10th Cafritz Awards Winners

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Johnetta Brower-Bond
Director
Office of Pay and Retirement Services, Office of the Chief Financial Officer

Under Johnetta Brower Bond’s leadership and direction, three separate, rather archaic payroll systems were converted into one state-of-the-art system. Employees can now go online and directly conduct such transactions as viewing pay stubs, changing tax withholdings, adjusting retirement contribution amounts, and updating personal information. The reduction in paper forms and mailing costs has saved the government hundreds of thousands of dollars. Additionally, when the Washington Teachers Union Labor Agreement was signed last summer, OPRS was given the daunting task of issuing retroactive payments to 4,800 DCPS employees. Ms. Brower Bond and her team successfully met the challenge and paid the teachers by the agreed-upon deadline of the start of the 2010 school year. Finally, many DC residents may be unaware of the fact that the District is responsible for providing benefits and pension administrative services to 4,000 retired U.S. Secret Service, White House Police, and U.S. Park Police employees. Johnetta realized that the District was not being reimbursed for costs associated with this service and brought this to the attention of the CFO. The District took action, seeking legislation to correct this error, resulting in more than $5 million in savings. Never one to leave a job half-finished, Johnetta is currently striving to further improve OPRS pension administration practices by converting the current legacy pension system to a newer and more advanced system.

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Soumya Dey
Supervisory Civil Engineer
Department of Transportation

Soumya Dey faced the challenge of transforming the parking meter program with an attitude to succeed. He led his team in developing three strategic goals: better customer service, enhanced operational efficiency, and improved revenue management. In 2010, his team launched seven pilots simultaneously to test various innovative, state-of-art solutions for the identified parking problems, all at no cost to the District. New networked, solar-powered and credit card-accepting meters were installed and tested. Smart single-space meters were piloted and found to be highly successful in enhancing operational efficiency. Additional payments options such as pay-by-cell and in-car meters were also tested.

The results? During 2010, parking meter revenues increased from $20 million to $26 million. Credit card payments increased by more than 50%, leading to an equal reduction in collection costs. Complaint service calls in areas that have implemented the new meters have dropped 42%, meaning that many more of the 600,000 residents, 600,000 daily commuters, and 125,000 daily visitors of the District are having a more positive parking experience. The caliber of Soumya and his work is recognized by others outside of DDOT. The federal government is impressed and has expressed interest in participating in the program and national parking experts have cited DC as having “one of the most progressive, technology-driven and data-driven programs in the country.”

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Sakina Khan
Senior Economic Planner
Office of Planning

Through several of her initiatives, Sakina Khan has achieved dramatic results in emerging neighborhoods that improved economic outcomes for Washington DC residents and brought much positive recognition to the city. One of Sakina’s greatest achievements may be her role serving as the lead writer for the District’s Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS). The CEDS is “an economic roadmap intended to diversify and strengthen the District economy” and must be authorized by the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA). Sakina’s work with the CEDS involved thinking “outside of the agency” by collaborating with partner agencies while taking into account various initiatives and goals for the government as a whole. After DC’s CEDS was approved, Sakina was able to successfully apply for an EDA grant to explore the potential for an innovation cluster centered at the St. Elizabeth’s complex.

Furthermore, as project manager for the Creative DC Action Agenda, she initiated the first comprehensive assessment of this highly underestimated sector of the economy. The report brought additional exposure to the creative economy sector, finding that the District has more than 75, 000 creative jobs, which generate $5 billion in annual revenue. Various local arts organizations have used the report’s findings to support grant applications and additional citywide implementation initiatives. An online platform has been created to help connect and identify resources, partners and assets to move these initiatives forward. One notable success of this program was the District’s first digital arts festival, Digital Capital Week that attracted close to 6,000 registrants and garnered national media coverage.

Sakina is recognized by many as a passionate innovator in economic planning. Steve Moore, President of Washington, DC Economic Partnership, remarked, “Ms. Khan’s work on behalf of District government has indirectly and directly positively affected the lives of stakeholders across the creative, green, technology, retail, nonprofit, education and development sectors, and her work has made the District a better place to live.”

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Tracie Martin
Specialist
Office of the Chief Medical Examiner

Tracie Martin considers herself an “advocate for our children who no longer have a voice.” As Senior Fatality Review Program Specialist, Tracie spends her workday reconstructing the final days of youth whose lives were tragically cut short. She acts as the mouthpiece to tell their story, with the hope that preventative measures can be taken to help save the lives of other children in the District.

