Santa Monica Recognize Employees with The Elaine Award

November 9, 2017
by Rick Cole

Santa Monica Recognize Employees with The Elaine Award

Santa Monica Recognizes Employees with "The Elaine" Award  

By Rick Cole 

Former Assistant City Manager Elaine Polachek set a superb standard for public leadership, honesty, courage and dedication to serving others. An avid sports fan, she kept in her office at City Hall a collection of bobblehead figures of Dodger and Kings players she and her husband had collected over the years. So when it came time to honor her three decades of service to Santa Monica, we had our own “Elaine” bobblehead created with Elaine dressed as “Superwoman” in front of the Pier Ferris Wheel. We ordered two – one to give her at her last City Council meeting – and another to launch a new tradition. I felt the best way to honor her example was to recognize other City staff who follow in her footsteps of going the extra mile to serve our community.   

So each week, I personally deliver the Elaine” award to those who exemplify our commitment to excellent service. We know residents don’t often personally have the opportunity to meet many of the faces behind the services this City delivers, so we share a roundup of the "Elaine" recipients from the last two months. We hope you enjoy getting to know more of the people who contribute to making Santa Monica a city that works for everyone. Below is a look at who has received the award since early September. 

Jeff Snyder AKA Rideshare Jeff!

Mobility Division, GoSaMo

Rideshare Jeff (Jeff Snyder) received The Elaine on September 7th for his spirited approach to help us all consider how our individual behaviors impact the environment and traffic. In recent years, Jeff has been the face of City Hall to visitors.  He's pitched in to not only direct them to the right office (or across the street to the Courthouse if they were lost) but to help them answer the questions or solve the problems that brought them to our door. Given his enthusiasm, outgoing personality and musical talents, he seemed like the perfect organizer of our efforts to promote alternative ways to get to work.

The Wellbeing Team

Office of Civic Wellbeing

On September 14th, The Elaine was awarded to Chief Civic Wellbeing Officer Julie Rusk and the entire Office of Civic Wellbeing team including Project Manager Lisa Parson, Sr. Admin. Analyst Libby Carlson, Admin. Staff Asst. Naomi Urabe and interns Michelle Lin and Benjamin Nguyen. That week, Julie and Lisa briefed the Council on the state of Wellbeing in Santa Monica. What we see in "Wellbeing Index 2.0" is proof of a strong community with key areas for improvement. Julie and her team have continued their dedication to the wellbeing of all Santa Monicans and have fine-tuned the data so we can look at specific demographics. You can learn more about the findings here. Most recently, the Wellbeing Team have put their data to use, and have partnered with Fitbit to track 90404 residents' activity levels. Learn more about the partnership here.

Eduardo Gonzalez & Phillip Ticun

Facilities Maintenance & Architecture Services

The Elaine for September 21st went to Eduardo Gonzalez of Facilities Maintenance and Phillip Ticun of Architecture Services. After working day shifts, Eduardo and Phillip returned to the City Yards that evening to pick up a boom lift and a generator, among other equipment, to test various options for LED lights for the 12-acre Airport Park Expansion Project. With their help, the project team was able to select the best option for the future park expansion to ensure it will be a safe environment for all to enjoy. When asked how he felt about getting the Elaine, Eduardo smiled humbly and said, “I’m just doing my job.” We thank Eduardo and Phillip for going the extra mile to ensure the safety of our residents and usability of this great, new public space. 

Lindsey Folsom, Paul Weinberg and Lindsay Barker

Office of Emergency Management

Disasters are much in the news these days. For September 28th, The Elaine went to Lindsey Folsom, Paul Weinberg and Lindsay Barker of the Office of Emergency Management for their deep commitment to ensuring City staff, residents, and volunteers are prepared for disasters and know how to respond when they happen. We never know when a life-changing incident can happen in Santa Monica. This small team works diligently to leverage world-class technology and best practices so we have a plan for disasters, both natural and man-made. This week's Elaine is particularly valuable as the nomination came from Nick Brovia of True Restoration. Nick is a former Cal-Fire firefighter and a current C.E.R.T. volunteer with the City. Lindsay and her team have built this force of community volunteers who are now trained in a federally-recognized approach to emergency response. 

The COAST Team

The COAST event on October 1st brought out local and regional neighbors who enjoyed fantastic weather and a variety of programming that highlighted Santa Monica's commitment to multi-modal living, sustainability, the arts and culture. Elated kids rode in Public Works bucket trucks, families circled around all-female mariachi players, a sing-a-long lounge delighted passersby and a salsa group closed the day with a large group of attendees dancing in the street. Our streets were alive and the energy was contagious. None of these joyous moments would have been possible without the cross-department power team who pulled it together from planning and promotion to execution. That week's Elaine Award recognizes all the staff and volunteers who worked so hard, with special recognition to the core team of planners and organizers: Allison Ostrovsky, Debbie Lee, Andrew Basmajian, Beth Rolandson, Erin Taylor, Joseph Vandenorth, Constance Farrell and Cody Green. Each member of the team had many competing responsibilities, yet they were able to make it a great day for the community.  While there are many others to thank for their time planning specific aspects of the event — from the mobility area to the art zone and everything in between — this core team lived and breathed COAST.

Senior Lifeguard Team of Jose De La Torre, Will Bentley, and Ken Fujimori

Community Aquatics

Community Aquatics' Senior Lifeguard Team consists of members Jose De La Torre, Will Bentley, and Ken Fujimori. This dynamic trio form the glue that keep our swimming community thriving. These staff members have all been working for Santa Monica's Community Aquatics for over ten years, yet they still find ways to exemplify daily the traits embodied by the “5 R’s of Teamwork” through hard work, excellent communication, and positive attitudes for all. Their dedication and leadership allows the community access to excellent year-round aquatic programming and all of the health and recreational benefits that it offers.

Housing & Economic Development Ridesharers

Housing & Economic Development

The last few months have demonstrated HED’s commitment to ridesharing and active transportation. In July, the Mobility Division reported that HED had achieved 100 percent participation on the annual rideshare survey. Results of the survey, presented in September, show that HED has the highest percentage of employees among all city departments who bike, carpool or vanpool to work. The department clearly embodies the commitment to sustainable transportation.

Officers Jordan Varak & Andrew Sanchez

Santa Monica Police Department

The Santa Monica Police Department strives everyday to be the benchmark of excellence. That commitment was on full display on September 10, 2017 when Officers Jordan Varak and Andrew Sanchez performed lifesaving assistance to an unresponsive arrestee in our jail. The officers immediately started CPR and requested the automated external defibrillator. After eight strenuous minutes, the officers successfully revived the woman before SMFD arrived and transported her to the local trauma center for advanced medical treatment. The City commends Officers Varak and Sanchez for the courage, integrity and overall commitment to exceptional service.

Has a staff member gone above and beyond for you? Feel free to let us know by emailing communications@smgov.net with "The Elaine" in the subject line.

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