2012 Sloan Public Service Award Winners

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Sarah Carroll

Director of Preservation, Landmarks Preservation Commission

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Jefrick R. Dean, Sr

Bus Operator, New York City Transit Authority

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Donna Leno Gordon

Director, Behavioral Health Nursing and Palliative Care, Coney Island Hospital, Health and Hospitals Corporation

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James McConnell

Assistant Commissioner for Strategic Data, Office of Emergency Management

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Ruth E. Stark, Ph.D.

Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Acting Dean of Science, The City College of New York, CUNY

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Phil Weinberg

Principal, High School of Telecommunication Arts and Technology, Department of Education

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Sarah Carroll

Director of Preservation, Landmarks Preservation Commission

Sarah Carroll is responsible for overseeing the nearly 10,000 applications submitted annually to the City's Landmarks Preservation Commission. Some are to grant a New York City building landmark status; others to modify, upgrade or alter an existing landmark; others to approve landmark-related projects. Carroll is praised by colleagues and applicants alike for her keen ability to help architects, developers, contractors and property owners navigate the complicated rules and regulations that govern New York City landmarks. Although applications to the Commission are often contentious, Carroll's unusual and admirable calm, sensitivity and impartiality have made her a singularly effective negotiator, helping broker compromises to which all sides can agree. Says one New York City architect, "Sarah's one of the most respected members of the preservation community. In an environment in which preservationists are pitted against developers in often heated opposition, she is uniquely gifted in being able to find middle ground solutions." Carroll says, "It is very important for the regulatory experience to be positive."

Landmark Preservation Commissioners rely on Carroll's advice. She has gained the Commissioners' respect and confidence through her strategic thinking, her scholarly knowledge of preservation and landmarks law and her ability to convey the intent of the client. Says Commission Chairman Robert Tierney, "In my many years in government, I have never worked with a more talented, committed and effective public servant than Sarah Carroll."

Jefrick R. Dean, Sr

Bus Operator, New York City Transit Authority

In his 22 years as a bus operator, Jefrick Dean has driven every bus route out of the East New York Depot in Brooklyn. On his current route, Dean drives from the depot to downtown Brooklyn and back to the depot eight times a day. He works from 6:30 am to 10:30 am, has a two-hour break, and then works again from 12:30 pm to 4:30 pm. Dean welcomes each passenger who gets on by saying, "Take your time. Welcome aboard," and he has gone so far as to learn to say this in Spanish, Arabic, Hebrew, Haitian Creole and Swahili. He also strives every day to make sure that everyone exits his bus in a better mood than when they entered, and most do.  

Bus riders occasionally write or call the NYC Transit Authority to praise a bus operator they view as exemplary. Given the City's bus fleet of 6,000 vehicles that transport an average of 2.7 million riders each week, these "unsolicited commendations" are surprisingly rare. Very few bus operators have accumulated more than a dozen in their careers. Dean has received 132, consistently praised by riders as being, in their words, "extremely special… most extraordinary… compassionate… exemplifies untiring patience … a most shining personality." Dean is the very definition of a civil servant.

Dean became an ordained minister six years ago and has been one of 76 volunteer chaplains serving under Rabbi Harry Berkowitz, the chaplain for the NYC Transit Authority. Rabbi Berkowitz notes, "All of my volunteers are wonderful, but Dean is truly one of the outstanding ones." In 2008, after bus driver Edwin Thomas was murdered by an angry passenger, Dean was "the rock that everybody relied on to get through the grieving."

Donna Leno Gordon

Director, Behavioral Health Nursing and Palliative Care, Coney Island Hospital, Health and Hospitals Corporation

In her over two decades of service at Coney Island Hospital, Donna Leno Gordon has been a pioneer in the field of palliative care, the branch of medicine concerned with helping patients manage pain and discomfort and with easing the overwhelming emotional, psychological and spiritual distress of patients and families facing chronic or terminal illness. Under Gordon's leadership, Coney Island Hospital has become a local and regional leader in palliative care, launching its own dedicated 19-bed unit, a relative rarity among hospitals.

Combined, the palliative care programs at Coney Island Hospital have served more than 7,000 patients and their families and it receives 100 referrals each month. Gordon's program is so successful that since 2006 she has helped implement palliative care programs at 11 other HHC hospitals. Her colleagues praise her compassion, her calm, and her unwavering commitment to making palliative care a formalized part of institutionalized medicine. "Palliative care begins with dedicated clinicians, but it's often seen as the work of one or two caring staff members," she says. "I wanted to design an operationally sustainable program that gives clinicians replicable models so that no matter where they are, they can ensure that patients at the end of their lives have a voice." In addition to palliative care, Gordon is also an innovator in providing more humane, dignified care for the mentally ill. Her initiatives have reduced use of restraints and seclusion. "Donna has the reach, the scope and the heart of a champion," says Ross Wilson, HHC's Chief Medical Officer.

