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2020 COVID-19 Response Awards


Winners (In Alphabetical Order):

Katherine Benjamin

Mayor's Office of the Chief Technology Officer

Led in creating  volunteer digital technology ‘innovation fellows’ expert groups to build tracking programs for PPE needs, isolation hotel availabilities, test and trace staffing needs and to implement rapid language translations of City agencies web sites, among other Covid-19 response projects.

Johanna Conroy

Emergency Management Department

Developed within days the City’s Covid-19 Hotel program ultimately serving 30,000 people with separate support programs for essential workers, patients discharged from hospitals, at risk discharged prisoners and adults with disabilities who needed to be removed from group homes.  (Johanna worked in partnership with award winner Heather Roiter in this effort.)

Jamilla Dick-Quashie

Office of Chief Medical Examiner

Led in adapting Covid-19 protective protocols for the 750 employees of the Chief Medical Examiners Office and 500 other City employees in crisis morgues, instituting extensive testing procedures and insuring application of safety guidelines in the 10 emergency morgues set up in the pandemic.

Robert Domanski

Department of Small Business Services

To sustain the pipeline of CUNY students for opportunities in the City’s growing tech sector, developed and promoted best practices in remote teaching for CUNY faculty and tech adjuncts, attracted new volunteer teachers for remote sessions, and found substantial opportunities for CUNY students in paid open-source projects as substitutes for curtailed internships at tech firms.

Flora Ferng

Commission on Human Rights

To deal with the spike in anti-Asian bias incidents, launched ‘business walk through’ support for Asian-owned businesses, extended special town halls and other community forums to raise awareness and opened new avenues with the NYPD and other City agencies for reporting higher levels of hate crimes and bias incidents.

Yelena Gladkova

Administration for Children's Services

To deal with the healthcare challenges among children and staff in pre-placement childcare facilities, developed digital monitoring, new nurse recruiting and scheduling routines and a 24/7 hotline for Covid-19 advice for all agency personnel and for contracting child care agency staffs.

Lara Glass

Department of Sanitation

Instituted department-wide Covid-19 related protocols, sick leave approvals, and other medical office operations for the Covid-19 environment and instituted and helped sustain a 24/7 hotline for Department personnel fielding up to 200 calls daily with updated Covid-19 guidance.

Desiree Guzman

Health+Hospitals Corporation

At Jacobi Hospital, one of the epicenters of Covid-19 care, developed new approaches and sustained patient flow in the Emergency Department, managed bed availability generally and in special tents, helped insure availability of PPE, designed and implemented I-pad and other communications between patients and families and documented effective processes for dealing with possible future waves of the pandemic.

Reesa Henderson

Department  of Homeless Services

Revamped initial placement processes for homeless individuals and families, set up new isolation capacity within existing shelter and new facilities, coordinated rapid identification of need and placements dealing with 10,000 individuals in 8 days at the height of the crisis, and instituted a 24/7 hotline to aid the overall Department response to the pandemic.

Rebecca Isacowitz

Department of Citywide Administrative Services

Leveraging deep contacts in energy-efficiency contracting and project management, procured and organized external resources to meet needs for extra power, ventilation and other building operations functions for selected City hospitals with extensive Covid-19 patient care burdens.

Hazel Jennings

Department of Corrections

As operations chief, organized jails within weeks for isolating Covid-19 cases, provided extensive PPE to staff and people in custody, radically expanded medical facilities using a previously closed jail, and advanced the emergency release program to relieve crowded conditions.

Ovsanna Khachikian

Department of Education

Launched and sustained a new program within the Department providing demonstrably high quality, safe and extended hour day care for 14,000 children of essential workers.

Alison Landry

Department of Design and Construction

Using expedited design build processes, oversaw the design and construction of the 630 bed Brooklyn Cruise Terminal and the 470 bed emergency alternative care site at the Billie Jean King Tennis Center while also applying similar techniques for establishing three post-acute Covide recovery facilities for the Health+Hospitals Corporation.

Daniel Montiel

Department of Information Technology & Telecommunications

Was a lead designer of the technology underpinnings for the City's tracing program and for the100 million meal GetFood program to enable those who could not leave home to sign up for delivery of meals by linked taxis, while also designing the technology to meet the peak crisis use of the City's 311 information phone line.

Megan Pribram

Emergency Management Department

Led in the development and management of the 11 emergency food distribution centers for grab and go service and the to the home distribution network for the City's extensive emergency food program.

Justin Rivera

Department of Transportation

Organized training of inspectors for the Open Restaurant program, expedited the efficient deployment of inspectors to over 4,000 sidewalk and roadway offerings, and revamped the Department's PRISM monitoring system for meeting peak needs.

Iris Rodriguez

Department of Homeless Services

Designed and oversaw implementation of the program to relocate over 10,000 homeless to commercial hotels while managing the emergency social distancing and protection programs within the shelters that kept homeless infection rates even lower than those of the general population.

Heather Roiter

Emergency Management Department

Developed the City’s Covid-19 hotel program serving essential workers, patients discharged from hospitals, at risk discharged prisoners and adults with disabilities removed from group homes. (Heather worked in partnership with award winner Johanna Conroy in this effort.)

Lucy Wong

Department of Design and Construction

Led a large team in rapidly identifying, designing, and constructing testing sites with queuing, registration, intake, and specimen collection tailored for 30 Health and Hospital pop-up sites, 8 mobile testing trucks, and 8 Gotham Health clinics.

Marie Wong

Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

Oversaw development of 9 new clinical lab sites in four boroughs with 24 hour results turn around times, managing for these and the central public lab site validation of testing platforms, seven-day per week staffing plans with cross-training, additions of 60 temporary staff, securing equipment and supplies and  overseeing needed renovations of space.

