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Evelyn E. Labode Service to Youth Award

Evelyn E. Labode Service to Youth Award


In September 2011, the Nebraska Juvenile Justice Association renamed the Service to Youth Award to the Evelyn E. Labode Service to Youth Award. Evelyn was a passionate advocate for youth and families and a strong supporter of NJJA. This award embodies Evelyn’s passion with NJJA’s goals of recognizing a professional in a field that demonstrates commitment, initiative and advocacy on behalf of the youth and families they serve.

About the Award Honoree

Evelyn Labode served as an NJJA Board Member from 2000 to 2006 and as president in 2004 and 2005. Evelyn started her life in Newport News, Virginia and attended the College of Notre Dame. When raising a family in Muscatine, Iowa with her husband, she was involved in bringing mental health services to rural Iowa. Evelyn was always an activist working for civil rights and attended the 1963 March on Washington as a young woman. While residing in Omaha and with all of her children out of the home, Evelyn enrolled in law school at Creighton University and obtained her jurist doctorate in 1992.

Evelyn was an avid researcher and a born advocate. As part of Evelyn’s work at the Center for Children, Family and the Law, she provided legal training on the Multi-Ethnic Placement Act, Inter-Ethnic Adoption Act, and Nebraska procedures for adoption. She was very passionate about children from minority groups receiving the full protections afforded them under the law.

After retirement, she continued advocating for families by serving as a commissioner on the Douglas County Housing Authority and raising funds for Habitat for Humanity.

Just before her 70th birthday, Evelyn was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer and passed away six months later on May 22, 2011. In spite of her illness, she continued to treat everyone with respect and never stopped taking an interest in the lives, joys, and struggles of others. Evelyn inspired many by the way she lived her life and has left a legacy of justice, love, spirituality and respect.

On February 23, 2012 Evelyn was honored by Creighton Law School with the Pittman Award. The Pittman Award is named after Judge Elizabeth D. Pittman, a Creighton Law School alumna, who was the first female judge in the State of Nebraska and the first African-American woman in the nation to be appointed to a judgeship by a governor. This is the first posthumous Pittman Award.

Award Criteria

Nominations can be submitted by any individual or group who has completed the nomination form addressing the following award criteria:

  1. Exemplifies dedication and commitment to his or her profession.
  2. Provides a positive role model to youth.
  3. Positively affects the lives of youth, their families and community.
  4. Demonstrates a record for advocating for youth and their families.
  5. Shows initiative to contribute to the rights and interests of youth.
  6. Provide a minimum of one (1) letter of support, not including the nominating individual or group. 


To be eligible to receive the award, the nominee must meet the following criteria:

  1. Reside in Nebraska
  2. Cannot be an NJJA Board Member – refer to list of NJJA Board Members 

Nomination Process

Nominations for the leadership award are sought from the field approximately three months prior to the annual NJJA conference in May of each year. All nominations will be submitted using the NJJA nomination form. Nominations will be reviewed and considered according to the award criteria.

Deadline for Nominations

Nomination forms must be submitted no later than April 1, 2024. Questions regarding the award, application process or other related issues should be directed to Tammy Sassaman.

Selection Process

The NJJA Awards Subcommittee, consisting of agents/representatives of NJJA and at least one NJJA Board Member, will review and discuss all applications and submit a recommendation to the NJJA Board for a final approval. The selected recipient and the individual or group who submitted the nomination, will be notified via phone by the NJJA Executive Director or designee. The selected recipient must respond and accept the award from the NJJA representative within 7 days via email or phone call, or another recipient will be selected. The scholarship shall not be awarded to any immediate family member of an NJJA Board Member or any Board Member.

Award Presentation

The award recipient will be invited to receive the award at the NJJA Conference Awards Luncheon on May 2, 2024, in Kearney, NE.

The award recipient will be asked to sign a release form granting NJJA to use the descriptive material from the nomination form and photos without compensation for the sole purpose of promoting recognition for the recipient, the award and NJJA.

The recipient will be announced to the news media and will receive the following from NJJA:

  1. An engraved plaque
  2. Waived registration fee for the NJJA conference
  3. One night’s lodging
  4. Recognized on the NJJA website as an award recipient
  5. Recognition through local and state media sources