Public Service Excellence Awards honor individuals and teams who make New York a better place
Two highly accomplished individuals and a team of dedicated staff from three state agencies were honored during a recent ceremony at the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs in Albany.
The 2016 Public Service Excellence Awards were presented by the State Academy for Public Administration to honor two individuals and a team who are making New York a better place, even though their hard work happens largely out of the public eye
“State government and public agencies at all levels of government are confronting tough challenges, and these extraordinary public servants are among those who lead the way to make sure programs and services are delivered effectively,” said Paul Shatsoff, chair of the SAPA Board of Directors. “Their good work is often out of the public eye. The State Academy is very pleased to honor their accomplishments.”
This year’s individual honorees, Jill Anderson and Jeff Pitkin, are two public officials who have proven themselves to be not only good leaders, but public servants who go above and beyond every day to make New York a better place to live and work.
Jill Anderson, the senior vice president of Commercial Operations at the New York Power Authority, was honored for her leadership on a wide range of critical activities of the Authority in the operation of 16 electrical generating facilities and their coordination with the Independent System Operator.
She also launched clean energy programs to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions from state-owned and state-managed buildings; programs to increase the installation of solar arrays on school campuses; and implemented the world’s largest research and development facility addressing electric system resilience and advance use of renewable resources and smart-grid technology.
Anderson also founded Women in Power, a NYPA employee resource group.
“As a young women in government, she is a role model for women in leadership positions. She inspires other women, and not just in her agency,” Shatsoff said. “She brings that ‘you can do it’ attitude.”
Additionally, Anderson works with young girls in Westchester County to encourage them to pursue careers in technical fields.
In characterizing Anderson, her nominator said, “For Jill, mentoring and sponsorship are essential for personal and professional growth, as they help create a corporate culture that encourages innovation and continuous learning.”
Jeff Pitkin, treasurer and internal control officer of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority for the past 25 years, is responsible for managing the finances and internal controls of NYSERDA.
He initiated a system for electronic processing of vendor invoices and contracting actions. Pitkin contributed substantially to the implementation of creative financing mechanisms for clean energy projects including on-bill recovery that allows homeowners to make homes more energy efficient without cash up front.
A former president of NYSERDA said of Pitkin, “Jeff was so clearly focused, smart, efficient and a straight shooter — exactly the kind of person you’d want for a controller-treasurer. Almost too good to be true.”
Pitkin also led the design and implementation of a secondary markets $24.3 million bond issuance enabling NYSERDA to finance low-interest rate energy efficiency loans to more than 3,200 consumers.
He was also involved in the design and recent implementation of the $1 billion Green Bank, which allows the deployment of renewable energy and efficiency projects throughout the state.“[Pitkin] is not one of these people who says, ‘Well, I don’t think I can do that,’” Shatsoff said. “He’s someone who says ‘I’ll find a way.’”
SAPA also presented a Team Excellence Award to the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance Corporate Tax Reform Group. This team did all of the ground work for a proposal that led to sweeping corporation tax reform and was responsible for its eventual implementation.
This was accomplished through internal cooperation of all affected units of the department and extensive collaboration with numerous stakeholder groups subject to the tax through nearly 100 meetings to address their needs and interests. The team’s comprehensive approach to reform and the intensive collaboration with affected businesses was validated in three stages.
Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Tax Reform and Fairness Commission recommended adoption of the entire reform proposal; the governor included the package in the Executive Budget; and the package was enacted into law virtually unchanged from the team’s proposal. The team continued its work after enactment to ensure fast and effective implementation of all needed changes in operations of the department and affected parties.
The core team members are:
- Debra Bishop, tax regulation specialist
- John Dobis, tax auditor
- Lee Gaylord, tax regulations specialist
- Matt Gokey, tax policy analyst
- Jennifer LeBlanc, tax regulations specialist
- Ron LeClair, taxpayer services administrator
- Cristin Lentlie, tax auditor
- Jessica Lesczinski, tax policy analyst
- Deborah Liebman, deputy counsel
- Robert Plattner, deputy commissioner for tax policy analysis
At the awards event, the New York Chapter of the Association of Government Accountants presented its Outstanding Achievement in Government Accountability Award to Joseph Conroy, chief budget examiner at the New York State Division of the Budget.
Other nominees who made the short list for the service awards represent the State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services; the New York State Thruway Authority; the State Department of Public Service; the Inspector General’s Office,; and the Office of Homes and Community Renewal.
SAPA is an organization of government professionals and academics established in 1974 that is dedicated to engaging the skills of senior leaders to advance public service in New York state. In addition to its Public Service Excellence Award Program, its programs include “Candid Conversations” which feature discussions with leaders on a variety of public service-related topics; the Nelson A. Rockefeller Award for Distinguished Careers in Public Service; and cooperative efforts with partner organizations such as the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy at the University at Albany, the Rockefeller Institute and the New York Chapter of the Association of Government Accountants.
This was the fifth year that the State Academy for Public Administration held a ceremony to honor state employees with the Public Service Excellence Awards.