Get Inspired by the 2017 NextGen Public Service Awards Winners

They are driven. They are positive. They are energized. They are dedicated. We are proud to announce the 2017 NextGen Public Service Awards Winners!


From reducing homelessness, battling Zika, conducting soil and water contamination research, improving literacy and saving government millions of dollars we are honored to highlight the impressive work of our winners.

…drumroll please…

Olivia Benford, Parental Engagement Director, Pharr-San Juan-Alamo Independent School District
NextGen Exemplary Leader Award Winner

Olivia spearheads eight literacy centers for parents whose children are in the Pharr-San Juan-Alamo school district. These literacy centers provide GED and ESL classes. Olivia started new classes run by more than 75 volunteers on different hobbies, which turned into a great incentive for parents to attend literacy courses and boost engagement and enrollment. The centers grew from 1,700 attendees to 5,000!

With the rapidly growing program came an increased demand for volunteers and budget. Olivia presented statistics on how the program was developing, how the program meets the needs of our parents, and how the program has impacted student achievement and community engagement to district leaders to secure the future of the program. Without her leadership and passion, she wouldn’t have been able to build a community of learners.

Erica Reott, Chief Strategy Officer, National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, Center for Disease Control (CDC)
NextGen Innovator Award Winner

Erica Reott leads strategy for CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities. In this role, she charts the course for the Center, working with leading scientists to develop and implement the Center’s strategic plan – a roadmap to a world where babies are born healthy, children reach their full potential and everyone thrives.

Last year was an extremely challenging year for CDC and for the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities as the world confronted the challenge presented by Zika. Reott was deployed to CDC’s Emergency Operations Center to lead the development of a key response intervention – the Zika Prevention Kit (ZPK). Reott conceptualized, prototyped and tested the ZPK among target audiences in the territories. Working with others in the Zika Response, and with the CDC Foundation, Reott worked to ensure that 5000 kits were in the hands of pregnant women by day 39 of the response – record time. Over 21k kits have been distributed to date.

Ryan Ruggiero, Realty Specialist, General Services Administration (GSA) Mid-Atlantic Region, Public Buildings Service, Real Estate Acquisition Division
NextGen Courageous Champion Award Winner

Ryan’s 3.5 year tenure with GSA Mid-Atlantic Region overflows with a resume that retirees would envy. Last year, she rolled out the Automated Advanced Acquisition Program (AAAP), a web-based leasing tool which enables building owners to electronically submit offers, thus reducing offer submission time and government evaluation time. She led and participated in lease negotiations with a combined contract value of $30M, securing $3M in savings. She also trains and mentors others, volunteers inside and outside the office, and has earned recognition from her colleagues for her outstanding contributions.

Alba Tarre, Assistant Department Director, City of Miami Beach, Florida
NextGen Silent Hero Award Winner

In her role in the Office of Housing and Community Development, City of Miami Beach, Alba’s day has expansive experiences including helping the homeless find shelter, dealing with contractors on job sites, addressing flooding in affordable housing units, and helping families find mental health.

Homelessness is specifically a major problem that Alba tackles. Under Alba’s direction Miami Beach radically changed its strategies to address homelessness, resulting in more robust street engagement (involving members of the faith community), improved individual care plans, data collection to track chronically homeless clients, new platforms for police engagement, and more cost-effective transitioning of people from homelessness to personal stability. Through her efforts, the last HUD Point in Time Survey showed self-identified homelessness had dropped from 2,000 to 133 in January 2017.

Elizabeth Phillips, Physical Scientist, Environmental Management, Energy Department
NextGen Advocate Award Winner

Elizabeth has advocated for mercury research to clean radioactively contaminated soil throughout her 30 year career in public service. The accomplishment she is most proud of is advocating for the Mercury Field Research Center at the Department of Energy Oak Ridge Site. Her vision was to create a site where remediation technologies could be tested to see if they would work before investing millions of dollars on the actual remediation. The plans for mercury remediation include treatment and disposal of mercury contaminated buildings, soil treatment and surface water treatment.

Click here to see the other 25 finalists.

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