Awardees will be profiled in the December issue of Governing magazine.
This is an invitation-only event.
Each year, Governing hosts an awards banquet in Washington to honor individual state and local government officials for outstanding accomplishment. Our Public Officials of the Year are elected, appointed and career officials from any branch of state or local government who are nominated by Governing's readers and selected by our editors.
The 2013-14 Public Officials of the Year award gala dinner will be held on Monday, February 3, 2014 at Washington's historic Willard InterContinental Hotel.
GOVERNING's 2013 Public Officials of the Year include:
John Kitzhaber, Governor, State of Oregon. At the national level, health reform remains divisive and cost-containment efforts remain elusive. Oregon is doing both, with bipartisan support. After serving two terms in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Gov. Kitzhaber was elected to a third term in 2010. Since then, he has established himself as a leader adept at building bipartisan coalitions, as well as a true pioneer in health-care reform. In 2012, the state enacted the Health Transformation Act, replacing a more traditional Medicaid program with a network of so-called community care organizations that emphasize cost containment, community health, and prevention. Earlier this year, Modern Healthcare named Kitzhaber the third most influential figure in health care, behind HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius but ahead of President Barack Obama.
Anthony G. Brown, Lieutenant Governor, State of Maryland. Active in a number of crucial policy areas, Brown has dedicated his career to bridging economic inequality and providing opportunities for all Maryland citizens. His signal achievement, the Health Enterprise Zones program that came to life in January, shows his dedication to ensuring access to quality medical care for all Maryland communities.
Jose Cisneros, Treasurer, City & County of San Francisco, California. Cisneros has focused his public career on savings - helping residents create and maintain personal bank accounts. His Bank on San Francisco program, which works with financial institutions to make it easier for "unbanked" low-income residents to begin saving, has been replicated by more than 70 cities across the country. His new Kindergarten to College initiative, the nation's first universal college savings account program, is already being eyed by other cities.
Karen B. DeSalvo, Health Commissioner, City of New Orleans, Louisiana. In the continued wake of Hurricane Katrina, Dr. DeSalvo has transformed New Orleans' health department from one of the worst in the country - focused on clinical care and responding to illness - into a national model that's focused on wellness and community health.
Gregory E. Fischer, Mayor, City of Louisville, Kentucky. Data has become a watchword for urban leaders, and Fischer has been using data to transform the way Louisville is managed. Last year the city implemented LouieStat, modeled on previously successful stat programs in other cities. Fischer also created an Office of Performance Improvement to make sure LouieStat is incorporated into all aspects of municipal government. Additionally, Fischer has focused on economic development, which has helped Louisville recover from the economic downturn and create new jobs more quickly than most other cities.
William James Howell, Speaker, House of Representatives, Commonwealth of Virginia. As the Republican leader of Virginia's solidly-GOP House, Speaker Howell has consistently put statesmanship above partisanship, working across the aisle to achieve real legislative successes for the people of his state. He nixed a Republican-slanted redistricting plan, and he worked with Democratic leaders to pass a $3.4 billion transportation bill that provides Virginia with new dedicated, sustainable revenue for transportation infrastructure for the first time since 1986.
Kathy Nesbitt, Executive Director, Department of Personnel and Administration, State of Colorado. Like most states, Colorado faces a tsunami of retirement-age workers and a difficulty in attracting new talent. (The state's 92-year-old hiring system didn't help.) Kathy Nesbitt, who began serving in 2011, pushed for a massive overhaul in the state's personnel system, working with legislators and labor representatives and criss-crossing the state to meet with more than 6,000 public employees. Her new "Talent Agenda" was passed by voters in November 2012, and it's already revolutionizing the way Colorado attracts and hires new workers.
L. Brooks Patterson, Executive, Oakland County, Michigan. By focusing on economic diversification and the creation of Automation Alley in the late 1990s, the long-serving Patterson ensured that Oakland County was well positioned to weather Michigan's prolonged economic downturn. He's also taken a long view on financial preparedness: Oakland in 2006 became the first county in the nation to implement a rolling three-year budget.
Emily Rahimi, Social Media Manager, New York City Fire Department. Most of the time, Rahimi, an eight-year veteran of the NYFD, manages the department's social media presence and Twitter feed. But when Hurricane Sandy hit last fall, Rahimi found herself suddenly thrust into a new role. Residents trapped by the storm, desperate for help, began using the FDNY Twitter feed to call for help. Rahimi coordinated those tweets and made sure rescuers responded. She worked tirelessly for days, responding to posts from hundreds of people and ensuring that help was on the way to those who needed it most.