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Governor's Awards

Governor's Awards 2020 Message from Governor Bullock

2020 Award Recipients and Reason for Nomination

CARES Act Support Team Award

Brain Buhr, Tina Engel, Sheri French, Aaron Grossman, Seth HanleyNick HillMary House, Jessica Kessler, Sarah Larson, Linda Leffler, Tammy Peltomaa, Karen Pocha-Melby, Brandon Reese, Kristin Reynolds, Chuck Richardson, Colter Schilling, David Sherman, Sara Snell, Joseph Szczepaniak, Margaret Wallace, and Channah Wells

Reason for Nomination:  This Department of Administration team performed work in direct support of the State of Montana’s Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which included supporting the Department of Commerce Housing Assistance Grants and Local Government Reimbursement Program. The team developed forms, configured software, and implemented workflows for applicant and internal use; set-up processes and internal controls to ensure consistency with the approval processes; and provided customer support to answer questions and process applications. This work was completed in quick order to meet critical deadlines to support Montana’s citizens, businesses, and local governments. This work has clearly been performed above and beyond these individuals’ normal job duties during this unprecedented time.

COVID-19 Response Team Award

Belinda Adams, Denise Adamson, Tevin Agtarap, Amber Conger, Layne Cope, Mike Ducello, Angie Gifford, Brandon Ivers, Suzi Jackson, Brittany Jetter, Kyle Kaufman, Bob Klein, Chad Kroll, Christie Magill, Jersey Mankowski, Curtis Norman, Alex Ostberg, Candi Preskar, Katelyn Schaub, Tanner Schwartz, Nikki Simon, Kelly Stevenson-Sargent, and Tim Wunderwald

Reason for Nomination:  During this unprecedented time, these Department of Administration staff members went above and beyond their normal job duties to provide quick responses to our colleagues at other agencies and to the citizens of Montana. This work included creating human resources guidance and developing policies aligning with new federal law; desktop and voice services support as state employees transitioned to a remote telework status; design, connectivity, and support for the COVID-19 website and its management; communications work as part of the Joint Information Center at Fort Harrison; and capitol complex incident command activities, facilities management support, and supply distribution. Thank you to these individuals for their dedicated work in response to the COVID-19 situation and its impact to our workplace.

State Auditor's Office Information Technology Team Award

Glynis Gibson, Ken Kops, and Andy Nickol

Reason for Nomination:   In March, the State Auditor’s Office Information Technology team successfully transitioned agency employees to be able to work remotely in a matter of days. This team quickly and effectively pivoted its priorities to solving connectivity and access problems and other challenges that occurred with moving staff off-site. They were able to navigate varying employee technical abilities and ensured agency employees had the tools needed to do their jobs. 

Individual Award

Nick Domitrovich

Reason for Nomination:  Nick continuously makes thorough legal assessments and recommendations thanks to his extensive knowledge of public health and human services law and history in Montana. He has years of experience and expertise as a public health attorney and leads efforts to eliminate discrimination in health care. His commitment to public service and desire to ensure access to health care for all Montanans is appreciated.

Individual Award

Nova Pauls

Reason for Nomination:  Nova Pauls played an instrumental role in the DPHHS response to COVID-19. She managed the departments Joint Information Center (JIC) and the Governor’s COVID-19 Relief Funds.  She enhanced public engagement by distributing accurate and timely information, ensured programs operated with high integrity, adhered to the rules, and maintained a fair and consistent approval process. Thanks to Nova and her team, the agency has awarded millions of dollars in relief funds to support social safety net nonprofits, reduce isolation, improve access to health coverage, ensure childcare, promote behavioral health, and enhance food security.

