Announcing the NextGen Public Service Awards Winners!

Every year NextGen highlights 30 public servants who are working to make a difference in government. Our finalists this year represent state, local and federal government agencies. They are engineers, procurement officers, designers, communicators and so much more. They are young, old, shy and loud, they are in front of the camera and behind the scenes. They don’t fit into one single box or stereotype, they are like this country – diverse, eclectic and empowered to serve. They are government employees.

We celebrated the finalists and announced the five winners on August 2nd at the Next Generation of Government Training Summit  in Washington, D.C. Keep reading for their inspiring stories!

Courageous Champion:

Susan Brown, Director of the Franklin County Child Support Enforcement Agency (FCCSEA)

As the Director of the FCCSEA, Susan manages over 250 employees and tens of thousands of child support cases for Franklin County families. Like many local government agencies, Franklin County has historically struggled with the organization and digitalization of the case files. It could take up to 24 hours to locate and receive it – assuming the file is in the file room.

Susan took the initiative and forged a team to improve the file system. One year later, over 77,000 case files have been scanned into the new system. Now, the Agency is saving time and improving customer service by allowing every employee to have instant access to any client document or file. Susan told us, “Public service assumes the responsibility for making lives better.” And clearly Susan does this every day in her work.


Dr. Clifton Kenon Jr., Health Scientist, Office of Global Health, U.S. Agency for International Development

At USAID, Clifton facilitates reproductive health research aimed at improving the lives of women and infants worldwide, specifically in developing countries. Before coming to USAID, he worked at the Indian Health Service, where he was the director of maternal child health for the Northern Plains region of the Indian Health Service. Here he created multiple nationally acclaimed programs aimed at reducing disparity and improving the health of women and infants in the poorest counties in the United States.

Clifton told us, “Public Service is about going to the most rural and remote places, it’s about working above and beyond to make sure the job gets done and to discover the issues that are most affecting them.” He is a dedicated public servant who works endlessly to build teams, extend reach and ensure health care access for all of the public through the motivation of the federal government mission.


Ashley Nealy, IT Specialist, Office of Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, Department of the Treasury

At the Department of the Treasury Office of Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, Ashley provides web and application development services to support the Department’s mission to protect the integrity of the nation’s taxpayer system. She leads a web team that is responsible for updating and posting content to the agency’s internal and public Internet sites.

Recently, the Office of Investigations within the Department became aware of a large-scale scam that threatened the IRS. This was particularly problematic because the agency’s website did not have a sufficient form to collect all the data needed to track the threats. The Office of Investigations tasked Ashley and her web team to resolve this issue. As a result, they developed a clear and aesthetically pleasing form so instances of the scam could be reported and the data could be successfully collected. Since the form went live, over one million factual reports have been collected. Ashley told us, “For her, being a public servant means she gets to work for the country that she loves.”

Silent Hero:

Melody Stevens, Deputy Associate Director for Strategic Partnerships, National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (NCBDDD), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

At NCBDDD, Melody has spent 14 years working to assure babies are born healthy and children reach their full potential. Melody has focused on building relationships and collaborations with public and private sector that have accelerated the pace of advancement for the Center’s work. Melody served as a bridge between the CDC emergency response team and the CDC Foundation, helping to build collaborations with industry and philanthropic partners who have contributed millions of dollars in cash and in-kind contributions to the CDC Foundation to support CDC’s Zika response efforts.

Melody’s ability to identify emergency response gaps and build solutions to advance the science in rapid ways was valuable to CDC’s efforts and continues to reap public health benefits. Melody told us, “That she’s most successful when she is able to take a human-centered approach to problem-solving.”

Exemplary Leadership:

Dr. David A. Bray, Senior Executive and Chief Information Officer, Federal Communications Commission

As CIO of the FCC, David focuses on implementing successful IT strategies by bringing FCC IT into a 21st-century service-delivery model. He led the transformation of the FCC’s legacy IT to award-winning tech in less than two years. This included rolling out new cloud-based IT that achieved results in 1/2 the time at 1/6 the cost. Instead of taking 6 months to deliver new prototype solutions, the FCC can now deliver a prototype in 48 hours.

David began work in public service at age 15 at a 4 GeV high-energy electron beam accelerator facility, later serving in the private sector before returning as IT Chief for the CDC’s Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Program during 9/11, SARS, monkeypox, and other outbreaks.

Most importantly, he has championed bottoms-up, empowered #ChangeAgents across all of public service – he is a true leader of positive change.

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