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14th Cafritz Awards Winners

Barbara Dougherty
Barbara Dougherty
Adult and Teen Services Librarian
DC Public Library

The public library has long been a center for culture and education in our community. In recent years, however, some have questioned its role in the 21st century. Has the Internet made the library irrelevant?

If you had heard about the punk concert hosted in the basement of the DC Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, or joined the annual Tour de DCPL, you would probably say, “No way!”

Barbara, or “Bobbie”, Dougherty has redefined the way that we think how urban public libraries engage with the community, particularly the young adults.

In 2013 Bobbie and a colleague at DCPL co-wrote a grant proposal to create a DC Punk Archive in the Washingtonia Special Collection, to recognize the District’s rich history of Punk Rock music. The project launched with a Basement Punk Show at the MLK Memorial Library. Today it features a collection of nearly 1500 artifacts , and draws hundreds of annual visitors. In early 2015 the DC Punk Archive was featured on BBC America.

Through the years Bobbie has successfully mobilized a number of other non-traditional library programs, including:

  • Initiating DCPL’s teen summer performances, and partnered with local high schools and the community to train and promote budding artists.
  • Developing a LGBTQ Young Adult reading list that was shared across the DC Public Schools.
  • Organizing the “Books Behind Bars” panel discussion with the DC Jail Library Coalition, which led to a wider discussion of library services to the DC Jail.

In her spare time (when she has any) Bobbie volunteers at Girls Rock! DC Camp, DJs at the Mt. Pleasant Community Powered Radio, and contributes the local art and music blogs.

It is easy to see why Bobbie is seen as a transformational force in the community.

DCPL’s Assistant Director of Public Services Tony Ross says, “She has grown into one the library’s thought leaders, especially in the area of innovation, technology, and youth engagement and empowerment... and she never fails to maintain a positive attitude and appetite for fun.”

Bobbie often draws on her own hobbies for inspiration. An avid bike rider, Bobbie came up with the idea to explore the new libraries and engage the growing cycling community.

“No one had done something like this before… The ride was more that just recreational; it fostered dialogue about the role of libraries in the 21st century and within our changing city,” says Library Manager Tracy Sumler.

Tour de DCPL, now in its fifth year, brought together all eight Wards, taking riders of all ages on a tour of libraries throughout the City. Recognizing a need for bike repair services in Wards 7 and 8, Bobbie obtained funding for bike repairs, and expanded the program to involve storytelling, bicycling history, even 3-D printing demos. In 2013 the program was recognized by the Urban Libraries Council Innovations Initiative.

Through her work Barbara goes beyond the call of duty, say her colleagues and peers. Her dedication, passion, and ingenuity have made our libraries a more welcoming and fun place to be.

Mark Jackson
Mark Jackson
Supervisory Probation Officer
DC Courts

When students are missing from class day after day, it sends up a red flag. These youth may be facing significant personal challenges, and are in urgent need of support from our community.

Eventually many of those truancy cases in our District show up on the desk of Mark Jackson. Mark is a Supervisory Probation Officer for DC Court Social Services. It is his job to review the cases of habitual truants and runaways. These are often the worst of cases where teenagers could be falling through the cracks. To many of these youngsters, Mark becomes a second chance to a better life.

Mark and his team review the cases and makes recommendations to the Court regarding supervision and interventions. Many of these teenagers are habitually absent from school or have been away from home for days, or in some instances, months at a time. Getting them back into the system is often paramount to their safety and survival, and on the way to an effective solution.

But his job does not stop there. In some of the more difficult cases involving youth with mental health issues, Mark goes the extra mile to make sure they receive intense community-based intervention services and the Court oversight to assist their recovery and productive adjustment in the community.

“Mark Jackson always reminds us our number one job is to serve the children and families of DC,” said a colleague.

It is hard to see these cases without wanting to become involved. And that is exactly what Mark Jackson has been doing for the past 25 year, reinforcing this vision with his colleagues and staff.

“Mark is very open and friendly. He nurture's each person's strengths and shores up their weaknesses. He is a great manager,” said former Probation Officer Lydia Curtis who has worked with and known Mark since 1998.

Many of the workers at Court Social Services have similar memories. “He is a supervisor who leads by example,” said Probation Officer Jennifer Snow.

