In 2008, Chatham County launched its Employee of the Month program, which is now Employee of the Quarter. Nominations are accepted and reviewed by the Chatham County Personnel Committee which is composed of employees from various departments including Human Resources, Finance, Library, Social Services and Parks and Recreation. Recipients of the Employee of the Quarter Award are presented their awards at the Chatham County Board of Commissioner meetings in March, June, September and December.
2016 Employee of the Quarter Award Recipients
First Quarter: Sarah Weller Pegna, Health Department
Sarah is a Public Health Educator with the Community and Family Health Connections Division at the Chatham County Health Department. This division demonstrates daily a true love and passion for serving their community and are themselves the true meaning of a work family and Sarah is the heart and soul of this family. A truly humble, positive, and beautiful person, even upon receiving this award, she never stopped giving credit to her team when thanking the County for this honor. Sarah is very well-respected in the community and works hard to promote the goals of the department. She has taken the lead on numerous initiatives, including Eat a Rainbow Week, Community Food Council, school health work, and LIGHT Way (Living in God's Holy Temple, a health ministry program). She also serves as ‘Team Lead’ of the agency’s Quality Improvement Team. Most recently, Sarah wrote a grant and we received notification of funding for a 3-year/$450,000 grant (Healthy People, Healthy Carolinas), funded by Duke Endowment, which will focus on implementing strategies targeting obesity prevention at the community level. As written in her nomination, Sarah is a proven leader who thrives as a staff member of the county and the CCPHD. She embodies public health, public service, and selflessness, and is absolutely deserving of this award.
Second Quarter: Andrea Brady, Human Resources and Risk Management
Andrea Brady is the Benefits Manager in the Human Resources and Risk Management Department, which is housed in the County Manager's Office. She was presented with her award at the May 16th Board of Commissioners meeting and was, to her surprise, greeting with signs of love and support from members of the County Manager's Office. Carolyn Miller, HRRM Director, presented Andrea with her well-deserved award saying the following: "Since joining our team in June 2014, Andrea has worked tirelessly to epitomize the unofficial motto of the HRRM department, “We serve you so that you can serve others.” It is more than a smile, a laugh, or the undivided attention with which she works with employees. It is her ability to truly connect with people as she works to carry out her job duties that makes her an exceptional benefits manager. The specific account listed in the nomination form is just one example of many that I could give to illustrate the positive impact she has on county employees every day. She gets it-she understands that Chatham County is an organization that works hard to connect with and recognize each of its employees for the contributions they make every day and their commitment to serving the public in an excellent manner. Her impact has been tremendous and her attitude infectious." Andrea continues to thrive to deliver excellent customer service to County employees every day and is a wonderful example of a great public servant.
Third Quarter: Beverly Kay, Environmental Health
Beverly Kay began with the County in July of 2000 in the Register of Deeds office before moving to Environmental Health in May of 2007. She was nominated by Environmental Health Director Anne Lowry for her teamwork, innovation, and collaboration namely for addressing processes for quality improvement and increased efficiency. Beverly has always been known to be a team player and an extremely hard worker.
Beverly took on a daunting public records request scanning project, lasting a total of seven years and 15,000 files. Upon completion, she created a searchable database, taking document searches from hour to only minutes. She has also saved the department a considerable amount of postage by deciding to collect emails from homeowners, while also “saving trees” as so many citizens expressed their appreciation for. In addition to her scanning project, Beverly worked with GIS to include the scanned files on our County website. By providing the files online, it allowed citizens to more quickly locate permits simply by visiting the site, while reducing the number of requests the department received. As stated in her nomination form, “Her work will carry on even beyond her retirement, which to me is a great accomplishment.”
Fourth Quarter: Mistie Phillips, Finance
The County began migrating to new human resources/financial software in spring of 2014. As the Project Manager, Mistie proved to be an invaluable asset in making the migration a success with both her financial and technical expertise. Right before the County was set to go live with HR/Payroll, Mistie stepped right in taking on payroll responsibilities, due to staff changes, along with her normal responsibilities. Mistie is not only a whiz with numbers, but also with technology and is extremely tech savvy. As stated in her nomination: "Even a year later, we are testing new scenarios every payroll and I could not think of a better person to solve these mysteries with. She is the epitome of a team player and is one of the hardest working women I have ever met. She is an extremely intelligent and capable employee and has demonstrated outstanding commitment to her job and to our employees. She may not realize it, but I have learned so much from her and continue to learn from her every day. Mistie is absolutely the reason that the Munis project has been a success for Chatham County."
2017 Employee of the Quarter Award Recipients
First Quarter: Kevin Keas, Maintenance Supervisor, Facilities
Kevin joined Chatham County as the Maintenance Supervisor on May 16, 2016. He was nominated for significantly improving the customer service and response time of the Facilities Maintenance Division in an overwhelmingly positive way by providing complete 360 degree service. In this short time, Kevin has a reputation for getting all the information (even what we sometimes miss in our work order submissions) and getting the job done right the first time. More importantly, he routinely follows up on work orders completed to make sure it was done to the department/person’s satisfaction. The County has great confidence that he will always work to find the most workable, budget-conscious solution to an issue.