James McConnell

Assistant Commissioner for Strategic Data, Office of Emergency Management

Whether it is a hurricane, a fire, a flood, a black out or a terrorist threat, the City turns to James McConnell and his team to produce the GIS data maps that are essential to the City's emergency response. Since the late 1980s when GIS emerged as an important technology that captures, manages, analyzes and presents geographically referenced data, McConnell has been one of the GIS trailblazers for the City and is now one of the foremost GIS experts in the country.

Since September 12, 2001, McConnell has headed GIS at the Office of Emergency Management, when he was drafted from City Planning to coordinate the City's GIS capacity in the aftermath of 9/11. Working with 100 GIS experts from many government agencies and private companies, McConnell and his colleagues made thousands of maps in the first few weeks that were critical in rescue and recovery efforts.

McConnell is frequently described by colleagues as "an extraordinary, consummate professional" because of the scope of his knowledge about all the elements required to use GIS well—"data, software, hardware, people, politics and GIS science." He anticipates what economic, demographic, social, health, education, physical infrastructure data might be needed and gets it by forging rare partnerships with hundreds of public and private agencies. Recently, McConnell created the definitive map of the City's 400-plus subway stations, from the staircases to escape hatches, by obtaining the blue prints and converting them to GIS format. It was immediately useful in containing a track fire at a subway station in Brooklyn. Says OEM Commissioner Joseph Bruno, "Quantifying and mapping New York City is McConnell's passion. It would be hard to overstate the benefits that accrue to ordinary New Yorkers because of his quiet and constant leadership."

Ruth E. Stark, Ph.D.

Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Acting Dean of Science, The City College of New York, CUNY

Having defied convention to become a chemist at a time when few women entered the field, Ruth Stark is an eminent scientist and an inspiring role model for hundreds of young men and women from diverse backgrounds. Stark earned her Ph.D. in physical chemistry at the University of California, San Diego and completed her postdoctoral training at MIT. After teaching at Amherst College, in 1985 Stark became an associate professor of chemistry at CUNY's College of Staten Island and the institution's first woman to build her own scientific research program.

Stark, the author of 95 highly-cited scientific papers, is recognized for her unique ability to assemble talent across disciplines. Stark initiated a Research Coordination Network for emerging bimolecular technologies that has evolved into a worldwide support group funded by the National Science Foundation. As the founding Director of the CUNY Macromolecular Assemblies Institute, Stark leads a large research team of physicists, engineers, chemists and biochemists, including postdoctorals, graduate students, undergraduates and even high school students. Her commitment to promote women and men in the STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) is singular in its focus. Stark notes, "Young scientists need a broad and continuous range of supports. It is not only about the science."

In 2005, Stark was named a Distinguished Professor at the City University of New York, a title awarded to few. She and her team moved to CUNY's City College in 2007. In June 2010, Stark became acting Dean of Science, a position from which she will soon step down to focus on teaching and research. Martin Moskovits, Provost at City College, comments, "Ruth is one of those rare individuals who is equally and superlatively talented in all areas: research, teaching and senior academic administration."

Phil Weinberg

Principal, High School of Telecommunication Arts and Technology, Department of Education

Phil Weinberg is Principal of Brooklyn's High School of Telecommunication Arts and Technology (HSTAT), a large, non-specialized school with a student body of 1,300 that mirrors the community it serves: half Hispanic, 20 percent African-American, 70 percent from low-income families. Described by a colleague as "the definition of educational leadership at its best," Weinberg has turned down dozens of offers of positions elsewhere.

Weinberg sees his main task as "creating the conditions that allow teachers to do their best work and create classes where students can grow." To ease the transition to high school, freshman and sophomores are divided into four groups of 150 students, with their own teachers, four "schools within a school."  The majority of the school's 200 special education students are integrated via Collaborative Team Teaching (CTT). Each teaching team consists of two teachers—one certified in the subject area, the other in special education. As one teacher noted, "In these classes, we work together so that everyone is helping everyone else."

Getting ready for college is the focus at HSTAT. The framework is established by a demanding academic curriculum that requires all students to carry a full load of the most rigorous courses they can handle. "If we determine you can take calculus, you take calculus," said Weinberg. Students begin to visit colleges as freshmen, their college essay is a major project in their junior year and all seniors turn in their college applications en masse to the schools' college counselors on a Friday late in November. Students traditionally attend school that day dressed in professional attire in celebration of this milestone. Said one senior, "No one can not go to college in this school."

 
 

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