From over there to here

When we talk about diversifying our workforce, promoting equity, and including all voices in our work (DEI), people might assume it is just about increasing the numbers of people of color, or the percentage of women in leadership positions, or respectfully reflecting a person’s gender.  Those are important elements of our work to strengthen our team and better serve our community. However, there’s another aspect to diversity you may not always associate with our DEI work – our employees with prior military service.

With Joint Base Lewis-McChord in our backyard, and naval bases throughout Puget Sound, we also strive to benefit from the ready supply of skilled veterans.  These veterans are leaders who have worked in teams to accomplish their mission and are committed to public service. Additionally, they frequently come from other parts of our country, have strong technical skills and varied professional experiences – including overseas postings.

My service in the U.S. Navy better prepared me for my work with the County, so I know that military veterans can be fantastic additions to our work family!

I’ll let you see for yourself in this short video:

Wow!  Looking at that black and white photo of me (taken when I was promoted to lieutenant junior grade on Guam in 1985), I realize the years have flown by since that young man from Curtis High School entered the Naval Academy!

Some time ago we sought to have at least 10% of our workforce consist of military veterans.  Our most recent data shows we are up over 11%!  That’s great for those who have served our country, and for those of us who are serving the people of Pierce County!

And recognizing the value of veteran leadership skills, is not limited to Pierce County government.  Currently, the mayors of DuPont, Steilacoom, Lakewood, Tacoma, and Orting all served in the military.

Speaking of those who serve our residents, I want to offer my congratulations and appreciation to this year’s Standing Ovation Award winners!

The last few years have been challenging, to say the least, and your colleagues have stepped up to deliver for Pierce County!  This year more than 201 employees were nominated for their outstanding efforts in Vibrant Communities, Entrepreneurial Climate and Effective Government.

I’ll share more about their impressive accomplishments in the weeks ahead but, for now, please join me in congratulating the following winners:

Vibrant Communities 

  • Orting Veterans Transportation Pilot – Individual Award
    Daeveene May (Human Services) Home Visit Protocol Workgroup – Team Award
    Alicia Valencia, Athena Elrod, Dee Harris, Jami Cordero, Jennifer Toailoa, Jenny Kim, Kelsie Asaturov, Kevin Going, Kim Peterson, Nemy Rose James, Tammy Kuykendall (Human Services)

Entrepreneurial Climate 

  • Pierce County Business Accelerator – Team Award
    Andrea Reay, Betty Capestany, Christopher Serrano-Blanco, David Combs, Gary Wescott, Grant Twyman, Marsha Powell, Rachel Askew (Economic Development)

Effective Government 

  • Law and Justice – Individual Award
    Nathan Betts (Sheriff’s Department)Animal Control Advisor – Individual Award
    Josh Drye (Prosecuting Attorney’s Office)
  • PPW Sewer and Surface Water Billing Replacement Project – Team Award
    Aileen Quenga, Akiko Oda, Andy Randall, Angelee Lillie, Bekah Niehl, Bert Kalalau, Brandon Kirkwood, Cherie Farmer, Craig Olsen, Curtis Hanson, Elliott Krogmeier, Erin Babbo, Heather Cardenas, Janell Martinez, Jason Buckingham, Jim Block, Jinelle Casten, Justin Officer, Katie Betrozoff, Kellie McNellis, Kendra Timbers, Kyle Schmidtke, Laura Balbi, M’lis Hardy, Mackinzie Gipner, Maddy Kroll, Maggie Ogle, Maria Lopez, Marjorie Tipton, Maylin Clark, Melissa McFadden, Michelle Matheson, Mike Johnson, Paul Alexander, Ray Clark, Ruthie-lee Jahns, Sara O’Connell, Tami Johnson, Tianna Turnbull, Tina Basil, Tony Trinidad, Travus Goforth, Waukem Stonelake, William (Bill) Coughlin, Yu Nakayama Tran (PPW, Finance, Communications) 

I hope you will join us at the McGavick Center on Wednesday, November 2 where we will be gathering in person to honor these individuals, as well as those who are marking significant work anniversary milestones.

Before I close, I want to share a fun video with you.  It features our summer interns, who have just finished their time with us.  Fun fact: the video was shot and produced by one of the interns and was shared with the Council this week.

We appreciate everything our interns contributed over the last three months and wish them the best in the future.  I hope they’ll consider a career with Pierce County once they’ve completed their education!

Lastly, congratulations to all of you who solved Brian Hardtke’s challenging puzzle in last week’s blog. My hat’s off to all of you who persevered and followed the clues to the right answer: Innovation!  A special shout out to Tim Zitzer, a systems engineer in IT, for being the first person to submit a correct answer!

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the last summer weekend,