Governor Wolf Honors 47 State Employees for Excellence in Public Service

May 09, 2018

Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf today announced the recipients of the Governor’s Awards for Excellence and praised all state employees for their dedication to public service. The awards were presented today at a ceremony in Harrisburg.

“The employees being recognized have gone above and beyond their job requirements to provide outstanding service and make government more responsive and effective,” said Governor Wolf. “Their accomplishments are truly exemplary. We are fortunate to have such dedicated public servants working for the people of Pennsylvania.”

“The Governor’s Awards for Excellence celebrate the best among us as state employees,” said Secretary of Administration Sharon Minnich. “I want to congratulate all of our nominees for their noteworthy contributions.”

Twenty-three state agencies submitted a total of 44 nominations prepared by their employees, with five individual and six group nominations selected as winners for this year’s awards.

Jared Pierce – Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
For bravery, professionalism and dedication in the line of duty at Nockamixon State Park in Bucks County. Jared came to the aid of a lifeguard who was being threatened by a group of visitors. When the crowed proceeded to attack and beat Jared, he refused to draw his weapon or fire in self-defense out of concern for innocent bystanders. His calm handling of this volatile situation is being used to train other rangers.

Electronic Sales Suppression Audit Team – Department of Revenue
Michael Answine, Kevin Dale, Louis Dondero, William Hartman, Adam Hovne, Kenneth Perry and Charles Snyder

For their efforts to address electronic sales suppression, an illegal practice that involves a person using software to systematically delete or alter sales and tax records. They pioneered new evidence-based methods to detect potential sales suppression that resulted in the recovery of $6 million in sales, corporate, personal and other taxes. The employees have also built relationships with other states and the business community to share information and raise awareness of this issue.

Erie County Maintenance Team – PennDOT
Randall Busch Jr., Bree McDonald-Stewart, Thomas Mello Jr., Robert Miller Jr., Michele Morningstar, Nathaniel Nunez, Douglas Schofield, James Shaut, Jean Sherred and Jesse Williams

For keeping Interstate 90 and other major roads clear during the record-breaking seven-foot snow storm that hit northwestern PA during the 2017 Christmas holiday. The team deployed an innovative response plan that mobilized staff and equipment from surrounding counties while maintaining coverage in those areas. As a result, no major road closures or traffic incidents occurred during this unprecedented weather event. They also provided assistance to the City of Erie to dig out its residents.

Major Michael Gourley – Department of Corrections
For multiple initiatives focused on cost savings, safety and security and efficiency in community corrections centers. Major Gourley’s accomplishments include reducing overtime costs by $500,000 in 2017, improving training compliance and completion rates among facility staff, clearing a backlog of investigations and implanting a program to reduce repeat offenders. In the face of the opioid epidemic, he introduced Naloxone to community corrections facilities and testing to get users into treatment.

Medical Marijuana Team – Department of Health
John Collins, Latrisha Bentch, Tabbitha Bosack, Wendy Carson, Lawrence Clark, Susan Jones, Sunny Podolak, Holli Senior and Amanda Yeager

For the creation of Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program to enable patients with serious medical conditions to have access to life-improving treatments. The employees were responsible for creating registries, ensuring the competent review of applications for permits and issuing permits to grower/processors and dispensaries. Implementation of the program, which occurred in February 2018, required creation of new regulations, which involved coordination across many areas of the Department of Health.

Community HealthChoices Team – Department of Human Services and Department of Aging
Richard Bennett, Scott Brady, Virginia Brown, Patricia Clark, Kevin Hancock, Christine Miccio, Randolph Nolen, Jeanne Parisi, Shannon Stiffler and Jill Vovakes

For their work to launch Community HealthChoices (CHC), a new program to enable older Pennsylvanians and individuals with physical disabilities to receive care in their homes. Throughout the process, the team worked collaboratively with experts within the commonwealth and stakeholders ensure the program would be responsive to the needs of participants and workable for providers. CHC was implemented in 14 southwest Pennsylvania counties in January 2018 and will continue to be rolled out statewide.