Second Quarter: Denise Estridge, Accounting Specialist, Health Department
Denise joined Chatham County as an Administrative Assistant on September 12, 1988. She was nominated for her unbelievable commitment to the Chatham County Public Health Department. She is known as their Personnel and Finance guru and completes these daily responsibilities with accuracy and consistently meets deadlines. Denise also provides strong customer service by always being available for employees to answer questions with an open door and a smile and her calm and friendly demeanor allows employees to feel comfortable approaching her for help. One-on-one training sessions in her office are not uncommon.
When Munis was rolled out to the County, Denise became their resident expert and trained the Management Team and key personnel how to use the system for purchases and budgeting. She leads our department through the budget process every year. Denise is also a team player and pitches in whenever needed to help set up for meetings, cover the front desk, or cover phone lines for others well. Denise is also instrumental in providing a wide variety of documentation for the Health Department's Re-Accreditation every four years, which is an ongoing process.
Third Quarter: Cara Coppola, Planner II, Planning Department
Cara Coppola joined Chatham County on January 4, 2016 and she hit the ground running from the moment she started, taking on the coordination of the Transportation Advisory Committee and Chatham's participation in regional transportation efforts.
More importantly, in this short time, she has evolved into the project manager for the comprehensive planning process which involves meeting with the steering committee and consultants, meeting and presenting materials to advisory boards throughout the county, updating the website, and reviewing documents and drafts. This is by far the largest long-range planning efforts in recent years, and has a tremendous impact on the county’s growth and development plan for years to come. Cara’s work on this project is immeasurable and the plan would not be progressing as well as it is without her efforts. This work is far above what is expected of an entry-level planner and far beyond the initial scope of her job.
Fourth Quarter: Placement Unit, Social Services
The Foster Care and Adoption Unit at Social Services annually takes the lead in hosting the Christmas Wishes program, collecting gifts for distribution to children involved with their agency. Every year, the need grows and the unit rises to the occasion. In 2017, over 435 children will receive gifts through this program. The goal of this program is to grant three specific holiday wishes to children involved in the various programs with Social Services.
This program embodies the overall mission of Social Services, which is, in part, to protect vulnerable children and to strengthen and preserve families. Furthermore, the success of this Christmas Wishes program and the Foster Care, Case Management, and Adoption Services overall can be attributed to the perseverance and dedication of Family Services Social Workers and support staff that make these children their top priority.
2018 Employee of the Quarter Award Recipients
First Quarter: Rachael Thorn, Land & Water Resources Supervisor, Environmental Quality
Rachael was hired at Chatham County in September 2007. Recently, she worked with both new and surrounding property owners in an effort to bring all parties to the table and commit to work in a collaborative and forward thinking solution regarding activity on the property. Rachael single-handedly worked for months with the group of owners to help them reestablish trust in each other as well as county government. She navigated the situation skillfully, facilitating discussions with property owners about concerns on both sides and helping them work out an agreement. Rachael went above and beyond to insure a peaceful and collaborative solution in the community for the benefits of the citizens and the County. Way to go, Rachael!
Second Quarter: Anne Chapman, Child Victim Services Coordinator, Court Related Programs
Since her hire in March 2017, Anne Chapman has worked on behalf of child victims of serious crimes. She helps them navigate the court system, connect them to services like counseling and make sure they know the resources that exist to help with whatever needs they have. She also provides transportation to court or therapy as needed and interprets for Spanish speaking clients and their families. She works closely with other court related functions such as the district attorney’s office, family visitation services, and law enforcement.
Anne was nominated because of the exceptional job she has done to re-initiate, revamp and deliver the sexual abuse prevention curriculum for fourth graders. This program has not been delivered consistently in years past, and Anne started to work almost immediately after her hire to build relationships with school staff and deliver a program that was well received and age appropriate. Every fourth grade student in the Chatham County school system now has valuable information about themselves, appropriate behavior and what to do if they feel uncomfortable. Anne also does follow up with any children who have questions or issues that come up around the topics they cover in the curriculum.
Third Quarter: Mike Cowell, Wren Library Branch Manager
Mike Cowell joined the County in July 2007 and became the Branch Manager at Wren Library in Siler City in March of 2010 and ever since then; he has been making the Wren Memorial Library a real part of the community.
Here is just one example from his nomination:
Wren served as a distribution site for CORA’s SNACK program this summer, which provides food for food insecure families with children. Wren’s location in the heart of Siler City makes it an excellent site for the many families in Siler City that need this program. Mike goes to a lot of extra effort to make sure the program succeeds. There is no way to know when the food trucks will schedule deliveries and he has been called as early as 6:30 AM to meet the truck.
After the food is delivered the work begins: the room has to be set up with tables, the food has to be unboxed and arranged according to food group, and volunteers have to be scheduled. When the event concludes, any remaining food has to be prepared for pick-up, empty boxes have to be torn down and taken to recycling, and the room must be cleaned. Mike oversees all of this while managing the library and he remains cheerful and patient while doing it. He evens greets most people by name, an obvious sign of his knack for building relationships.
Wren will also be hosting a job fair in the near future. Again, this will position the library not only as a source of books but as a community resource and a source of information.
Mike goes above and beyond in serving the public. He develops relationships with the people he serves and strengthens Chatham County government’s public service mission.
The fact that he lights up when we talk about these outreach opportunities is a testament to how much he loves what he does. I hope many of our employees aspire to serve their communities and our citizens in such a way. Thank you so much, Mike, for all that you continue to do and congratulations on your award.