COVID-19 Information Response Team Award

Kristi Aklestad, Eve Beebe, Amber Bell, Victoria Blackburn, Ann Buss, Auja Bywater, Karen Cech, Traci Clark, Rebecca Corbett, Chuck Council, Darla Dexter, Emily Dunklee, Wes Eastis, Jon Ebelt, Kimme Evermann, Jessie Fernandes, Jamie Fortune-Blair,  Will Gardner, Yvonne Gentile, Lona Gregor, Alyssa Johnson, Linda Krantz, Carol Kussman, Kris Larson, Katy Lovell, Mike McNamara, Ryan Molm, Alisha Oellerman, Heather Rae, Kathy Rich, Kellie Richetti, Rachel Rolston, Jamie Schmidt, Katie Swanson, Gina Tracy, Janet Trethewey, and M'liss Weisner

Reason for Nomination:  The COVID-19 Information Response Team coordinated with the state’s Joint Information Center to respond to phone calls and emails from Montana citizens, as well as state and national news media about the public health emergency. This team consists of employees throughout the agency who stepped up to take on additional responsibility ensuring all inquiries were responded to in a timely fashion to help keep both Montana citizens and out-of-state residents informed. This team came together in a time of crisis to help their fellow citizens.

COVID-19 Public Health Response Team

Stacey Anderson, Erika Araos, James Aspevig, Ashley Ausman, Margaret Ann Baker, Debra Belleau, Carrie Biskupiak, Lydia Bloom, Jacob Brown, Tammy Buckley, Melissa Burch, Jill Cohenour, Jaqueline Dixon, Angela Dusko, Robert Elkins, Staci Evangeline, Edward Evanson, Dana Fejes, Curtis Fjelstad, Keturah Fortner, Crystal Fortune, Luke Fortune, Michelle Funchess, Deborah Gibson, Kathleen Grady-Selby, Linda Gryczan, Todd Harwell, Jeffrey Havens, Nina Heinzinger, Rachel Hinnenkamp, Greg Holzman, Donna Hosmer, Lori Hutchinson, Jenna Kaiser, Sarah Keppen, Bekki Kirsch Wehner, Stacy Klaue, Shannon Koenig, Gayle LaBlanc, Jeanne Lee, Erik Leigh, Russel Leu, Danielle Lindeman, Alicia Love, Gail Macklin, Kathleen Manion, Janel Mason, Matthew Matich, Helen McCaffrey, Katie McCormick, Donald McGiboney, Lorna McIntyre, Jennifer Miller, Lana Moyer, Michelle Mozer, Cara Murolo, James Murphy, Kimberly Newman, Keven O'Loughlin, Mercedes Overlie, Ronald Paul, Susan Reeser, Elizabeth Reynolds, Jay Ritter, Samantha Saycich, Lynette Schmit, Magdalena Scott, Katie Sides, Lois Sunblad, Ian Thigpen, Joanne Thun, Colin Tobin, Elaine Ulgenes, Kimberly Varvel, Walter Walsh, Ryan Weight, M'liss Weisner, Gerald Wheat, and Gary Zimmerman

Reason for Nomination:  The Public Health Response Team consists of the Communicable Disease Epidemiology and Emergency Preparedness Sections, Public Health Laboratory, and other staff who continue to work tirelessly on the statewide response to address the COVID-19 pandemic, along with county and Tribal health departments. The team provides 24/7 support to local jurisdictions to prevent and contain local outbreaks, coordinates the distribution of supplies, and provides statewide testing services for COVID-19. This team also produces bi-weekly analysis reports, posts daily website updates, conducts media interviews, and responds to inquiries from the public. They have demonstrated leadership and dedication to the safety and health of our communities.

Facility Managers Team Award

Zoe Barnard, Kyle Fouts, Jennifer Garber, Shannon LaTray, Diane Scotten, and Joren Underdahl

Reason for Nomination:  During COVID-19, the Facility Managers Team continued to ensure the health and safety of those entrusted to the State as well as their staff who provide direct care and support. This team implemented new safety regulations and processes and actively addressed staffing challenges at the facilities. They led by example and put the facilities' well-being as their number one priority. Montana is fortunate to have this team leading facilities during these unprecedented times. 

