The DOT&PF Employee Recognition Awards occur each year. These awards are a chance for our employees to nominate co-workers with the formal recognition they feel their co-workers deserve.
2020 has been an extraordinary year, and there are many who've gone above and beyond their normal scopes of work. I’m always impressed with our employees, and despite this year’s challenges the have been shining brighter than usual. I’m proud to announce the 2020 winner for Employee of the Year along with the divisional/regional winners.
“Above and Beyond” is the normal performance for 2020’s winner, and that is why I’m pleased to announce that Alaska DOT&PF's Employee of the Year is LUKE BOWLAND with Central Region Aviation Design!
Thank you, Luke, for your exceptional work!
- Commissioner MacKinnon, Alaska DOT&PF
"Ann’s expertise – in both of her functions as a Contract Compliance Specialist and Certification Specialist – has provided excellent support...to the Civil Rights Office (CRO), and DOT&PF in ensuring compliance across the programs she monitors. Without Ann’s direct help and supervision of several program areas within the timeframe that the CRO experienced high employee turnover, our office would have been detrimentally affected, particularly the Certification and Contract Compliance Department."
Lou has been a State employee for over 20 years and has been a pillar and a constant feature in the DOT&PF Supply and Services section. “Cap’n Lou” is loved at the Annex for good reason. He makes each of his guests feel welcome and at home. Lou should be recognized first for his dedication to DOT&PF and the real difference he has made over the years in keeping Alaska moving. Secondly for his hospitality and generosity. And lastly because a big pat on the back has been a long time coming and is very well deserved. Lou is truly appreciated!
Aaron’s analytical skills, leadership, teamwork, and communication have all played a vital role in the department he manages. Aaron has gone from Civil Rights Compliance Specialist I to Civil Rights Compliance Specialist II in under a year, which is a testament to his work ethic, skill set, initiative, and efforts that Aaron pours into his job. Aaron’s diligent work and expertise has provided excellent support to the CRO, and other DOT&PF departments. Aaron’s work in the DBE/OJT program, as well as his outreach to the community, has provided the CRO an avenue that we did not have until he joined the team. Aaron’s immediate engagement and development of his programs and new ways of outreach have aided and progressed his programs. Aaron’s input at meetings with DOT&PF personnel as well as our federal partners has been vital in spreading the DBE/OJT program and helping foster new relationships. Aaron has a payed a key role in providing any and all data requested by the company conducting the Disparity Study.
Aaron has has exceled in many areas and shown his ability to work, lead, and communicate clearly to everyone he works with, which is vital for his position.
From the onset of the Covid-19 Pandemic Don Owens, Kevin Johnson, Mark Carlson, Roy Hemmen & Ray Penamora have demonstrated a remarkable attitude and approach in fulfilling their job duties. They have gone to great lengths to locate new supply chains and vendors to supply the DOT&PF Warehouses with personal protective equipment (PPE) and safety items and they remain consistent and highly successful in this endeavor. These safety items and equipment are needed to provide the safe work environments for DOT&PF staff statewide as well as the public we serve during the normal course of daily business.
Throughout this effort, these employees have taken additional and personal risk in their daily tasks by venturing into the public market in an effort to ensure the warehouses are stocked with PPE. These efforts are particularly remarkable because DOT&PF staff have had immediate access to safety items and equipment needed to fulfill our mission to “Keep Alaska moving through service and infrastructure” in the safest manner possible.
Shawn Miller is dedicated to efficiency, problem solving and reducing financial risk in the grants and federal programs administered by DOT&PF. Shawn is highly organized and is continuously developing best practices to manage routine processes efficiently and effectively. He consistently maintains a positive and patient manner when sharing information or providing instruction. Shawn is flexible and reliably willing to assist with any task or assignment that supports the department moving forward. He possesses a truly professional attitude and genuinely cares about delivering excellent quality work. Shawn is a behind the scenes type of guy who actively participates in work or strategy groups then takes initiative to figure out what is needed to accomplish the goal. An example of this took place shortly after the Central Region earthquake. Shawn met with the project managers and the contractor, to identify what the department needed to accurately report costs by the project, phase and detailed damage inspection report (DDIR) as required by the Federal Highway Administration for reimbursement of repair expenditures. Shawn designed custom phase codes to delineate the required emergency and permanent repair work. He continues to work with the Quake Team providing guidance on financial reporting and program validity as the region moves forward with the permanent repair phase. Shawn is an employee who radiates excellence every day.
