The Government Technology & Services Coalition presented the 2018 Homeland Security Today #HomelandHeroes awards on Tuesday, recognizing the accomplishments of 24 individuals and teams for their work in safeguarding the homeland.
“Many Americans are unaware of the important work that these folks do, and how dedicated they are to their mission,” said GTSC President and CEO Kristina Tanasichuk, executive editor of HSToday. “It is because of such driven patriots that America remains a beacon of hope and prosperity for the rest of the world. Their hard work has earned our respect.”
Nominations were submitted from across the country. The awards ceremony, held at the Arlington Arts Center in Northern Virginia, was attended by hundreds of homeland security professionals and advocates. It is the most comprehensive recognition that federal, state and local patriots receive for their selfless efforts.
The top Homeland Security Person of the Year awards were presented to Christine Halvorsen, the deputy assistant director in the Counterterrorism Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Charles L. Werner, the former chief of the Charlottesville, Va., Fire Department and current executive director of the Albemarle County Police Foundation, chair of the National Council on Public Safety for Unmanned Aerial Systems and public safety chief of DroneUp. The awards were presented to Halvorsen and Werner for their excellence in working to improve the nation’s capacity to prevent, protect, mitigate and respond to threats.
The awards were presented to a mix of government and private-sector individuals, teams and small businesses, without whom defending the homeland would not be possible.
The 2018 Most Valuable Player award was presented to Shawn McDonald for his work as the program manager for the Apex Border Situational Awareness Program and the Integrated Maritime Domain Enterprise-Coastal Surveillance System (IMDE-CSS). Additionally, 2017 Most Valuable Player awardee Tom Homan, the former acting director of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, was unable to accept his award last year, and was recognized at the 2018 #HomelandHeroes awards.
Mission awards were presented to homeland security professionals throughout the federal government, including Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim for leading his community through a devastating volcano eruption; Sean McAfee, the DHS staff director at the National Cybersecurity & Communications Integration Center, for building and implementing an efficient and effective process to manage ongoing cyber events; Kathleen Druitt, a program manager with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, for reducing the amount of time it takes for CBP officers to collect customs duties and fees through CBP’s Revenue Modernization program; Warren Jones, the Northeast Colorado All Hazard Region coordinator with the Office of Emergency Management in Weld County, Colo., for homeland security support planning and grant management with 11 counties; Olen Martin, director of public safety and service for the City of Port Clinton, Ohio, for his law enforcement work on the Northern Border Initiative; Col. Robert Mauskapf, director of emergency preparedness at the Virginia Department of Health, for decades of leadership in public health emergency preparedness and response; Brig. Gen. Michael C.H. McDaniel, the associate dean of WMU-Cooley and director of the law school’s Homeland and National Security Law LL.M. Program, for his leadership and accomplishments at state and national levels in homeland security; Steve Mucklow, special assistant to the assistant secretary of Defense in the office of Homeland Defense Integration and Defense Support of Civil Authorities, for developing domestic policies for unmanned aerial systems to support civilian authorities and the National Guard for border security; and Battalion Chief Derrick Phillips, who was awarded on behalf of the St. Louis Fire Department for his work as commander of his department’s Office of Homeland Security.
Jim McLimans, the president of the Avon Grove Regional Emergency Management (AGREM) group, a nonprofit emergency management organization that provides emergency support to communities throughout Pennsylvania, received the Citizen of Mission award for his tireless volunteerism converting dilapidated trailers into Emergency Operations Centers.
GTSC members are among the most innovative and creative small-business contractors working on the homeland security mission, and award recipients were selected for their work “behind the scenes.”
Northrop Grumman Corp. was awarded the Mentor of the Year award for its continual role in supporting GTSC with infrastructure investments, programming, logistical support and mentorship of GTSC small business members. Additionally, ICS Advisory Managing Partner Patricia Todaro Bolin was presented with the Small Business of the Year award for significant contributions to GTSC programming, and member Sev1Tech was presented with the Mid-Tier Company of the Year award. Sev1Tech was founded in 2010, and provides IT support services to federal and commercial clients, including U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Army, the Transportation Security Administration and the Washington Redskins, Comcast and Verizon.
Duke Energy Corporation was presented with the award for the Most Innovative Campaign to Improve Security in the Private Sector for its P.R.O.T.E.C.T. program, which creates a physical security awareness program for its employees to reinforce and remind of the risks that the smallest of breaches pose to the company and the electric grid.
Former U.S. Customs and Border Patrol Commissioner David Aguilar was given the Strategic Partner of the Year award for his clear commitment to GTSC. Aguilar, a principal at the Global Security & Innovative Strategies (GSIS) in Washington, D.C, has provided GTSC with invaluable insight, counsel and resources to the betterment of its membership. Additionally, the Strategic Advisor of the Year award was presented to Earl Holland, who stepped up to take leadership over the Emerging Small Business Group of GTSC in 2017, and Michael Smith, the executive vice president of federal contract performance management service GovConRx, received the Market Maven award for being a thought leader in DHS procurement excellence.
The Department of Homeland Security’s Insider Threat Program was presented with the Most Innovative Campaign to Improve Security in the Public Sector. The award was presented to Program Manager Sean Thrash for spending countless hours implementing security measures throughout the Department’s vast computer networks.
Michael Derrios, a senior procurement executive and head of contracting activity with the U.S. Coast Guard, and Dwight Deneal, USCG director of small business and industry liaison programs, were recognized for their work establishing the Coast Guard’s Small Business and Industry Liaison Office with the Federal Small Business Champion award.
The Acquisition Excellence award was presented to the three-year-old DHS Procurement Innovation Lab for being a driving force in industry/government communications. The prestigious award is given to the organization that most greatly improves the speed, efficiency and effectiveness of the acquisition of technology, products or services that support the front-line missions of homeland security.
Finally, the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System was awarded this year’s annual Outreach Award for reconnecting Puerto Rico’s devastated communication systems after Hurricane Maria.