Health Resources Division Operations Research Team Award

Julie Bullman, Trisha Goettle, Clay Hanson, Donny Holmlund, and Renee Quintana

Reason for Nomination:  The Health Resources Division Operations Research Team created robust tribal reports which aid Tribes and DPHHS in better understanding healthcare utilization within Montana's Tribal communities. These reports are essential for building and maintaining strong government-to-government relationships. The team worked diligently to diagnose and rectify claims processing system problems affecting Indian Health Services and Tribes. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the team was quick to research necessary procedure code changes. Their work ensured Medicaid members continued to receive quality care during this time.

Network & Communications Bureau COVD-19 Response Team Award

Daniel Allen, Ian Bahr, Gregory Bratcher, Christopher Gleason, David Good, Buddy Hanrahan, Jesse Hartmann, James Haun, Joseph Hudson, Sheldon Kaldor, Kathleen Kershaw, Jared Lindseth, Brett Lutkehus, Casey McMahon, Sherrty Mitschke, Christi Mock, Keith Noem, Scott Pomajevich, Kyle Sayler, Susan Spatzierath, Darran Trench, Rick Wilkowski, Chad Williams, Robert Williamson, and Steven Wilson

Reason for Nomination:  The Network and Communication Bureau COVID-19 Response Team made it possible for agency employees to work remotely during the ongoing public health emergency. The team successfully transitioned 1,600 staff members to work remotely within a two-week period while preserving critical business continuity. They maintained the high levels of security while providing help desk support and training to employees. This effort enabled employees to perform their duties while they transitioned to telework during this challenging time.

Individual Award

Kerry Davant

Reason for Nomination:  Deputy Director Davant provided guidance and leadership to the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC) when it needed it most. She facilitated continuing operations and services while incorporating COVID-19 safety requirements. This allowed the agency to continue supporting the citizens of Montana.

Forrest Action Leadership Team Award

Sonya Germann and Leanne Marten

Reason for Nomination:  Sonya Germann and Leanne Marten led the Montana Forest Action Council for the last year. The Council is charged with creating the Montana Forest Action Plan. They successfully brought together a diverse set of interests and provided outstanding leadership and vision for the Council. Their dedication to the Council will bring long-lasting benefits to Montana's forests.

Individual Award

Liz Bradley

Reason for Nomination:  Liz Bradley is responsible for wildlife legacy at Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks. She manages elk, bear, wolf, and other wildlife populations from Missoula to Idaho. She helped with the coordination and administration of a Wildlife Habitat Improvement Program Grant involving dozens of private-public collaborators for weed management worth more than $1 million across the Fish Creek Wildlife Management Area and other FWP, public, and private lands. She is an exemplary resource steward and public servant.

Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention Team Award

Zach Crete, Jayden Duckworth, Jacob Effertz, Sean Flynn, Jessi Gudgel, Garland Hamilton, Russ Hartzell, Kim Howell, Austin Jaynes, Gail Johnson, Liz Lodman, Larry Lytle, Craig McLane, Kathi Montgomery, Beth Morgan-Giddings, John O'Bannon, Stacy Schmidt, and Tom Woolf 

Reason for Nomination:  The Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention team navigated a variety of obstacles to perform its essential functions safely when the COVID-19 pandemic began. The team members worked together to provide valuable information on invasive species to other agencies, partners, and the western states. This team includes five members who cover the entire state, managing 24 inspection stations and ten offices, all while collaborating with numerous partners. 

IT Staff Team Award

Kyle Belcher, John Coulthard, Jeb Myren, and Steven St. John

Reason for Nomination:  Office of Public Defender (OPD) IT Team stepped up when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. They successfully set up 300 staff members to be able to work remotely. This accomplishment was achieved with limited time and resources. The team overcame obstacles of tele-representation, tele-court appearances, and remote access for both our employees and clients keeping the Criminal Justice System functioning during the pandemic.   