Denise Pooler has worked tirelessly for the past 17 years, at first as Purser liaison, and over the past three years as Steward department liaison. She has organized classes and programs AMHS vessels and medical supplies for AMHS vessels. She has taken on multiple positions and worked even harder during the COVID pandemic.
Captain Scott Wright is to be comended for his handling of the Tustumena crew's positive COVID test situation, start to finish. We couldn't have asked for a better captain to have during that time. While confined to the bridge with only two other officers, Captain Wright remained calm, cool, and collected. He kept in contact with crew each day, and did his best to provide information amid an uncertain and stressful situation. He handled the entire event with the utmost respect and concern for his crew and colleagues.
Luke has lead the Aviation Design section to become a cohesive team working together to improve design/planning processes, updates specifications, create standards and templates, and successfully execute projects. He listens to his staff and takes suggestions for improvements and makes sure they get implemented. He is approachable and always takes time to answer questions, regardless of how busy he is. Luke ensures that issues confronting his staff are properly addressed and resolved. He makes sure everyone knows that they are an important part of the section.
Luke’s vision continues to keep the section focused on the mission of our agency; “Keep Alaska Moving through service and infrastructure.” He does this by keeping on top of specification updates, supporting his staff in creating design standards and templates, attending/creating training, and even assisting with archiving past projects to ensure key asbuilts and files can be found. Luke coordinates with the other regions group chiefs for ongoing design issues and standards. The entire section relies on Luke’s history, knowledge, engineering expertise, and support.
You could not ask for a better leader, mentor, and supervisor. He always “has your back” so to speak, fights for his staff, and pursues staff suggestions. Luke is dedicated to the Aviation Design Section and his staff and truly deserves to be recognized for his ongoing leadership efforts and support of his staff.
Rory consistently exceeds the responsibilities of her job classification. She takes on many extra duties outside of her job description. She is eager to learn and progress towards becoming a professional engineer. Rory worked on one of the largest aviation projects the DOT&PF has designed for the Anchorage International Airport. Her dedication and work ethic made this project successful. She works together with her co-workers to solve problems and clearly communicates with the design teams. She is an excellent example of hard work and determination to everyone around her. She puts everything she has into what she is doing, whether it is for work, school, or her family. Everyone knows that they can rely on her to help whenever it is needed and she is always willing to help others even when her schedule is full. She ensures that everyone on her team has what they need and is always willing to go the extra mile to help out anyone in the office. She does all of this with a positive attitude and a smile on her face. She is a valuable asset to our team at DOT&PF.
The ANC RW 25R East Safety Improvements Project team demonstrated remarkable teamwork and approached the challenge with a can-do attitude. It was amazing to watch the team lean on each other for support and communicate needs and work to solutions. Not only did the team produce a review and advertising set (including a stormwater model of over 200 acres of tributary area) on time and of the quality expected of any DOT&PF project, but they also accomplished this amid the start of the pandemic while the entire team transitioned to teleworking. The project was delivered with support from the other DOT functional groups working together and met the accelerated federal funding deadline to deliver to our ANC partners for construction this past summer. ANC noted that the speed of the team to turn the project around to advertise was “impressive.”
Sincere kudos to the team for a fantastic team effort!
It is suggestions and innovative ideas like Marjory "Gidget" Sanders brought forth that will revolutionize the procedures for leveraging technology to meet the Department’s mission. The Division of Measurement Standards and Commercial Vehicle Compliance performs testing of vehicle scales in support of the Department’s construction projects. The innovative solution for Weights and Measures testing of scales and meters at remote locations using virtual technolog,y including video on Skype and cellphones, created a financial efficiency by removing travel and personnel costs. This efficiency expedited the process and increased productivity without losing any confidence in the accuracy of the test being performed. Gidget recognized a need to better serve the Department’s mission, coordinated with the stakeholders necessary to deploy this remote testing, and effectively keeps Alaska moving.
