Farmer’s Daughter Gives Back to Agriculture Community

Young Government Leaders (YGL) and GovLoop present the NextGen Public Service Awards for superior public service and achievement. The 5th Annual NextGen Public Service Awards will be given at the 2015 NextGen Award’s Ceremony, which will kick of the NextGen Training Summit on July 20th and 21st in Washington, DC. This year we have 30 finalists – the NextGen 30. Over the next month we will introduce you to our finalists through this blog series.


Meet the finalist:

Who: Jamie Edmunds, Program Manager, Center of Excellent for Leasing, US Department of Agriculture

Achievement: NextGen Public Service Finalist, Silent Heroes Category

“Jaime likes to serve behind the scenes and allow others to shine in order to retrieve results that serves the organization, and not her own interest. She is a great motivator, and is always willing to go the extra mile to encourage, support, and mentor. I truly enjoy working with her and highly recommend her for this award”– Lexie Pitre, US Department of Agriculture. Pitre nominated Edmunds for NextGen Silent Heroes Award.

Is there any better description of a silent hero than someone who admittedly does not like to talk about herself? Jamie Edmunds is one of those people that thrives in a behind the scenes environment. As a program director that works directly for the Assistant Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Edmunds asks the tough questions, like: what can these departments be doing better to make their operations more efficient and effective for clients?

Edmunds is clearly effective in her process – and the data proves it. The USDA has saved over 1.3 billion dollars since 2012. Her leadership has brought together relevant stakeholders to form problem-solving teams that discussed how to best save money through resource sharing and allocation.

Jamie “was asked to serve on Secretary Vilsack’s “Blueprint for Stronger Service” initiative team for the last four years. She has traveled throughout her career from Minneapolis, MN to Fargo, ND and eventually Washington, D.C. leaving a trail of improvements and best practices at her previous employments,” says Pitre.

USDA is going through a cultural change because of Edmunds’ efforts. Agencies across the department are now continuously piggybacking off each other to cut costs and increase productivity. USDA’s lease cycle was imbalanced, placing a heavy burden on administrative staff as they attempted to sort out an overwhelming amount of staggered lease agreements. Edmund’s cross-agency teams worked to bring over 50% of the entire leasing portfolio back into compliance in less than a year.

Edmunds is proud of the strong voices that she rallied to speak up. “They thought that if they shared any information, it would somehow come back to haunt them, and I think they saw that in the past. But with our leadership, and of course Secretary Bill Sachs, said to all of us that he was looking to do things more efficiently, and work together as one USDA.”

What drives such a dedicated woman in the USDA? “My dad was a farmer in Minnesota, so I come from rural America, and coming back to USDA and staying with USDA is really like coming home for me,” Edmunds said. The federal government has given Edmunds the chance to maintain the values that are most important to her that go all the way back to her roots.

The Minnesota native relies on imitation whenever possible to get the job done. Although innovation is the obvious goal for any government agency, Edmunds believes that without sharing of best practices and collaboration, new ideas will never get the chance to come to light.

In addition to the label of “farm girl”, Edmunds can also call herself a former GS-1! Yes, you read that right. This highly influential and now award-winning program manager started off as a file clerk for the Department of Justice. Pitre adds that Edmunds, “worked her way to a GS-15 by demonstrating her willingness to learn, her passion for streamlining administrative process to achieve efficiencies, and primarily, creating an environment where her employees could excel and freely share creative ideas and solutions.”

Ultimately why is Edmunds a public servant? “I love having that value added, giving back to the community, and giving back in a way that we can stream-line administrative processes so that research mission can proceed.”

We will be talking to all the NextGen Public Service Award finalists in the upcoming weeks. See the full list here. Finally, register to attend the Awards Ceremony to get to know the NextGen 30 in-person!

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