Communications and Constituent Services Team Award

Milly Allen, Katherine Anderson, Tyler Campbell, Halle Keltner, Erin Loranger, Sam Offerdahl, Kaydee Parsons, Marissa Perry, Taylor Potts, Taylor Tyson, McCabe Webb, and George Wolcott

Reason for Nomination:  The Communications and Constituent Services team have been integral with making the Governor available to the public during the COVID-19 pandemic. From hosting frequent press conferences to answering literally thousands of questions, this team has worked together to coordinate numerous agencies, information, and resources to respond to our public media and as many Montanans as possible. They have worked hard and long hours to help the citizens of Montana. 

Business Stabilization Grant Leadership Team Award

Michele Cushman, Angie DeYoung, Theresa Erickson, Wayne Johnston, Carolyn Jones, Anna Marie Moe, Jenny Pelej, Annmarie Robinson, Heidi Sampson, Emilie Saunders, Alyssa Townsend, and Maria Valandra

Reason for Nomination:  The Business Stabilization Grant has been one of the largest and most heavily in-demand programs developed by the state to respond to the economic situation created by COVID-19. This team made quality policy design decisions and thoughtfully handled high volumes of applications. This team’s work with building and leading the grant helped prevent small businesses from going out of business, allowing them to continue providing jobs and opportunities in their communities around the state.   

Individual Award

Glen Stinar

Reason for Nomination:  The Montana Law Enforcement Academy was one of a few in the nation to stay operational and continue training during the pandemic allowing it to provide essential public-safety services to Montana. Glen Stinar led his team to develop safety protocols that covered everything from classroom hygiene to risk mitigation during pursuit driving. He also assisted with keeping a campus infrastructure project moving forward, developing a leadership program and facilitating training retreats for senior Department of Justice (DOJ) management. He lead the DOJ Innovation Goal program and has collaborated with human resources on a worker’s compensation claim review program to analyze and reduce injuries in the workplace.

Gambling Control Tax Section & Program Team Award

Spencer Chandler, Nancy Cobban, Stacy Rogstad, and Andy Weamer

Reason for Nomination:  The Gambling Control Tax Section and Program team, led by Nancy Cobban, successfully updated procedures and automated processes related to the VGM tax collection ahead of schedule. Completing this project was beneficial to gambling licensees, the industry, and the division. It is estimated the agency will save 200 hours of staff time a year with these upgrades. In addition to this project, this team quickly implemented necessary changes related to a temporary emergency rule to address VGM tax late payment penalties due to COVID-19 closures.

Individual Award

Stacey Weldele-Wade

Reason for Nomination:  Stacy Weldele-Wade has been the Voluntary Resolution and Outreach Coordinator for the Human Rights Bureau at the Department of Labor and Industry since 2014. During her time in this role, she has guided 88 percent of the parties that participate to a voluntary resolution, saving the parties and our agency significant resources. Stacey has worked with innumerable parties and gained the trust and respect of Montana’s citizens, particularly Montana’s legal community.   

Office of Community Service Team Award

Lisa Dorrington, Jaime Gabrielli, Sheree Isola, Dan Ritter, and Sarah Sadowski

Reason for Nomination:  The Office of Community Service (OCS), along with the Montana Commission, administered eight distinct AmeriCorps programs investing over $4,213,260 to mobilize over 550 members into service addressing the State’s needs in the areas of education, environmental stewardship, access to justice, and economic opportunity. This team also helped Montana youth through administering a scholarship programs and organizing global youth services day. Their work provided important services across Montana to support the various needs of our communities. 

Individual Award

Jason Seyler

Reason for Nomination:  Jason Seyler effectively facilitated collaboration with Montana DEQ’s Brownfield Program and housing projects throughout Montana to address hazardous substance and petroleum brownfields sites across Montana. Jason assisted many housing developments, most notably Helena’s Red Alder housing development and Missoula’s Lee Gordan and Tiny Homes on 1717 Montana Avenue. His dedication to the program, networking skills, and work ethic help to make this program a success.  

