Minnesota Community
Corrections Association  

MCCA Awards

2011 Board of Directors Award

Steve Bisch is this year’s recipient of the MCCA Board of Director’s Service Award. He is honored for not only the quantity of his years of service but also for the quality. He served on the MCCA Board for the past nine years as the board Secretary, President-Elect, President, Past-President, and Bookkeeper.

Within his couple of months of Steve joining the Board, the majority of the board members abruptly resigned, including the President. He said this was very surprising and a large challenge. He rolled up his sleeves and helped welcome and unify the new board members. Steve served as board Secretary for three years. When he became the board President, the MCCA membership grew under his leadership. He was instrumental in making sure that the monthly workshops were timely and relevant. His role as the MCCA Bookkeeper was exemplary and he ensured the checkbook was routinely audited and that MCCA budget was stable and growing. He always pressed for a balanced budget.

Steve has been working in corrections and community corrections since 1991, starting with Sentence to Service. Soon after that, he was one of two original crew leaders to take ICWC crews out of the Lino Lakes prison in early 1995. He provided leadership for the members of the work crew while helping crew members develop viable employment skills, largely in outdoor work including construction, park development, and plant management. He was also the first crew leader to take an ICWC crew out of a fenced facility, taking crews out of the Faribault prison. Again inmates had an opportunity to develop employment skills while working in the program. He left DOC in 1998 to begin working at Reentry Services, Inc., now RS Eden, as the Program Director for the Sentence to Service Program. In 1999 he became the Program Director at the Reentry Ashland Program – a correctional halfway house for hard-to-place DOC releases with great risk potential for release violation. He reliably shares his knowledge about working with high-risk offenders with anyone and is quick to say yes when asked to be on a workshop panel to share his knowledge.

He has always been a very strong supporter and cheerleader for MCCA. When he gets resumes that state someone is an MCCA member, he is interested in an interview because he knows the person is “growing.” He encourages his staff to become members of MCCA and makes sure they know they can attend MCCA functions on company time. Steve exemplifies why the MCCA Board of Director’s Award was established and he stands shoulder-to-shoulder with past recipients.

We are pretty lucky to have had Steve on the MCCA board. He couldn’t be more deserving of this year’s MCCA Board of Directors’ Award for Meritorious Service to the Association. Thanks, Steve!

2011 Robbie Robinson Service Award

Each year, MCCA presents the Robert H. Robinson Service Award to a staff person who has demonstrated outstanding achievement and dedication to community corrections. Robbie Robinson spent more than 20 years of his adult life in prison for a series of offenses and, upon release, developed 180 Degrees, a safe and sober living environment in 1973 for men returning to the community from prison. This award requires that the recipient be nominated by a peer or a number of peers. We are pleased to announce that Willa Lavamaki is this year’s Robbie Robinson Service Award winner.


Willa has worked for the Minnesota Department of Corrections for 16 years. During that time, she has had a variety of roles, including her current title CPT-Release and Reintegration Specialist IV. She has been instrumental in developing programs for people with mental illnesses, including the Anger Management Program for people with mental illnesses at MCF-Oak Park Heights and the Special Needs Program at MCF-Lino Lakes. While she worked at DOC Central Office, she implemented programming for release planning for people with mental illnesses. Willa has worked in several of the DOC facilities implementing programs for people with mental illnesses.

Willa works diligently to help people with mental illnesses transition successfully from prison to the community. She helps ensure that, when people are released, they have safe and appropriate housing, psychiatry and medical appointments, health coverage, SSI/SSDI and other important services and supports. In her spare time, she also worked on her licensure and is now a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor.

Family members of offenders with mental illnesses, as well as organizations like the Brain Injury Association and the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Minnesota, often say how wonderful Willa is to work with. Supervisory agents and community-based providers also have a high respect for Willa and enjoy working with her clients because they know that she has done a lot of work and that the people she has worked with will be connected to the services and supports they need to remain healthy and safe in the community.

Our hats off to you, Willa, for this year’s award!
Minnesota Community Corrections Association
c/o RS Eden
1931 West Broadway Avenue
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55411