Lawrence chamber to honor former county leader, judge with annual public service awards

photo by: Journal-World File Photos

From left: Craig Weinaug, former Douglas County administrator, and Jean Shepherd, a former Douglas County judge.

The Lawrence chamber of commerce has named two former Douglas County public servants as winners of the organization’s most prestigious awards.

The chamber recently announced Craig Weinaug, former Douglas County administrator, as the winner of the 2020 Citizen of the Years award, and Jean Shepherd, a former Douglas County judge, as the winner of the annual ATHENA Award, according to a chamber new release.

Weinaug and Shepherd will receive the awards during the chamber’s annual meeting at 5 p.m. Jan. 31 at Abe & Jake’s Landing, 8 E. Sixth St.

The Citizen of the Years award honors a local individual for lifetime commitment to the Lawrence community. Weinaug served as the county administrator for 26 years before he retired in December 2018.

photo by: Journal-World photo/Chad Lawhorn

Craig Weinaug

The chamber credits Weinaug for many achievements during his tenure, including the creation of the Dwayne Peaslee Technical Training Center and the Lawrence-Douglas County Bioscience Authority and the development of the Lawrence Community Shelter. He is also credited with creating a county sustainability fund and merging the Lawrence Fire Department and Douglas County Ambulance Service into the department now known as Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical.

“Craig has provided leadership on some of the most important decisions affecting Lawrence and Douglas County over the past 26 years,” said Bonnie Lowe, the chamber’s president and CEO. “He is the definition of a servant leader and his achievements will continue to impact our community for many years.”

The ATHENA award, presented by Crown Toyota Volkswagen, honors female leaders in Douglas County and those who support them. Shepherd was appointed as a judge in 1984, becoming the first female judge in the history of Douglas County. She was also the first female president of the Kansas District Judges Association.

photo by: Lawrence Journal-World file photo

Jean Shepherd

Shepherd was later appointed to preside over the county’s family court in 1994, when it was established. She also founded the Citizen Review Board of Douglas County and helped start the Douglas County Court Appointed Special Advocates program, or CASA, which has since named an award after her.

She has earned several accolades, including induction into the the KU Women’s Hall of Fame, being named an honoree of the Emily Taylor Center for Women & Gender Equality and receiving Leadership Lawrence’s Don Volker Leadership Award.

The chamber also credits Shepherd for mentoring foster children and mothers, students in high school and law school, newly appointed judges, and professional women who volunteered for the CASA program.

“Jean Shepherd is a pioneer in both the legal profession and in community service,” said Miles Schnaer, president of Crown Toyota Volkswagen. “She has had direct and meaningful impact on so many lives, both in and out of the courtroom. She exemplifies the professional excellence, community service, and mentorship of other women that the ATHENA Award is meant to recognize.”


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