ATLANTA - The State Board of Pardons and Paroles has announced the agency’s annual awards for Community Impact Customer Service, Innovations, Employee of the Year and the G.O.A.T. Award, new for 2023.

The awards were announced at the Georgia Public Safety Training Center (GPSTC) in Forsyth, Friday, June 23, 2023.

The recipients of the agency awards are:

Katherine "Katie" Turner Employee of the Year Award – Cindy Croley, Parole Investigator, Southern Region, Clemency Division

Innovations “Forward Thinker” Award – Christopher Toussant, Program Manager, Georgia Office of Victim Services

Community Impact Inreach Customer Service Award –Traci Watson, Agency Procurement Officer, Budget Office

Community Impact Outreach Customer Service Award – Hermina Rowe, Team Lead, Interstate Compact Unit, Field Services Division

G.O.A.T. (Greatest of All Time) - Steve Baustin, Georgia Parole Board Attorney Liaison, Clemency Division

Executive Director of Parole Chris Barnett says the Board recognizes the importance of this event.

"These are incredible employees. By showcasing their achievements, commitment and dedication to their public safety roles, we are inspiring others in the agency to step up. We’re letting our entire workforce know just how important their work is to the communities of Georgia," Barnett stated.

Parole Board Chairman Terry Barnard, Vice Chair Jacqueline Bunn, Board Members David Herring, Meg Heap and Tim Ward and leadership joined Executive Director Barnett in presenting the awards.

Employees reaching service milestones were recognized as well. They included twenty-three employees who work for the Parole Board and have worked for the state of Georgia for more than 30 years. Those recognized included four with 38 years of service, one with 39 years of service and one with 41 years of service.

The Katherine “Katie” Turner Employee of the Year Award

The Katherine “Katie” Turner Employee of the Year Award is given to an employee who consistently performs above and beyond what is required. This employee seeks out extra duties and assignments willingly and goes the extra mile without hesitation. Reliability, positivity, and self-motivation are qualities this employee exudes.

As the Katherine “Katie” Turner Employee of the Year, Cindy Croley consistently demonstrated dedication, exceptional skills, and a remarkable commitment to the Clemency mission of excellence. She is the person who never complains, welcomes an extra project, and whose cumulative work performance for the last five years has exceeded, by far, all others with a total of 3,572 investigations completed, 436 more than the investigator with the second highest total. She regularly completes the highest number of weekly investigations. Her dedication and passion for her work inspires us all, and her contributions have impacted the Clemency Division. This investigator has developed excellent relationships with agency partners. She fosters a culture of collaboration and support. We applaud her hard work and unwavering commitment to our shared goals. 

Katherine "Katie" Turner Employee of the Year Award (About Katie Turner…)

Innovations “Forward Thinker” Award

The Innovations “Forward Thinker” Award is given to an employee who finds alternative, better, and more efficient ways of completing tasks or assignments. This award winner might generate new processes that improve the agency's operations or improvise to complete the assignment when faced with obstacles. 

Christopher Toussant’s remarkable contributions have profoundly impacted victim services in Georgia, setting a new standard for excellence and inspiring us all to think outside the box.

Christopher began with the board in 2017 as a Victim Services Specialist, where his commitment to help others was evident. Recognizing his leadership potential, Christopher was entrusted with the role of the Division's Lead Program Coordinator, a position that highlighted his ability to generate new processes that improved operations.

He managed the Victim Offender Dialogue program, displaying a natural inclination for finding more efficient ways of completing tasks and assignments. In fact, he initiated the first ever “virtual” VOD session.

In March of 2022, Christopher assumed the role of Program Manager. The impact was immediate and transformative. Christopher spearheaded the division's first training conference specifically for District Attorneys and Victim Advocates. The event was designed to enhance the understanding of the Georgia Office of Victim Services, the services it provides and the agencies it represents. With nearly 100 stakeholders in attendance, this conference provided invaluable information about victim services, restitution, unwanted communication, parole law, and the parole process.

Christopher introduced Trauma-Informed care into the Georgia Office of Victim Services. By integrating knowledge about trauma into policies, procedures, practices, and settings, he paved the way for a compassionate and effective approach to supporting survivors.

