Four CDC Staff Win Presidential Awards
By Kathy Nellis
Four CDC staff have been selected as 2006 Presidential Award winners. This year the prestigious Presidential Distinguished Executive Rank Award goes to Janet Collins, PhD, Director, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, and Jim Seligman, Chief Information Officer. Ronald Valdiserri, MD, MPH, former Deputy Director of the National Center for HIV, STD, and TB Prevention, and Ed Hunter, formerly Associate Director for Planning, Budget and Legislation for the National Center for Health Statistics and now Deputy Director, CDC Washington Office, each receive the Presidential Meritorious Executive Rank Award.
The four are among an elite group of career members of the Senior Executive Service (SES), Senior Level (SL), and Scientific and Professional (ST) corps selected for their outstanding leadership, accomplishments and service over an extended period of time in some of the nation's most critical positions in the federal government. This year President George Bush bestowed this honor on 297 executives representing 33 agencies and departments.
Collins and Seligman will receive a cash bonus of 35 percent of their base pay while Valdiserri and Hunter receive a cash award of 20 percent of basic pay, in accordance with the awards.
The selection process for this honor is rigorous. Awardees—career members of the Senior Executive Service, Senior Level, and Scientific and Professional corps—are nominated by their supervisor, agency heads, reviewed by the Department of Health and Human Services, evaluated by boards of private citizens, and approved by the President. All recipients receive a framed certificate signed by the President. An executive may receive the same award only once in any five-year period.
"These awards honor those who consistently demonstrate performance, integrity, and a relentless commitment to excellence in public service—they represent are career milestones," says CDC Director Julie Gerberding, MD, MPH. "Please join me in congratulating each of these outstanding professionals on a job well done."
Collins Cited for Exceptional Leadership to Public Health Community
"I deeply appreciate being recognized in this way, but at the same time I am well aware that our public health successes come as a function of teams working together to get the job done." Collins is modest about what she claims for herself, "it feels somewhat awkward to be singled out when all of my work at CDC has always been part of something much larger than me." In fact the team approach to problem solving is one of the things that Collins most appreciates about the CDC environment. "We sometimes forget what a unique environment we work in; the fact that we come together from a host of different backgrounds to work on a common set of problems. It's personally rewarding but it's also effective."
Collins' background is behavioral science, an educational psychologist to be exact. Her training in behavior change theory, program evaluation and measurement have served her well as she has helped to tackle issues of healthy lifestyles.
The award cites Collins for "extraordinary accomplishments in the area of adolescent health and disease prevention… and major contributions to the management and operation of two of CDC's largest National Centers." While serving as acting director of NCHSTP last year Collins began a cross-center, cross-division workgroup on adolescent sexual and reproductive health issues. It was invigorating to examine the challenges of HIV, STD, and unintended pregnancy and what more could be done from the various Divisional perspectives.
Upon joining CDC, Collins spent 10 years in the Division of Adolescent and School Health helping to build surveillance systems and program evaluation capabilities to advance health promotion through the nations schools. She subsequently served for four years as Deputy Director for NCCDPHP and then acting Director of NCHSTP for a year.
About a year ago, Collins was selected as the Director, NCCDPHP. "The challenges in preventing chronic disease are huge, but the potential is even greater. We are seeing important successes in prevention and early detection and feel an urgency of purpose equal to that anywhere at CDC."
Collins brings an effective blend of leadership and scientific/technical skills not often found together, the nomination notes. "She is as comfortable with directing complex scientific endeavors as she is with leading large and complex organizations."
Seligman Selected for Operations Accomplishments
"I feel both tremendously honored and humbled by this recognition," says Seligman. "I consider it a lifetime achievement award having spent my entire adult life working for CDC and public health. At the same time, I really don't feel deserving being identified for such an honor since everything I've contributed to has been a success due to the incredible talents, dedication, and diligence of many people across the agency and beyond. I try to continuously serve, support, and steer their efforts in a way that best contributes to CDC's health impact and management effectiveness and hopefully that leads to a positive outcome more often than not."
He says his two favorite things about CDC are its scope and its culture. "CDC's incredible breadth, diversity, and reach of our mission keeps work interesting and constantly changing. The most compelling cultural aspect is CDC's care for people, both the public we serve around the globe and our staff and partners. The humanitarianism, caring, and passion are exemplified everywhere and everyday and that makes it a compelling place to work."
"On a personal level," Seligman continues, "the aspect of my work that I feel most strongly about is seeing and helping fellow CDC staff be successful in their careers, projects, and challenges. Very few things are easy these days and it takes an enormous amount of effort, focus, judgment, and diplomacy to be successful. CDC has been recognized often as a leading adopter of new information technologies (IT) and our $500M IT program has played an ever increasing role in CDC's core mission the last two decades. While this journey is never ending, I'm heartened by the many CDC successes in this arena."
He adds, "Finally, I'd like to congratulate my fellow award winners current and past as well as the ones to come in the future. CDC has incredibly talented and dedicated people and I'm very honored to be recognized in this way."
