By: Jorlinis Centeno, CA DCSS
On May 15th, 2018, the California Department of Child Support Services (CA DCSS) held a ceremony to recognize those employees who have done exemplary work throughout the past year. Speaking as the event began, DCSS Acting Director Michael Wilkening said that despite his short tenure at CA DCSS, he already admires the passion and dedication that CA DCSS employees bring to the job of assisting with the well-being of children and their families.
The ceremony was held outdoors in the back-parking lot, with chairs and a backdrop set up to create a sunny “event center”. The weather was almost perfect as the executives of each DCSS office or branch gathered to present the awards to their outstanding teams and deserving individuals.
The first award was for Excellence in Customer Service and was awarded twice, first to the Office of Communications and Public Affairs team for their efforts expanding the CA DCSS role in promoting the Child Support message statewide. Dawn Dyke of the Employer Data Maintenance and Verification Unit earned a Customer Service nod as well for her exemplary customer service to internal staff, LCSA staff and employers as she has received admiration from many other stakeholders of her great performance. There were three Outstanding Leadership Awards presented to Shelly Osuna, Rick Bermudez and Linda Luong for their superior work in Program Oversight, Employer Services and the departmental transition for FI$Cal, respectively.
The Program Superhero award is given for superior knowledge and problem-solving within distinct program areas. The first of the five recipients, Nitisha Gilra, earned hers for her work with Intergovernmental Services and the State Disbursement Unit to coordinate international payments. Samantha Dimayuga won for her focus on projects to make DCSS workspaces more open and agile for staff, and Sophia Ramirez for her guidance and support during Agile implementation and the design and testing of ServiceNow. The entire Production Support Unit won for their rapid response to two highly sensitive and critical issues with CSE while their workload expanded to include Web Services, Statewide Applications and ServiceNow, and Lara Racine was recognized for her contributions on Operational Assessment, Order Setting Advisory Committee, e-filing, and the AB 976 endeavor to expand e-filing.
The Positive Impact Award is given to those employees who always demonstrate excellence along with a positive attitude in everything they do. Winners included the Paternity Opportunity Program’s Kyla Kuryllo – who uses personal time to create positive events like birthday celebrations and the Elf on the Shelf holiday tableaux – and the executive support team of Yvette Bazquez, Elda Steinwert and Colynn McConnell, who are consistently pleasant and helpful regardless of the source of the question or request, “Three Musketeers who are always there to save someone’s day”, according to Chief Deputy Director Mark Beckley.
“Innovator of the Year” Sowmiya Ramkarthik took her award for her review, restructuring and incorporation of the Java “JUnits” unit testing framework into the Agile process.
The Director’s Award is the most prestigious award presented to an individual or team for an outstanding accomplishment that reflects the core values and mission of the California Child Support program. Lesley Bell richly deserved her recognition for her dedication and assistance to the Local Child Support Agencies (LCSA) during last year’s horrifying wildfires.
As the ERP Ceremony Award came to an end, two more groups were given special recognition for their accomplishments last year. First was the 2017 Food Drive Committee, which directed the three-month effort that collected 9,281 pounds in canned food and donations for the annual state-sponsored food drive 2017-2018, almost doubling the initial goal, and then the Our Promise Campaign Committee received a shout-out for raising over 6 million dollars for the DCSS effort with cupcake competitions, bake sales and much more. It’s clear that the employees of CA DCSS are a group that not only shines at work, but gives back to others, modeling the values of California Child Support at work and on their own time.