Saying that it was one of their favorite days all year, the Board of County Commissioners saluted the winners of the 2014 Employee Recognition Awards at a standing room-only celebration on Wednesday, May 7.
Now in its fifth year, the ceremony is held during Public Service Recognition Week, an annual event that celebrates the work of public employees across the nation.
“I take great pride in our diverse, dynamic workforce,” said Chair Marissa Madrigal as she opened the ceremony. “I hope every employee in every department feels appreciated and recognized for their important contributions to our organization and our community.“
Employees representing a wide cross-section of services provided by Multnomah County earned awards in the areas of Diversity and Cultural Competency; Employee Innovation; Outstanding Team Achievement; Superior Public Service to External Customers; Superior Public Service to Internal Customers; and Sustainability. Employees also earned awards in the categories of Committee's Choice and the Chair’s Excellence.
Diversity and Cultural Competency Award – Teresa Rios-Campos and Detective Keith Bickford for the Wood Village Immigration Clinic on Oct. 6, 2013
Teresa Rios-Campos of the Multnomah County Health Department and Detective Keith Bickford of the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office received the Diversity and Cultural Competency Award at the ceremony for their ongoing efforts to build and sustain trust between the Latino community and local law enforcement in Wood Village.
Through their continuous contact with the community, Rios-Campos and Bickford observed that many families in Wood Village were falling victim to human trafficking and other crimes, due to their immigration status.
To nurture an environment where community members felt safe speaking out against their victimizers, Rios-Campos and Bickford led a one-day immigration clinic last October. The clinic provided more than 40 Wood Village residents with the services of 20 immigration lawyers, as well as food and interpretation services.
While presenting the Diversity and Cultural Competency Award, Commissioner Diane McKeel said she was grateful for the work being done in East County to combat human trafficking and acknowledged specific steps taken by Rios-Campos and Bickford.
“By showing genuine empathy and respect for the community as they developed presentations, answered questions, and documented and translated residents’ stories to ensure they receive effective legal representation, Keith and Teresa have bridged that gap,” said McKeel.
Employee Innovation Award – Dena Abeyta
Department of Community Services
When the U.S. Postal Service enacted a new barcode standard for distributing bulk mail, it did not foresee how the new system might affect the vote-by-mail process.
With the January 2014 compliance deadline looming and no postal service experts to walk the Multnomah County Elections Division staff through the process, mail ballot specialist Dena Abeyta took the lead in figuring out the new regulations and ensuring that the county’s Elections Division fulfilled them.
“Through perseverance and clever detective work, Dena brought the division into compliance in time for the May 2013 election, a full eight months ahead of the federal deadline,” Chair Madrigal said during Wednesday’s award ceremony. “In fact, Multnomah County was the first Oregon elections office to become compliant.”
Superior Public Service to External Customers Award – Kylie Park
Multnomah County Library
When working at the Rockwood branch of the Multnomah County Library over the summer, library administrator Kylie Park noticed neighborhood children spending their entire days at the library without eating.
In order to feed the hungry, young library-goers, Park joined forces with Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon and Volunteers of America: Catering for a Cause. The partnership soon resulted in Rockwood Library hosting free, hot meals to the children and other members of the Rockwood community, serving a total of 2,125 meals in 45 days.
Upon accepting her Superior Public Service to External Customers Award, Park described what a humbling experience it was for her to “watch hungry kids devour their meals” and thanked all the community partners and library colleagues for their roles in the effort.
Sustainability Award – Inmate Garden Team, Sustainable Jails
Sheriff’s Office, Office of Sustainability
The first of the two Sustainability Awards distributed at the May 7 Employee Recognition Awards Ceremony was given to the Sheriff's Office Inmate Garden Team for its work on the Inverness Jail Inmate Garden and Seeds to Supper program.
Inmates tend the garden at Inverness Jail and donate the harvest to charity. The Seeds to Supper program taught at the jail by volunteers, provides inmates with a foundational education in gardening. And the Oregon Food Bank develops the curriculum.