Butte Priority Soils Consent Decree Team Award

Carolina Balliew, Jenny Chambers, Jim Ford, Harley Harris, Katherine Hausrath, Patrick Holmes, Jon Morgan, Daryl Reed, and Tom Stoops

Reason for Nomination:  For the last several years, the Butte Consent Decree Team has been engaged in rigorous negotiations to determine legal and technical matters needed to finalize the Consent Decree for the Butte Priority Soils Operable Unit. The team’s efforts set the stage for cleaning up Butte, which the community is looking forward to continuing. 

Lead in Schools Team Award

BJ Biskupiak (Public Health & Human Services), Dianne Burke (Montana Quality Education Coalition), Deb Call, Stacy Campbell (Public Health & Human Services), Moira Davin, Tim Davis, Emily Dean (Montana School Boards Association), Jon Dilliard, Cindi Dillon, Ed Evanson (Public Health & Human Services), Marco Ferro (Montana Federation of Public Employees), Brian Hogenson, (Byrne Manley (Legislative Services), Lance Melton (Montana School Boards Association), Kirk Miller (School Administrators of Montana),  Gregory Montgomery, Trace Moseman (Public Instruction), Sarah Norman, Greg Olsen, Dennis Parman (Montana Rural Association), Gino Pizzini, Lynnette Radonich, Damon Songer, Paul Taylor (Public Instruction), Elizabeth Tobel, and Denise Williams (Montana Association of School Business Officials) 

Reason for Nomination:  This team collaborated across agencies to make Montana a healthier place for our children. The team developed rules and conducted community outreach and education for schools needing lead testing and remediation to protect Montana’s children. In addition, the team worked on a public-facing database to make all sampling and remediation efforts transparent and publicly accessible.  

Agriculture Sciences Division Field Inspectors Team

Dawn Bales, Robyn Cassel, Carli Davis, Matt Deaton, Diana DeYoung, Jeff Drummond, Chris Herron, Falina Hutchinson, Michaela Hystad, Alan Johns, Margaret Misner, Tonda Moon, Mikayla Moore, Sean Mulla, Laurie Neumann, Alyssa Piccolomini, Theresa Schrum, Lyle Scott, Ryan Solberg, Carson Thomas, Kima Traynham, Ed Tyanich, Lori Vance, and Patricia Wherley

Reason for Nomination:  The Department of Agriculture’s field inspection team traveled across the state to help protect Montana agriculture. They helped to ensure the safe and effective use of pesticides and fertilizers, that farm and ranch inputs and products are accurately labeled and free of contamination, as well as making sure Montana’s agricultural products shipped worldwide are pest and disease free. This team provided vital services to Montana producers safely and without interruption during the unprecedented disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Individual Award

Mike Moorman

Reason for Nomination:  In March 2020, Governor Bullock issued a directive to lock down Montana Women's Prison (MWP) due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Immediately, Associate Warden Moorman began adjusting how MWP conducts business. In conjunction with the management team, they revised dining and recreation schedules, modified the dog and other general programs, and established protocols for COVID-19 testing and what to do if a positive COVID-19 case occurred. Thanks to Mike's leadership, MWP was able to maintain the safety and security of the building, inmates, staff, and the community of Billings.

Clinical Services COVID-19 Response Team Award

Todd Boese, Sara Boutilier, Tonya Dempster, Jeanine Ford, Benjamin Fry, Cindy Hiner, Alishia Jamieson,  Sherri Monson, Heidi Obie, Stephany Pasha, Anita Thorpe, and Connie Winner

Reason for Nomination:  In March 2020, the Clinical Services Division worked to ensure the safety of staff, offenders, and the community by implementing procedures to minimize the risk of COVID-19 being introduced into the facilities. The team worked tirelessly to acquire appropriate PPE, educate everyone, conduct screening tests, and perform testing when necessary. They demonstrated teamwork and dedication to the department and the community.

Montana State Prison Records Team Award

Laurel Curran, Kristin Fitzgerald, Susan Gliko, Monica Goosey, Amy Maki, Carla Martenson, Kathy McElderry, Michele McKinnon, Renee Reistad, Susan Schimming, Vicki Squires, Melissa Streicher, and Donna Zawada

Reason for Nomination:  The Montana State Prison Records Team took on the responsibility of managing sentencing calculations and documents for the Probation and Parole Division, in additional to managing its own records. This team successfully integrated an additional 2,600 records into its processes by developing data integrity safeguards to ensure data is entered in a timely and accurate manner. The team deserves recognition for a job well done.  