Michael Heilman – Department of Environmental Protection
For lasting contributions to the quality of the environment and health of residents through his work as an attorney. Michael used his legal background and expertise as a professional engineer to help DEP issue an order to cease underground mining activities causing dangerous methane emissions, and then successfully defended against an appeal by the company. He also collaborated with the federal EPA on new requirements to limit natural gas emission from transmission pipelines and sulfur emissions from coke plants. Michael is also a leader and mentor to other commonwealth attorneys and regularly shares his knowledge with colleagues.

Open Data Team – Office of Administration
John Long IV, Jere Matthews and Julie Snyder

For building the state’s open data program to improve public transparency, citizen engagement and government operations. The team launched the OpenDataPA portal and worked with agencies to add over 100 data sets. Last fall, they hosted the Code4PA hackathon, which attracted over 200 participants to compete to develop new apps and services using commonwealth open data. They are currently planning the next hackathon, which will focus on using data to combat the opioid epidemic.

Puddintown-Orchard Road Bike Path Team – PennDOT
Joseph Baker, Shelley Scott and Scott Shaffer

For their creative approach to save a bike path project in Centre County after the discovery of an important archaeological site that would have required extensive study and review before the project could proceed. The team worked to fashion innovative agreements between Juniata College and Penn State to supply, house and support college students to do the work at a far lower cost, allowing for completion of the required archaeological studies and ultimately of the new bicycle path connection.

Linda Gagliardo – Department of Education
For her assistance to veterans and their families to participate in job training and apprenticeship programs using their federal G.I. Bill Benefits. She reduced the time for veterans to receive benefits payments from three to four months to less than six weeks. In 2017 alone, she helped 424 veterans and their dependents receive over $700,000 in financial benefits to which they were entitled. She also provides support to participating training and apprenticeship providers that are emulated by other states.

Beth Ann Shuttlesworth – Department of Military and Veterans Affairs
For her dedication to supporting the department’s dual mission to provide quality service to the commonwealth’s veterans and their families and oversee the Pennsylvania National Guard. In 2017, she played a key role in supporting a variety of military training and operations on state, federal and international levels. Beth Ann also provided tremendous depth and breadth of support for programs and services for a state with the fourth largest veteran population in the country, including the operation of six state veterans’ homes.

In honor of the contributions of state employees to Pennsylvania and its residents, Governor Wolf proclaimed today, May 9, as ‘State Employee Recognition Day.’  The employees raise over $3 million for charitable organizations each year through the annual State Employee Combined Appeal (SECA).

Read the full text of the proclamation below. You can also view the proclamation on Scribd and on the governor’s website.


May 9, 2018

WHEREAS, commonwealth employees are dedicated public servants who perform their jobs with professionalism, compassion, and pride; and

WHEREAS, commonwealth employees are responsible for protecting public safety and health, caring for the less fortunate, enforcing laws, safeguarding the environment, building and maintaining roads, promoting economic growth, licensing professionals and businesses, preserving our historical and cultural resources; and

WHEREAS, millions of Pennsylvanians benefit from the services provided each day by commonwealth employees; and

WHEREAS, commonwealth employees support Government that Works in Pennsylvania by serving as responsible stewards of taxpayer funds and joining in efforts to improve operations and enhance service delivery throughout state agencies; and

WHEREAS, many commonwealth employees support the well-being of their communities through acts of volunteerism and charity, including contributing millions of dollars to nearly one thousand worthwhile organizations through the State Employee Combined Appeal (SECA) and donating hundreds of gifts to families and seniors through the Holiday Wish Program; and

WHEREAS, the Governor’s Awards for Excellence program recognizes commonwealth employees for exemplary job performance or service that reflects initiative, leadership, innovation and increased efficiency; and

WHEREAS, on behalf of all Pennsylvanians, it is with great pride that I recognize the contributions of commonwealth employees as part of national public employee appreciation efforts during the week of May 6-12, 2018.

THEREFORE, I, Tom Wolf, Governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, do hereby proclaim May 9, 2018, as STATE EMPLOYEE RECOGNITION DAY. I encourage all citizens to express gratitude to our state employees for their dedication to public service.

State Employee Recognition Day by Governor Tom Wolf on Scribd

SHARE Email Facebook Twitter