2014 Winners

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Annie Fine, MD

Medical Director of Data Analysis and Reportable Disease Surveillance Unit, Bureau of Communicable Disease, Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

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April Leong

Principal, Liberation Diploma Plus High School, Department of Education

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Arnaldo Bernabe

Director of Public Safety, Hostos Community College, City University of New York

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Deborah C. Garner

Director of Consumer Services, Department of Consumer Affairs

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Janice A. Halloran

Network Senior Associate Director, Department of Emergency Medicine, North Bronx Healthcare Network, New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation

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Kathleen Hughes

Assistant Commissioner for Program Services, Department of Cultural Affairs

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Annie Fine, MD

Medical Director of Data Analysis and Reportable Disease Surveillance Unit, Bureau of Communicable Disease, Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

In a city of nearly 8.5 million people in a globalized world, being on the alert for communicable disease is vital. Dr. Annie Fine is responsible for tracking and analyzing data from doctors, medical institutions and laboratories, and detecting and responding to outbreaks on 73 communicable diseases. "Annie has amazing disease detective skills. She has a never-ending passion for solving macro health problems of a complex city, and an uncanny ability to identify issues and see the bigger picture," says one colleague. When a curious outbreak of unexplained encephalitis, initially thought to be caused by the St. Louis encephalitis virus, hit New York, Dr. Fine was one of the first to question the diagnosis based on inconsistencies in the initial laboratory results as well as increasing reports from the public on clusters of dead birds being found in the areas most affected by the outbreak. Several weeks later, when the outbreak was correctly identified as due to the West Nile Virus, Dr. Fine created a surveillance and control plan for the city which became a model for other states and cities as the virus spread nationwide. During the H1N1 flu pandemic in 2009, Dr. Fine played a key role in measuring the disease's severity and the increased risk for the elderly as well as pregnant women. To improve the Bureau's disease surveillance and outbreak data management, Dr. Fine led the development of a new software system which analyzes thousands of reports and tests by neighborhood, age, seasonality and local institutions to identify complex trends hidden in the data. Dr. Fine's outstanding innovations are motivated by the concern she has for the families and communities she protects. Says Dr. Fine, "I'm fundamentally a civil servant. To me that means trying to approach a set of ideals: caring, hard work, devotion and diligence."


April Leong

Principal, Liberation Diploma Plus High School, Department of Education

Running a New York City transfer high school requires a deep knowledge of pedagogy, superb managerial skills and the tenacity of an advocate. Liberation Diploma Plus High School in Coney Island has a student body of about 200, ages 16-21, who are over-aged and under-credited. These students may not have a permanent home, may have been in juvenile detention or have other difficulties that no young person should experience. As the founding Principal of Liberation, April Leong sees her school's purpose as one of graduation and transformation. "April is a ball of fire. She operates with a remarkable combination of love and toughness," says one colleague. Students of Liberation receive a high quality of education in a supportive environment where they are valued as individuals and young people ready to make contributions. Liberation has impressive graduation and college enrollment rates because of Leong's singular commitment to her students. Every week, she meets with her staff to discuss the progress of each individual student. "Any resource we can provide to help students stay on track, we do. We want them to have the most choices they can in the most creative ways we can offer them." To graduate, students must work with a college counselor and apply to CUNY and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, in addition to completing an internship and writing a resume and autobiographical essay. However, the impact she has on students' lives is the greatest indicator of her success as a principal.  Says one former student who entered the school with only 2 credits, and made a 2-hour commute to Liberation from Staten Island daily, "She is like a godmother. And I never wanted to miss school because of her."

Arnaldo Bernabe

Director of Public Safety, Hostos Community College, City University of New York

Arnaldo Bernabe leads the Hostos Community College campus security force, creating a safe environment for the nearly 7,000 students who attend its campus in Mott Haven. The challenge for Bernabe is to help students see that security is in place for them. Many of the students who attend Hostos may have had difficult dealings with law enforcement and many speak a first language other than English. "We need to be more than security officers. We have to understand the difficulties students face on a daily basis and act as colleagues working together to create a safe and rewarding educational community," says Bernabe. Bernabe has demonstrated a remarkable ability to bridge campus communities, even to the extent that the college created an admissions campaign featuring Bernabe and his team. Widely recognized as a mentor, he has a keen ability to develop security officers, such as recruiting a Hostos cafeteria cashier and developing her into a peace officer who has graduated from the Academy and is a key member of the security team. "Chief Bernabe is not only a safety officer at Hostos; he is an educator, a role model, a person of true wisdom, and the one person absolutely everyone calls upon," says one Hostos faculty member. When homelessness became a problem for some Hostos students, Bernabe worked with college counselors and faculty to help these students find a place to live, and for emergencies, made special arrangements to allow these students to stay in the college. The dignity he extends to every member of the Hostos community has earned him the respect of students, faculty, and staff alike. Says one security officer, "He is such a wonderful leader. Our entire community owes so much to him."

