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Reward : Employee Recognition Programs : Governor's Awards for Excellence :

2006 Award Recipients

Denise Baker
Outstanding State Government Service

Henderson County Extension Director
North Carolina State University


When many employees walk out the door at closing time, they leave their jobs behind until the next day....but not Denise Baker. Denise's dedication to children and families goes far beyond 9 to 5. She can often be found attending meetings, holding classes or making home visits well into the evening hours. Because of her unselfish devotion to duty, Denise adjusts her schedule to meet the needs of the many families she nurtures.

As a child and family advocate, she has guided numerous families in the western part of North Carolina through difficult situations, helping them to recognize and capitalize on their strengths and to overcome their weaknesses. Not content with the status quo, Denise challenges herself and others to remove barriers and develop opportunities to reach their potential. Her leadership has resulted in such initiatives as the Resource Council, Parenting Education Programs, and Parenting Adventures, and her resourcefulness has resulted in securing funding for a variety of others.

Denise was recently promoted to the Director of the Henderson County Extension Office. We can certainly understand why, Denise. Your dedication and compassion for children and families definitely deserves a place at the top!

Denise Baker was nominated by Joyce Watts.

Thomas Archie Barrow, Sr.
Human Relations

Veterans Unit Supervisor
Employment Security Commission


Archie Barrow's desire to assist veterans is visible not only to his coworkers but also to the many veterans who receive his guidance and assistance. His dedication to those who have served our country is truly remarkable!

As a Veteran Supervisor, Archie works with veterans to refer them to employment opportunities, assist them with acquiring support services and educate them on benefits offered through the Veterans Administration. He regularly meets with local employers and attends job fairs to promote the hiring of veterans. By developing relationships with U.S. Congressional offices, he has made it possible for veterans to receive medals for their service to our country and to apply for medical assistance and pensions.

But Archie's outreach to veterans is not limited to in-office services. He works with others to locate homeless veterans in the community and to assist them in locating resources. Thanks to his efforts, homeless veterans have received medical assistance and pensions that have saved their lives and helped them to get back on their feet.

Thank you, Archie for your dedication to those who have served our country. Service, like yours, to your fellow citizens is one of the things that make our country so great!!

Archie Barrow was nominated by Wendy Hampton.

Sylvester Davis
Safety & Heroism

North Carolina A&T State University


Sylvester Davis is responsible for the maintenance of McNair Hall, a six-floor administrative, laboratory and classroom building on the campus of North Carolina A&T State University . Sylvester is extremely diligent and takes great pains to ensure that his work is of the highest quality. What sets him apart, however, is his vigilant observation of the daily activities in the building. Not only does he care for the building, he keeps a watchful eye on the students, staff and faculty who use the facility.

His willingness to go beyond the call of duty and his courage in dealing with emergencies increases the safety and security of both the building's people and property. One evening, Sylvester noticed an unknown person working on the engineering department's computer in the dark. Without tipping off the intruder, he notified the authorities who responded quickly and apprehended the trespasser.

On another occasion, his compassion and presence of mind helped to save the life of a student who suffered a seizure. Sylvester helped the student as best he could and ran to the emergency phone to call for help. The student was soon in an ambulance on his way to receive treatment.

Sylvester, we appreciate your vigilance and alertness, but we applaud you for your courage and compassion. Thank you for your unselfish attention to the welfare of others.

Sylvester Davis was nominated by Sanjiv Sarin.

Victoria Dowd
Public Service

Executive Assistant
University of North Carolina
at Chapel Hill


Victoria Dowd has a long history of volunteer work with her church and her community, but she recently undertook a public service project so extraordinary that it has left a permanent mark on the lives of others.

Brant Daye, a member of the football team at North Carolina Central University , suffered severe spinal cord injuries that left him paralyzed from his chest to his feet. He and his family faced insurmountable bills for surgery and physical and occupational therapy. In addition, the Daye family confronted the expenses of remodeling their home so that Brant, now in a wheelchair, could live with his family.

As soon as she heard of the family's needs, Victoria began to look for ways to help. She contacted the Home Builders' Association and persuaded them to donate time, materials and labor to remodel the Daye home as a public service project. While the renovations were underway, she found sponsors to pay for Brant's accommodations in hotels. Though the renovation project snowballed into much more than anticipated, Victoria refused to give up on supporting the family. Naming the project "Rebuilding Together-the Brant Daye Project, she sought publicity to capture the attention of the community. In addition, she organized a benefit concert, secured volunteer talent and convinced sponsors to underwrite the project. And throughout it all, she served as an inspiration to Brant and his family.

In the words of Brant Daye's mother, " Victoria exudes the spirit of service." And we certainly agree. Victoria , we are indeed proud to have you as a state employee.

Victoria Dowd was nominated by Julia Wood.

