2011 Causey Award winners announced

Federal News Radio congratulates the winners of the 2011 Causey Awards!

This awards program was designed to call attention to the human capital management field within the federal government and industry.

Federal News Radio solicited nominations of professionals who had accomplished extraordinary things related to pay, benefits, human resources and human capital issues.

The winners of The Causey Awards were those whose work made the most impact in 2010. The nominations came from far and wide, and all described excellent work.

Below are the winners, nominators with selected quotes, and selected (anonymous) comments by the judges.

Meet the 2011 Causey Award winners

John Berry
U.S. Office of Personnel Management
Listen to the Interview

Nominated by: Thomas L. Forman, deputy associate director for management services, OPM

“John Berry is the administration’s ‘energizer bunny’ when it comes to all things relating to human capital. John Berry is a down-to-earth person who genuinely cares and maintains the same facade whether he is with the President, the Congress, the press or his employees at OPM. You get the same John Berry, full of energy, totally committed to improving the quality of federal service, and someone who genuinely cares for his employees. I am nominating John Berry because I sincerely feel he has done more to advance the causes of the federal civil service than any director in recent history.”

Judges’ Comments:

  • Mr. Berry does indeed capture both spirit and passion of his administration.
  • Mr. Berry consistently brought the type of energy and passion for changing and improving the federal HR process that has rarely been seen. He is doing more than just writing policy, he’s bringing together a community that for many years has not always collaborated effectively.

Julia Ruffini
Field Office Chief
Defense Security Service
Listen to the interview

Nominated by: James Garrett, security specialist, Defense Security Service

“Julia has managed to slow the attrition rate in an office that has been notoriously high. Previous team members, who had sought employment elsewhere, returned with vigor and ready to share their knowledge with trainees and take on new agency tasks. As morale has gone up, the partnership with industry and other federal agencies has improved, creating a better working environment and permitting employees to accomplish their mission and make lasting relationships. She has put her employees needs in the spotlight, and has created an environment where new employees and veterans of the federal government share ideas and experiences openly and impartially.”

Judges’ Comments:

  • …[C]aptures the spirit of rebuilding, renovation and restructuring. She demonstrated that it is possible to do ‘more’ even with less.
  • Stands out…for many reasons including understanding the importance of morale, how to cut through the hiring red tape to bring some relief to overworked employees and improving the relationship with customers.
  • …[V]ery concerned about employees and has successfully re-invigorated an office that had morale issues and slowed attrition.

Debra Vess
Asst. CIO, HR Connect
Listen to the interview

Nominated by: Karla Timmons, senior advisor, Treasury

“Her stated goal – to have a ‘best in class user experience’ drove the team in creating a stand-alone product for the federal government. Her vision, market research and program management allowed for the deployment of new functionality, in a TurboTax like application that enables online data entry and replaces extensive paper form completion. This is a first in government application, visualized, articulated, and led by Ms. Vess.”

Judges’ Comments:

  • Ms.Vess’ nomination tells an excellent story; creating a first government application by replacing an outdated, laborious process is to be celebrated and commended.
  • [HR Connect’s] on board system reduces paperwork, time, and improves accuracy to the process of bringing new employees into an agency. It’s a new use of technology and an important addition to the effort to automate the entire HR process.
  • This [nomination] was an easy top choice. I have no doubt a project of that magnitude required significant leadership from the standpoint of envisioning the technology, managing its development and promoting it.

Maria Roat
Chief of Staff
Office of Chief Information Officer
Department of Homeland Security

Nominated by: Paul Alberti, chief program support branch, DHS

“She rallies the troops for the CIO, fosters camaraderie and builds morale. It’s not unusual to find Ms. Roat spearheading team-building activities such as front office open houses, OCIO’s Chili Cook-off, or Team Spirit Fridays. As chief of staff, she makes sure that all of the offices and programs have what they need to accomplish the priorities set forth by the CIO Council, as well as external government entities, including the Federal CIO Council, GAO and Capitol Hill. Fostering the ‘One OCIO’ approach – that is, acting as one office, rather than independent, unconnected offices within headquarters OCIO. We’re now seen as a real team that works together, presenting one face to the enterprise. We could not achieve our mission without your skill, expertise, and dedication.”

Judges’ Comments:

  • “…[S]eems to excel at the coordination and getting people to work together.”
  • “Ms. Roat’s accomplishments are enormous given the size and complexity of DHS operations and its diverse culture. She has vision and planning instincts with progressive thinking.”
  • “[We] liked the fact she is bringing people together and doing things that help with collaboration and communications across a large CIO organization.”

Kathryn Medina
Executive Director
Chief Human Capital Officer Council
Listen to the Interview

Nominated by: Serena McIlwain, director, Business Partners Office, Energy

“Spearheaded the first Federal Human Resources HR University (virtual website). Bringing together representatives (HR directors) across the federal government to develop a framework at HR University, which was launched to the federal government in February 2011. For over 10 years, and under the leadership of numerous work groups and subcommittees, the federal government has not been successful in developing one resource center designed specifically for the federal government. We have been trying to professionalize the HR community for many years, and now for the first time, we are closer to achieving this goal.”

Judges’ Comments:

  • Ms. Medina has filled the gap of HR training! I am an admirer of HR University and its visionary scope to provide continuity and consistency in HR training and development.
  • …[A]n important accomplishment and very relevant to the HR field.

Federal News Radio would like to thank all of the judges for their thoughtful consideration of so many well-qualified nominations.


    Susan Tsui Grundmann, chairman, Merit Systems Protection Board
    Jon Desenberg, senior policy director, The Performance Institute
    Katie Rush, president, Young Government Leaders – Bethesda chapter
    Colleen Kelley, national president, National Treasury Employees Union
    Mike Causey, senior correspondent, Federal News Radio
    Jason Miller, executive editor, Federal News Radio