Seligman was nominated for the Presidential Distinguished Executive Rank Award based on his 30-year "sustained extraordinary accomplishments in improving the management and operations of CDC, his dedication to excellence, and his continuing exemplary performance," according to his award nomination. CDC is an $8 billion enterprise with an enormous range of public health programs, research science, health determinants and diseases, intervention strategies, stakeholders, partners, alliances, and channels necessary to carry out its efforts. CDC operates in the context of the Nation's $1.5 trillion healthcare industry and directly advances the health of the Nation.
The award continues, "As CDC's first and only Chief Information Officer to date, his leadership, innovation, and vision have contributed significantly in advancing CDC's programs resulting in improved quality of life for all Americans and citizens of the world." Currently he has direct leadership responsibility over a workforce of more than 500 government staff, more than 1,000 contractors, more than 450 information systems, and fiscal resources in excess of $500 million a year in the areas of information technology, general management, and business systems. Seligman received the Meritorious Executive Award in 2003.
Valdiserri Made Major Contributions in Prevention of HIV/AIDS, TB and STDs
During his 18-years with the agency, Valdiserri achieved an amazing range of scientific and programmatic accomplishments in the areas of public health surveillance, prevention research, and programs to prevent and control HIV/AIDS, other sexually transmitted diseases (STD), and tuberculosis. He provided national leadership through his contributions to peer-reviewed literature in the area of HIV prevention and took a lead role in communicating HIV and STD issues to the media—all of this while working to support two federal advisory committees providing valuable policy direction to CDC. During his time with the agency, he held several other leadership positions as well, including Director of the Division of Public Health Laboratory Systems and Deputy Director for HIV in the former National Center for Prevention Services.
This is actually his second such award. He received the Presidential Meritorious Executive Rank Award from President Clinton in 2000."I am honored to receive this award in recognition of my 18 year career at CDC," Valdiserri says. "It was a true privelege to serve at the nation's prevention agency. Now, I'm looking forward to new opportunities at the Department of Veterans Affairs, working on public health issues with America's veterans."
Valdiserri left CDC in September to assume the position of Chief Consultant for the Public Health Strategic Health Care Group at the Veterans Health Administration in Washington, D.C. In his new position, he will direct programs that relate to public health policies across the VA health system. His work will involve collaborations within and outside VA, evaluations of VA public health practices, and leadership of public health quality improvement activities. In addition to HIV, his new job responsibilities will include Hepatitis C, smoking cessation, and emerging infectious diseases.
Hunter Did Double Duty: Shows Outstanding Dedication
"I received news of this award with excitement and gratification, as well as feeling more than a little self-conscious," says Hunter. "It's a great and unexpected recognition—one that finally validates the decision of NCHS to hire me as a GS-4 intern just a few years back! I'm particularly pleased that the award recognizes work in the policy arena, pointing to how CDC can extend its reach by building bridges to other agencies and to health policy decision-makers. At the same time it's easy to identify many others that are just as deserving or who share responsibility for things I've accomplished. I'm humbled to be in the company of CDC's other awardees, who represent the breadth and diversity of talents that make CDC what it is."
Hunter was recognized for dedication, judgment, and program knowledge over the course of his career at NCHS, as well as for effectively performing two jobs for the past 3 years. He is now Deputy Director, CDC Washington, but for the past three years he served as the Acting Deputy Director for CDC/W as well as holding a second full-time position as Associate Director for Planning, Budget and Legislation for NCHS (where he began his career and spent more than three decades). The award described his impact in these positions as extraordinary.
Recent CDC Winners
|2000||Distinguished Executive||Linda Rosenstock||$42,840|
|2000||Meritorious Executive||Michael P. Eriksen||$24,400|
|2000||Meritorious Executive||Ronald O. Valdiserri||$23,260|
|2002||Meritorious Executive||William Gimson||$24,740|
|2003||Distinguished Executive||Joseph R. Carter||$46,830|
|2003||Meritorious Executive||James D. Seligman||$25,500|
|2004||Distinguished Executive||Richard J. Jackson||$50,224|
|2004||Meritorious Executive||Kathy Cahill||$29,120|
|2005||Distinguished Executive||William H. Gimson||$55,368|
|2005||Meritorious Executive||Barbara W. Harris||$29,062|
|2005||Meritorious Executive||Barbara R. Holloway||$29,840|
What is the Presidential Rank Award?
There are two categories of Presidential Rank Award: Distinguished and Meritorious. Award winners are chosen through a rigorous selection process, with the evaluation criteria focused on leadership and results. Recipients must first be nominated by their agency heads and then evaluated by boards of private citizens, and approved by the President. The awards are extended to employees who have demonstrated success in balancing the needs and perspectives of customers, stakeholders, and employees with organizational results.
- Distinguished Senior Professional and Executive Rank Award is awarded to leaders who achieve extraordinary results. Only one percent of career SES may earn this award.
- Meritorious Senior Professional and Executive Rank Award is awarded to leaders for sustained accomplishments. Only five percent of SES career members may receive this award.