Winners Announced for American U's Excellence in Federal Government Service Award

Released: 26-Oct-2010 12:00 PM EDT
Source Newsroom: American University
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Newswise — Kenneth E. Baker, principal assistant deputy administrator for the Office of Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation at the U.S. Department of Energy, and Margaret (Peggy) A. Focarino, deputy commissioner for patents for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in the Department of Commerce, have earned the 2010 Roger W. Jones Award for Executive Leadership. American University’s School of Public Affairs presented the awards at a ceremony on Monday, October 25, at the university’s Katzen Arts Center.

Robert Tobias, director of American University’s Key Executive Program, hosted the evening awards program in which Aaron Williams, director of the Peace Corps, was the keynote speaker. Williams discussed the future of international public service and the Peace Corps’ 50th anniversary.

In its 33rd year, the Roger W. Jones Award for Executive Leadership recognizes public servants in the federal government whose careers are marked by extraordinary effectiveness in organizational development and a strong commitment to training and educating managers and executives. In appreciation for his/her outstanding service, each recipient received $2,500.

“Both Baker and Focarino have demonstrated superior leadership resulting in outstanding organizational achievements and have guided the careers of future federal service employees,” said William LeoGrande, dean of American University’s School of Public Affairs. “They epitomize dedication to public service and I challenge our students to strive to emulate these two outstanding individuals as they embark on their future careers.”

After a distinguished 28-year career with the U.S. Air Force, including several key posts at the White House and the Pentagon, Baker retired in 1992 and two years later joined the U.S. Department of Energy, working in the division that would become the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). As the principal assistant deputy administrator for the NNSA’s Office of Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation, Baker plays a key role in ensuring the security and safety of the nation.

Under Baker’s leadership, the department aims to reduce, secure, or dispose of dangerous nuclear and radiological materials worldwide. In addition, he created a highly successful internship program that has attracted more than 150 top scholars from around the country to NNSA.

“Ken Baker represents the very best of public service,” said NNSA Administrator Thomas D’Agostino. “After more than 40 years, he continues to serve his country with honor and distinction. In addition to being a trusted advisor to me, Ken has worked tirelessly to keep the American people safe and secure by helping build the world’s largest nuclear nonproliferation program.”

“What counts the most in any organization is accomplishing the mission, and it only happens through people who get real things done. The trick is to hire the best people possible, give them the resources and strategic guidance they need, don’t micromanage them, give them credit when they are successful, and take care of them and their families,” said Baker. “I continue to work in this business because I value the mission and the people. I feel blessed to work with this national security team and believe we are making the world a safer place.”

Focarino began her career at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office as a patent examiner in 1977. Since then, she has been promoted to various positions, including Supervisory Patent Examiner, a role in which she received the 1993 Department of Commerce Bronze Medal. As the Deputy Commissioner for Patents, she deals with all patent-examining functions and all operational aspects of patent application initial examination, patent publications, and international Patent Cooperation Treaty applications processing.

Focarino has led numerous e-commerce initiatives, including the revamping of the electronic filing system, which saved the agency more than $12 million. Her efforts to forge new cooperative agreements and work-sharing projects with intellectual property offices abroad have increased the efficiency and effectiveness of the patent search process for inventions filed in the U.S. and overseas.

“I enjoy looking around our offices and seeing the diversity of the work force, especially all the young people who work here. We have such a bright, motivated work force—lawyers, engineers, and scientists who could be making more money in the private sector, but they are here because the mission is so important,” said Focarino. “Anything that I’ve accomplished as a manager is because the people who have worked for me have had the right skills and talent and have done the right things.”

The award is named for Roger W. Jones (1908–1993), a leader in federal government for more than four decades. Jones served as chairman of the Civil Service Commission, deputy under secretary of state for administration, and senior consultant and special assistant to the director, Bureau of the Budget. His service was distinguished by his ability to lead change based on the belief that government can mobilize human talents to accomplish goals.

David M. Walker, former comptroller general of the United States and founder, president and CEO of the Comeback America Initiative, chaired the selection committee, which includes prominent government executives, such as Charles Bowsher former comptroller general, and Frances Fragos Townsend (AU, BA ’82), former assistant to President Bush for homeland security and former chair of the Homeland Security Council.

Founded in 1934 and ranked among the top schools of its kind, American University’s School of Public Affairs offers education on the undergraduate, graduate, and executive levels in the fields of government, justice, public administration, public policy, and organizational development.

The School of Public Affairs engages faculty and graduates who are active in global policy legislation and advocacy. The school is home to research centers and institutes in the fields of political science, public administration, public policy, and justice. It is the only school of its kind with three accredited degrees—the MPA, MPP, and Executive MPA—by the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs.


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