7.0 PDP Staff

7.1 Annual Awards

Since 2005, PDP has presented annual awards in honor and recognition of outstanding accomplishments and a commitment to excellence. There are five annual awards: The Director’s Award, the Outstanding Administrative Support Staff Award, the Outstanding Professional Staff Award, the Outstanding Team Award, and the Outstanding Trainer Award.

The purpose of the PDP Award and Recognition program is to:

  • Foster a culture that supports and rewards innovation and professional improvement
  • Recognize and reward staff who support and exemplify the PDP vision, mission, core values, and beliefs
  • Encourage excellence in service
  • Recognize and reward significant achievements and contributions
  • Recognize and reward outstanding individual and team performance

7.1.1 PDP Director’s Award

This award is presented in honor of an individual who demonstrates exceptional dedication and contribution to PDP’s mission and organizational goals.

Donna Cooper receives the 2015 Executive Director’s Award June Mastan, Director; Deanna Cooper, Eugene J. Monaco, Public Service Professor and Executive Director; and Deborah McGuire, Director

2015 Recipient—Deanna Cooper

The 2015 Executive Director’s award was presented to Dr. Deanna Cooper. In 2015, Deanna put significant time and effort, above and beyond her normal duties, to complete a host of work to further PDP’s mission and organizational goals and support our OTDA project sponsor.

Deanna took a lead role with OTDA’s Hearing Officer Training Institute Development Advisory Committee. Deanna personally planned and facilitated two committee meetings, which exceeded the sponsor’s expectations and received personal thanks for her effort from the Office of Administrative Hearings Downstate Director. Under Deanna’s leadership, she and her staff completed the needs assessment, job task analysis and initial design phases of a new multi-component performance-based training system for OTDA Hearing Officers in record time of less than six months. This resulted in the development and submission of a comprehensive Training Plan for Hearing Officers, which included the following:

  • A 5-day Hearing Officer Procedural Training Institute
  • An 8 to 9-day Hearing Officer Policy Training Institute
  • Continued support and development of workshop topics for the Hearing Officer (Fall) Training Seminar
  • Training on Special or Advanced Topics (legal, policy, or procedural), as needed
  • Development and implementation of a supervisory support resource tool (a Hearing Officer Training Path) to aid Supervising Hearing Officers in identifying resources for staff training

This is not all that she did. Deanna also was at the lead in working with a team of instructional designers, writers, trainers, and project support staff to implement a new virtual classroom training via iLinc for Administering the MMS Mental Health Screening Tool and well as three new training courses based on emerging US Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Service and OTDA policies regarding SNAP work requirements and Able-bodied Adults Without Dependents (ABAWDs). Deanna was on the front-line with this work, in the trenches with her sleeves rolled up and doing whatever tasks were necessary. Each of the three courses were designed for up to 250 participants and were launched in the new iLinc 12 webinar format only days after iLinc 12’s implementation. Deanna was at the forefront of learning about, troubleshooting, and sharing best practices among PDP staff and departments in using this new webinar technology and dealing with Human Services Learning Center (HSLC) registration interfacing requirements. Ultimately, with a great deal of thanks to Deanna’s organization and guidance, the training team delivered 38 webinar offerings in a month and a half to over 3800 trainees. The project sponsor expressed their appreciation and recognition of the exceptionally hard work that went into these projects.

Among these accomplishments, Deanna continued to serve as the Editor of the PDP Communiqué and continues to provide leadership in publishing this high quality themed newsletter, which is widely acclaimed.

Deanna has been a dedicated employee since 2005, and she has made outstanding contributions to furthering PDP’s mission and organizational goals. Deanna has developed an outstanding reputation and is highly respected. We would have a very hard time being able to accomplish the quantity and quality of work we do without Deanna’s continued contributions and leadership.

7.1.2 Outstanding Administrative Support Staff

This award may be given annually and is designed to recognize an employee who has demonstrated outstanding accomplishments in the area of administrative support as well as commitment to PDP and our sponsors.

2015 Recipient—Caroline Benoit

Caroline Benoint accepts the 2014 Outstanding Administrative Support Staff award.

Caroline has worked for PDP for almost 12 years and she continues to be a loyal and dedicated employee who can be relied upon each and every day. She takes great pride in the role she plays in supporting the safety of New York’s children in care. Caroline is always willing to not only take on any job but also to learn new systems and technology to take the MAT program to the next levels of excellence. 2015 did not just bring Caroline a new work location it also brought her new professional challenges. Caroline was identified as the person to take on all aspects of Medication Administration including:

  • entering on average 89 training schedules per month,
  • processing rosters for an average of 323 people per month,
  • processing MAT rebates,
  • designated as the first line contact with trainers and medication administrants, and
  • assisting Medication Administrants with MAT renewal and certification issues.

In order to accomplish all of this, Caroline has worked with Dora Anderson in implementing a new system of communication with trainers to both verify and enforce MAT program procedures. This called for Caroline to learn Excel for data entry, tracking, and reporting and how to use Outlook in new ways to execute no less than 12 different types of communications that are processed and tracked to 111 different MAT trainers for an average of over 200 emails per month along with countless phone calls. On a daily basis Caroline is a resource for her co-workers, MAT trainers & Administrants, and supports the MAT program in hundreds of different ways to keep the children of NY safe with a smile.

