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Revolutionizing the Way We Lead

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.

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Meet the Finalist:

Who: Illija Hardage, Instructional Systems Specialist, Human Capital Office, Region 5 EPA Veterans Group

Achievement: NextGen Public Service Award, Exemplary Leader Category

“Literally and figuratively he does it all, and he does it all with a plume,” said Ross Tuttle, a colleague who nominated Hardage.

Every morning, Illija Hardage wakes up, gets on his train to work, and goes over his gratitude list and positive motivators. He goes through a long period of meditation, positive thinking and reflection. “This is my life, I’m in charge, I’m going to go have a great day and make sure everybody else does, too.”

Hardage is an Instructional Systems Specialist for the Human Capital Office. In short, Hardage helps people get their training needs met. Some of his duties include: getting people to get in their training, helping them sign up for the training, helping them complete the training, reporting how they’re training, teaching and setting up classes, and much more.

Like Tuttle said, Hardage truly does it all and does it with a high standard of performance. “When I’m unable to do something for someone, I find someone who is able to complete the request. If I don’t know the answer, I take the time and find it. When someone says they need something by this day, I try to provide it earlier,” said Hardage. “I just try every day in every way to meet or beat expectations.”

Hardage has a passion for providing services to people, which led him to a career in human capital. Hardage served in the military for four years, then the National Guard for another four years, was a teaching assistant in college and then was an AmeriCorps volunteer for two years.

“I just feel like public service and service is what I have to offer. And so because that’s what I have to offer, I want to make sure that what I’m giving is the best.”

Hardage loves serving people so much that he set up the Region 5 Veterans Group, a group of military veterans from all branches of service who get together to provide mutual support to each other and also educate other federal employees about veterans and what they have to offer.

“A lot of people see things in the news about veterans and, sadly, the new is there to get your attention and it’s negative. You don’t get a lot of positive. The Region 5 EPA Veterans Group is there to help change perceptions and provide alternative perspectives.”

Hardage is a very inspiring man and thrives on other inspiring people and things to keep his morale up. One quote, in particular, has made a difference in his life: “If the wind will not serve, take to the oars.”

“So if life isn’t going to give you what you want, take to the oars, make it happen. If the wind isn’t blowing your way, pull the sail down and you push it the way it needs to go or you go where you want to go,” said Hardage.

“I’m a public servant because I cannot see myself doing anything else.”

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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