NextGen Public Service Awards Winners

Why are you a public servant? That’s the question we asked the thirty NextGen Public Service Awards finalists. Their responses were inspirational and show why they were nominated by their peers, for their dedication to improving and invigorating government.

We compiled them into this video that we played for over 200 govies the last night at the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C.

Then Dr. David Bray, CIO of the Federal Communications Commission and our Master of Ceremonies, announced the winners of each category. Drumroll please….

…The NextGen Public Service Award Winners are:

NextGen Exemplary Leader

Illija Hardage
Instructional Systems Specialist, Human Capital Office, Region 5 EPA Veterans Group Ilija Hardage is an Instructional Systems Specialist working for U.S. UPA, Region 5 (Chicago).

He is a Persian Gulf War combat infantryman veteran and volunteered two years with AmeriCorps and AmeriCorps *VISTA. In five years with EPA, Ilija was awarded an S-Award, a Quality Step Increase (QSI), and a Superior Accomplishment Recognition award. Prior to EPA, Ilija taught English as a Second Language for five years and was awarded a letter of commendation (2008) and recognized as a teacher of the month (2005). Ilija is an American Society of Quality (ASQ) certified six sigma green belt and TalentSmart certified emotional intelligence trainer.

NextGen Courageous Champion

Monte Desai
Product Manager, Technology and Innovation Team, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Monte Desai is a Product Manager at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, focused on technology and innovation. He grew up working in his family’s small business in South Carolina and got his start in government as part of the highly selective Director’s Financial Analyst Program at CFPB. There he helped build and lead the agency’s award-winning innovation initiative, IdeaBox.

NextGen Innovator

Ebony Johnson
Policy Analyst, Office of the Chief Information Officer, Department of Housing and Urban Development

Ebony Johnson is an Air Force veteran that served in Operation Enduring Freedom. Ms. Johnson is proud to serve as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Policy Analyst for the Office of the Chief Information Officer. Ms. Johnson previously worked over 16 years within the intelligence Community and helped to develop the Advanced Cyber Defense Course and the Geospatial Metadata Analysis Boot camp for the Department of Defenses. Ms. Johnson is the founder and CEO of the Next Chapter Corporation, a non-profit organization committed to empowering veterans and survivors of sexual assault and domstic violence. Ms. Johnson serves as the Tiger Team for Membership Chair of the National Blacks in Government; Vice-President for the Widening Opportunities for Women Chapter of Federally Employed Women; and member of the HUD Veterans Affinity Group.

NextGen Silent Hero

Sarah Thokey
Clerical Manager, Probation and Pretrial Services, Texas Northern

Sarah Thokey is the clerical manager for U.S. Probation and Pretrial Services in the Northern District of Texas. After entering into federal public service in 1992 with the U.S. Bankruptcy Clerk’s Office, she began her career with probation in 1994 which led to her current role. Sarah has a strong belief the path to organizational success is found by celebrating the unique strengths and qualities of each person, challenging all to own their situation and lead from where they stand, and always remembering, “hard work pays off.” Her collaborative spirit creates cohesive working relationships with team members at both local and national levels.

NextGen Advocate

Karla Aguirre
Director of Program and Training, Department of Workforce Services, State of Utah

Karla Aguirre is currently the Director of Program and Policy under the Workforce Development Division in Utah’s Department of Workforce Services. Her oversight includes the administration of TANF, WIA/WIOA, State Workforce Development Board, Wagner-Peyser and WDD Systems. Karla has over 25 years of public service, administering programs at state and local levels, with notable experience working with Community Partners and State Agencies, implementing programs as well as Utah’s labor exchange and case management system. Intro to this video. Finally, Virginia Senator Tim Kaine and House of Representative Barbara Comstock shared their thanks to the NextGen 30 finalists for going above and beyond in serving our nation’s citizens.

Now we want to ask you: “Why are you a public servant?” Let us know in the comments!

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donna dorsey

I like working for the government because what I do positively enhances the lives of so many people throughout our nation.