TZD Star Awards Recipients

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Child Passenger Safety: Karri Hendrickson

Karri Hendrickson

Karri Hendrickson’s commitment to child passenger safety (CPS) is unwavering. Many people become CPS technicians because their job requires it or they have caregiver responsibilities. Karri was inspired to become a CPS technician when her own life was saved by her seat belt in a car crash, and she is interested in traffic safety and keeping kids safe. As a nurse working in various inpatient units, and previously working pre-hospital, Karri has seen the carnage an improperly installed car seat can cause and chose to do something about it.

If you’re new to the CPS world, you will most certainly meet Karri at an event, regardless of which organization is hosting. She supports efforts at North Memorial through various car seat education events, Children’s Minnesota at checkup events and community education opportunities, Regions Hospital with its frequent checkup events, and other independent and private organizations when possible.

Karri regularly volunteers to help with any and all child passenger safety events. In an area of training that struggles to retain 60 percent of CPS technicians each year, Karri goes above and beyond expectations of even those whose responsibility it is to plan and execute child passenger safety training.

Education: Jeff Strom

Jeff Strom

Lt. Jeff Strom with the Albert Lea Police Department has actively participated in TZD educational and enforcement efforts for more than 11 years. Although Freeborn County does not currently receive a TZD Safe Roads grant, Jeff has taken the lead with the Freeborn County Safe Roads coalition. He conducts quarterly fatal review committee meetings, bringing his “4E” partners together to review all serious and fatal crashes in the entire county; he personally pulls all of the crash files and prepares them for review. Jeff actively participates in traffic safety events at many of the schools in his area, helps organize mock crashes and impact speakers for the community, and volunteers to teach a majority of the driver’s education parent component, which is a year-long commitment.

Along with Jeff’s administrative and organizational skills, his passion for traffic safety unites and binds the “4Es” in Albert Lea and Freeborn County. He partners with Freeborn County Public Health to promote monthly Child Passenger Safety clinics and worked with Freeborn County Partners In Prevention to find funding to purchase a distracted driving simulator. These efforts are special because traffic safety is seen not simply as a law enforcement directive, but rather as a community concern promoted by community members.

Emergency Medical & Trauma Services: Amy Saylor

Amy Saylor

Over the course of her career, Amy Saylor has been dedicated to advancing emergency medical and trauma services throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin. She has extensive experience working with the EMS communities and is a strong advocate for advancing emergency medical and trauma services and enhancing patient care.

Amy has worked in health care for more than 18 years, including time working in ICU, critical care, and an ambulance setting. In her current role with Life Link III, she oversees two bases that provide air medical services throughout the Midwest. She is a respected leader who creates strong partnerships throughout the industry.

In addition to her work in health care and EMS, Amy collaborates with others on industry advancements. She currently serves on the Arrowhead Board of Directors, is a board member with the Minnesota Ambulance Association, and is a member of regional trauma committees. She is a ready resource for EMS and is known for always going the extra mile. Amy was also a key contributor and coauthor of the NERTAC Auto Launch Policy, which assists all aspects of law enforcement and EMS in deciding how and when to get appropriate air medical resources to a patient in a safe and timely manner.

Enforcement: Kevin Otto

Kevin Otto

Throughout his career with the Ramsey County Sheriff's Office, Kevin Otto's long-term passion has been in traffic safety, enforcement, and education. He is a founding member of the Ramsey County Traffic Safety Initiative (RCTSI), a collaboration of all law enforcement agencies in Ramsey County. From the beginning, Kevin has been integral in fostering the group’s collaboration, particularly through regular monthly meetings. During grant-funded enforcement periods, Kevin encourages officers throughout Ramsey County to collaborate on the enforcement aspect of traffic safety. He leads by example and actually shows many of the younger officers how to get out on the street to conduct enforcement details. Kevin consistently attends local TZD meetings and events to bring this information back to the RCTSI group. His efforts and leadership skills have helped Ramsey County work to decrease fatal and serious-injury crashes over the past nine years.

After every high-visibility and traffic enforcement detail, Kevin sends out a weekly report summarizing each event and including recognition for officers who go above and beyond. This weekly report, which is sent to all of the agencies within Ramsey County as well the Office of Traffic Safety, is a model for other law enforcement grant reporting. In addition, Kevin mentors younger officers to help them become better traffic enforcement officers.

Engineering: Richard Sanders

Richard Sanders

As a long-standing member of the Polk County TZD Coalition, Rich Sanders’ dedication to collaborative thinking, partnerships, and the citizens he serves are commendable. Rich has been the Polk County engineer since 2002. Along with actively serving the local TZD coalition, Rich serves as the president of the National Association of County Engineers and sits on the steering committee for the Minnesota Local Technical Assistance Program. Rich exemplifies those groups’ goals of fostering ideas that improve services and safety and helping those ideas come to fruition in an efficient and collaborative way.

Rich has a long history of dedication and commitment to the TZD focus areas and mission. He willingly and expertly advocates at a local and state level to key decision makers and stakeholders on behalf of county transportation infrastructure with a strong focus on safe, reliable transportation systems for communities.

Rich delivered the first district-wide 6” edge line striping plan for District 2 in 2010 and the first intersection lighting plan in District 2 in 2011. Since then Rich has been a leader in District 2 when it comes to Highway Safety Improvement Programs projects. He started the second phase of the county safety plan, which focuses on other safety improvements to the county’s highway system. Rich routinely includes rumble strips, 6” edge lines, and two-foot shoulders on his projects regardless of funding because he knows those measures improve safety.

