ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Howard County Executive Calvin Ball, Cabinet members, and other Howard County government employees celebrated their 2023 Employee Awards Program honorees in a breakfast ceremony. For the annual program, employees nominated the best of their co-workers in several categories and a selection committee of fellow employees representing a range of county departments selected the final award recipients. Pictures of the event can be found here.

As a role model for community policing, Deputy Sheriff Rodney Ready was named the 2023 Employee of the Year and nominated for his efforts to influence our young people, instill positive and productive values, and promote safety. A regular at local schools, community events and charitable activities, he has demonstrated a deep care and concern for our residents and visitors in the ways he gives back to our community. 

Our employees are always the reason behind our accomplishments, our service to our community and our award-winning excellence. I tell employees at every opportunity how much I appreciate their responsiveness, dedication, professionalism, creativity, and caring. I applaud Sheriff Ready and all of our nominated employees as stellar examples of public service in our community.

Calvin Ball
Howard County Executive

The annual awards program recognizes outstanding employees in the following categories:

2023 Contingent of the Year – As a Librarian, Chantell Session in the Department of Corrections was honored for her unwavering dedication to building the library resources for county inmates – adding 3000 books, expanding selections in Spanish, Hebrew and Chinese, and increasing the legal resources, puzzles and programs available. As Disciplinary Hearing Officer, she also has made hearing policies and procedures more compliant and accessible.

Great Idea Award
The First Place Great Idea Award for 2023 was awarded to Gabriel Ross in the Office of Human Resources. In the couple years that he has been with the County, he has enhanced the cost efficiency of our benefit plans keeping our costs under control and improved the information and wellness offerings for county staff. He has added educational materials and programs to meet many employee needs. 

In second place, Jennifer Lee in the Department of Community Resources and Services, Office on Aging and Independence was honored for her innovative approach to having “Senior Centers Without Walls.” Because of her, the county has taken some of our senior programming into the community, reaching communities with economic and language barriers, and expanding our virtual options.

Green Initiative Award
First Place was awarded to Gina Van De Walle in the Department of Public Works, Bureau of Environmental Services for her dedication to enhancing the public school’s food scrap collection program. The county has expanded the level of interest and participation among schools and enhanced education so students can make the right disposal choices. A program that struggled during the pandemic is now positioned to grow and benefit future generations.

In Second Place, Elwood “Pete” Miller from the Department of Public Works, Bureau of Environmental Services was acknowledged for his efforts to oversee the rain barrel program. The rain barrels the County gives away need to be drilled and assembled with special parts. As an addition to his normal workload, he monitors our supply and works to train junior staff. 

Unsung Hero Award
The 2023 First Place Unsung Hero is literally a life-saver. Brandon Laing in the Department of Public Works, Bureau of Utilities used his EMT and CPR training as a volunteer firefighter to get his co-worker the emergency medical attention he needed when struck down by a heart attack. As the situation worsened, Brandon headed straight to the ER. Thanks to his calm thinking and quick action, the co-worker is alive and back to work today.

Second Place was presented to Dr. Alaina Elam in the Department of Corrections. A bit outside her normal skills, she seized the opportunity to apply for grants to support reentry programs for our inmates. Thanks to her the Department was awarded nearly $500,000 to ensure that those individuals can be successful when they are released. She has been a champion for other family support programs that set up inmates for healing and productive futures. 

Leadership Award 
With five nominations across various departments, there was no question that Chris Eatough from the Office of Transportation deserved the award. As our Bike and Pedestrian Coordinator, he led our Complete Streets Program to new heights and award-winning success. His team members appreciated his collaboration, his work ethic to always show up and his systematic approach to prove that these transportation improvements work and benefit everyone. 

Mentoring Award 
Lisa Hendricks from the Department of Community Resources and Services was selected for her generous efforts to take a new Program Specialist under her wing and to give this new team member the tools, confidence and guidance to grow and be successful. This kind of role model and support is crucial to the cultural of Howard County Government where we work together and build each other up.

Customer Service Awards
•    Megan Gratz, Department of Community Resources and Services (First Place – Internal)
•    Kate Bollinger, Office of Planning and Zoning (Second Place – Internal)
•    Amber Eash, Department of Community Resources and Services (First Place – Public)
•    Joselyn Brown, Howard County State’s Attorney’s Office (Second Place – Public)

Customer Service Team Awards 
Internal: The Department of Recreation & Parks Blandair Park staff consisted of Mike Phillips, Brandon Prechit, Mark Myrick, Doug Schopman, Toney Zarro, Travis Williams, John Miller, Gavin Edson and Evan Summers. 

Public: Victim Assistance Section of the Howard County Police Department included Kathleen Masterson, Carolyn Breck and Angela Lindsay.

In addition to the above awards, more than 50 county employees were also recognized for 30 or more milestone years of service to Howard County Government. 

Media Contacts
Safa Hira, Director of Communications

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