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National Association of State Judicial Educators (NASJE) Presents the Karen Thorson Award Thursday, September 7, 2023

At the 2023 annual National Association of State Judicial Educators (NASJE) conference in Columbus, Ohio, North Dakota Courts Director of Education Lee Ann Barnhardt, and William Brunson of Nevada, were each presented with the Karen Thorson Award.  

The Karen Thorson Award was established in 2012 to recognize a career judicial educator who has made a significant contribution to both NASJE and judicial branch education. In order to be nominated, the individual must: be a current or former member of NASJE; have had a significant positive impact on NASJE; and, have had a significant positive impact on judicial branch education.

Highlights from the nomination packet describe her accomplishments at the local, state and national level. Ms. Barnhardt has been the Director of Education and Communication for the North Dakota Supreme Court since 2005. During her almost twenty years in the position, she undertook the process to become a Certified Court Executive and Institute for Court Management Fellow. Ms. Barnhardt has spearheaded the effort for education not only in the courts, but also by providing outreach statewide in North Dakota by hosting the North Dakota Justices Teaching Institute for educators for more than a decade. Thousands of students have a better understanding of the court system thanks to more informed teachers. Ms. Barnhardt also served as the state coordinator of the North Dakota We The People Program, and has previously served on the board of directors of the State Chapter of the Children’s Advocacy Centers of North Dakota and the Bismarck Public Schools Foundation.

Her significant contributions to NASJE include serving as its President from 2017 - 2018. She is also past Midwest Regional Director, past co‚Äźchair of the Annual Conference Committee, past chair of the Membership and Mentor Committee, and past chair of NASJE’s strategic plan committee. Ms. Barnhardt also regularly serves as faculty for the conference and as a mentor to new members. In addition to her direct work for NASJE, she has represented NASJE in the revision of the ICM Fellowship curriculum and program design, served on the CCJ/COSCA National Opioid Task Force, and represented the organization at the most recent International Organization for Judicial Training conference.

Read the full award presentation here:  NASJE Presentation of Karen Thorson Award