William Andrew Efird
Public Service

Correctional Sergeant
Department of Correction


Following Hurricane Katrina, Sergeant William Efird spent three weeks in Mississippi serving as a volunteer. Assigned to the Safety and Security function, he was responsible for coordinating law enforcement services from 12 states and the federal government. Each day, Sergeant Efird and another volunteer were assigned a county where they were to locate every shelter and food kitchen and identify any threats or hazards. During the first week alone, he visited every county on the Gulf Coast . At the end of the second week, the volunteers were faced with another disaster -- Hurricane Rita. Even as harm approached, Sergeant Efird kept issuing aid to the needy until conditions became too dangerous.

Not content to do just what is asked and nothing more, Sergeant Efird went the extra mile. He issue tickets to each family so they would not have to stand in the hot sun for hours to receive supplies. When he went to ground zero to help set up a new center, there were more than 2,000 people waiting. The heat index was 105 degrees and the people had no water. Sergeant Efird hailed a truck loaded with a pallet of water and, in no time, unloaded the pallet and sent the truck to find more. On a daily basis, Sergeant Efird talked to hundreds of people, unloaded trucks of ice, water and other materials and carried supplies for those could not carry them, all the while still coordinating law enforcement services.

Voluntarism has been a way of life for Sergeant Efird. He trains emergency medical staff; he works with the Boy Scouts; and he has been recognized by the American Red Cross as an Outstanding Volunteer. Thank you, William Efird for being a goodwill ambassador for the State of North Carolina !

Sergeant Efird was nominated by Jennifer Langley.

Curtis Graham
Human Relations

Health Care Technician
Department of Health and Human Services


As a Health Care Technician, Curtis Graham is respected by all-his peers, management, and most importantly by the developmentally-disabled individuals who live at O'Berry Center. Curtis truly stands out in his role, which is not easy because all of the health care technicians are committed to providing the highest level of care to residents.

In addition to providing exceptional care, Curtis excels at working with individuals with volatile behavior problems. Under his guidance, these violent individuals have greatly modified their behavior. Arriving out of control, they stabilize quickly under Curtis' gentle and unfailingly positive direction. Even in the most challenging situations, Curtis never raises his voice, but maintains an easy-going manner that individuals respond to intuitively.

Over the years, Curtis has been very influential in helping individuals transition back into the community. His ability to successfully implement the care plan for these individuals and his willingness to go the extra mile have dramatically increased the successful placements. Not only does he travel with the resident who is being transitioned, he has unselfishly dedicated the extra hours to remain at the home for days to ease the stress on the individual.

Always supportive of team decisions and eager to offer input, Curtis' level of skill and quality of service are known throughout the campus. It is no wonder that he serves as an excellent role model and mentor to newly hired Health Care Technicians.

Thank you, Curtis Graham for serving as a role model to state employees everywhere.

Curtis Graham was nominated by Jerry Phillips.

William Richard Herring
Safety & Heroism

Correctional Sergeant
Department of Correction


After another typical day at the office, Sergeant William Herring was driving home from his job at Johnston Correctional Institution. Suddenly, he was alarmed to see a large truck run a stop sign and overturn down a steep embankment.

Sergeant Herring stopped at the scene of the accident and observed a man inside the truck. When he tried to open the door to remove the man, the door would not budge. A small fire had begun underneath the dash of the truck and Sergeant Herring knew he had to act quickly to get the man out of the vehicle. He quickly broke the glass in the back window and pulled the man from the burning vehicle. Sergeant Herring stayed with the man until EMS personnel arrived on the scene.

The quick and courageous actions of Sergeant William Herring prevented serious injury or even death to the driver of the vehicle. Thank you, Sergeant, for being a true North Carolina hero.

Sergeant Herring was nominated by Captain Eddie Thompson.

Pat Howell
Outstanding State Government Service

Processing Assistance
Department of Insurance


Pat Howell's supervisor describes her as "someone who can do it all and does it with a smile." And not only can Pat do it all, but she is always looking for the best way, the most efficient way, and the most cost effective way of handling the work.

But what really sets Pat Howell apart is that she does two jobs! When she applied and was selected for her current position, she convinced the supervisor not to fill her old position because she felt she could handle both jobs. And right she was, not only is she doing the work of two, she is also doing outstanding work! Pat has changed the manner in which the Division of Risk Management does its billing operations and building inspection reports. In addition to improving efficiency, she has saved the Division and other state agencies valuable time and money.

In addition to all of her regular duties, Pat is the first to volunteer when extra assistance or know-how is needed. Whether it is a broken chair, a software problem, the flower fund, or a retirement celebration, Pat is there with a positive attitude and a smile.

Thank you, Pat for your outstanding service to the State of North Carolina . Your can-do attitude is an inspiration to us all.

