Services


2020 Legislator of the Year

Senator Lynne Walz


2020 President's Award

Barb Hoff 

Past Awards

Prior to 2014, NABHO presented the following awards:

Outstanding Citizen of the Year
Howard Halpern "Chaos" Award
Craig Cooperrider "Professional" Award
SA Professional of the Year

Click here for a summary of past award recipients.