Carla has shown exemplary service as an Accounting Technician I to help “Keep Alaska Moving.” Carla managed to organize and track customer’s accounts large and small within a busy work environment with grace and skill, while also meeting her day-to-day responsibilities and providing excellent customer service to her co-workers and managers. Carla is always willing to help when the Division is shorthanded to support the Administrative Team. She contributes every day to a positive work environment by her consistently cheerful attitude and willingness to help others no matter the size of the task. She shows great initiative, is always willing to take on new projects, and has an excellent work ethic. Even with a high workload she always demonstrates a positive, professional demeanor when dealing with customers. Her continual can-do attitude shows her commitment to the Division, the State, and the people of Alaska.
Alex Surnin has demonstrated excellent leadership in his time as a Commercial Vehicle Compliance Inspector III. He has onboarded and provided training to nine new employees in a short period of time. He has provided exceptional training to each of the nine individuals with as much enthusiasm as the first. His passion for this job is contagious. He strives to gain more knowledge daily and shares what he learns with his peers. He believes demonstrating excellence and passion for his job to others inspires his peers to have the same motivation.
The Juneau Weights and Measures team, consists of Martin “Marty” Holmberg and Steven “Steve” Burkhouse, both Inspector II’s. They have gone above and beyond to assist the Division in keeping up with an ever-growing workload throughout Alaska. The Division has a limited number of Inspectors that have the knowledge to inspect the larger and specialty device, but this team was ready and willing to travel with short notice to parts of the State that the Anchorage office normally takes care of. Their professionalism and dedication were tangible with the workload they undertook and quality of inspections that they produced. The Juneau team has been instrumental in training Inspector Trainees.Their combined 35+ years of experience have made them an indispensable fountain of information for the new inspectors.
Through difficult challenges, this team has demonstrated what teamwork is about. The time and effort they put forth to assure that the Division continues to ensure fairness in commerce and “Keeping Alaska moving through service and infrastructure” has been exceptional. Dedication, commitment to excellent customer service, team players, educators, and mentors are all words that describe these outstanding employees. Words cannot express enough appreciation for the Juneau Weights and Measures team.
Scott has created a lasting impression on his co-workers through leadership. He's known as a person who is quick to pass praise and give credit to the team. He fosters a culture for people to feel safe to learn, which has cultivated the following admirable comments about his leadership:
“If I could work for Scott again I would in a heartbeat. His ability to defuse potentially aggravating situations, find a quick solution, all while making everyone laugh is something I have never come across before, and don’t know if I will in another leader.
“He leads by example, touts a level head, and hosts a very calm demeanor. Over his 15 years of employment, he has trained and coached an innumerable number of Department employees.”
“The McGrath Road Upgrades project has not been without its challenges and Scott has handled them in an exceptional manner. I believe that he deserves recognition for this.”
“I wholeheartedly believe that if I had not had Scott as my Assistant Project Engineer, the Badger Road project would not have been as successful as it was.”
Dan is always professional, very knowledgeable, and quick to respond. The quality of his work always met or exceeded expectations. Dan is regularly complimented for his work ethic, quick responses, and high quality of work from a variety of internal staff members from M&O, Design, Construction, Utilities, and ROW. He is very approachable and interacts seamlessly with staff and the general public. He consistently meets and exceeds our ROW Performance Measures. When encroachments pose safety issues for the traveling public, Dan quickly alters his work priorities and take steps to promptly remove these safety concerns, sometimes even jumping in a state vehicle and removing the encroachment himself.
The Property Management section has been short-staffed for over a year so Dan covers many of the duties of a vacant position as well, without complaint and accepts new tasks without hesitation. Northern Region Property Management would be lost without him. [The nominator] is truly in awe of how an outstanding an employee he is.
This nomination “chip seal” crew and Cascade crew members for their work on Central Region roads in the vicinity of the Glenn Highway MP 115-116. Locals know the area as the “roller coaster” for the undulating surface caused by very active soil movement. The situation became increasing troublesome throughout the summer of 2020 and an emergency repair was sought with winter fast approaching. The team volunteered to move their schedule around in order to assist Central Region with the work for which they were very familiar. Undulating road surfaces can be caused for a number of reasons, one of which is permafrost melting. This situation is often encountered in the NR and one for which the NR team was uniquely qualified. Northern Region brought with them a solution to make more frequent, less expensive repairs rather than through “good money after bad.” Their solution was a “chip seal” surface rather than “hard top” asphalt. A chip seal surface can be reclaimed and reapplied relatively quickly and inexpensively.
