Chiarkas Award

Awarded annually starting in 2011, the Chiarkas Award is handed out by the State Public Defender in recognition of the leadership efforts of a staff member of the Wisconsin State Public Defender's Office (SPD). The award is named in honor of former State Public Defender Nick Chiarkas.


2016 Recipient:

Assistant State Public Defender Margaret Johnson for her work as the Racial and Ethnic Disparities Coordinator.

2015 Recipient:

Assistant State Public Defender Robert Peterson for his leadership efforts in further developing and managing the agency's Chapter 980 practice group.

2014 Recipient:

Assistant State Public Defender Diane Rondini-Harness of the Milwaukee Juvenile and Mental Health Office for her efforts on the issue of human trafficking.


2013 Recipient:

Attorney manager Neil McGinn of Milwaukee for his efforts in mentoring other attorneys and representing the agency on a number of key Milwaukee-area committees and initiatives.



Prior Recipients:

Investigator Michael Whalen of Madison for his efforts to work with the YWCA of Dane County and develop a process to implement Self-Reflection and Racial Bias Discussion Circles agency-wide.

Staff attorney Jessie Weber of Eau Claire for her leadership efforts to successfully work with Buffalo County in order to have its first-offense marijuana & drug paraphernalia charges to ordinance violations.