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L&I Employees Receive Governor’s Award for Excellence for Developing a Live Chat Feature, Providing Greater Accessibility for UC Claimants


Harrisburg, PA – Today, Governor Tom Wolf awarded a group of Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) employees the Governor's Awards for Excellence in recognition of their design and implementation of a live chat function for the unemployment compensation (UC) website. The employees received the award during a virtual event held earlier today.  

"The development and launch of the UC Live Chat feature provides an effective and efficient method of communication between UC staff and claimants, and is particularly important during this time of historically high UC claims filings due to the COVID-19 pandemic," said L&I Secretary Jerry Oleksiak. "The awardees' dedication and initiative led to the creation of an online feature that not only improved customer service for UC claimants, but may have also helped reduced call volume to UC Service Centers."     

Governor Wolf today presented Governor's Awards for Excellence to 49 employees representing nine commonwealth agencies. The awards recognize employees for exemplary job performance or service that reflects initiative, leadership, innovation and increased efficiency. Employees or a group of employees are nominated by a co-worker for the award.  

The nine L&I employees receiving the award worked to develop, test, and implement the UC Live Chat capability for UC claimants within the Office of Unemployment Compensation Service Centers. The feature provides end-to-end encryptions so that personal information can be shared directly with L&I's UC team and provides a virtual means of communication for UC claimants to ask questions and have concerns addressed regarding their claims. Since its launch in July 2019, the chat feature has hosted more than 300,000 UC Live Chats with claimants.  

Adding an alternative communication method for UC claimants provided better customer service to claimants, expedited claims processing and helped reduce call volumes. The new chat feature has increased productivity and efficiency, had a significant positive impact on UC claimants, and provides future multi-agency applications.  

The L&I employees that helped develop and implement the UC Live Chat feature are: 

  • Wendy Peters, unemployment compensation executive 1
  • Jerrie Lee Moyer, program analyst 2
  • Shawn L. Price, management analyst supervisor
  • Richard M. Plesnarski, management analyst 2
  • Garrett Daniel Malick, management analyst 2
  • Jennifer C. Poorman, unemployment compensation claims intake interviewer
  • Ryan J. Miscavige, administrative assistant 1
  • Charles L. Ballard, management analyst 2
  • Geoffrey M. Lanning, administrative officer 3 

For more information on the Governor's Awards for Excellence, visit For more information on youth employment opportunities, visit 

MEDIA CONTACT:  Sarah DeSantis, 717-787-7530 or  

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