Deborah C. Garner

Director of Consumer Services, Department of Consumer Affairs

Deborah Garner is in charge of responding to the nearly 30,000 consumer complaints filed each year with the Division of Consumer Services. With a small staff of 24 to monitor the practices of the more than 78,000 businesses in 55 industries under the jurisdiction of the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs, Garner has proven to be a managerial magician, efficiently and effectively responding to each complaint. "Deborah Garner inspires, leads and serves like no other person I have ever worked with. She uses her incredible energy and managerial talent to stay always focused on getting fair outcomes for those we serve," says Alba Pico, First Deputy Commissioner of the DCA. Garner completely re-engineered the intake process of the 200 complaints received by mail each week. Instead of assigning these complaints to other staff, she and her Deputy Director personally read all incoming complaints, which has cut the processing time to an average of six days. Says one colleague, "Hardly a day goes by that she doesn't spot a problem for consumers. She identifies trends and knows how to mediate them successfully." Noticing a spike in the frequency of door-to-door solicitations by alternative energy providers of consumers whose primary language is other than English, she and Consumer Affairs successfully petitioned the Public Service Commission to issue rules regarding how marketing should be conducted for non-English speakers. And Garner's effectiveness is matched by the personal care she offers to each person seeking help. Says one satisfied consumer, "She came through for me with flying colors. One letter from her and it's one, two, and three."

Janice A. Halloran

Network Senior Associate Director, Department of Emergency Medicine, North Bronx Healthcare Network, New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation

Janice Halloran has 24-hour operational responsibility for the emergency rooms at both Jacobi Medical Center and North Central Bronx hospitals. These emergency rooms, including Jacobi's Level I Trauma Center, receive 175,000 visits annually. Possessing unsurpassed managerial skills and a commitment to innovation, Halloran ensures that everyone seeking care from the ER, including trauma patients, receives quality attention, as she did when the 23 victims of the horrific bus accident on I-95 were sent to Jacobi in 2011. "There is nothing Janice won't do, no job too large or too small, if it improves the way our hospitals run or the care our patients receive," says one colleague. Recognizing the frustration of patients entering an ER waiting room unsure of how long they must wait given that patient priority shifts constantly, Halloran created an electronic board to display ER wait times. These boards, which should be standard in all hospitals, allow patients to make a decision about whether to stay or seek treatment elsewhere. And her trailblazing qualities go beyond the emergency room. She is the Chairperson for Network Emergency Preparedness as well as the Bronx Emergency Preparedness Coalition, acting as the Bronx's go-to person for any disaster to strike New York City. When Hurricane Sandy hit in 2012, Halloran was ready. For 96 straight hours, she never left Jacobi, working to care for patients evacuated from Bellevue and Coney Island hospitals and establishing a Special Medical Needs Shelter at Lehman College that housed, fed and cared for up to 600 people a day.  As one network executive comments, "No one has a greater work ethic than Janice. She has integrity, character, and an amazing ability to get things done. Whenever there's a tough job, she's the first one to raise her hand."


Kathleen Hughes

Assistant Commissioner for Program Services, Department of Cultural Affairs

Assistant Commissioner for Program Services, Kathleen Hughes, oversees the allocation of the more than $32 million per year the City's Department of Cultural Affairs awards to almost 900 cultural organizations—theaters, dance companies, orchestras, chamber groups, museums and film projects – in every neighborhood and borough. Says one arts expert, "I've never seen any public servant who cares so much and works so hard. Kathi's responsible for more money coming to DCA and more institutions getting funding. She's the heart and soul of the agency." The signature accomplishment of Hughes in recent years has been streamlining and making the process more transparent and equitable: applications are on-line, groups are counseled throughout the process; a competitive review panel of arts peers is assembled; and the process is clear and rigorous. One reason that it works so well is that Hughes and her team visit these organizations and are familiar with their operations, finances, boards, and artistic staff. "She is so dedicated to getting out there and supporting the medium and small-sized art groups. With Kathi, you do not have to search for that supportive voice in City government. She finds you," says one DCA grantee.  "She understands the particular needs of each arts organization and their value to their New York neighborhoods. She finds as many ways as possible to assist them," says one DCA staffer.  Hughes has also played a lead role in assisting organizations through structural change and crisis, and her leadership has influenced countless arts professionals at the Agency and beyond.  More than anything, Hughes understands how the arts can underwrite an enhanced quality of life for New Yorkers. As one colleague says, "Anyone drawn to the city because of its culture has Kathi to thank."


 
 

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