Pat Howell was nominated by Jack Cooke and Susan Gentry.

Doug Lane
Outstanding State Government Service

Transportation Engineer
Department of Transportation


Doug Lane has unselfishly devoted more than 42 years of service to the citizens of North Carolina , his state and his nation. Answering his nation's call during the Vietnam War, he distinguished himself, even then, as he was selected to serve as one of the "Honor Guard" soldiers for the tomb of the Unknown Soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery .

Today, he continues to serve both his state and his nation by insuring that North Carolina 's transportation network remains one of the country's best. As the leader of the Department of Transportation's Design Services Section, Doug is recognized from Murphy to Manteo for his expertise and knowledge of all facets of the state's transportation programs and facilities. He has been offered numerous promotions and private sector jobs, but Doug's heart remains at Design Services. And so does his time. In addition to working nights, weekends and holidays to meet unanticipated deadlines, Doug, quite often, pulls all-nighters to deliver last minute requests. As a prudent steward of taxpayer dollars, he is constantly looking for ways to reduce project costs.

Doug is also unselfish when it comes to helping others. Somehow, he manages to juggle his DOT duties and still find time to referee youth athletics, visit hospitals and nursing homes, and provide transportation to the elderly. Just ask anyone who knows him and they will tell you that Doug is truly a Southern Gentleman.

Thank you, Doug Lane , for giving so many years of outstanding service to your fellow man, your state and your nation!

Doug Lane was nominated by Fred Barkley.

Gary B. Mesibov
Human Relations

Director, Division TEACCH
University of North Carolina
at Chapel Hill


As the Director of Division TEACCH - Treatment and Education of Autistic and related Communication-handicapped Children - a University of North Carolina-based program dedicated to serving individuals with autism, Dr. Gary Mesibov has been instrumental in expanding the program to reach autistic individuals of all ages.

Under Dr. Mesibov's leadership, TEACCH has grown to become one of the world's most renowned programs in the field of autism. This acclaim is due not only to Dr. Mesibov's work on the job, but also to his giving so generously of his time and energy outside of his official capacity to provide service and support to the autism community.

Dr. Mesibov's work at TEACCH has been extraordinary, but three of his contributions are particularly noteworthy --- the Adolescent and Adult Psycho-Educational Profile, the social skills groups, and the job skills and employment program. Had Dr. Mesibov's work stopped there, it would have been reason enough for him to receive this award. But he has made one further contribution that has touched the lives of tens of thousands of individuals worldwide. Due to his outreach and training program, professionals around the world are able to learn TEACCH principles and methods and use them as the basis for everything from creating treatment plans to establishing comprehensive treatment programs.

The efforts of Gary Mesibov have enhanced the lives of individuals and families around the world and we are proud to present him with this award in human relations.

Gary Mesibov was nominated by Jean Yardley.

Ruth Miller
Public Service

Special Services Coordinator
University of North Carolina
at Chapel Hill


As a special services coordinator at Frank Porter Graham Child Development Center , Ruth Miller works with young children with special needs and their families. She has the daunting task of, at once, serving families who have experienced life-changing events, and keeping up with the enormous number of ever-changing regulations, procedures and guidelines she needs to know in order to help them. Ruth works both in and outside the office to assure that the families she works with receive the services they need, often accompanying them to appointments or visiting them at home to make sure they have adequate care.

Ruth's advocacy is a testament to her dedication to children and families. But there is another factor that has made Ruth truly special and inspirational in her role. For many years she was deaf. But she never allowed her deafness to be a factor in communicating or striving to provide the highest quality of service. Recently through advances in cochlear surgery, Ruth has gained a significant degree of hearing. While her newfound hearing has no doubt afforded her a plethora of new and meaningful experiences, her many years of service while deaf are symbolic of her strength of character, her commitment to serving others and an example of true leadership.

It is no surprise that since her surgery, Ruth has become an advocate for others with hearing loss, anxious to share her experiences with others in hopes that they might share in her success.

Ruth Miller's dedication and courage is an inspiration to state employees everywhere and we are proud to present her with an award for public service.

Ruth Miller was nominated by Maggie Connolly, Carolyn Reams and Kathleen Davis.

Thomas A. Reeder

Manager, Wetlands & Stormwater Branch
Department of Environment and Natural Resources


As North Carolina continues to grow and develop, stormwater runoff has become one of the most serious environmental problems in our state, threatening the quality of our vital streams, rivers and lakes. Not only will the innovative Universal Stormwater Management Program, developed by Tom Reeder and his coworkers, be more protective of our environment, it replaces a complicated and confusing program with a single simplified set of stormwater measures.