Shortly after being hired as a Child Fatality Review Specialist, Tracie was tasked with reviewing cases of multiple homicides in Ward 8. She became very concerned when she noticed a pattern among the victims’ addresses. As a result of her dedicated work and attention to detail, Tracie completed the CFRC Special Report on the Washington Highlands Youth Homicides, recommending improvements for service delivery to the youth in Ward 8. Tracie then expanded the original research to include youth homicides throughout the entire District. The resulting document, CFRC 2006 Youth Homicide Special Report, was reviewed by both the Office of the Attorney General and the Executive Office of the Mayor. Various government agencies, such as the Department of Mental Health and DC Public Schools, began implementing the report’s recommendations in order to decrease youth homicides in the city.

Tracie’s accomplishments are even more impressive considering that in the last few years CFRC staff was drastically cut, leaving Tracie with a higher workload and increased responsibility to fully implement all aspects of the program. Tracie Martin is truly an “invaluable resource” to the City and the young, silenced voices she represents.

Gordon McDonald
Gordon McDonald
Deputy Chief Financial Officer
Office of Budget and Planning

Chances are, if you have an in-depth conversation about the District’s budget, that Gordon McDonald will be mentioned. Currently the Deputy Chief Financial Officer for Budget and Planning, Gordon started his tenure with DC government 26 years ago—and he has advanced his career over all those years within the same office. As Budget Director, it is Gordon’s responsibility to formulate and execute the District’s annual budget. To understand the magnitude of this responsibility, you should know that for the 2011 fiscal year the District’s budget is $14 billion. A balanced budget is highly critical in order to maintain the District’s favorable bond rating and avoid a return to the control board, yet this process is often complicated by politics and recession-triggered economic constraints.

To resolve the fiscal challenges of the past few years, Gordon has worked closely with the Mayor, Council and Office of the Chief Financial Officer (OCFO) to develop gap-closing plans. As revenues continued to fall, additional budget revisions were required. Starting in the fall of 2008, Gordon has led five additional budget revisions, for a total of eight budget cycles in a period that would normally contain only three. Despite the relentless, heavy workload, Gordon’s team produced 13 consecutive balanced budgets. Their incredible efforts were nationally recognized, as the exceptional budget documents created by the office have earned the Government Finance Officers Association Distinguished Budget Presentation Award for eight consecutive years. Through these troubled financial times, Gordon’s “stable, consultative leadership” has kept the District’s budget in balance. Yes. Gordon McDonald is truly above the norm and an inspiring example to all public servants.

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Marc Williams
Recreation Assistant
Department of Parks and Recreation

Marc Williams, who works at the Bald Eagle Recreation Center in Ward 8, has a passion and dedication for his job that comes from his special interest in the youth and young adults considered at-risk in the community. He states, “There are not a lot of resources or attention in our community for these teens, and I try to do everything I possibly can to keep these teens engaged, off the streets, and out of trouble.”

In 2007, Marc founded the Eagles Nest Youth Association, whose mission was launched to engage at-risk youth in extracurricular activities and deter them from the streets. Marc used personal funds to purchase equipment, uniforms, and pay for out-of-town travel. Wanting to expose his basketball players to different environments, he entered them in a Florida tournament, the first opportunity for many of them to leave the District. Wanting to reach more youth and young adults in the community, Marc next started a music program called “Soul of the Streets.” Through this program, participants learn how to play various instruments, use sound equipment, and have the opportunity to record their music. Serving as an outlet of hope for many aspiring young musicians, singers, and rappers, Soul of the Streets has helped create a successful go-go band that has performed throughout the DMV area. Marc, using his personal time and money, also takes interested kids to local open mics, talent shows, and other performances. “This exposure has given these kids the confidence to pursue their dreams and, through Marc’s networking, two of them are sought after by an independent music label,” comments Mr. Lee.

Recognizing that the late evening hours during the summer are a peak time for criminal activity, Marc also put together the “Shoot Hoops not Bullets” late-night basketball league for 18- to 30-year-old males in Ward 8. He officiated the games, got team uniforms, and purchased trophies. One coach related that the league helped foster communication and understanding—with the result that two rival “hoods” were able to “squash their beef” without violence. Ward 8 is truly lucky to have Marc Williams as part of its community.