What Does A True Team Player Look Like?

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: Sabrina DeLay, Resolution Specialist, Office of Multifamily Housing, Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

Achievement: NextGen Public Service Finalist, Exemplary Leaders Category

“Sabrina is highly intelligent yet grounded, with a unique ability to interact with a variety of people from different cultures, socioeconomic backgrounds, and ages. Sabrina’s customer service is exceptional, and she handles difficult situations with evicted tenants and homeless veterans with patience and poise.” –Nicole Willingham, Financial Analyst, US Housing and Urban Development. Willingham nominated DeLay for the NextGen Exemplary Leaders category.

DeLay tells people that she performs risk mitigation to the FHA Insurance Fund as well as affordable housing units for HUD. However, if you ask her coworkers, they would say her biggest dedication is to helping them do their jobs better.

“Sabrina has improved the culture of our organization by handwriting notes to thank and encourage colleagues, motivating peers (prompting two of us to become GovLoop featured bloggers), and providing training that inspires even the most change-adverse employees,” says Willingham.

In addition to motivating her co-workers, DeLay has proven to be a true team player at every level. For example, when her office building was wasting significant amounts of money on plumbing issues, DeLay recognized that a simple Dollar Store purchase could solve the problem. After OMB rejected her suggestion of drain covers, she took it upon herself to make the purchase and installed the covers herself. DeLay hopes others will see her go the extra mile and attempt to imitate her actions, creating a better work environment for all.

DeLay realized that public sector workers often feel like their daily tasks aren’t contributing to the overall agency mission or really making a difference. She is there to remind those people that there is a bigger picture to consider. She finds herself serving as more of a facilitator, helping her colleagues realize the partnerships they already have. “That’s where I think I’ve been really successful, is in building those relationships, and connecting that back to either programmatic regulations or goals,” says DeLay.

To foster inclusiveness and aiming high among employees, DeLay is addressing the problems from the source. She is developing a new employee guidebook titled “Crafting Your Own Adventure” to help new employees throughout the onboarding process understand the real impact they can make at a federal level.

Outside of helping her fellow govies, DeLay created a regional leasing strategy that involved executing a 90-day action plan resulting in providing housing for 134 homeless veterans. In addition, she was a subject matter expert and coordinator for the Troubled Housing Authority Portfolio where “her efforts resulted in a 56% decrease in troubled housing authorities,” says Willingham.

DeLay’s hard work was validated when she was labeled as a HUD Changemaker, a recognition awarded to less than one percent of all employees. When she received this award, she was a part of a team called Delivering Together, a group working to improve the processes in the Department for Public Housing. Specifically, she was working on creating a centralized calendar of due dates that HUD users could reference as they seek public housing resources.

It is no doubt that this will not be the last time you hear of this certified Changemaker. What is her advice to aspiring public servants? “Trust the process, take advantage of every opportunity that come your way, and if you can, which is sometimes difficult in government, try to do it with a smile.”

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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