The work, besides looking very clean, vastly improved the vertical profile of what we called the roller coaster section of the Glenn Highway. The NR M&O crew, along with the Cascade crew knocked the work out in less than two weeks thanks to weekend work and a good bit of overtime.
Appears we achieved the trifecta of a good project fast, good and cheap. Bravo!
Northern Region Contracts staff implemented of an innovative approach to safely conduct a required public process that became challenging during the COVID-19 pandemic. Alaska law requires that public works contracts advertised for construction bids have bid openings that read aloud by bidder and amount, and are open to the public.
The team suggested that virtual bid openings in the form of Web Ex would work for pre-scheduled bid openings that would be user friendly to attend either by video or audio/phone only for anyone having difficulty with web connection or applications. They officially conducted their first opening virtually in late March. Virtual bid openings allow Department staff to safely social distance in a conference room with no more than 3 people, while opening up the opportunity for those outside the Fairbanks area to attend from anywhere—this option did not exist before with in-person bid openings! Virtual bid openings have received overwhelming positive feedback from participants because they’ve opened up opportunities for non-local contractors to participate, and also are convenient for local contractors to participate from wherever they are. Barbie, Stacy, Pam and Debbie did an excellent job of thinking on their feet during the trying times of 2020, but this may be one pandemic related adjustment that is here to stay!
Erik Mason should be recognized for his outstanding performance working on the department’s Highway Performance Monitoring System (HPMS), and Travel Monitoring and Weigh-in-Motion (WIM) programs. Erik is not only successful with reporting the data to meet the Departments’ federal requirements, but he fully understands and is genuinely interested in what the data is really saying. He has a passion for data and pursues an excellence in data quality and completeness. Erik continually researches ways to improve the technology and data collection methods, thus improving both data quality and timeliness using innovative technology, techniques, and more efficient data processes. Erik is always polite and respectful to his coworkers, and has a calm, professional, and humorous demeanor. One of his many talents is how he can excel in listening to someone’s input, provide creative suggestions for alternate solutions, and keep the conversation light hearted and humorous. Erik goes above and beyond what’s expected of his position and he should be recognized for the time and energy he puts into his work.
Randi is the Transportation Planner assigned to the Fairbanks area. Randi has been praised in many forums for her work ethic,
cooperative working style, efficiency, and responsiveness. Randi likes to turn things around quickly and asks relevant questions when she’s not sure how to find information. She has a high degree of integrity and is focused on her work. She sets an excellent example by keeping strict work hours, always being willing to spend time after work attending public meetings and gatherings, and by supporting her planning team members. Randi is well respected among the Northern Region for her integrity and work ethic. She's also one of the first to spring into action to recognize a milestone in one of her workmates’ personal lives – birthdays, baby showers, etc. She genuinely cares about her fellow workers, and does not seek attention for herself or her own accomplishments. She generally downplays her work and contributions to the team.
Randi is one of the most dependable employees in the Fairbanks Field Office. She will work hard to meet any deadline. By her intrinsic qualities: her dependability, teamwork ethic, willingness to recognize the accomplishments of others, and overall dedication, she is well deserving of the leadership award.
The Federal-Aid team worked tirelessly this year with long hours to achieve a banner year for the State and the Department, creating plans and obligating in excess of $710MM towards federal projects ~13%, or $59.5MM, more than the average year. A large contributor to this was a strong plan and proposal to the federal government for a larger than normal August Redistribution.
From Sandra Aline-Garcia, FHWA Alaska Administrator on fully obligating early and with a large August Redistribution: “Agreed, a huge thank you to everyone involved on both (FHWA & DOT&PF) sides. This was a big year for everyone and the team work needed to accomplish this is commendable!”
