Roles of Key Players

Roles of Key Players


Michael Heavican
Nebraska Supreme Court Chief Justice Michael Heavican is the leader of the Through the Eyes of the Child Initiative. The Chief Justice will protect the vision of the Initiative and provide direction to its members to ensure that the goals and objectives continue to be pursued.


Larry Gendler
Project Chair Larry Gendler is a judge with juvenile court jurisdiction appointed by the Chief Justice. The project chair acts as primary advisor to the Chief Justice, and is the face of the Initiative to the public and other entities. The project chair is a consultant for local lead judges and teams and is the primary liaison with other organizations.


Each local team is led by a Lead Judge. The Lead Judge leads local progress and works with the project chair and other judges for support and consultation. A principle tenet of the Through the Eyes of the Child Initiative is that Nebraska's judges must take an active leadership role in improving the court process in child protection cases. Judges have great ability to improve the lives of foster children through systems change and procedural improvements within their courts.

The Lead Judges are:

  • Hon. Curtis Maschman - 1st District Team
  • Hon. Bob O'Neal - Sarpy County Team and Otoe County Team
  • Hon. John Steinheider - Cass County Team
  • Hon. Linda Porter - Lancaster County Team
  • Hon. Elizabeth Crnkovich - Omaha Team
  • Hon. Patrick McDermott - 5th District 
  • Hon. Kenneth Vampola - 6th District - Team 1 (Fremont)
  • Hon. Kurt Rager - 6th District - Team 2 (S. Sioux City)
  • Hon. Ross Stoffer - 7th District Team
  • Hon. James Orr - 8th District - Team 1 (Valentine)
  • Hon. Alan Brodbeck - 8th District - Team 2 (O'Neill)
  • Hon. Tami Schendt - 8th District - Team 3 (Custer)
  • Hon. Philip Martin - 9th District - Hall County Team
  • Hon. Gerald Jorgensen - 9th District - Buffalo County Team
  • VACANT - 10th District - Team 1
  • Hon. Michael Burns - 10th District - Adams County
  • Hon. Timothy Hoeft - 10th District - West End
  • Hon. Jeffrey Wightman - 11th District - Team 1(Lexington)
  • Hon. Edward Steenburg - 11th District - Team 2 (Ogallala)
  • Hon. Anne Paine - 11th District - Team 3 (Red Willow)
  • Hon. Kent Turnbull - 11th District - Team 4 (North Platte)
  • Hon. Russell Harford - 12th District - Team 1(northern Panhandle)
  • Hon. Randin Roland - 12th District - Team 2 (southern Panhandle)
  • Hon. James Worden - 12th District - Scottsbluff Team
  • Hon. Patrick Runge - Winnebago Tribe

Each local team has designated a Team Coordinator. The Team Coordinator manages the team by arranging meetings, preparing meeting agendas, and monitoring progress of team projects. The team coordinator maintains active communication with team members and works with state staff.