Judges have pared down 215 nominations to 20 finalists for the 2013 Jefferson Awards.

Judges have pared down 215 nominations to 20 finalists for the 2013 Jefferson Awards.

The annual awards that honor the contributions of volunteers funnel initial nominations through a two-tiered judging system, said Angela Pace, director of community affairs for WBNS 10TV.

"All the nominations are divvied up and judged by Dispatch Media Group employees: 10TV, Dispatch (and) Dispatch Digital," Pace said. "From that judging, we get our semifinalists: 56 nominees who got the top scores from our preliminary judges."

The top 56 nominees then go to 12 business, civic and community leaders who rank them and pick their top five.

"They vote, discuss, vote, discuss, vote, discuss until they come up with their top 20," Pace said.

The process to identify finalists and finally the top five winners isn't taken lightly. The 12 judges choose five winners who will be announced April 4.

The finalists are judged in five areas, Pace said: need for a service that is provided; impact on a problem in the community; the challenge taken on by the volunteer; whether the problem would have continued if not for the volunteer's work; and if the volunteer showed "take charge" initiative.

The 20 Jefferson Award finalists will be honored April 4 and five winners will be announced. One of the five will be selected by a national panel to go to Washington, D.C., to be recognized.

The finalists for the 2013 Jefferson Awards are:

* Gahanna residents Christine Broas, who started the H.O.P.E. picnic to provide food, blankets, health care and grooming services to the homeless; E.L. Hardy Center volunteer program director Stephen Garland, who developed a model for providing thousands of meals to hungry children; and Emily Pina, an advocate for Muscular Dystrophy who started raising money and awareness after being diagnosed with the disease at age 12.

* Bexley resident Mary Morrison for her work teaching music at Columbus recreation centers and leading three local choirs and the only inner-city 4H clubs in Franklin County.

* Clintonville resident Dr. J. S. Jindal for his work to unite the area's interfaith communities and recruitment of under-represented minorities for blood donations.

* Dublin residents Nicole Rule, a peer collaborator at school who supports students with learning disabilities while working to stop bullying; and Rick Smith, whose work focuses on children who are sick or have special needs by supporting groups such as Easter Seals, the Mike Furrey Foundation and Recreation Unlimited.

* Ellie Hite, of Grandview Heights, who founded AngelWorks. The group helps central Ohio families facing the loss of a loved one or expensive medical problems.

* New Albany resident Phil Heit for his work promoting health with Healthy New Albany and the New Albany Walking Classic.

* Bruce Green, of Pickerington, for creating the Impact Team at Eastmoor Academy that gets students helping the homeless.

* Reynoldsburg resident Andrea Johnston for encouraging young girls to explore the subjects of math, science and computer science.

* Upper Arlington residents Catherine Plasket, who focused on raising money to help ill children attend camp at Flying Horse Farms; and Nashawn Stevens, who focuses his energy on helping poor and homeless children develop self-esteem and positive ways to deal with problems.

* Westerville resident Tyler Moon for his fundraising efforts to cure and raise awareness of Crohn's disease. Moon has suffered from the disease for most of his life.

* Phyllis Gamble, of Worthington, who leads the Riverside Methodist Hospital Sewing Guild in making blankets, pillows and other items for patients and their families.

* Columbus-area residents Dr. Gregg Ashcraft, medical director of La Clinica Latina, who is a champion for the medically under-served and people who do not speak English as a native language; Al Edmondson, a U.S. Army veteran, who is leading revitalization efforts on the Near-East Side and working to promote awareness of prostate cancer among African-American men; Helen Roots, who helps the disadvantaged get food, clothing and spiritual fulfillment through her "Miracle on Long Street" program; Dr. Dana Vallangeon, founder of the Lower Lights Christian Health Center that helps with the health care needs of Franklinton residents; and Ann Walker for decades of founding and supporting programs in Columbus' black community.