Honorable Mention (In Alphabetical Order):

Lorraine Anderson

Administration  for Children's Services

Managed acquisition of PPE for Horizon Juvenile Center, developed COVID-19 staffing plan, and worked to ensure that agency staff had latest health information from the CDC.

Sean Baptist

Department of Parks and Recreation

Managed public engagement and education regarding social distancing practices as part of the Parks Ambassador Program. Led outdoor educational workshops and remote programming. Distributed PPE to community by bicycle throughout Brooklyn, including to protestors, homeless individuals, and food distribution centers.

Craig Bonney

Emergency Management Department

Managed an emergency supply warehouse. Organized PPE delivery to City agencies and a small-batch donation program.

Johnny Burkette

Department of Probation

Oversaw, coached, and mentored a team of probation officers. Helped clients to access food resources and other support.

Amy Cassidy

Law Department

Advised City agencies in complying wih COVID-19 operational rules and regulations, including return-to-work issues. Launched and coordinated inter-agency working groups.

Joseph Ciuffo

Police Department

As Deputy Chief Surgeon for the Medical Department, designed operations protocols, including Telemedicine Initiative, quarantine protocols, and tracking systems.

Joseph Gough

Emergency Management Department

Redesigned and prepared the City's Emergency Support Center to accommodate several different critical COVID response functions, including PPE delivery and distribution. Assisted with the setup of diversion tents for several hospitals, and other facilities. Kept equipment ready and supplies replenished for future events.

Jason Hansman

Mayor's  Office of ThriveNYC

Helped to create Mission: VetCheck to reach veterans affected by the pandemic and help them access financial assistance, testing, free meals, mental health services, and other services. Developed data-sharing agreements with other City agencies and outside veterans' services organizations. Developed training materials for outreach volunteers and helped to manage volunteers.

Marta Hernandez

Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

Led Queens Neighborhood Response Team in providing community education regarding testing and tracing, hoteling, and correct mask wearing. Coordinated the production of webinars in several languages. Assisted with food distribution efforts.

Yvonne Harper-Grice

Department of Social Services

Developed training materials for agency staff so that they could use new technology to respond to the pandemic and continue to provide critical services. Implemented the use of several new technology tools by agency staff.

Carolyn Howard

Department of Social Services

Managed call-center staff interviewing applicants for SNAP benefits, in a period with significantly increased applicant volume and changing regulations. Assisted with training new staff and performance evaluation. Developed improved work-flow processes that will increase agency efficiency.

Shawn James

Department of Parks and Recreation

Helped develop systems and workflows for food distribution from Parks recreation center. Helped to plan build out of recreation center as a COVID testing site. Supervised staff of social distance ambassadors in educating the public about wearing masks, social distancing, and testing.

Benjamin Krakauer

Emergency Management Department

Oversees the Emergency Operations Center. Assisted in developing the Isolation Hotel Program. Oversees interagency fatality management program. Worked to implement and streamline the Get Cool NYC air conditioner installation program.

Fabienne Laraque

Deprtment of Homeless Services

As Medical Director for the Department, developed protocols for COVID screening, testing, cleaning of shelters, social distancing, hospital discharges, and shelters that experience positive cases. She has provided guidance on the proper care and monitoring of clients in isolation, coordinated and provided oversight of nurses, and coordinated care with hospitals. Her work helped to keep the infection rate in shelters lower than in the City overall.

Karin Louie

Department of Finance

With expertiise in on-line payments, re-designed, trained and deployed new staff and managed peak loads of inquiries and electronic submissions under the Propert Tax Interest and Deferral Program, the Propert Tax e-file system and the monthly automatic payment facility.

Lauren Mahon

Emergency Management Department

To deal with a 20-fold increase in in-home deaths and equivalent spikes at nursing homes and hospitals, developed a network of 145 special refrigerated trailers, coordinating efforst of the Chief Medical Examiner and other City agencies and deploying National Guard and Defense department personnel to ensure decedents were handled in a dignified and respectful manner.

Meka Nurse

Department of the Aging

Launched Aging Connect as a guide for elderly and their caregivers in use of overall City services, while putting vouchers on-line and coorinating to-home distribution for the Seniors Farmers Market Nutrition program serving 45,000 seniors.

Gary Simmons

Fire Department

Drawing on many years experience in the Emergency Medical Service, expanded and maintained the flow and proper allocation of PPE and required emergency equipment for patients while also training and deploying interns to deal with crisis loads on the Service.

Eric Smalls

Emergency Management Department

Designed and put in place the technology platorms required to accommodate the doubling of emergency management staff and workloads in the Operations Center and the Emergency Services Center.

Radhika Sood

Department of Homeless Services

Developed innovative data-tracking and collection processes to identify, isolate, and help manage Covid-19 cases in shellters and other venues serving the homeless.

Claudia Tejada

Deptartment of Design and Construction

Expedited environmental and hazmat reviews of 14 Covid-19 related hospital and other new faciltiies while revamping overall work processes for the Office of Environmental and HazMat Services.

Robert Van Pelt

Office of Chief Medical Examiner

Arranged purchase of emergency morgues within 48 hours, coordinated overall purchasing of PPE for the Office and for funeral directors in the City, while establishing new electronic links with these directors and the Office.

Douglas Wilson

Fire Department

Set up  the 24/7 COVID hotline with the Department's Operation Center training nurses for fielding inquiries while also adding staff and re-imagining workloads to deal with peak loads at the Department's Health Services bureau.

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