Christopher's leadership played a pivotal role in securing the National Crime Victims' Rights Week (NCVRW) Community Awareness Projects grant. Under his guidance, the team organized a remarkable twelve (12) events, including a panel discussion featuring key victim services experts and law enforcement. This marked the division's most active and impactful NCVRW to date, raising awareness and support for victims of crime.

To add to his impressive list of achievements, Christopher recently completed POST instructor training and in doing so, revamped and updated the Victim Services curriculum, ensuring that new officers receive the necessary education and skills to provide effective support to victims under their care. 

The Innovations “Forward Thinker” Award recipient, Christopher Toussant is a remarkable achiever and embodies the spirit of a true forward thinker.  

Community Impact Inreach Customer Service Award

The Community Impact Inreach Customer Service Award is given to an employee who has positively impacted the agency by volunteering, caring, and completing tasks for fellow employees.

The recipient of the 2023 Community Impact Inreach Award, Traci Watson, embodies everything this award stands for. She has gone above and beyond and has made a tangible impact all while demonstrating a commitment to the agency outside of normal business practices.

She began her public service with the state of Georgia in 1998 and has spent most of her career with the Parole Board. Dedicated and hardworking, she serves both internal and external clients. She is knowledgeable and her expertise is critical to sustaining agency operations. She has successfully led major improvement projects which have also taken countless hours of work in addition to her normal duties and responsibilities. She is very attentive to the needs of customers and goes the extra mile to offer assistance. If not knowledgeable about a subject, she will find a solution.

Traci encourages collaboration with the team, shares ideas, and establishes effective working relationships. She is an outstanding employee, a huge asset to her department and agency, and is more than deserving of this award and recognition.

Community Impact Outreach Customer Service Award

The Community Impact Outreach Customer Service Award is given to the employee who consistently shows compassion and concern for the people and communities around them. This employee made a positive impact by volunteering and caring for others and making the world a better place for the recipients. 

The recipient of this award, Hermina Rowe, began her career with the State Board of Pardons and Paroles in 2018 and has been very instrumental in increasing efficiency and fostering an environment of teamwork and camaraderie. This recipient is a humanitarian at heart. She is always seeking opportunities to serve others in the church and in the community.

This recipient is an administrator for a worship ministry and oversees several community outreach programs. This recipient is a member of HashTagLunchBag, a nonprofit organization that feeds the hungry in local communities. Additionally, during the holidays she works with the Hosea Feed the Hungry Projects to make sure that others receive enough food.

This recipient has also established her own personal clothing bank regularly donating garments of clothing to families in need within the community.

In addition to these efforts, this recipient eagerly and consistently volunteers at every Parole Board community engagement event. This recipient also works with seniors in the community and continues to look for other opportunities to give of their time, talent, and resources.

It is for these reasons and so many more that Interstate Compact Lead, Hermina Rowe is the 2023 Parole Board Community Outreach Award recipient.

The G.O.A.T. - Greatest of All Time Award

This award is presented to an individual in recognition of decades of hard-work, dedication, leadership, and grace. The employee’s efforts over the years helped set the foundation of this agency’s success. 

Steve Baustin began his career with the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles on February 2, 1979 as a Parole Officer I in Fulton County. He continued his rise through the ranks with the following promotions:

  • Parole Officer II in October 1981
  • Parole Officer III in July 1982
  • Chief Parole Officer in December 1983
  • Parole Review Officer in May 1987
  • Hearing Examiner I in October 1996
  • Hearing Examiner II in June 2005
  • Criminal Investigator Supervisor in January 2016, where he remained until his retirement on December 1, 2018.

That is almost 40 years or for you clemency folks; 478 months to serve. Better yet, this amounts to 14,548 days! And just to think, 31 days after his official retirement, he was back!!

Just when you think you are out, we pull you back in! Returning as a part-time employee, Baustin serves as the Board’s liaison for all criminal defense attorney inquiries.

Steve has always been the best of the best. Always open to talk, willing to lend a helping hand where needed and a strong advocate for the work of the Board.

Many have come before and many will follow, but no one will do it quite like Steve Baustin.

Steve Baustin is the Parole Board’s first ever GOAT Award Winner!!!


For more information about the State Board of Pardons and Paroles visit or contact Steve Hayes, Director of Communications at 404-657-9450 or [email protected].