From Julie Jenkins, FHWA Fiscal: “I wanted to thank everyone for their hard work this year with getting the program fully obligated, especially with the record August redistribution. I appreciate the collaboration and the team work!!”
The Federal-Aid section and work can largely be a thankless job, but are absolutely essential right where they are, doing what they do. This large and excessive bolus of funding is provided all at once and requires significant shuffling of priorities, plans, and projects. While there may have been delays due to the large plan required to use all of these funds, Alaska was able to receive 100% obligation and a record year for funds brought into Alaska and its economy.
James has suggested methods and strategies to get us to set up to implement Performance Based Planning and Programming within our Division. He suggested the development of a Planning, Programming and Management Information System (PPMIS) that would provide the Department with a centralized tool that would be used to ensure consistent data input as we develop our projects. The system would allow the Department to track a project from “need” through initial scope, schedule and estimate development through final close out. It would allow the Department to have better project data to enhance our efficiencies and allow us to make better decisions going forward. The intent behind PPMIS was to remove various silos of information within the Department and place all our project information in one location.
James’ suggestion would allow us to function as OneDOT&PF in a much more efficient manner. Moving forward we need to look at the concepts and solutions that James has developed and move them into implementation – these would save the Department significant time and money in project delivery.
Christy has played a crucial role in advancing and updating the way environmental documents are prepared. She is very knowledgeable of the new practices put forth by management and always eager to help understand new programs/practices. She is such a good role model with her strong work ethic, organizational skills, and interpersonal skills. Our environmental group is developing into a very strong team and we owe a lot of that to Christy.
Michael works in a high pressure environment in our ROW section having to deal with difficult property owners in the review and acquisition of driveway permits, property encroachment issues and removal of obstructions within our ROW borders. He treats these people with respect and patience and helps them with our processes and permits in a timely manner.
This year, in particular, has been a very intense and confusing one for everyone due to the COVID19 pandemic. Vicky took the lead in the region and has been managing & coordinating the efforts. Southcoast Region has been able to Keep Moving...in very large part to Vicky’s managing, coordinating, and delegating efforts and her ability to maintain a calm demeanor in the face of all this uncertainty.
This was approximately a $70 million project and with it were many details to keep track of between the structural design, specification packages, and environmental commitments. The Marine Design team worked diligently to finish these projects, often staying late in the evening or working on weekends to complete the design and coordinate with each other, consultants, and support groups to get the final bid packages ready.
Billy built a GPS remote survey rover capable of centimeter accuracy and automatic CAD point mapping that he then used to more accurately measure quantities, field check elevations, and support field staff both in field location identification and CAD mapping. He proceeded to also write a manual on how it was all done. Billy’s ingenuity, creativity, and passion is contagious.
Chief Jesse Davis’ more than 20 years of dedication and service has proven invaluable to the ANC organization and Airport Police and Fire Department. Under the leadership of Chief Davis, this year the Airport Police & Fire Department became the first agency in the State of Alaska to receive CALEA Accreditation, the gold standard in public safety; implemented department use of Police Body Cams; partnered with Love Justice International to implement a first of its kind in-terminal monitoring program to combat human trafficking through ANC; partnered with Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson, in a ANC cost savings agreement, to utilize the JBER Aircraft Rescue Firefighting training apparatus.
Officer Heilman is a proactive employee who works as well independentaly as does on a team. Heis a Field Training Officer tasked with training new department members in both police and fire duties. He is also the manager of the department's WatchGuard video system (the use of in-car and body-worn camera systems). All officers in the department are now in compliance and wear body cameras while on police duty. With this task, Officer Heilman must be available for officer questions as well as be the department liaison for IT and the WatchGaurd Company. His work has made our department safer while upholding the tenets of our CALEA certification.
Mr. Siebels has shown through the years his desire to maintain a professional and safe atmosphere for the traveling public on a daily basis throughout the airfield at Anchorage International Airport. He has been a guide and mentor to individuals time and again in the classroom as well as in the field through the hands-on method. He is the best first line supervisor the nominator has ever had the privilege to work with. Mr. Siebels is exactly what the nominator would consider an exceptional leader.
These employees have worked together wonderfully to handle the exponentially increased number of phone calls and emails the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport this year.
