Court leaders celebrate employee milestones, present annual 'MVP' awards

Twelfth Judicial Circuit Court leaders recognized staff and judicial assistants at a virtual employee celebration on Friday afternoon. With a combined 345 years of public service, 24 court employees received certificates marking five, 10, 15, 20, 25 and 30-year “work-iversaries.”

Also presented were the annual “Whatever It Takes! Awards” (think MVP). Created in 2007, this peer-voted prize goes to one Court Administration employee and one judicial assistant for showing the “whatever it takes” spirit throughout the year. Court Operations Manager Monica Ausborn and Marliu Griner, judicial assistant to Chief Judge Kimberly C. Bonner, took home the glass star trophies this year. Their names also were added to the award plaques hanging in the Court Administration offices in Manatee and Sarasota counties.

As Court Operations Manager, Monica has been an integral part of keeping court operations in the Manatee County Judicial Center running smoothly. Since the beginning of the pandemic, she has coordinated with the judiciary and Court Administration staff, and worked closely with building maintenance and cleaning crews. In the early days of the health restrictions, she carefully measured and spaced out seating in public areas and courtrooms. She led the newly formed teams of health screeners and court check-in staff. On top of all the chaos, Monica faced each task with a positive, upbeat attitude that inspired her co-workers.

Chief Judge Bonner presented Marilu with her glass star trophy, noting that she was overwhelmingly selected for the prize. “I cannot imagine going through the pandemic without her. She is dedicated, meticulous, organized, and always willing to help wherever she is needed, whether it is being a Zoom bailiff, helping a co-worker, or working the front door. We can all breathe easier knowing she has our back,” Chief Judge Bonner said.

A special surprise

Court staff surprised Chief Judge Bonner with a “Fearless Leader” award. Presented by her predecessor in the chief executive spot, Judge Charles Williams, he thanked Chief Judge Bonner for calmly leading our court and staff during a global pandemic and through periods of uncertainty. Judge Bonner was both surprised and delighted by the recognition, and commented, “As much as I would like to say otherwise, I am far from fearless. But I have unwavering faith in our team.”

The hand-blown glass award was specifically selected for her by senior managers, not only because it was beautiful, but also because it was described as “streams of color colliding and spinning together, creating a beauty found only in the clouds just prior to a storm”, which aptly described how the circuit has felt under her leadership this past year. Congratulations, Chief Judge Bonner!

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