Recent changes to the DCPS truancy policy had reduced the allowed number of absent days from 25 to 15, which also multiplied the typical workload for his staff.

“Our people were working 10 and 12 hour days with huge case loads. They were becoming frustrated,” he said. Mark opened his office door and worked more directly with workers, streamlined processes, worked with school districts and a host of other improvements to make a much larger workload more manageable.

As a result of his leadership, he and his team were able to ensure a dramatic reduction in truancy rates in DC.

Curtis remembers one particularly memorable occasion when she was having a very difficult time with a woman who was in crises. She asked Mark to intervene.

“The next thing I know he takes the woman into his office and closes the door. A few minutes later the door opens, the woman is smiling and hugs Mark. I said you worked your magic again! He is a great public servant.”

Cheryl Robertson
Cheryl Robertson
Supervisory Human Resources Specialist
DC Department of Human Resources

The District Government has truly transformed itself into a world-class City, recognized today as being a hub for aspiring public servants, innovative thinkers, and social activists that seek to make a positive difference.

This honorary title would not be possible without individuals like Cheryl Robertson, a Supervisory Human Resources Specialist in the DC Department of Human Resources, who has helped launch the careers of many up-and-coming DC Government leaders.

In her daily role, Cheryl manages the District’s professional development programs, including the Capital City Fellows Program, the Program for Excellence in Municipal Management (PEMM), also known as the Certified Public Manager Program, and many others. But ask anyone who works with Cheryl what her job title should really say, and you would hear words like: “Coach,” “Mentor,” and even “Mother Figure.”

That is something that comes naturally to Cheryl, who helped raise her 9 brothers and sisters when her own mother passed away at the age of 37. Cheryl graduated with honors from the Washington School For Secretaries, and worked for corporate and private industry before she went to work in the office for Prince George's County Board of Education.. She came to DC Government in 2008. While her duties had changed through the years, her supervisors, colleagues, and Fellows alike consistently remember Cheryl for the impact she has made in their lives.

“Mrs. Robertson is highly regarded among her peers… in her efforts to create opportunities for students and recent graduates interested in working in the public sector. She is a proven leader,” said one Capital City Fellow Akaii Lineberger.

Along the way, Cheryl has worked tirelessly to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of DC Government services. As a result of the programs that Cheryl directly managed and supervised, the District Government was able to save more than $25 Million in just under two years.

Cheryl’s sheer portfolio of work would bewilder any manager. On any given day you could find her processing the applications for the DCHR’s Capital City Fellows and Certified Public Manager Programs, redesigning the curriculum of the Summer Intern program, and mentoring District employees outside of the programs she manage. Even while working long evenings and on the weekend, Cheryl will always find the time to offer a kind word, and a supporting shoulder to those around her.

“She goes far beyond the call of duty to check on [the Capital City] Fellows, helping to place them in positions, and helps them navigate government with her considerable institutional knowledge,” explains Quincy Booth, the Deputy Director for the Department of Corrections.

Many of the Fellows in the program have continued to serve in the District Government, rising to senior level positions in the Mayor’s Cabinet. Mamadou Samba, now the Director of the Office of African Affairs, says this would not have been possible without Cheryl.

Cheryl Robertson is someone who truly embodies the definition of “servant leadership,” and it is for people like her that our City is able to live up to its world-class name.

Ruth Trocolli, Ph.D.
Ruth Trocolli, Ph.D.
City Archeologist
DC Office of Planning

Washington, DC’s history runs deep, spanning across 500 archeological sites, that add to a growing collection of close a million artifacts that date back 15,000 years.

As the City continues to grow and develop, oftentimes underground, more of these archeological treasures get unearthed. As DC’s sole archeologist, Dr. Ruth Trocolli has played a vital role in making a record of the vanishing landscape, and telling the stories of its former inhabitants. Many of these are stories of former landowners and former slaves, men and women, Native Americans and the first immigrants, - people from all walks of life and ethnic backgrounds, people like us, who lived and worked in the nation’s capital. Thanks to her exceptional dedication and endless enthusiasm, Ruth has brought the District’s archaeological history into the 21st century, and within reach of anyone willing to learn about it.