Molly exemplifies excellence in her willingness to take on any assignment with grace and good cheer. During her time with SEO, she has taken the lead on many program needs. Molly independently identifies potential problem areas and does the research to find solutions without management input. Her arguments are always well thought out and she presents workable solutions that often result in increased efficiencies and cost savings to the department. Molly excels as a team player and provides insightful discussion with the NEPA Manager Team and the SEO Team. She has established herself as a highly respected member of the SEO Team, a valuable source for the regions, and a valued and productive member of DOT&PF.
Jeremy has provided outstanding support to the Division of Facilities Services and the State in the AiM / AssetWorks Integrated Workplace Management System implementation. Jeremy has provided setups, troubleshooting, coordination, testing, and liaison to our OIT, AssetWorks, and programming partners in making the system live. His service to others and the department in these efforts is outstanding. The AiM system will benefit all state departments for years’ to come. Jeremy’s involvement has been instrumental in making this statewide effort successful to date.
This group has worked diligently to develop, facilitate regional reviews for and gain FAA acceptance of over 100 standard specifications for airport construction in less than one year. The process involved significant effort in the application of engineering principles to develop the specifications, and coordination for technical reviews by the regions and FAA leading to final approval to issue the standard specifications. This was a great example of teamwork between Statewide and Central Region. The work ethic, collaboration, and determination you demonstrated was impressive. The group achievement is notable and their efforts benefit not only the division but the entire Department.
Jason has been an incredible help to Crash Data this past year. He has been shouldering the burden of getting us back online after a major system-wide crash last year. He has made many improvements and is always looking for the next opportunity to streamline the system and increase ease of use and productivity. He is always open to new ideas and listens to the concerns of all system users. Jason is one of the hardest working people in DOT&PF and he deserves our appreciation. His work has helped free up our contactors to spend their time on other things and saved the department money because they no longer need to bill us for the work Jason has automated. Future users of the system and programmers on the back end will have an easier time understanding the system and will be saved the effort of detangling the code. Jason’s solutions have helped productivity and efficiency for years to come.
[The nominator] is blown away with Ana’s dedication to the DFS team, through her work with the implementation of the AIM program she has made a daunting task seem doable. Ana is willing to listen to all employees who have feedback, and take every suggestion in to consideration. Ana’s communication skills are one of her most valuable traits, she has effectively trained an entire division in Aim by herself.
Christina clearly takes pride in her work and wants to learn more to better support the staff in her office. She is a member of a two person team who manages all of the admin requirements for the DFS Fairbanks Hub. While the other two hubs have three admin people, the Fairbanks hub always seems to keep one step ahead of the other two hubs. Christina, along with a team of 6,brought down a terrible backlog of utility late fees from many accounts. Superb performance and finding innovative ways to save the state money. Great job!
Despite being a relatively new foreman, Raymond rose to the challenge to oversee the entire region as the Maintenance Manager. He is well liked and is dedicated to his position and his team. He is very personable and everyone who interacts with him comments about how great he is to work with. Raymond’s crew speaks highly of him and it’s clear that he is well respected amongst his peers. Raymond deals really well with our customer agencies and is always up for a challenge. DFS is lucky to have Raymond on the team!
Over the last year, the recently formed Juneau hub team has been able to vastly improve the ascertainment of needs, organize preventative maintenance plans, and deploy maintenance resources to care for those facilities which have received little attention in prior years. These activities have been extremely beneficial for the Division, allowing visibility on these Southcoast facilities and being able to communicate needs at the departmental and OMB level. These actions will result in important Southcoast facility improvements that previously would have been unrealized.
Holly was instrumental in a division-wide effort to improve the RSA process. Her contributions to the Kaizen event have streamlined a clunky State of Alaska system. Holly is very organized, efficient, and very helpful with people who ask for help. Many employees in DFS can be heard in meetings recognizing Holly’s hard work, organization and helpfulness. We are lucky to have her on our team.
Rachel Webb has proven herself invaluable through her technical expertise for airport construction. She took the lead representing Airport Operations and meticulously coordinated with DOT engineers, tenants and stakeholders, she analyzed the project from cradle to completion. Rachel's work is exemplary and provided the best service to airport users.