Leadership Award Winners
The Excellence in Washington State Government Leadership Award recognizes individuals at all levels of management who show exemplary leadership and demonstrate at least one of the attributes below. Nominees will be selected based on his or her:
- Commitment to service
- Significant contributions to the advancement of state government
- Personal Integrity
2020 Winners included:
With 29 years of state service at DSHS and WaTech, David Brummel is a dedicated and innovative leader. David enjoys building up others, supporting teams, and pushes for change that makes a difference in staff and client lives.
In the last year, he's spearheaded the DSHS Staff Idea Tour where he's held listening sessions with nearly 3,000 staff members sharing ideas to make DSHS a better employer of choice.
Not only does David practice masterful, empathetic listening skills, he also gracefully navigates all levels of partnering with leaders to make staff feel heard and valued. David is also deeply committed to acting on staff ideas, working specific ideas in his sphere of influence and supporting leaders in taking action.
In just the last year, David directed the efforts of two agency-wide workgroups on flexible schedules, strategized a tuition waiver awareness campaign that lead to a staff member saving $10k in student loan debt, and designed our most highly-rated leadership conference featuring a client panel and innovations within our 24/7 facilities.
As a manager, David inspires and motivates me every day. I'm honored to collaborate alongside him and nominate him for this award.
Phil Castle inspires and motivates those around him to achieve more than they thought possible.
If you’re on his team, people say: “You won the lottery!” July 2019, Phil became ESD’s Enterprise Project Management Office Director. His mandate from the Commissioner: “fix” a host of problems AND deliver strategic results.
Meanwhile, people pulled from other teams to form the EPMO had no say in the reorg decisions. His “Phil”osophy? People first.
- July: Build relationships with every team member; deeply understand their needs, fears, and aspirations
- Aug: Go to bat for the team: Secure workspace to co-locate them; empower staff to decide who sits where
- Sep: Coach leaders to “be human”
- Oct: Hold leaders accountable; support staff transitions within and out of the division
- Nov: Collaborate with other EPMO directors to advance best practices in state government
- Dec: Increase diversity, equity, and inclusion through hiring decisions and aligning staff salaries
- Jan: Serve the team by elevating their voices
As a result of Phil’s personal integrity and inspirational leadership, the team is committed to the EPMO vision. They see how they contribute to the success of the team and are excited to be a positive part of the change!
Denise Cieri is a proven leader with decades of success strategically directing the delivery of key WSDOT transportation projects.
Denise now serves as Program Administrator for two of the region’s largest transportation programs: the $4.6 billion SR 520 Program and the $3.3 billion Alaskan Way Viaduct Program.
Prior to joining the SR 520 Program in 2014, Denise was deputy director on the $4 billion I-405/SR 167 Corridor Program, where she helped manage the on-time, on-budget delivery of $1.7 billion in Phase 1 projects.
Her communications skills and ability to forge collaborative partnerships among diverse groups also helped garner support for implementing express toll lanes on I-405. Moreover, Denise helped lead a WSDOT/Sound Transit partnership that implemented several Sound Move projects within WSDOT right of Way, including the R8A agreement, enabling both HOV travel and light rail on I-90.
Since joining WSDOT 32 years ago as a young engineer, Denise has continually worked to expand her technical skills, management experience and program responsibilities. At every step in her career, she has refined her leadership abilities and brought deep technical background to both build and manage within the organization.
With the WSDOT megaprograms, her team-building acumen, commitment to collaboration and friendly, energetic demeanor have been invaluable for programs that must foster and maintain support among local jurisdictions, numerous stakeholder groups, multiple transit agencies, and more than a dozen state and federal agencies.
While leading the improvement and replacement of aging infrastructure on some of the largest construction projects in state history, Denise also has mentored and championed her WSDOT colleagues across many disciplines. It is this dual commitment – both as a steward of taxpayer dollars and as a strong supporter of others in the transportation industry – that separates Denise from her peers and makes her a worthy recipient of the WSDOT Leadership Award.
Jon Kerr has dedicated his entire higher educational career to the pursuit of equity and social justice for the most under-resourced and minoritized students in the community and technical colleges across our state.
As the state director for basic education for adults, Jon's enduring leadership for implementing innovative programming (scaling I-BEST and HS+ across our 34 colleges) to support equal access to viable college pathways and increasing access to state/federal funding (expanding the Ability to Benefit provision) has garnered national attention and transformed the lives of thousands of refugee/immigrant and adult students who have come to our colleges full of hope and seeking opportunities for a new life.