When she arrived in 2007, the Historic Preservation Office (HPO) had not had a staff archaeologist for several years. Since day one Ruth had worked to integrate archeology into the core of HPO’s activities, digitizing thirty years of project archives, and previous land surveys.

“Because the District of Columbia is an “odd duck,” with agencies treated as local, state, and federal at the same time… Ruth often finds herself on every side of the project, regardless of its funding label,” says a colleague. She streamlined the project review process and set up systematic, replicable procedures that promote preservation values without compromising the District’s need for growth and change.

One of Ruth’s most important contributions to the District has been establishing an archeology Geographic Information System, or GIS. The new mapping tool helped track the District’s changing topography from prehistoric times to the present, providing a layered database of critical information about previously-surveyed areas: old cemeteries, Civil-War defenses, and more.

Without permanent staff and an increasing workload, Ruth also took on a personal mission to map the routes of historic stream courses that were so important to the City’s early development. Most of the District’s streams now flow in underground pipes, and were not accurately mapped. The project took years, and was done in off-peak hours and after work. Such information is not only critical for compliance purposes, but reduces the cost and speeds up the process of issued construction permits in the District.

Her extensive knowledge, collegiality, and sheer energy had make her a force in the community, and an a source of inspiration to many aspiring archeologists coming to intern and volunteer at the DC Office of Planning.

“Although Dr. Trocolli is not an agency head, she is the District's only archeologist, and that makes her a powerful role model in a field that is under-represented by women and minorities at the top level,” says Jarrett Smith, Archives Technician at the National Archives at College Park.

Through these efforts Ruth has helped build up the next generation of historic preservation professionals, critical to ensuring that the District’s history will be preserved and appreciated for generations to come.

Jason Woods
Jason Woods
Firefighter/Emergency Medical Technician
DC Fire and Emergency Management Services

When a fire breaks out, and your loved ones are in danger, you hope someone like Jason Woods will be there to save them.

Since October of 2000 Jason has been a member of the District of Columbia Fire Department, forming the City's frontline of first responders. But it is his remarkable leadership that sets Jason apart, even among the firefighting heroes that serve our City.

Jason currently serves as the President of the D.C. Firefighters Burn Foundation, a non-profit 501 (c) (3) organization founded, that he helped to found in 2004. With the help of the Burn Foundation, D.C.’s firefighters get the support that they need to move to a speedy recovery.

A burn injury can affect a firefighter’s life in many ways. Even if these injuries are not life-threatening, burn survivors are often at risk of developing psychological and emotional traumas. In some cases, such injuries spell out the end of a firefighter’s career, which also carries financial repercussions for their families and the community.

Since its initiation more than 10 years ago, the Burn Foundation raised over $1 Million dollars for much-needed equipment for The Burn Center at Med Star Washington Hospital Center and Children’s National Medical Center, and organized a community-wide support network to help burn survivors through the process of recovery. As a result of this support, most hospitalized firefighters are able to get released within a few days. In one recent case, two critically-injured firefighters returned to work within just a year of the incident.

“The DC Firefighters Burn Foundation does not only serve members of the DC Fire Department but any firefighter from the National Capital Region that is burned will have a representative from the foundation to meet them at the hospital and will serve as a liaison and good will ambassador to assist the firefighters and their families from outside department through this tough time,” adds Deputy Fire Chief of Operations Kenneth Crosswhite.

On any given week Jason juggles his schedule between his active duties at the Burn Foundation, and his 24-hour-shifts at DCFD’s Rescue Squad 1, located at 500 F Street in Northwest DC. In that role Jason has been instrumental in leading the effort to educate members of his profession and the community about firefighter safety.

Following the incident where four firefighters who found themselves trapped in quick moving fire, Jason led his team in developing a training program, It Happened in Seconds, to train firefighters on ways to reduce or prevent such injuries. As a direct result of that program the D.C. Fire Department has seen a 25% decrease in burn injuries among its 1,800 firefighters. This program is now being delivered across the United States.

“While many people today see their job as a paycheck, it’s my passion. I eat, sleep, and breathe my career as a firefighter of this great City,” says Jason Woods. “I’m honored to wear my uniform and when off duty, I’m honored to represent D.C. firefighters.

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