SIX OUTSTANDING CIVIL SERVANTS AWARDED “NOBEL PRIZE OF CITY GOVERNMENT”

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Fund for the City of New York Presents Sloan Public Service Award and $10,000 Prizes to Individuals Who Have Improved Life in New York City

(New York, NY)– Their work has helped improve health outcomes in the Bronx; ensured individuals can access needed government benefits; given psychiatric patients the opportunity to lead more productive lives; supported New Yorkers with limited resources living with HIV/AIDS; grown millions of native plants for restoration and conservation in our parks; and ensured our city’s contracting process is fair, efficient and responsive. Now, these six outstanding public servants, who have contributed close to 170 years of service to the City – and people – of New York, will be honored on June 7, 2018 with the Fund for the City of New York’s (FCNY) 45th annualSloan Public Service Awards.

Regarded as the Nobel Prize of city government, the Sloan Public Service Awards are presented annually by the Fund for the City of New York to civil servants from all levels and ranks of city government. The winners were selected for their exemplary job performance and tireless dedication to the public. Each will receive a $10,000 cash prize.

This year’s award recipients will be honored throughout the day at their individual workplaces, and at an awards presentation ceremony held at The Great Hall at Cooper Union.

“The Fund for the City of New York is honored to recognize these six outstanding civil servants who have helped make New York the greatest city in the world. This year’s honorees are distinguished by their outstanding performance, their commitment and responsiveness to public needs, their fearlessness in the face of adversity, and their dedication to putting the public interest first. For that, they are being recognized with an award that is the Nobel Prize of city government,” said Mary McCormick, President of FCNY. “To serve the public is the highest honor and recognizing the unsung heroes who make this city a better place is of the utmost importance.”

The 2018 Sloan Award winners are:

JANE BEDELL, MD, Assistant Commissioner & Medical Director, Bronx Neighborhood Health Action Center, NYC Department of Health & Mental Hygiene

SANDY BRYANT-TOWNSEND, Executive Director, Office of Legal Affairs-Fair Hearing Administration, NYC Human Resources Administration.

JOCELYN C. PEREZ, RN, Director of Nursing for Behavioral Health, Metropolitan Hospital, NYC Health and Hospitals.

DAVID PIERSANTE, Director of Eligibility, HIV/AIDS Services Administration, DSS/HRA Special Services, NYC Human Resources Administration.

EDWARD TOTH, Director, Greenbelt Native Plant Center and Mid-Atlantic Regional Seed Bank, NYC Department of Parks.

ANNETTE WHYTE, Associate Director, Vendor Management, Mayor’s Office of Contract Services.

The six award recipients were nominated by their colleagues, peers and friends and selected from more than 250,000 eligible workers in the mayoral agencies, the Transit and Housing Authorities, the Health and Hospitals Corporation, The City University of New York, the district attorneys’ offices and the public libraries.

Nominees embody the following qualities:

  • Extraordinary service delivered with ingenuity, energy, and compassion
  • Commitment beyond the call of duty
  • Responsiveness to public needs, developing more effective methods of service delivery
  • Outstanding and reliable performance, both under the pressures of daily routine and in times of crisis
  • Willingness to take risks, if that is what is needed to improve services or correct abuses or inequities
  • Ability to adapt to change and provide a continued high standard of service to the public
  • Dedication to upholding public interest amidst competing interests, pressures, and demands

More information about past winners, including detailed information on winners from the past nine years, is available on FCNY’s website.

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The Fund for the City of New Yorkwas established by the Ford Foundation in 1968 with the mandate to improve the quality of life for all New Yorkers. For over four decades, in partnership with government agencies, nonprofit institutions and foundations, the Fund has developed and helped to implement innovations in policy, programs, practices and technology in order to advance the functioning of government and nonprofit organizations in New York City and beyond. The Fund seeks out, adapts, applies and assesses ways to enable government and nonprofit agencies to ensure better outcomes for New York City’s communities, families, children and youth. For more information, go to www.fcny.org.

