Gov. Pillen Recognizes Top Public Servant Mentors for 2023

Gov. Pillen Recognizes Top Public Servant Mentors for 2023
Courtesy/Photographed Left to Right: Back Row: Jason Jackson, Melissa Mayo, DeMoine Adams, Gov. Pillen, Jerry Newth, Tammie Holley, Seth McDougall Front Row: Danielle Bailey, Karen Barrett, Karla Koehler, First Lady Suzanne Pillen, Joy Loschen, Sally Mertens
February 28th, 2024 | Office of Governor Jim Pillen

LINCOLN, NE – Governor Jim Pillen Wednesday joined Jason Jackson, director for the Department of Administrative Services (DAS) in recognizing top public servant mentors for 2023. Those 11 individuals received specially designed challenge coins for mentoring youth as part of the state’s Employee Youth Mentoring Program in 2023.

“The public servants of Nebraska we are recognizing today are great examples of what it means to be a mentor,” said Gov. Pillen. “It’s a commitment that pays off in ways that can’t be fully calculated. When those kids look back, they will remember that someone cared enough to be there for them. Every kid may not need a mentor, but every child certainly deserves one.”

In all, 48 state public servants enrolled in the program and had their hours tracked. The first iteration of an employee mentoring program kicked off in late 2019. It was suspended due to COVID. Gov. Pillen relaunched the Employee Youth Mentoring Program at the start of his administration and reached out to mentor organizations to serve as partners.

The 11 public servants who earned challenge coins, mentored at least 10 hours each. They contributed over 52% of all mentoring hours donated through the program.

TeamMates Mentor is one of the partner organizations. CEO DeMoine Adams pointed out that it takes a team to help young people succeed, and practically anyone take have a role.

“Mentoring provides hope, which is the greatest indicator of academic success for students. Hope is what gets students excited about their future, keeps them engaged in school, and increases their sense of wellbeing which all leads to an improved quality of life,” said Adams. “Every student needs that additional caring adult in their life to remind them of their strengths, what’s right about them, and what makes them uniquely gifted and talented. I believe in the impact of mentoring not only as a mentor and the CEO of TeamMates Mentoring, but as a product of so many mentors in my life.”

Melissa Mayo, executive director of MENTOR Nebraska, said her organization has a waiting list of 2,500 kids who need mentors. She encouraged everyone to join the state’s “mentoring movement” – from Omaha to Scottsbluff.

“As the unifying champion of youth mentoring in our state, MENTOR Nebraska understands the importance of building cross sector partnerships to address the mentoring gap in our state – the one in three young people growing up without a mentor outside of their family,” Mayo said. “The state’s Employee Youth Mentoring Program is a shining example of how state employees are stepping forward and leveraging one hour of paid time each week to mentor a young person. This seemingly small investment of time will undoubtedly help us build a stronger, more supportive Nebraska, one relationship at a time.”

DAS Director Jason Jackson added, “Our public servants in state government all have servants’ hearts, and through the Governor’s mentorship program, they have another way to serve. It’s great to recognize the leaders that are going above and beyond to serve the youth in their communities.” 

“I’m encouraging all our Nebraska public servants to consider participation in the Employee Youth Mentoring Program. The more we can positively influence the lives of our kids, the brighter our futures, and their futures will be here in Nebraska. I look forward to recognizing even more people next year as awareness continues to grow about this opportunity,” said Gov. Pillen.

The 11 public servants recognized with challenge coins, and their respective agencies:

Danielle BaileyDepartment of Health and Human Services

Karen Barrett, Department of Revenue

Rachel Baum, Department of Health and Human Services

Tammie Holley, Nebraska Department of Environment & Energy

Karla Koehler, Department of Revenue

Joy Loschen, Department of Health and Human Services

Seth McDougall, Office of the Chief Information Officer

Sally Mertens, Department of Health and Human Services

Jerry Newth, Nebraska Department of Environment & Energy

Ann Marie Park, Education Department

Heidi Peirce, Department of Health and Human Services

For information about the TeamMates Mentor program, go to

MENTOR Nebraska provides a variety of resources for anyone interested in mentoring and can help connect individuals to opportunities in their communities. The address is


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