Jon is a natural visionary (“Jon, you’re always 5 steps ahead of all of us!”), compassionate human being, and an inclusive servant leader whose dedication to educational access, extensive experience working with all levels of government, and support for policies and practices that ensure racial, social, and economic justice for all WA residents is unmatched.
Moreover, Jon walks through this world with extraordinary integrity, a deep sense of cultural humility, and an unwavering commitment to serving others. SBCTC is incredibly honored to nominate Jon Kerr for the 2020 PSRW Leadership Award.
If there was an employee who exemplified Leadership all year long in many visible ways over two agencies ESD and DOH it would be Tammi Leclerc.
During her time at Employment Security Department she helped to launch the Strategies for Success program. Taking a concept of building relationships across the state to create a program that would significantly impact some of our hardest to serve communities.
Tammi was able to build metrics in a program that was believed to qualitative in spirit only. She developed strong relationships with DSHS to expand the program to include clients under medical restrictions with an adapted program offering.
She launched the program as peer lead with 17 sites and within 6 months the program was expanded to 31 sites. Tammi created a strong collaborative team, seeking to understand regional and customer needs while leveraging innovative platforms to meet the needs of the Instructors, WorkSource Offices, Workforce Development Councils and Customers across the state.
Because of Tammi’s ability to build collaboration and effectively navigate change in the most obscure scenarios, Tammi was asked to lead the Professional Pathways Program.
Kelly McAllister has dedicated his entire career to exemplary public service and is retiring in May 2020.
As a District Wildlife Biologist for 10 years with WDFW, he helped establish the non-game wildlife program, which protects many of the state's more vulnerable species such as salamanders, toads and frogs.
In 2007, Kelly assumed the role of WSDOT's first Habitat Connectivity Biologist, and over the past 13 years he's established WSDOT as one of the premier state transportation agencies that works to make the highway system more wildlife-friendly.
I had the good fortune to take over for Kelly when he promoted to Fish and Wildlife Program Manager, and at all the meetings I attend across the country, with scores of representatives from other states, I am always approached and lauded for WSDOT’s work to implement wildlife connectivity principles into our everyday work – this is thanks to Kelly’s tireless work.
Kelly is also one of the most respectful and respected individuals that I have ever met or had the pleasure of working with.
His dedication to public service, to wildlife, to mentoring the professionals of tomorrow, are just a few of the reasons that Kelly McAllister deserves this award and more.
Carla leads the Paid Family and Medical Leave team in the Employment Security Department. Washington is the fifth state in the nation to offer such an important benefit and the first to build the program from the ground up.
Under her watch, the program successfully launched a technological platform, operations, communications and outreach, rules, and other areas of work to bring this program to fruition. She oversaw the successful implementation of premium collections to fund the program and benefit payments that allow so many Washingtonians take the time off from work and maintain an income level they need when life events happen.
Carla exemplifies the qualities of a visionary leader. Carla leads with humility and grace. Without her vision and commitment to serve her staff and Washingtonians as a whole, this important benefit may not have been available under the tight statutory deadlines.
In order to ensure the program’s success, Carla worked tirelessly with all levels of staff, stakeholders, lawmakers, and the public to get input into how to deliver the best program of its kind in the nation. She always has her team’s back and refuses to take the credit for the successes she oversees.
Debbie is the director of our human resources and customer service departments. She exemplifies what leadership is and should be. Debbie demonstrates commitment by making herself available to talk through issues and searches for the best resolution for all parties and the agency overall.
If she's not available when you ask, she will let you know when she has time. She even has the emotional intelligence to know when she's not in the right frame of mind to tackle an issue.
She puts doing the right thing before doing the easy thing. Debbie is committed to helping our agency excel.
Some of the things she has done in the past year are to develop and implement a diversity recruitment plan and measures to let us know how we are doing. She implemented a quarterly leadership development forum for our managers and supervisors. This meeting has been well received and has included topics such as implicit bias. She also implemented choice performance management, Innovators DNA and brought in giving and receiving feedback training. This year we have seen double digit improvements in or EES scores which can be directly linked to the initiatives she has been the leader of.
Doug Spohn demonstrates innovation and leadership at the Department of Labor & Industries (L&I), helping ensure the agency is an Employer of Choice. As L&I Wellness manager, his work makes L&I a place where employees have easy access to behavioral, environmental, and physical health resources.