“Inmates raised more than 800 pounds of fresh produce for local food banks during the first growing season,” said Commissioner Judy Shiprack as she presented the award to the 15-person team.
“More than 40 inmates also completed the Seed to Supper gardening and healthful eating curriculum,” Commissioner Shiprack said. “Gardening and gardening classes are restorative practices that recognize an inmate as a whole person, not just a person who committed an offense.”
The Inmate Garden Team’s members are:
- Michael McBride
- Juanita Speer
- Eric Winn
- Amanda Hampton
- Elizabeth Daily
- Jonathan Mathews
- Linda Buck
- Marc Swanson
- Steve Wright
- Tina Breiten
- William Taylor
- Deputy Bric Martin
- Deputy Steve Nicholson
- Lt. Steve Alexander
- John Wasiutynski
Sustainability Award - Roy Iwai, Water Quality Program
Department of Community Services
The second Sustainability Award was given to Roy Iwai of the Department of Community Services’ Water Quality Program. Among his many successes is the restoration of an urban creek in East County that had suffered significant degradation.
“Thanks to restoration work Roy championed, Coho salmon returned to East County’s Beaver Creek last year for the first time in recent memory,” said Commissioner Shiprack.
Outstanding Team Achievement Award – Facilities and Property Management, Carpenter and Locksmith Teams
Department of County Assets
The Outstanding Team Achievement Award recipients went to members of the Facilities and Property Management’s Carpenter and Locksmith teams. From completely remodeling an interior workspace, to cutting a file cabinet key, to retrofitting a 100-year-old-lock, these teams are responsible for completing several thousand maintenance and service requests work orders each year.
While giving the teams their award, Commissioner Loretta Smith illustrated how critical the services they provide can be. She explained there had been an uptick in suicide attempts by inmates at the Multnomah County Detention Center after a compromise in the cell window covers and doors was discovered.
“Within days of the project being declared an emergency, the team’s eight carpenters and two locksmiths performed inspections, assessed the problems, procured materials and began completing the necessary repairs,” said Smith. “Through an outstanding team effort which required long work hours, the project was completed sooner than anticipated and under budget.”
The Facilities and Property Management Carpenter and Locksmith team members are:
- Tim McWilliams
- Greg Loux
- Ray Hagel
- Dennis Rutt
- Keven Cordova
- Nick Lynch
- Derek Kirschner
- Rick Houston
- Tony McCartney
- Doug Frieze
Superior Public Service to Internal Customers - Les Spitler
Department of County Assets
Les Spitler of the Department of County Assets was one of two individuals honored with the Superior Public Service to Internal Customers.
With Multnomah County running its essential programs and services out of more than 100 locations, keeping county facilities in operation requires a large amount of upkeep. As a contract specialist, Spitler played a key role in securing necessary repair and maintenance contracts for the county.
“A few years ago, there were only a handful of service contracts in place, but in less than two years, Les Spitler has put together more than 120 service contracts in support of county operations,” said Commissioner Liesl Wendt before inviting Spitler up to accept his award.
“He has saved the county thousands of dollars by soliciting bids from various vendors and awarding contracts to the most qualified competitive bidder,” she said, “and he’s earned the confidence of his colleagues at the county as well as the vendors with whom he works.”
Upon accepting his award, Spitler express his thanks for the honor but stressed the contributions of his colleagues for strides made by the county’s Contracts Division in recent years.
Superior Public Service to Internal Customers - Elizabeth McHugh
Department of County Human Services
Elizabeth McHugh, senior program specialist and children’s crisis lead for the Department of County Human Services, was also recognized for Superior Public Service to Internal Customers.
When the Department of County Human Services faced a succession of rule changes around their work with clients affected by developmental disabilities between June 2012 through August of the 2014, McHugh led the way.
She provided training and helped Department of County Human Services staff explain the system changes to clients during home visits.
Commissioner Wendt complimented McHugh on her work, emphasizing the complexity and extent of the system reform.
“More than 30 staff and 1,300 families were impacted by the chaos,” said Wendt.
Commissioner Wendy went on to praise McHugh, stating that because of her efforts, the Department of County Human Services was able to “successfully implement one of the biggest systems changes in Oregon for children impacted by developmental disabilities.”
