Thirty-Seven State Employees Earn Governor’s Awards for Excellence

May 22, 2017

Harrisburg, PA – Governor 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 and inspiring. We are fortunate to have such outstanding 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.”

Thirty state agencies submitted a total of 82 nominations prepared by their employees, with five individual and four group nominations selected as winners for this year’s awards.

Denise Getgen – Department of Aging   

For her efforts to coordinate and collaborate with programs across state agencies to prevent and assist victims of elder abuse, neglect and exploitation, including the Department of Human Services, Department of Health, Department of Banking and Securities and Commission on Crime and Delinquency.

Dr. Aliza Simeone – Department of Agriculture

For preventing and containing outbreaks of serious diseases with potentially devastating consequences for Pennsylvania’s agriculture industry. This includes a multi-state influenza strain that threatened poultry and a fatal, incurable illness affecting horses. She has also stepped into numerous acting and interim leadership positions in her department, helping to ensure both animal and public health.

Erich Loych – Department of Community and Economic Development

For overseeing the expansion of the IT system used to manage the department’s grants, loans and tax credits for use by other state agencies, allowing them to abandon inefficient paper-based processes without having to buy or build their own systems. The Department of Environmental Protection was the first to adopt the system and other agencies are preparing to come on board.

Michael Becker, John Hecker, Gerald Hoy, Marcus Kaiser, Daniel Lecrone, Robert Martynowych, Joseph Miller, Chad Northcraft, Hope Reser and James Stiteler – Department of Conservation & Natural Resources

For volunteering to join firefighters from 16 states in the battle against two large wildfires in Monroe and Pike Counties that scorched close to 9,000 acres and threatened over 250 homes and businesses. The team filled key positions and worked long shifts over numerous days to extinguish the flames before any loss of life or significant property damage occurred.

Susan Dent – Department of Corrections

For leading the creation of a program for inmates to provide care and training to puppies to become service dogs for veterans, active service members and first responders. She partnered with a charitable organization, researched programs at other prisons and secured funding from inmate organizations for equipment and supplies. She also personally interviews inmates who apply to be dog handlers.

Jane Andrzejewski, Steve Calkins, Marcie Carr, Jeff Gensemer, David McCloskey, Ryan McHugh, Robert Minium and Elizabeth Schehr – Department of General Services

For saving over $2 million per year by “insourcing” presort and outgoing mail services for 35 state agencies. The initiative has expedited mail delivery, generated cost savings for taxpayers and productivity gains for agencies without the need for additional staff. The department plans to build on its success in the future by also processing incoming mail.

Terry Calloway, Jennifer Dugan, Ashley Parsons, Meghna Patel, Jared Shinabery, Norman Spotts and Dr. Carrie Thomas – Department of Health

For building the state’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program from the ground up in less than five months, providing an essential tool in the fight against opioid abuse. To date, over 71,000 health care professionals have accessed the database over 3 million times to check for other prescriptions for controlled substances for patients, helping them to identify potential cases of addiction and connect individuals with treatment.

Corporal Samantha Minnucci – Pennsylvania State Police

For spearheading the creation of a program to promote good relations between police and individuals with special needs and disabilities. Inspiration for the program came from her brother Gabriel, who has special needs. The Sunny Day Camp program is now an annual event in Chester County and several other State Police command posts are planning to organize their own camps for individuals with special needs.

Autumn Kelley, Larry Lineman, Marc Rickard, Chris Wolfgong, Jeanette Uhl and Antonia Zawisa – PennDOT;   
Jordan Allison – Fish & Boat Commission  

For safely relocating over 130,000 freshwater mussels, many of them endangered or threatened species, living in the area of a bridge replacement project, when the largest prior relocation of its kind was just 7,000. The move prevented a 44-mile detour for over 1,100 vehicles each day and gave the species opportunities to re-establish populations in areas where they have not existed in over a century.

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