Doug started his state service career at the former Department of Personnel in 1987, initially serving as the wellness program manager, and then the employee health promotion and assistance program manager. Then he moved to South Puget Sound Community College, and on to the Association of Washington Cities before joining L&I in 2007.
- From the moment he arrived at L&I, he has shown a commitment to finding innovative ways to support and help employees, including:
- Developing wellness initiatives like onsite mammography, flu shot clinics, massage, & yoga;
- Championing recycling in the cafeteria and health campaigns like “Go Red for Women’s Health;”
- Launching L&I’s “TED Talks” program and a variety of recurring health initiatives, including Summer Jam, Super Bowl Shape Up, Spring Fling A-Go-Go, and many others.
Doug deserves recognition for his innovative thinking, his upbeat attitude, and his championing of public service as an employer of choice. Doug epitomizes exemplary leadership.
In his 30+ year career, David has consistently demonstrated personal and professional integrity and a dedication to improving the lives of all Washingtonians.
In the last 2 years, David has been a co-lead for the Governor's Poverty Reduction Workgroup, providing statewide leadership in developing meaningful and actionable solutions to the problem of poverty.
His vision, to reduce the percentage of Washingtonians living below 200% of FPL in a way that eliminates disparities, has been a guiding star to this work. Moreover, his actions to embed equity, diversity, and inclusion in this work and throughout the Economic Services Administration has been evident in his leadership, most recently demonstrated by his commitment to creating opportunity to allow mid-level leaders in his organization an opportunity to become certified diversity professionals.
It is his direction and leadership that have allowed, even encouraged, this work to come to fruition. He inspires all of us to think systemically in improving our services to the citizens of Washington.
Debbie has recently become our Regional Administrator for Region 3 Home & Community Services.
Debbie is the true definition of a cheerleader. She encourages others to shine, constantly works toward a team approach, and generous assumptions. Debbie is continuously compassionate toward others, treats everyone as equal, but isn't afraid to show her authenticity and share her own personal growth.
Debbie had a vision to share her passion for leadership development and created an entire 9 month workshop for Region 3 for staff to develop personally and professionally through topics such as: Values, Crucial Conversations, Interview Skills, Trust, Team Building, etc.
Debbie's vision for this course has not only shown to be successful; but has also become a statewide course for all of ALTSA. Debbie has worked to create many changes within the Region, not all of which have been easy, but Debbie does it with grace and professionalism knowing that they will make us all a stronger team.
After 5 years, Debbie has promoted into new leadership roles naturally. Region 3 continues to feel blessed to have Debbie in our Region as someone who exuberates Leadership in every definition.
Nominees for the Leadership Award
- Whitney Ajie, Department of Health
- Melissa Ambler, Department of Transportation
- Kelli Anderson, Department of Services for the Blind
- Ellen Andrews, Department of Social and Health Services
- Benjamin Arends, Department of Revenue
- Jeanmarie Aseron, Department of Licensing
- Dan Ashby, Health Care Authority
- Paul Bakala, Department of Health
- Wendy Barcus, Health Care Authority
- Jennifer Barnes, Health Care Authority
- Nicole Beitey, Department of Social and Health Services
- Marci Benefiel, Department of Social and Health Services
- Teresa Berntsen, Department of Licensing
- Mike Bjordahl, Department of Transportation
- Brian Borton, Department of Social and Health Services
- Beth Bousley, Department of Transportation
- Melony Boyd, Employment Security Department
- Dave Brinkley, Department of Transportation
- Jana Brooks Department of Social and Health Services
- Dave Bruce, Department of Transportation
- David Brummel, Department of Social and Health Services
- Leann Campbell, Department of Social and Health Services
- Craig Carroll, Employment Security Department
- Philip Castle, Employment Security Department
- Luisa Castro, Department of Agriculture
- Angela Cherry, Department of Licensing
- Denise Cieri, Department of Transportation
- Brad Clark, Department of Transportation
- Wendy Conway, Office of the Insurance Commissioner
- Robert Cormier, Department of Revenue
- Ronnie Cox, Health Care Authority
- Kendra DeBow, Employment Security Department
- Allison Dermond, Department of Agriculture
- Colby Dieckman, Employment Security Department
