Distinguished Public Leadership Award

The Distinguished Public Leadership Award was established to recognize public leaders who—through their vision, leadership, and knowledge—have influenced traffic safety policy directions that benefit society. Recipients are selected by Minnesota TZD; external nominations are not solicited for this award. 

2020 Recipient

Kristine Hernandez

In her current role as the statewide TZD program coordinator, Kristine Hernandez serves as the liaison between the Minnesota Department of Transportation and the Departments of Public Safety and Health. She began her TZD career as the first regional TZD coordinator for the southeastern Minnesota district. Thanks to her tireless work, knowledge, leadership, and vision, the TZD regional pilot project proved so successful that it was expanded statewide—and is now a nationally recognized best practice.

Kristine has helped develop marketing and educational materials that are used statewide to prevent distracted driving and improve safety for work zones, pedestrians, and younger drivers. Kristine’s efforts have also positively affected traffic safety legislation and led to policy modifications, such as incorporation of the point-of-impact material into Minnesota driver education requirements. She has also led grassroots efforts to pass legislation regarding the primary seat belt and prohibiting the use of electronic communications while driving laws.

Past Recipients


  • Mark Uglem
  • Frank Hornstein
  • Jim Carlson
  • Scott Newman


  • Lisa Kons, Traffic Programs Manager, Minnesota Safety Council


  • David Bernstein, Minnesota DWI Task Force chair and Assistant Minneapolis City Attorney


  • Gary Kroells, West Hennepin Public Safety Department


  • Gordy Pehrson, Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety
  • Captain Michael Hanson, Minnesota State Patrol


  • Lynne Goughler, Mothers Against Drunk Driving 
  • Tim Held, Minnesota Department of Health


  • Tom Sorel, AAA Minneapolis


  • Steve Simn, University of Minnesota


  • Mark Ritchie, Minnesota Secretary of State
  • Michael Campion, Department of Public Safety


  • Jean Ryan, Department of Public Safety


  • Jim Carlson, Minnesota Senate
  • Melissa Hortman, Minnesota House of Representatives
  • Cheri Marti, Department of Public Safety
  • Steve Murphy, Minnesota Senate
  • Kim Norton, Minnesota House of Representatives