7.1.3 Outstanding Professional Staff

This award may be given annually and is designed to recognize an employee who has demonstrated outstanding accomplishments in their area of expertise as well as commitment to PDP and our sponsors.

2015 Recipient—Mandy Parker

Amanda Parker accepts the 2014 Outstanding Professional Staff award.

When Mandy Parker stepped into the role of OTDA webmaster in June of 2014, expectations were high. The job had been well-served for many years but it did not take long for Mandy to exceed all expectations. Mandy’s transition to OTDA Webmaster was brief; she swiftly adjusted to her new responsibilities and quickly developed a rapport with her main contact at OTDA PIO. Mandy completes between 15-20 web site updates per day and she constantly and cordially communicates with OTDA’s PIO to discuss issues, to offer technical support, and suggest site improvements. She is also an essential part of the Instructional Technologies Unit. She regularly goes beyond her normal job duties and is always willing to jump in and help her teammates. Mandy frequently shares her talents and resources regarding web accessibility, testing, programing, and web design. She contributes web design and code to TrainingSpace. This included building an e-learning course for the Division of Disability Determinations. Mandy has diligently kept up-to-date with NYS branding requirements and is a frequently sought after expert for guidance on NYS branding and the NYS web guidelines. In October 2015, NYS introduced new requirements for their websites, including a global header and new navigation scheme. Mandy worked tirelessly to implement the new code and delivered the updated OTDA website before the deadline. She goes out of her way to share her experiences and code with other PDP units who must implement the updated NYS guidelines. Mandy has made the OTDA site a model for other agencies. Mandy’s success to date is a function of her focus, attention to detail, and the bright smile she brings to work every day.

7.1.4 Outstanding Team

This award may be given annually and is designed to recognize and reward employees who combine their individual talents to produce outcomes that would not be possible without effective collaboration. Any team organized to accomplish a specific task or work on a project is eligible for this award.

2014 Recipient—Information Systems and Programming (ISP)


Outstanding Team

The ISP Team has gone above and beyond many times, but especially in 2015 the team lead with a “can do” attitude that constantly embraced change and innovation. ISP was the first team to begin moving PDP assets from UAB and CW and was the final team responsible for the shutdown of those sites and services. In addition to performing superior daily maintenance, updates, and support, the ISP team also distinguished themselves by achieving many other successes this past year. For example, during the move to 4 Tower the ISP team:

  • Migrated and extend technology services with virtually no impact on staff.
  • Designed/Planned/Implemented 3 networks at 4 Tower (PDP, Video, State networks)
  • Setup staff computers, printers, faxes, and phones at 4 Tower
  • Disposed all old equipment
  • Increased technology security
  • Decreased technology costs
  • Improved product development for staff, sponsors, and end users
  • Updated the Video Conference web site and web streams
  • Prepared the Web site redesign for ECETP
  • Instituted the use of ticket system for many applications which also serves as project knowledge base
  • Created “Coding Standardization Series” documents containing guidelines and procedures for all new development.

The number of changes and improvements that occurred in the front end and behind the scenes of PDP has only been possible with a technology team that embraces challenges, learning, and communication. This has created a common vision within the team to assure successful outcomes and a commitment to protecting the integrity of PDP’s day-to-day operations. Often the ISP team works late into the night and on the weekends to make sure the job gets done. Thanks to their commitment, sponsors, users and staff all benefit from faster loading web sites, faster internal applications, faster PDP and state networks, and all technology services have increased up time for everyone.

Members of the ISP team include: Bryan Sotherden, Chad Steiner, Luis León, Aria Moshari, Lily Lee, Rohan Warkad, and Mesfin Solomon.

7.1.5 Outstanding Trainer

This award may be given annually and is designed to recognize an employee who has demonstrated outstanding accomplishments as a PDP trainer as well as commitment to their training team, PDP, and sponsors.

2014 Recipient—David Fortune

David Fortune accepts the 2014 Outstanding Trainer award.

As a trainer on the Core Essential Skills for Experienced Caseworkers (CES) project, David Fortune was instrumental in leading this project during an interim period between Training Program Coordinators—ensuring training schedules were set-up and the completion of quarterly reports were done on time. Doing so provided many challenges, particularly in the evaluation section since the HSLC system was not always correctly capturing the data. But David figured out how to get this done. Dave has demonstrated that he always can be counted on to take the initiative to do whatever is needed for the CES project and is always willing to go beyond what is expected of him. For example, at the request of OCFS, he attended a three-day Training of the Trainer course on The Platinum Rule: Creating Partnerships from Top to Bottom. After the TOT, Dave was selected to be one of the Platinum Rule Trainers for New York State. This training brought the new OCFS Practice Model to life bringing the skills OCFS leadership needed to partner effectively and improve their interactions. The training is based on a continuous quality improvement philosophy asking every system to grow. Most importantly, Dave is leading player in a change effort to improve OCFS culture by using data to drive decisions and asking colleagues to be active collaborators. Dave received extremely positive feedback in his ability to parallel the skills discussed in the training. His excellent facilitation skills allowed participants to explore ambivalent feelings and recognize how the skills being taught would support the worker. One member of the training team stated David’s training skill is like “a flame for a moth, he draws you in and provides you comfort.”