- Maribel Dominguez, Employment Security Department
- Alexandra Doty, Puget Sound Partnership
- Andre Drake, Department of Licensing
- Debbie Dumont, Department of Enterprise Services
- Leslie Eder, Department of Labor and Industries
- Renee Fenton, Department of Fish and Wildlife
- Amy Fermo, Department of Transportation
- Lekha Fernandes, Employment Security Department
- Andrew Fiske, Department of Transportation
- Cleary Freeman, Department of Transportation
- Duane French, Department of Social and Health Services
- Clinton Fridley, Health Care Authority
- Steve Fuller, Department of Agriculture
- Angie Haffie, Department of Transportation
- Ruth Hagerty, Department of Social and Health Services
- Karen Hanan, Washington State Arts Commission
- Romy Hardy, Department of Social and Health Services
- April Hassett, Department of Social and Health Services
- Tom Heichelbechx, Department of Transportation
- Kendra Hodgson, Liquor and Cannabis Board
- Erik Hohl, Department of Transportation
- Wayne Holland, Department of Transportation
- Cherrie Imbao, Department of Enterprise Services
- Sheila Inaba, Department of Social and Health Services
- Carol Irwin, Department of Social and Health Services
- Bob James, Department of Health
- Dan Jensen, Department of Revenue
- Krystle Jones, Department of Transportation
- Lindsey Jungbluth, Department of Transportation
- Valentina Karnafel, Department of Social and Health Services
- Shannon Kenney, Employment Security Department
- Jon Kerr, State Board for Community And Technical Colleges
- Alli Kingfisher, Department of Ecology
- Teesha Kirschbaum, Health Care Authority
- Kathy Koehler, Office of Administrative Hearings
- Gail Kreiger, Health Care Authority
- Mike Kress, Department of Transportation
- Jamie Lanz, University of Washington
- Tammi Leclerc, Department of Health
- Tara Lee, Office of the Governor
- Resa Lee-Bell, Department of Social and Health Services
- Brent Malakowsky, Military Department
- Upkar Mangat, Department of Social and Health Services
- Janet Matkin, Department of Transportation
- Rhonda Mattax, Employment Security Department
- Kelly McAllister, Department of Transportation
- Carey McNallie, Employment Security Department
- Andrea Meewes-Sanchez, Department of Social and Health Services
- Shawn Mill, Department of Enterprise Services
- John Miller, Department of Enterprise Services
- Haitham Mohamed, Department of Transportation
- Eduardo Molina, Department of Licensing
- Joceile Moore, Department of Fish and Wildlife
- Dina Morris, Employment Security Department
- Colin Newell, Department of Transportation
- Nancy Nyman, Department of Labor and Industries
- Marlee O'Neill, Department of Health
- Tracey Partridge, Department of Transportation
- LeRoy Patterson, Department of Transportation
- Michael Pea, Department of Transportation
- Evelyn Perez, Department of Social and Health Services
- Shanelle Pierce, Office of the Governor
- Alexandra Proszek, Department of Transportation
- Carla Reyes, Employment Security Department
- Kate Reynolds, Office of the Attorney General
- Terri Robbins, Employment Security Department
- Debbie Robinson, Washington's Lottery
- Steve Rosman, Department of Transportation
- Alex Sanguino, Department of Transportation
- Michelle Schiller, Department of Labor and Industries
- Christine Servin, Department of Social and Health Services
- Dale Severson, Department of Transportation
- Sarah Shaffer, Department of Social and Health Services
- Wendy Shaw, Department of Labor and Industries
- Larry Sheahan, Employment Security Department
- Azim Sheikh-Taheri, Department of Transportation
- Paul Simon, Department of Social and Health Services
- Vann Smiley, Office of Financial Management
- Mark Smith, Department of Transportation
- Marlean Snyder, Health Care Authority
- Becky Spangle, Department of Transportation
- Doug Spohn, Department of Labor and Industries
- Michele Stambaugh, Department of Licensing
- Lori Stephens, Department of Social and Health Services
- David Stillman, Department of Social and Health Services
- Joe Stohr, Department of Fish and Wildlife
- JoAnne Stoltz, Department of Revenue
- Steve Swanson, State Parks and Recreation Commission
- Barbara Thomas, Department of Social and Health Services
- Kimberly Tickner, Employment Security Department
- Shawn Tobin, State Parks and Recreation Commission
- Monika Vasil, Department of Social and Health Services
- Brian Walsh, Department of Transportation
- Faye Welch, Office of the Lieutenant Governor
- Brad White, Department of Agriculture
- Deborah Willis, Department of Social and Health Services
- Don Woodworth, Office of the Insurance Commissioner
- Dawn Wrighe, Department of Social and Health Services
- Dominick Zimmermen, Department of Transportation
The narratives and names listed above are published as they were submitted to our office.