Governor Terry McAuliffe announced the recipients of the Governor’s Public Service Awards at a ceremony Wednesday at the Executive Mansion recognizing state employees who have demonstrated exemplary service and dedication to the Commonwealth of Virginia. The awards were presented during Virginia Public Service Week, which celebrates the contributions of public sector employees to the Commonwealth.
“I am so pleased to honor these men and women for their outstanding work in public service to the citizens of our Commonwealth,” Governor McAuliffe said. “These individuals and their colleagues in our state workforce are committed to excellence, and they represent the backbone of our state government. These awards demonstrate the values that guide our workforce every day as our state employees provide the highest quality customer service, innovation, teamwork and community service.”
This year is the 15th anniversary of the awards, which honor state employees in the following categories: Governor’s Agency Star, Career Achievement, Community Service and Volunteerism, Customer Service, Innovation, Teamwork, and Workplace Health, Wellness and Safety.
The recipients of the 2015 Governor’s Awards for Public Service are:
- Governor’s Agency Star Award: John W. Campbell, Jr., Department of Forestry: While still performing his regular duties, Mr. Campbell created and implemented at least 20 events during 2014 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Virginia Department of Forestry. In his position as public affairs officer, Mr. Campbell brought tremendous positive attention to the agency, executing partnerships and celebration events at virtually no cost to taxpayers. Among events for the anniversary and Smokey Bear’s 70th birthday were a week-long staffed display at the General Assembly building during the 2014 session; partnering with the Virginia Lottery to print the Virginia Department of Forestry shield and an anniversary message on 1 million scratch-off tickets; and a three-year partnership with NASCAR to plant 450,000 trees to offset carbon emissions from every vehicle driving to and from a NASCAR race in Virginia since 2013.
- Career Achievement Award: Irvin Powell, Department of Motor Vehicles: Irvin Powell began his career with the Department of Motor Vehicles in 1963 and is just the third employee in agency history to exceed 50 years of service. Mr. Powell is currently the agency Housekeeping Supervisor and has worked under seven of the DMV’s 12 commissioners. At the time he joined DMV, Mr. Powell wasn’t allowed to use the employee lunchroom or the public restroom or drink at the water fountain because of segregation laws. Four years ago, Mr. Powell was honored at the General Assembly with a framed resolution praising him for his long and faithful service to the Commonwealth. His duties have ranged from maintenance and security to janitorial and delivery services. Mr. Powell’s work ethic and dedication are inspirational.
- Customer Service Award: Bucky Crickenberger, University of Virginia: At the University of Virginia, Bucky Crickenberger is known as “Mr. UVA” for his dedication to the University. As high voltage electrician lead, he gives new meaning to the adage “service with a smile.” Known for going out of his way to help others and for keeping the best interest of the university in mind, Mr. Crickenberger is praised for setting a measureable benchmark for commitment, dedication and customer service. During his 30 years at the university, he has helped to install 1 million BTUs an hour without interrupting service so that researchers could continue their work and protect the consistency of their results. Mr. Crickenberger is well known for answering calls and showing up on his vacation days to ensure that projects are not delayed.
- Community Service and Volunteerism Award: Michael J. McSellers, Virginia State Police
Trooper Mike McSellers’ service to his community is truly a model for all citizens. He has been directly involved in everything from disaster relief and feeding the homeless to participating in fundraisers, serving as a mentor for young boys with disabilities and coaching community Little League basketball. A native of Fairfax, Trooper McSellers has collected food for the Haymarket Food Pantry, and cooked and served food at the Manassas homeless shelter. Along with other troopers, he headed a fundraiser at Glory Days Grill for Special Olympics that raised more than $500 in three hours. Trooper McSellers has volunteered his time on numerous occasions throughout the Commonwealth, including Loudoun County Special Olympics, mentoring at the Pace West School in Prince William County, counseling juvenile offenders at the Fairfax Detention Center, and providing disaster relief support for those impacted by national and local natural disasters.
- Workplace Health, Wellness and Safety Award: Terrence Walker, Virginia Commonwealth University: Terrence Walker helped develop a practical solution to support the needs of a segment of VCU’s student population. After conducting a survey that revealed 57 percent of respondents were not sure each day where they would get their next meal, a statistic comparable to that for other U.S. colleges and universities, Mr. Walker started the “Ram Pantry.” Mr. Walker, an administrative assistant for University Counseling Services, worked with others to secure space, tools and equipment with little to no money for start-up costs. By January 2014, the pantry was staffed and running as a student organization, with Mr. Walker serving as the staff liaison. In a year’s time, the Ram Pantry served more than 1,800 students, faculty and staff. The students running the Ram Pantry have now partnered with Food Lion grocery stores and other vendors to keep pantry shelves stocked. Senior executives from Food Lion have been so impressed that they have asked VCU to serve as a model for universities near the company’s North Carolina headquarters.
- Innovation Award: Susan Greenspoon, Department of Forensic Science: In her position as forensic molecular biologist, Susan Greenspoon has made significant contributions to the field of Forensic DNA. Responsible for DNA research and development at the Department of Forensic Science, she brought robotics to DFS, having a robot spend the six to eight hours previously required by examiners to isolate DNA from samples and perform sequential steps in the testing process. This innovation improves testing efficiency and reduces the time spent on analysis, ultimately leading to cases closed earlier and investigations completed more quickly by Virginia criminal justice agencies. Her expertise is recognized nationally. Ms. Greenspoon has been appointed to the National Institute of Standards and Technology to help coordinate the development of DNA analysis standards and guidelines for forensic science nationwide.
- Teamwork Award: Veterans Homelessness Team, Department of Veterans Services: The Department of Veterans Services (DVS) Veterans Homelessness Team embodies the spirit of teamwork, cooperation, leadership and engagement. The work of this team has enabled Virginia to make significant progress toward achieving Governor McAuliffe’s goal of ending veteran homelessness by the end of 2015. Its multi-disciplinary approach to ending veteran homelessness brings together all of the agency’s service delivery sections to address the broad range of challenges faced by homeless veterans. In addition, the team has partnered with the Homeless Veterans Committee, part of the Governor’s Homeless Outcomes Coordinating Council, which includes representatives of DVS, five state agencies, two federal agencies, the Office of the Secretary of Health and Human Resources, the Virginia Coalition to End Homelessness (VCEH), and others. Over the past year, its efforts have led to the first Summit on Ending Veteran Homelessness in Virginia; the Governor’s support for the Mayors Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness by the end of 2015; and the nation’s first Homeless Veteran Boot Camp to streamline the housing of homeless veterans. The team was instrumental in Virginia’s achievement in which it exceeded by more than 25 percent Governor McAuliffe’s goal for communities to house 360 homeless veterans in 100 days.
The Commonwealth and the Virginia Credit Union have partnered on the Governor’s Awards for Public Service since their inception.