TZD Star Awards Recipients

2023 Recipients

Child Passenger Safety: Aimee Eggen

Aimee Eggen
Aimee Eggen

Aimee Eggen is a child passenger safety technician with Norman-Mahnomen Public Health. In this role, she has provided car seat distribution and education to 277 clients and has educated hundreds of community members through health fairs, school presentations, and car seat checks. She has built strong partnerships with local clinics, community action agencies, law enforcement, schools, and businesses and uses these to share passenger safety messages. During the pandemic, Aimee continued to serve families by providing virtual car seat visits. She works diligently to increase her clients’ knowledge and use of car seats while also working to decrease inequitable access

Education: K9 Deputy Luis Figueroa

Luis Figueroa
Deputy Figueroa 

K9 Deputy Luis Figueroa serves as the Martin County Safe Roads Coalition Coordinator and TZD law enforcement contact. Through these roles, he has been instrumental in bringing educational programs and events such as Responsible Beverage Server training to Martin County. Deputy Figueroa has facilitated traffic safety education at local high schools through a mock crash and by attending health classes to talk about distracted and impaired driving. In October 2022 Deputy Figueroa organized a traffic safety education event for the Spanish community, working with the TZD coordinator and CPS technicians to bring in information and car seat checks to over 20 families.

Emergency Medical & Trauma Services: Chris Ballard

Chris Ballard
Chris Ballard

As the former trauma system coordinator for the Minnesota Department of Health, Chris Ballard helped build the infrastructure of Minnesota’s trauma system. The state trauma system requires local facilities to provide education for medical providers to facilitate trauma care; however, national training courses are costly and often not the best fit for staff who may only work in the ER during times of crisis. To meet this need, Chris created a cost-effective video program for critical-access hospital nurses that represents local trauma protocols and can be taken “on demand” instead of during a two-day period that often stretches staffing. Chris was integral in developing a way to provide this vital education to hospitals that increases the odds of survival for crash victims.   

Enforcement: Officer Luke Nelson

Luke Nelson
Officer Nelson

As a traffic enforcement officer, Luke Nelson is not only involved in his own community of Eagan but also supports and leads many initiatives to improve roadway safety throughout Dakota County. He collaborates with others through law enforcement grant efforts, Dakota County TZD, and school presentations. He also serves as a technical expert at public meetings for proposed street and pedestrian safety improvement projects. Officer Nelson organized the “Busted by the Bus” program that targeted school bus stop-arm violations. In addition, as part of the police department’s social media team, Officer Nelson participates in virtual ride-alongs, helping community members see firsthand the safety risks that occur every day and reinforcing safe driving habits. 

Engineering: Lars Impola 

Lars Impola
Lars Impola

Lars Impola is the acting district traffic engineer for MnDOT’s Metro District. Through decades of experience in traffic engineering, Lars has been a leader in implementing proactive engineering solutions systemically around the district. His tireless efforts have led to a greater adoption of countermeasures aimed at preventing deaths and serious injuries, even when it would have been easier to give in to public or political pressure opposing those solutions. Lars volunteers at TZD outreach events, actively participates on the TZD steering committee, serves as a member of highway safety coalitions around the metro area, and has regularly attended state and regional TZD events for many years. In addition to his engineering accomplishments, Lars has been active in the enforcement realm through his work as a Plymouth Police Department Reserve Officer for 27 years.

Judicial/Court System Award: Kathy Keena 

Kathy Keena
Kathy Keena

Dakota County Attorney Kathy Keena works tirelessly to support efforts to prevent fatal and serious-injury crashes on the county’s roadways. She holds offenders responsible and supports victims and survivors of third-degree murder, criminal vehicular homicide and operation, impaired driving, distracted driving, careless driving, and other life-changing decisions. Kathy has championed victim specialists to walk with survivors through the criminal justice system, providing resources as they navigate the trauma of loss. In addition, Kathy successfully argued the appeal of a criminal case concerning Minnesota’s DWI test refusal statute before the US Supreme Court—a win on behalf of those fighting impaired driving.

Past Recipients


  • Child Passenger Safety: Officer Ryan Kuffel
  • Education: Mary Erickson
  • Emergency Medical & Trauma Services: Josh Duda
  • Enforcement: Deputy Chad Myers
  • Engineering: Derek Leuer


  • Child Passenger Safety: Bridget Nez
  • Education: Crystal Hoepner
  • Emergency Medical & Trauma Services: Tim Cook
  • Enforcement: Sgt. Joshua Moore
  • Engineering: Diane Langenbach


  • Child Passenger Safety: Tracy Brown
  • Education: Stephanie Felt
  • Emergency Medical & Trauma Services: Joan Somes
  • Enforcement: Chief Josh Hanson
  • Engineering: Loren Hill
  • Judicial & Court System: Monica Jensen


  • Child Passenger Safety: Detective Cameron Gustafson
  • Education: Allison Nicolson
  • Emergency Medical & Trauma Services: Kristi Engelstad
  • Enforcement: Commander Jeremy Ellison
  • Engineering: Renae Kuehl
  • Judicial & Court System: James C. Backstrom


  • Child Passenger Safety: Karri Hendrickson
  • Education: Jeff Strom
  • Emergency Medical & Trauma Services: Amy Saylor
  • Enforcement: Kevin Otto
  • Engineering: Richard Sanders
  • Judicial & Court System: Abby Kuschel


  • 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