Team Award

Billie Reich and Terrie Stefalo

Reason for Nomination:  These two Montana State Prison employees consistently go above and beyond the call of duty. This team assisted the legal staff with a complex civil rights case in federal court by maintaining accurate and timely records to help support the legal team’s defense case, which ultimately resolved on a summary judgment. They are invaluable employees deserving of recognition for all that they do for the department and the citizens of Montana.

Individual Award

Martin Landry

Reason for Nomination:  When state offices were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Martin Landry volunteered to stay in the office to ensure the Talking Book Library program continued for state residents who are unable to use standard print materials due to visual, physical, and/or reading disabilities. He established new workflows, created a system to ensure safety, and maintained the prompt and ongoing circulation of materials. Martin has displayed true excellence in his duties and commitment to the Montana State Library Talking Book program.

School Nutrition Team Award 

Camille Biazzo, Chris Emerson, Pam Fruh, Clay Hickman, Kelli Johnson, Deb Jones, Kimberly Lloyd, Caroline Olson, Erin Turner, and Alie Wolf

Reason for Nomination:   Office of Public Instruction’s School Nutrition team went above and beyond to secure federal waivers and provide schools with guidance to safely serve students during the COVID-19 pandemic. Their dedication greatly contributed to keeping citizens safe.

Individual Award

Tyler Thomas

Reason for Nomination:  Ty Thomas went above and beyond his job duties while the Division Administrator position was vacant from October 2019 to June 2020. He implemented several improvements to the Brands Division and the Enforcement Bureau, such as refining the field training program and introducing “Verbal Judo” training to enhance District Investigators’ ability to de-escalate stressful situations. He was instrumental with implementing the use of technology in the livestock markets throughout the state, as well as improving communication between the Helena office, the markets, and field staff.

Versai Team Award

Rod Coslet, Lori Ereth, Jodel Fohn, Rennan Reike, and Anthony Schrillo

Reason for Nomination:  The Montana Historical Society Versai team successfully implemented an integrated museum software system for customer and donor relationship management. As a result of a collaborative team effort, this team was able to migrate existing software programs into the Versai software. The Versai conversion provided greater work efficiency and improved customer service to visitors, members, donors, and Historical Society staff.

Individual Award

Oak Metcalfe

Reason for Nomination:  Oak Metcalfe is the State Materials Engineer for Montana Department of Transportation and serves on over a dozen national, federal, and state transportation boards and committees assisting the transportation sector nationwide.  Recently, Oak initiated and collaborated on creating a Buy-America web page.  This page assists the highway contracting community to ensure they are compliant with federal regulations associated with purchasing American-made iron and steel for agency projects.  Oak’s contributions to the department and the state of Montana is greatly appreciated.

Dash Board Team Award

Mabel Beito, Mark Criner, Katie Dalton, Jesse Gascon, John Gray, Joel Hoerner, Justun Juelfs, Kasey Krantz, Randy Martindale, Charles Mcleod, Franklin Mercer, Dave Newburn, Ron Newton, Kip Nixon, Dennis Oliver, Terry Peterson, and Thad Winebrenner

Reason for Nomination:   The Dashboard Team at the Department of Transportation developed and used a dashboard which targets winter material use to ensure the correct amount is used to control snow and ice on highways. This team used a ten-year average of winter material use in the Kalispell area to establish a benchmark for the winter materials use. Last winter, a weekly report was sent to 13 sections in the area showing if each area was above, below, or on target for material use. This team saved over $325,000 of winter maintenance materials, reduced impacts to the environment, and provided a safe roadway for the traveling public.