Always willing to go the extra mile, Tom Reeder has been an inspiration to the Wetlands and Stormwater Branch and the Division of Water Quality. He has spent tireless hours promoting the stormwater program that he feels so passionately about-- developing brochures, creating a website and educating citizens and groups. But his work doesn't stop there. Not one to accept the status quo, Tom readily evaluates existing programs and works to change them to protect our natural resources. He has used this strength to lead an extensive effort to protect our state's sensitive coastal resource from stormwater runoff.

Thank you, Tom Reeder for your pioneering work in natural resources and for helping to protect North Carolina's waters for future generations.

Thomas Reeder was nominated by Paul Rawls, Bradley Bennett, Danny Smith and Sarah Young.

Abdel-Naser Lbib Hassan Rezk

Research Associate
University of North Carolina
at Chapel Hill


"We can do it!" says Nazer Rezk when faced with a challenge. That kind of positive attitude, combined with his incredible expertise, is at the core of his laboratory's success. Nazer is a research associate in the Clinical Pharmacology and Analytical Chemistry Laboratory in the UNC School of Pharmacy. And due in large part to his work, the laboratory consistently ranks Number One out of six national labs and Number One out of 70 international labs in the number of drugs measured and the accuracy with which they are measured.

Naser is responsible for the development of ways to measure drugs and metabolites in biological fluids to answer important questions in the treatment of HIV/AIDS and other diseases. The data he generates are critical to improving patient care. Many chemists developing these complex assays do not perfect their methods for clinical applications. Not only does Naser perfect them, he works nights and weekends to fully validate them.

Attesting to his innovation is the successful publication of six complex analytical methods in the part five years - an unprecedented number in the clinical analytical chemistry arena. These publications have often been cited as gold standards in recently published textbooks and manuscripts. Nazer's accomplishments are many, but it is his willingness to share his knowledge with others that truly makes him great!

Naser Rezk is a true innovator, a selfless collaborator, an enthusiastic colleague and a leader among his peers. Need we say more?

Naser Rezk was nominated by Angela Kashuba

Nicole E. Sullivan

Manager, Research and Planning
Department of Correction


As the manager of the Department of Correction's Office of Research and Planning, Nicole Sullivan assesses programs that have been identified through research and applies them to meet the operational needs of the Department of Correction. Though all of her work is outstanding, two of her initiatives stand out above the rest - the Cognitive Behavioral Interventions and the Going Home Re-Entry Initiative.

As chair of the department's Cognitive Behavioral Interventions Task Force, Nicole obtained a grant from the Governor's Crime Commission to support the implementation of the cognitive behavioral programs throughout the Department of Correction. The Today, the program is in place in 45 prisons and 25 community corrections offices throughout the state.

Nicole was also instrumental in the Going Home Initiative, a collaborative effort between the departments of Correction, Commerce, Health and Human Services and the NC Community College System. She secured funding for a three-year program that assists inmates in re-entering society and allows them to learn employable skills while giving back to the community. Nicole embraces the opportunity to look for new and better ways to solve problems, and as the funding ran out, she ensured that the program would continue through sustainability workshops with community partners. North Carolina 's Going Home Initiative is now viewed nationwide as a best practice for re-entry initiatives and Nicole is frequently called upon to consult with other states.

Nicole Sullivan exemplifies the term innovator, constantly seeking ways to make programs meaningful for the state she serves. Thank you, Nicole for sharing your talents with the State of North Carolina .

Nicole Sullivan was nominated by Tracy Little.

Bill Yarborough
Outstanding State Government Service

Regional Agronomist
Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services


Thousands of farmers and landowners have benefited from the work of Bill Yarborough who has devoted 27 years to serving the agricultural sector of North Carolina . As the regional agronomist for 10 counties in the western part of the state, he assists growers with a wide range of agricultural, economic and environmental concerns.

Bill really stepped up to serve the citizens of western North Carolina following the floods of Hurricane Fran and Ivan. His background with federal programs assisted the Department of Agriculture in obtaining funds to assist devastated farmers. He also volunteered to serve as the regional coordinator for Operation Brighter Day, working tirelessly to assist victims with flood recovery.

Bill has been instrumental in a number of innovative agricultural initiatives. He is responsible for key developments in nutrient management for mountain vegetables, especially trellis tomatoes. To prevent environmental damage, he helped to develop a portable chemical mixing station that would prevent pollution in streams. He has assisted milk producers in producing organic milk for the marketplace and has developed techniques for hydroseeding to improve vegetative cover on roadsides. Bill also spearheaded an effort to develop new fertilizer blends that more favorably match the needs of vegetable producers in North Carolina . This new 10-5-20 fertilizer has now been widely accepted across the state.

Bill's innovative techniques have not only improved agriculture in North Carolina , they have assisted flood victims, protected our environment and contributed to our economy. Thank you, Bill, for enhancing out state in so many ways.

Bill Yarborough was nominated by Steven Lathrop and Kent Messick.