Judicial & Court System: Abby Kuschel

Abby Kuschel

Abby Kuschel has been an advocate at the local, state, and national level for treatment courts and their success in changing the behavior of drug and DWI offenders. She is the Statewide Treatment Court coordinator for the Minnesota Judicial Branch and also serves as a faculty member for the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, training teams nationally on implementing drug courts in their jurisdictions. She has collaborated with the Department of Public Safety, Office of Traffic Safety in bringing national best practice trainings to DWI court teams throughout Minnesota.

Abby previously worked with drug/DWI courts in rural, northern Minnesota for 10 years as the Treatment Courts supervisor for the Ninth Judicial District and coordinated the Itasca County Wellness Court and the Beltrami County DWI Court. The Ninth Judicial District has over 15 treatment courts; the Cass/Itasca County/Leech Lake Wellness Court was the first tribal-state joint jurisdictional court in the United States and has served as a national model for intergovernmental cooperation, receiving numerous national awards. Prior to working in the criminal justice system, Abby worked in community health, social service, and employee wellness. She is an active member of substance abuse education initiatives in the community and previously served as the Itasca County TZD Coalition coordinator and as a guardian ad litem/child advocate.

Abby’s dedication to DWI court and treatment courts in northern Minnesota has helped the TZD partnership make northern Minnesota a safer place to live, work, and play.


  • Child Passenger Safety: Julie Philbrook
  • Education: Vijay Dixit
  • Emergency Medical & Trauma Services: James Kroona
  • Enforcement: Brad Norland
  • Engineering: Rick West
  • Judicial & Court System: Matt Grochow


  • Child Passenger Safety: Laura Owen
  • Education: Officer Adam Gau
  • Emergency Medical & Trauma Services: Matt Jakubik
  • Enforcement: Deputy Tom Coulter
  • Engineering: Lou Tasa
  • Judicial & Court System: Michelle Zehnder Fischer


  • Engineering: Tom Dumont, MnDOT District 3
  • Enforcement:Trooper Gabe Cornish, Minnesota State Patrol
  • Judicial/Court Systems: Jack Muhar, Itasca County
  • Education: Brenda Pohlman, Fillmore County Public Health
  • Emergency Medical and Trauma Services: Deb Syverson, Sanford Medical Center
  • Child Passenger Safety: KaRee Lockling, Fond du Lac Reservation Human Services Division


  • Engineering: Nancy Klema, MnDOT 
  • Enforcement: Deputy Sheriff Tim Entner, Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office
  • Judicial/Court Systems: Judge Shaun Floerke, Minnesota’s Sixth Judicial District
  • Education: Jennifer Hoff, Essentia Health-St. Mary’s Medical Center
  • Education: Bill Shaffer, Office of Traffic Safety, Minnesota Department of Public Safety
  • Emergency Medical and Trauma Services: Deb Horsman, Mayo Clinic
  • Child Passenger Safety: Deborah Schroeder, Olmsted County Public Health


  • Engineering: Vic Lund, St. Louis County
  • Enforcement: Becky Putzke, Brainerd Police Department
  • Judicial/Court Systems: Thomas Miller, Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, Minnesota Department of Public Safety's
  • Education: Andrea Gierok, Winona County Community Services
  • Emergency Medical and Trauma Services: Tom Vanderwal, Greater Northwest Emergency Medical Services
  • Child Passenger Safety: Esther DeLaCruz, CPS Associates


  • Engineering: Brad Estochen, MnDOT
  • Enforcement: Jason Engeldinger, Minnesota State Patrol
  • Judicial/Court Systems: Judge Mark Starr, St. Louis County Courts
  • Education: Gail Weinholzer, AAA Minnesota-Iowa
  • Emergency Medical and Trauma Services: Dan DeSmet, North Memorial Ambulance Service-Marshall Region
  • Child Passenger Safety: Jennifer Booge, Mahube Community Council


  • Engineering: Mark Vizecky, MnDOT
  • Enforcement: Scott McConkey, Office of Traffic Safety
  • Judicial/Court Systems: Shari Schluchter, Beltrami County Courts
  • Education: Bryan Carey, Minnesota State Patrol
  • Emergency Medical and Trauma Services: Brian Nord, Allina Transportation Buffalo
  • Child Passenger Safety: Diana Van Wormer, Regions Hospital


  • Enforcement: Joel Scharf, Moorhead Police Department
  • Emergency Medical & Trauma Services: J. Kevin Croston, North Memorial Medical Center
  • Education: Dan Schoonhoven, Moorhead Fire Department
  • Engineering: Wayne Sandberg, Washington County
  • Child Passenger Safety: Sharon Munns, Saint Marys Hospital/Mayo Clinic
  • Judicial/Court Systems: Joel Watne, former assistant attorney general


  • Enforcement: Bruce Johnson, Dakota County Sheriff's Department (retired)
  • Emergency Medical & Trauma Services: Darrell Smith, Cook County Ambulance Service
  • Education: Joseph Grafft, Metropolitan State University
  • Engineering: Dave Engstrom, MnDOT
  • Child Passenger Safety: Brynn Duncan and family, crash survivor
  • Judicial/Court System: James Dehn, Isanti County Courts


  • Enforcement: Jeremy Cossette, White Earth Tribal Police
  • Emergency Medical & Trauma Services: Jim Theodore, retired
  • Education: Cheryl Bisping, Mesabi Safe Communities Coaltion
  • Engineering: Dave Kopacz, Federal Highway Administration
  • Child Passenger Safety: Tom Jansky, Gold Cross Ambulance