Mobile Workforce Implementation Team

Theresa Bousliman, Tony Carrell, Robert Cash, Brenda Held, Vickie Jahraus, Pat Lane, Dave Larson, Rick LePage, John Levick, Brett McCullough, Cliff Neiffer, Scott Read, Jake Schwehr, Dori Wetherelt, Teresa Yakoweshen, and Sally Yarnall

Reason for Nomination:   When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the Department of Transportation Mobile Workforce Implementation Team quickly prepared over 700 staff to work remotely. This effort required implementing measures to protect state equipment and the transfer of data, managing inventory procedures, and providing remote work instructions for staff. Within three weeks, the agency became mobile enabled. This collaborative effort, given the short timeframe to implement, was a remarkable accomplishment.

Swamp Creek Construction Project Team

Bret Boundy, Drew Fetters, Lee Grosh, Dave Hedstrom, Jeff Jackson, Ben Nunnallee, Robert Padmos, Ben Schendel, John Schmidt, Mark Studt, Joe Weigand, and Marc Zahner

Reason for Nomination:   The Swamp Creek Construction Team successfully completed the five-mile-long roadway reconstruction project along Highway 2, east of Libby. This project has been a design challenge for many years and was completed using innovative materials and equipment. The innovative design methods and materials used saved taxpayers millions of dollars in construction cost.

Trout Creek Team Award

Beth Kappes and Chuck Nemfakos

Reason for Nomination:   The state legislature recently approved a pilot program for four highway projects to use the Construction Manager/General Contractor (CM/GC) delivery method. Chuck Nemfakos and Beth Kappes co-managed the initial project, Clark Fork-Trout Creek, a rehabilitation of a 1,200-foot bridge over the Clark Fork River. They implemented the new process under a tight schedule, delivering an economical and high-quality design to the construction team. Under their guidance and teamwork, the first MDT CM/GC project was a success, setting the stage for an outstanding program.

IT Help Desk Team Award

Jeff Bradshaw, Phil Chambley, Diane Jones, and Zach Murray

Reason for Nomination:  In March, the agency’s IT Help Desk team worked diligently to get 277 employees ready to work remotely. This team’s hard work, long hours, and dedication were critical to successfully being able to continue agency services to the state of Montana.

Montana State Emergency Coordination Center Team Award

Erinn Addy, Amanda Avard, Dylan Berg, Mike Bourquin, Rick Dorvall, Erin Fashoway, Brayden Fine, Ryan Finnegan, Joe Frohlich, William Gardner, Sara Hartley, Cheryl Hawley, Karen Herman, Jeff Holycross, Kristin Kilpela, Tam Kolar, Ryan Lee, Andrew Long, Julia Maddox, Matt Matich, Sheri Medow, Jade Metzler, Mike Mooney, Jamie Mortimore, Kevin, Ochs, J Lee Okeson, Mike Paulsen, Kacey Pilon, Shari Pool, Isaiah Reed, Betsy Ross, Alex Schwier, Keith Simendinger, Juan Stevens, Kyle Sturgill-Simon, Tim Thennis, Jessie Weinman, Heather Welch, Kate Wilson, and Joyce Wittenberg

Reason for Nomination:  The Montana State Emergency Coordination Center (SECC) activated in March 2020 in support of the COVID-19 Response.  Staff from the Montana Disaster and Emergency Services Division performed exceptionally well under demanding circumstances.  The agency solicited and received extraordinary support from state agencies and from other unwavering partnerships.  Collaboratively, the SECC responded to resource requests, secured personal protective equipment, coordinated testing events, developed plans to reopen the state, built medical surge capacity through alternate care facilities, operated the joint information center, and acquired and delivered school safety supplies.  

