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Departments of Health, Education and PEMA Announce Recipients of Governor’s Awards for Excellence

05/19/2022

Harrisburg, PA - Governor Tom Wolf today announced the recipients of the Governor’s Awards for Excellence, which includes a multi-agency award for staff at the Departments of Health, Education and the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency for organizing targeted vaccination sites to vaccinate 112,565 teachers and school support staff in an unprecedented 20-day period. 

Individual members of the agencies recognized with the award include Nursing Director, Bureau of Community Health Systems Jennifer Shirk (DOH); Public Safety Education and Outreach Specialist Kira Lemmons (PEMA); and Kari Worley Special Advisor to the Secretary (PDE).  

“This cross-agency collaboration of over 200 dedicated employees was successful in vaccinating teachers and support staff in a timely and efficient manner, resulting in the transition back to a safe in-person school environment,” Acting Secretary of Health Dr. Denise Johnson said. “This operation shows how efficiently and effectively state agencies can work together to improve the lives of Pennsylvanians.” 

Through DOH, the public and private K-12 educational and support staff were given the option to receive COVID-19 vaccines in the early stages of the vaccine rollout when appointments were difficult to find and schedule. 

Within 20 days, the team worked with the Intermediate Unit Educational and Support Staff Unified Coordination Group to establish a concept of operations which coordinated vaccine distribution, transportation, daily security, cold-chain management and administration of doses. 

PEMA supported DOH and coordinated efforts across multiple entities, including state and county agencies, non-profit organizations and the private sector. PDE was responsible for organizing the 28 IU vaccination sites. The multiple-agency collaboration was successful in preparing the sites by organizing work schedules, providing staffing, training, making vaccine appointments, and ensuring safety precautions were followed resulting in a fast, coordinated, and efficient response.

“Thanks to the tireless efforts of these commonwealth employees who worked many late hours and weekends to get the job done, our students were able to return to their classrooms,” Acting Secretary of Education Eric Hagarty said. “These employees exemplify a dedication and passion for their work that goes beyond the scope of their job duties and helps to make Pennsylvania a safer place to live.” 

“This mission’s statewide success demonstrates the expertise and teamwork that is crucial in overcoming logistical challenges within a short 20-day rollout,” PEMA Director Randy Padfield said.  “This operation is a prime example of how state agencies can work together to implement crucial and responsive operations to keep Pennsylvanians safe.”  

The Governor’s Awards for Excellence recognize commonwealth employees for exemplary job performance or service that reflects initiative, leadership, innovation and/or increased efficiency. A total of 50 employees from 12 agencies received awards for accomplishments in 2021. 

MEDIA CONTACT: 

Mark O’Neill, DOH - ra-dhpressoffice@pa.gov
Kendall Alexander, PDE - kealexand@pa.gov
L. Paul Vezzetii, PEMA - lvezzetti@pa.gov

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