Governor Terry McAuliffe announced the recipients of the Governor’s Public Service Awards at a ceremony today at the Executive Mansion. The awards honor state employees in seven categories who have demonstrated exemplary service to the Commonwealth of Virginia. The awards were presented following the celebration of Virginia Public Service Week, which is held the first week in May each year to recognize the contributions of public sector employees to the Commonwealth.
The awards recognize state employee achievements in the categories of Governor’s Agency Star, Career Achievement, Community Service and Volunteerism, Customer Service, Innovation, Teamwork, and Workplace Health, Wellness and Safety. Five successive Governors have presented these awards to state employees over a period of more than 15 years.
“I am pleased to honor these outstanding state employees for offering the best in public service to Virginia citizens,” Governor McAuliffe said. “They represent the dedicated time and effort spent by our excellent state workforce in providing the services that are the mainstay of state government. These awards demonstrate the commitment of our workforce to excellence in such areas as customer service, innovation, teamwork and volunteerism.”
The recipients of the 2016 Governor’s Awards for Public Service are:
Governor’s Agency Star Award: Gary Flory, Department of Environmental Quality
A 24-year employee with the Department of Environmental Quality, Mr. Flory is the agricultural and storm water programs manager for the agency’s Valley regional office in Harrisonburg. Recognized as a national and international expert in the area of environmental response to animal disease and agro terrorism, he regularly dedicates his time to writing and lecturing on solutions and awareness of these difficult issues. Mr. Flory has a long list of published articles and has given presentations to statewide, national and international audiences. He has been asked to participate in numerous work groups related to animal disease and environmental issues, was actively involved in the response to avian influenza outbreaks in three other states, and helped prepare an avian composting standard operating procedure for use by Virginia agencies. In addition to his job duties, Gary has volunteered as a Spanish and Russian translator, an English-as-a-second language tutor, a director on the board of a local preschool and the North River Library, and he is very involved at his church.
Career Achievement Award: Velma J. Ballard, Department of Housing and Community Development
Velma Ballard’s state government career is a compelling story. From the start, she has had to overcome significant obstacles in a more than 38-year career. Having a high school education and employed as a dispatcher for the city of Emporia, Ms. Ballard has broken many barriers for women, and African-American women, in public safety and other areas. She is a role model, moving up the state career ladder when opportunities for women were limited, from corrections officer to employee relations and human resource manager at two corrections facilities, to HR director and the first Associate Director of Administration at the Department of Housing and Community Development. Velma is consulted by managers in other agencies for her knowledge of state government systems and her problem-solving abilities. As the capstone to her career, Velma recently earned her Ph.D. in Public Policy and Administration.
Customer Service Award: Glen Askins, Department of Game and Inland Fisheries
Telephone calls about human and wildlife encounters are frequent at the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF). These incidents are challenging to address, and it is difficult to prevent recurrences. In 2013, Mr. Askins helped develop and implement the toll-free Virginia Wildlife Conflict Helpline. The Helpline, done in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services, provides a single source of timely, consistent and expert assistance. Callers are given science-based wildlife information when experiencing wildlife conflicts or seeking information about wildlife damage. Mr. Askins conducted extensive research, outreach and coordination before the Helpline’s launch. In its first two years, the Helpline staff responded to 17,826 calls. The top five inquiries have been on black bears, white-tailed deer, raccoons, foxes and skunks. Among other uses, the information is helping the agency develop educational materials, identify specific areas for targeted outreach, address site-specific wildlife management needs and predict the spread of wildlife diseases.
Community Service and Volunteerism Award: Bob Crawford, Department of Human Resource Management
Bob Crawford has spent a lifetime helping others, whether through the Boy Scouts, assisting individuals with disabilities or Habitat for Humanity. A 30-year state employee, he serves as a computer systems senior analyst at the Department of Human Resource Management (DHRM) and has worked in the information technology field for nine state agencies during his career. Mr. Crawford’s activities have included cub master and den leader with the Cub Scouts in Richmond, building houses for Habitat for Humanity, raking yards and doing other odd jobs for neighbors. While working at the Wilson Workforce Rehabilitation Center, Mr. Crawford was a founding member of the Computer Accommodation Lab helping to serve and assist individuals with severe disabilities with independent computer access. His cooking skills also have been a big asset in his involvement with community service projects. Mr. Crawford’s barbecue sales alone raised $600 for the Commonwealth of Virginia Campaign (CVC) at the UCI Cycling Championships “employee zone” last fall. He has helped to raise several thousand dollars with barbecue sales and auctions at DHRM and the Department of Environmental Quality.
Workplace Health, Wellness and Safety Award: Officer Ellsworth Pryor, Virginia Commonwealth University
Officer Ellsworth Pryor’s quick action this year saved a woman’s life. That incident is one of many times that Officer Pryor of Virginia Commonwealth University has responded to a medical crisis at VCU. In this case, Officer Pryor had a last-minute switch in assignments, and it was pure chance that he was at the emergency department driveway and on the VCU MCV campus to respond to the call. Inside the hospital, the woman fell to the floor in full cardiac arrest as Office Pryor parked outside. As an experienced certified medical technician and former advanced life support provider, he realized immediately that the woman had no pulse, he began CPR, and he saved her life. In August 2015, Officer Pryor prevented a woman from further injuring herself while in crisis and helped prepare her for ambulance transport to the VCU Medical Center. Four years ago, he found a man suffering from multiple gunshot wounds to the chest following a shooting on West Broad Street, and he stopped the bleeding until an ambulance arrived. Officer Pryor is indeed a role model for supporting a safe and healthy workplace.
Innovation Award: Shyam Mony, Virginia Department of Taxation
Shyam Mony is responsible for nothing short of an applications testing revolution at the state Department of Taxation. In less than a year, Mr. Mony has transformed the department’s systems testing environment. The result is a thorough, effective and repeatable test. The innovative, automated testing infrastructure that he built and deployed allows testers to conduct in three minutes what once took days, and it delivers a much more comprehensive test. Taxation employees are spending less time fixing code errors that made it into production and more time implementing system enhancements to improve service to citizens. During the first quarter of 2016, enhancements increased 56 percent compared to the same period in 2015.
Teamwork Award: HB2 Core Implementation Team, Virginia Department of Transportation and Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation
The HB2 Core Implementation cross-functional team has helped ensure that limited tax dollars are invested in the right transportation projects to meet the critical infrastructure needs of the Commonwealth. Consisting of employees from the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and Department of Rail and Public Transportation (DRPT), the team faced extraordinary challenges due to the complex nature of the project. A key initiative of the current administration, HB2 represents a paradigm shift in how transportation funding decisions are made. The team was charged with defining and documenting the process to submit projects for consideration, evaluation and selection, as well as developing the necessary tools to implement it. Using regular communication, creative problem-solving, coordination across multiple areas, and attention to time-sensitive issues, the HB2 Core Implementation Team went above and beyond in its extraordinary commitment to quality, transparency, cross-functional coordination, and innovation.