Montana Youth Challenge Academy Team Award

Eric Banick, Kamille Bergquist, Carolyn Bielser, Kody Brown, Kyle Burgess, Barbara Burkeen, Katie Cox, Tasheena Erikson, Toni Fairchild, Thomas Fenley, Perry Fosse, David Frank, Trent Gibson, Jessica Guisbert, Lynnette Hale, Brent Howard, Jim Huber, Adam Jensen, Luke Jones, Nick Keene, Rebecca Klein, Madisonn Lemhouse, Randy Lowder, Michael Majors, Nathaniel Marquez, Colette Marx, James McBride, Mark McGinley, Cheryl Miskowic, Erin Montgomery, Michelle Nelon, Kristin Novich, Tammy Pittman, Montana Reynolds, Vernon Reynolds, Ty Robinson, Kevin Roche, Carrie Schwandt, Trevor Smith, Amber Spencer, Ben Stewart, Leah Sturgeon, Kerri Thomas, Laura Thomas, Marcia Vrbka, Michael Weldon, Shelby Westfall, Jonathan White, and Deanna Wilson

Reason for Nomination:  The Montana Youth Challenge Academy team helped at risk youth obtain their high school diplomas (or equivalent) by teaching self-discipline, leadership, and responsibility. When the pandemic hit, they switched gears to provide a safe place for cadets during the shelter in place order. Afterwards, they stayed connected to the cadets remotely to continue supporting them. The team’s extra effort and dedication was recognized when 70 cadets from Class 42 graduated this year and 30 committed to re-enrolling. 

Individual Award

Cathy Jury

Reason for Nomination:  Cathy Jury has been instrumental in growing the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Outreach Program in support of the agency’s mission to having deaf and hard of hearing children become productive members of their community. Cathy established the Montana Deaf Mentor Program and sought out national training for deaf adults in Montana. Those adults can now help support families with deaf children. Cathy is skilled at implementing programs and creating materials which empower the child and their family, as well as have a lasting impact on the future success of these children. 

Individual Award

Christie Breland

Reason for Nomination:  Christie Breland volunteered to chair the Girls STEM work group established by the Montana's Information Technology Managers Council. The group hosted a two-day camp-style event with multiple state agencies demonstrating how they use IT to best serve the citizens of Montana. She spent hours producing work timelines, selection criteria, and event schedules; contacted participants; and garnered monetary and logistical support.  Christie’s leadership and dedication greatly contributed to the camp being a huge success and a shining example of how the state agencies can pull together for a single event. 

Communications Team Award

Kristan Barbour, Stephen Bowman, Matt Brotherton, Czelsi Gómez, Jason Slead, and Sanjay Talwani

Reason for Nomination:   The Department of Revenue Communications Team was critical to the implementation of Microsoft Teams and other O-365 tools when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.  Ninety percent of staff were suddenly working remotely, and this team made sure communication channels were established for employees and the public. They provided training, created an intranet site, implemented lunch hour training, and created town-hall style Teams events to communicate with the whole agency. This team understands the importance of serving the public with transparency and access to government, as well as recognized the importance of employees having tools and support to meet their goals and objectives.

Individual Award

Cheryl Wilson

Reason for Nomination:   Cheryl Wilson’s strong work ethic, professionalism, and collaborative approach is highly valued at the office of political practices. She regularly goes above and beyond to help the office meet deadlines and run more efficiently.

Individual Award

Sydney Kessel

Reason for Nomination:   Sydney Kessel’s dedication and strong worth ethic is a true asset to the Public Service Commission. This dedication was evident when a new case management, docketing, and calendar system was implemented. She took the initiative to not only learn the system but also train staff members. Her willingness to step up when needed combined with her quality work product is an asset to our agency.   

Individual Award

Laurie Bakri

Reason for Nomination:   Laurie sets the standard for providing immaculate customer service every day and  she successfully manages many diverse personalities among her staff.  While managing staff remotely when necessary, she remains available at all times and fosters an open culture of learning together to find the best answers and solutions for our team and customers.  Laurie is a problem solver and a "get it done right" person who always ends conversations with "What else can I do for you?"

Individual Award

John Thunstrom

Reason for Nomination:  John Thunstrom successfully leads information technology efforts in the Montana University System.  Colleges and universities across our state value his professional expertise, effectiveness, and leadership to get innovative initiatives completed on time.  John’s vision and dedication are major reasons why our university system can better analyze and use information in ways that meaningfully help Montana students, employers, and communities.