What is Operation Youth Success About?

Operation Youth Success is bringing people together to decide what aspects of juvenile justice in Douglas County need to change and how that change will happen. Conversations with over 200 community stakeholders have led to the following shared vision and goal:

Across Douglas County, our vision is a comprehensive, coordinated, and community-wide approach to juvenile services that eliminates the need for youth involvement with our justice system while maintaining public safety.

For all youth who do enter our justice system, our goals are to provide effective, compassionate and individualized support that empowers youth and their families to succeed and to build an environment of mutual trust and accountability.


Why is the Time Ripe for Operation Youth Success?

There is significant positive momentum to build on. Juvenile arrest rates decreased 15% between 2006 and 2011 and nearly 95% of arrests were for non-violent crimes. Alternatives to detention have been developed and our diversion program has a 90% success rate. Our youth benefit from more than 200 service providers and community-based organizations. Recent reforms have led to more resources and coalitions increasingly coordinating services for specific youth populations (e.g., Crossover Youth).

At the same time, key challenges need to be addressed. Our juvenile arrest rate remained ~50% greater than the national rate in 2011. Too many arrests disproportionately represent black youth and come from a handful of neighborhoods. The leading cause of contact with our system is truancy; and while it is declining, it remains an issue. Moreover, cases take too long to move through our system and families and providers face opaque, complex processes. Information is not collected uniformly, meaning agencies and service providers cannot coordinate or learn from each other. And finally the adults involved in our juvenile justice system need more training on trauma sensitivity, motivational interviewing, and mentoring.

The interconnectivity of these challenges means that no one silver bullet answer exists. Rather, these challenges live at the intersection of systems (e.g., juvenile justice, education, health, welfare), at the intersection of actors (e.g., police officers, judges, lawyers, county attorneys, case managers, probation officers, teachers, service providers, youth, their families and caregivers) and at the intersection of community-wide issues (e.g., poverty, drop-out rates, violence / gangs, language / cultural fluency, transportation barriers).

Overcoming these challenges will require the whole community coming together, which is why this Operation Youth Success has been brought to life.

Who is Involved?

Steering Committee

19 volunteers who represent key decision-makers and will ensure the effort moves forward and that changes are implemented.


Working Groups

Seven groups made up of 15-20 volunteers who will decide what changes to make based on community feedback and their experience – and how that change will happen. We will build on existing successes and coalitions in creating these groups, including close coordination with JDAI. See page 3 for a list of the working groups.

Committee Partners

The organizations, agencies and individuals who will help put our plans into action.


A neutral organization that will provide on-going support to all the partners involved in this effort. The backbone consists of approximately 5 staff dedicated to maintaining the momentum of this effort and will be supported via a public-private partnership. The County will serve as the fiscal agent for the backbone.


What Will Change Look Like and How Will it Happen?

Ultimately, we seek to improve system coordination, communication, and outcomes. To achieve our vision, we expect to take action in six main areas via seven working groups. These working groups will agree on the key issues we need to address and develop action plans to do so.

Empowering Families and Caregivers
Connecting our Community to better support all Youth needs
Improving processes and practices to better support our youth

Team Members

Janee Pannkuk

Executive Director
Please specify image url
Email Janee // (402) 554-3373

Amber Parker

Program Manager
Please specify image url
Email Amber // (402) 554-3396

Karla Dush

Program Specialist
Please specify image url
Email Karla // (402) 554-6339

Emily Adams

Data Analyst
Please specify image url
Email Emily // (402) 554-

Debora Faga

Administrative Assistant
Please specify image url
Email Debora // (402) 554-4162

OYS Steering Committee Members

Brad Alexander, Head of Juvenile Detention Center, Douglas County Correctional Facility

Patrick Bloomingdale, Douglas County Chief Administrative Officer

Mary Ann Borgeson, Douglas County Commissioner, Chair

Nicole Brundo, Deputy Douglas County Attorney

Shawne Coonfare, Executive Director, Douglas County Juvenile Assessment Center

Greg Gonzalez, Omaha Police Department Deputy Chief

Catherine Hall, Douglas County Assistant County Administrator

Willie Hamilton, President, Black Men United

Dan Jackson, Community Citizen

Juvenile Judge Douglas Johnson, Douglas County

Nicholas Juliano, Director of Regional Advocacy & Public Policy, Boys Town

Kerri Peterson, Director of Urban Initiatives, The Sherwood Foundation

Chris Rodgers (SC Chair), Douglas County Commissioner

Lauren Walag, Douglas County Public Defender

LaVon Stennis-Williams, Executive Director ReConnect, Inc.

Lisa Utterback, Executive Director, Omaha Public Schools

Mary Visek, Douglas County Chief Probation Officer – Juvenile Justice

Thomas H. Warren, Sr., President & Chief Executive Officer, Urban League of Nebraska

Thomas Wheeler, Douglas County Sheriff’s Dept. Chief Deputy

OYS Executive Team

Nicholas Juliano, Director of Regional Advocacy & Public Policy, Boys Town

Kerri Peterson, Director of Urban Initiatives, The Sherwood Foundation

Chris Rodgers, Douglas County Commissioner