Employee Recognition Awards Committee’s Choice Award – Alicia Byrd
Multnomah County Library
Alicia Byrd, library outreach specialist of the Multnomah County Library received the Committee’s Choice award for her innovative efforts to promote reading among children and adults.
Byrd worked to grow Books 2 U, a program that up until recently, primarily focused on encouraging young people to read by providing free books in classrooms, parks, housing units, community events and more. After realizing that adults can model the habit of recreational reading to children, Byrd helped expand the program to include the distribution of adult books in the community.
Commissioner Smith, who presented Byrd with the award, spoke fondly about another of Byrd's initiatives where books are placed on school buses for students to read on their way to and from school.
“The students are supposed to return the books, but that doesn't always happen – and that’s OK!” Smith joked. “Byrd provides the program with unwanted books from the library’s used bookstore to spread the joy of reading.”
Byrd is the first recipient of the Committee’s Choice Award, which was established this year to honor county employees’ whose accomplishments fall outside the parameters of the existing Employee Recognition Awards nomination categories.
Chair’s Excellence Award - “Team Snow-Pocalypse 2014”
The final honor given was the Chair’s Excellence Award, recognizing the large, coordinated effort across departments to continue providing services to county residents and keeping the public informed during the large snowstorm that hit our region this past February.
From maintaining the roads and bridges, to making sure warming shelters were set up and open, more than 70 employees were lauded by Chair Madrigal for their respective roles in responding to the snow.
Madrigal thanked the award winners for their willingness to “step outside the scope of their work” and said she was impressed by the “tenacity and commitment” displayed by all those involved in the coordination.
The chair went on to tell the story of one employee’s work during the storm that struck a personal chord with her.
Mat Brady from the county’s Facilities Division was in downtown Portland during the snowstorm, when he noticed a newly-released prisoner being dropped off outside a county building that was locked due to the weather.
All the man wore were the clothes on his back, which were not warm enough to keep his body safe in the frigid temperatures.
Knowing the county building the man stood in front of had a collection of heavier, donated clothes inside, Brady unlocked the building to fetch them for him.
Brady then drove the man to a warming shelter, ensuring he had a warm, dry place to ride out the storm that night.
“Team Snow-Pocalypse 2014” are:
- Steve Adams
- Rai Adgers
- Rose Bak
- Tina Birch
- Steve Black
- Allison Boyd
- Mat Brady
- Lee Brandt
- Treiva Brockway
- Steve Bullock
- Alice Busch
- Stephanie Collingsworth
- Jen Cross
- Eireen DeSmith
- Mark Dorin
- Lora Goode
- Perry Guthrie
- David Harris
- Marcus Harju
- Tony Hedval
- Luis Hernandez
- Krissy Hohmann
- Jenny Holman
- William Hong
- Paul Iarrobino
- Erick Johnson
- Jerusha Kasch
- Tanya Kiepke
- Tiffany Kingery
- Elizabeth Klobucnik
- Shelley Laird
- Macy Langley
- Robin LeConche
- Mary Li
- Alex Lilly
- Eric Logue
- Seth Lyon
- Mike Maloney
- Michael McConnell
- Karen McGill
- Arnett Mix
- Tina Myers
- Julie Neburka
- Matt Nelson
- Trinh Nguyen
- Dan Nibouar
- Donna Olson
- David Papworth
- Carol Parten
- Ron Patterson
- Alfredo Perez
- Jerry Petty
- Rachel Philofsky
- Rachel Piazza
- Nick Pizzuto
- Andrez Posada
- Mike Pullen
- Geoff Rosenberger
- Neal Rotman
- Joe Rizzi
- Donna Scott
- Ruby Scroggins
- David Shostak
- James Smith
- Kaleb Smith
- Jennifer Sparkman
- Trina Thornton
- Jason Tumbaga
- Lupe Velador
- Mary Kate Watson
- Jeanne Wells
- Raymond White
- Mark Wiesner
- Michael Wood
- Dave Zipprich
- Amber Zwetsch