Roles of Key Players

Roles of Key Players

CHIEF JUSTICE | 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.

PROJECT CHAIR | 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.


  • Team 1 – Judge Curtis Maschmann
  • Team 2.1 – Judge John Steinheider
  • Team 2.2 – Judge Bob O’Neal
  • Team 2.3 – Judge Bob O’Neal
  • Team 3 – Judge Toni Thorson
  • Team 4 – Judge Chris Kelly
  • Team 5.1 – Judges Linda Senff and Judge C. Jo Petersen
  • Team 5.2 – Judge Patrick McDermott
  • Team 5.3 – Judge Stephen Twiss
  • Team 6.1 – Judge Kenneth Vampola 
  • Team 6.2 – Judge Kurt Rager
  • Team Winnebago – Judge Patrick Runge
  • Team 7 – Judge Ross Stoffer 
  • Team 8.1 – Judge James Orr
  • Team 8.2 – Vacant
  • Team 8.3 – Judge Tami Schendt
  • Team 9.1 – Judge Arthur Wetzel
  • Team 9.2 – Judge Gerald Jorgensen
  • Team 10W – Judge Timothy Hoeft 
  • Team 10C – Judge Michael Mead
  • Team 10E – Judge Michael Burns
  • Team 11.1 – Judge Jeffrey Wrightman
  • Team 11.2 – Judge Edward Steenburg
  • Team 11.3 – Judge Ann Paine
  • Team 11.4 – Judge Kent Turnbull
  • Team 12.1 – Judge Russell Harford 
  • Team 12.2 – Judge Randin Roland
  • Team 12.3 – Judge James Worden 




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.