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundationis a philanthropic nonprofit institution established by Alfred P. Sloan, Jr., in 1934. Its main programs involve science and technology, standard of living and economic performance, education and careers in science and technology, selected national issues and a civic program. The goal of the civic program is to contribute to New York City by responding to special opportunities the city presents and by funding high leverage programs related to its areas of interest. The Sloan Public Service Awards of the Fund for the City of New York has been part of its civic program since 1985. For more information, see www.sloan.org.

2018 SLOAN PUBLIC SERVICE AWARD WINNERS
JANE BEDELL, MD
Assistant Commissioner and Medical Director
Bronx Neighborhood Health Action Center
NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

Dr. Jane Bedell is the “go-to” doctor for the NYC Health Department in the Bronx. She is described as unique in her ability to collaborate with local health providers, hospitals, schools, state and federal agencies and community organizations to address pervasive and long-term community health issues. Dr. Bedell’s medical and public health background, her respect for community residents, her ability to both listen and lead, and her focus on finding solutions have made her without peer in the challenge of creating effective multi-agency efforts and community collaborations. The Bronx has seen significant improvement in reducing infant mortality and reducing unintended teen pregnancy as well as providing increasing access to healthier food, among many other successes. Nancy Biberman, past President of WHEDco, says, “I can’t imagine something happening about health in the Bronx where we first wouldn’t contact Jane. Jane works with a sense of urgency. She is wise, practical and always thinking and responding to initiatives at the epicenter of the chronic health care crisis in the Bronx. She is a big-picture thinker and a collaborator.”

“My work as a public servant is similar to being a primary care physician. For both, I want to help build the mutual trust that is critical to saving lives. Being a public servant is as close as I can get to being part of democracy, because public service is democracy in action.” –Dr. Bedell

 

SANDY BRYANT-TOWNSEND
Executive Director, Office of Legal Affairs
Fair Hearing Administration
NYC Human Resources Administration

In 1989, Sandy Bryant was hired by HRA as a temporary employee earning the minimum wage of $3.25 and was assigned to the Family Independence Administration. From the start, Mrs. Bryant stood out for her ability to motivate others, her deep compassion for clients, and her understanding of how to make systems work better. From her initial position as a clerical employee, she was promoted nine times to positions with ever-increasing responsibility. From 2013 through 2017, Mrs. Bryant was the Regional Manager of the nine Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) offices in Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island, overseeing 400 employees who serve 290,000 New Yorkers annually in need of food assistance. In January 2018, Mrs. Bryant was named as the Executive Director for the Office of Legal Affairs, managing Fair Hearings for Cash and Food Assistance for the entire city. Her goal is to streamline the system to get fairer outcomes for clients and to save millions of dollars for the City. Based on her past accomplishments, no one doubts that she will accomplish this.

Sandy is a uniquely skilled problem-solver, with a remarkable ability to bring out the best in her staff. Her professionalism inspires her staff, and the dignity which she extends to our clients lets them know that she and her team will go the extra mile to make sure they can provide food to their families.” 

 

JOCELYN PEREZ, RN, MA
Director of Nursing for Behavioral Health
Metropolitan Hospital
NYC Health + Hospitals

Jocelyn Perez spent her first 22 years in NYC government at Bellevue Hospital, starting as a staff nurse. In 2008, she left Bellevue as the Associate Executive Director of Nursing in Psychiatry and moved to Metropolitan Hospital as its Director of Nursing in Psychiatry. There, Ms. Perez leads a group of more than 200 nursing staff in psychiatry inpatient, outpatient and emergency services. Ms. Perez has been an innovator in improving patient experience, safety and quality of care. At Bellevue, she initiated the first inpatient Peer Counseling Program wherein consumers of psychiatric care who completed training for Peer Counseling are employed as staff, a model that has been replicated in other City hospitals. Ms. Perez says, “I believe in patient-centered care and that’s what I’m passionate about. All my work is centered on improving the lives of psychiatric patients. All of us who work in mental health need to push the agenda to help make sure that we’re changing the culture of stereotyping psychiatric patients.” 

“My work focuses on helping staff understand that patients with psychiatric disorders can get better and lead normal lives. Like any human being, they want to have a job, a sense of purpose, to have families, to belong and to be loved.” –Jocelyn Perez

 

DAVID PIERSANTE
Director of Eligibility, HIV/AIDS Services Administration
DSS/HRA Special Services
NYC Human Resources Administration

In 1985, the City created the HIV/AIDS Services Administration (HASA) to help people with HIV/AIDS get emergency financial and housing services. David Piersante joined HASA in 1989, as an entry-level case manager. In 2013, he was named to his current position as the Director of Eligibility. In this capacity he oversees the Agency’s Intake Office and provides support and assistance to the 12 field offices located throughout the city. HASA provides case management services for 33,700 individuals, most of whom have limited resources. Mr. Piersante receives accolades for his expertise, experience and commitment from staff, clients and the larger HIV community. As he says, “I have been committed to this agency and the people it serves and I am in it for the long haul.”

“David is a humanist. He deeply loves the clients he serves. And, his knowledge of policy borders on brilliance. He’s the expert on everything from determining emergency housing eligibility to budgeting a client’s unique medical expenses. Everyone relies on David.”  

 

EDWARD TOTH
Director, Greenbelt Native Plant Center and Mid-Atlantic Regional Seed Bank
NYC Department of Parks and Recreation

On 13 acres on Staten Island, Ed Toth directs the Greenbelt Native Plant Center (GNPC) and the  Mid-Atlantic Regional Seed Bank (MARSB). Over 25 years, GNPC has grown more than 12.5 million native plants for restoration and conservation projects in New York City. After Hurricane Sandy, GNPC replaced hundreds of thousands of plants on destroyed wetlands and dunes. While working in Prospect Park, Brooklyn in the 1990s, Mr. Toth helped lead the native plant movement in park restorations. A key obstacle then was that native plants were not available. By helping to create and then run GNPC, Mr. Toth created the first and largest municipal native plant nursery and seed bank anywhere in the U.S. In 2011, Mr. Toth founded MARSB, recognizing that to respond effectively to climate change and plant conservation challenges, a regional response was essential. Says a colleague, “Ed is ahead of his time. He has made a huge difference in our world. Ed looks out for New Yorkers and the planet.”

“It is not intuitive to think about wildness in New York City, in a city more known for development. But I’ve been fortunate to take a great love and turn it into a public service. Nature, native plants, restored landscapes—all of that is an important strand in a city with many needs.” –Edward Toth 

 

ANNETTE WHYTE
Associate Director, Vendor Management
Mayor’s Office of Contract Services (MOCS)

Each year, New York City spends over $21 billion in 10,000 contracts with vendors, contractors and consultants. Over the last 30 years, Annette Whyte has been integral to the successful administration of VENDEX, the City’s contract and vendor management system. Working with MOCS, Ms. Whyte has been instrumental to VENDEX from its inception as an offline paper-based system to its current iteration as NYC PASSPort, a fully-based online system. Developed in 1988, as part of the City’s anti-corruption efforts to track and monitor contracts, VENDEX has undergone substantial transformations since then. Ms. Whyte’s ability to foresee and correct potential system pitfalls, her talent for staff management, and her understanding of City regulations have ensured that each stage of the system’s evolution has succeeded.  She is revered by staff and colleagues and is described as “inspirational, motivational and visionary—soft on the outside, steel on the inside.”

“What impresses me most is her rare combination of total understanding of a complex technology system and the ability to get human being to work at their full potential. You rarely find a person who can do both things.”

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