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Doug Neville  651-201-7562
December 16, 2021
DPS Honors Employees for Their Service and Leadership to Minnesotans and Colleagues During Challenging Times
Employees Recognized in 11 Award Categories for Their Service in 2020 and 2021

​ST. PAUL — The Minnesota Department of Public Safety is recognizing employees who exemplified DPS values in serving Minnesotans, ranging from helping implement the state’s COVID-19 testing program to handling hundreds of inquiries into the State Fire Marshal Division. In an awards ceremony, DPS honored winners and honorable mention recipients in 11 DPS award categories for their work in 2020 and 2021. 

​​“The level of commitment and dedication to the public and to public service that these employees demonstrated during the last 24 months is simply astonishing but not unexpected,” said DPS Assistant Commissioner Booker Hodges. “Our state is going through hopefully once-in-a-generation trying times. The people we’re honoring know this and have stepped up in an exceptional manner. We are so proud of their efforts because they exemplify the values of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, and they have worked earnestly on behalf of all Minnesotans.”   

Award Categories and Recipients

Employee of the Year
This award is for showing a kind heart during troubling times, a willing spirit to take on new roles (or old roles in new ways) and dependability when their team and customers needed them most.  

Daniel Rinta — Minnesota State Patrol
As a sergeant and supervisor for Capitol Security and Dispatch, Sgt. Dan Rinta picked up the roles of several others to single-handedly manage day-to-day operations flawlessly and smoothly during many of the stressful events of 2020-21. Every officer knew that when he was in charge, the Capitol complex was safe, visitors and officers were safe, and all would all go home safely.  

Honorable Mentions:
  • Diane Bartell — Bureau of Criminal Apprehension
  • Jacquelyn Eiffler — Driver and Vehicle Services  

Distinguished Service Award
This award acknowledges the career of an individual devoted to public safety and public service. 

Tamara Bohmert — Fiscal and Administrative Services
As the DPS Continuity of Operations Coordinator and representative on the statewide COOP steering committee, Tamara has played a pivotal, frontline role throughout the pandemic by assisting Minnesota Department of Management and Budget and the governor’s office in planning and implementing the state’s COVID-19 testing program. Among her accomplishments, she also facilitates the DPS Incident Command Team, which was tested over the past two years by the pandemic and civil unrest. 

Honorable Mentions:
  • Bruce Erickson — Minnesota State Patrol
  • Tom Jenson — State Fire Marshal
  • Mike McManus — Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement 

Rookies of the Year Award
This award recognizes a new employee who has shown outstanding performance in their current position and has a remarkable ability to adjust to a new work environment while demonstrating outstanding enthusiasm and high energy levels. 

Erica Baraglia — Driver and Vehicle Services
With little instruction, Erica expertly guided the Prorate Unit through a time of significant change, culminating in the rollout of MNDRIVE, all while supporting her staff, reducing backlogs, and ensuring full compliance for years to come.

Kasey Cable — Homeland Security and Emergency Management
Among her accomplishments, Kasey joined the School Safety Center Team but quickly pivoted during COVID-19 to help in the State Emergency Operations Center. This included assisting the Department of Agriculture with animal depopulation and composting planning, running one of the primary staging areas for law enforcement during the civil unrest, and assisting with Line 3 planning. 

Mike Hreha — Office of Justice Programs
Mike started in the height of the pandemic and as OJP received federal grant funds to address pandemic needs in local programs. He ensured that this funding got out quickly despite the inherent challenges and that grantees were fully supported. 

Always Growing Award
This award recognizes someone with a desire to grow in new ways both professionally and personally. Nominees have grown as leaders, coworkers and individuals.

Joann Jones — Office of Justice Programs
Jo eagerly takes on new challenges and has the agility and ability to deliver on any project. Among her accomplishments, she pivoted both the annual Conference on Crime and Victimization and the Minnesota Victim Assistance Academy to online platforms during COVID-19 to ensure continuity of training to service providers across the state.

Honorable Mentions:
  • Sadie King — Driver and Vehicle Services
  • Brooke Seekins — Driver and Vehicle Services 

Team Player Award
This award recognizes an employee who is the heart and soul of their division. This person boosts morale, motivates, and supports fellow employees and epitomizes and models the spirit of teamwork.

Melanie Hundt — Driver and Vehicle Services
Melanie took on the role of MNDRIVE Phase 2 subject matter expert for Prorate. She is a true team player, a breath of fresh air, encourages others to provide their input while seeing to their needs, and reassures and inspires her coworkers to embrace change. 

Honorable Mentions:
  • Thomas Butler — Driver and Vehicle Services
  • Leslie Green — Driver and Vehicle Services
  • Jon Schweitzer — Driver and Vehicle Services 

Promoter of Equity & Inclusion Award
This award honors going above and beyond to bolster equity and inclusion across all areas of diversity, such as ethnicity, age, disability, gender, sexual orientation, race and religion. 

Becky Rabb — Office of Communications/Office of Justice Programs
As a public information officer, Becky helped the OOC develop messaging that spoke to everyone in the state. During the civil unrest following George Floyd’s murder, her guidance and community relationships helped DPS work with the Black and other diverse communities and understand appropriate and respected messaging. She also helped with messaging translation into Spanish, Hmong, and Somali.

Honorable Mention:
  • Erin Reinecke — Driver and Vehicle Services 

Keeping Us Safe Award
This award honors a unit or group within a DPS division that went the extra mile to keep Minnesotans safe in 2020 and made a direct public safety impact.

Minnesota Office of Pipeline Safety Staff
MNOPS performed outstanding pipeline safety inspections and oversight every week during construction of the Enbridge Line 3 despite temperature extremes, unusual conditions due to COVID-19, and the political environment. There was significant coordination among agencies, public communication, and overnight travel for staffers. 

Honorable Mentions:
  • Homeland Security and Emergency Management Staff in the State Emergency Operations Center
  • State Fire Marshal Fire Investigation Team 

Living By Our Values Award
This award recognizes someone who integrates DPS values — work hard, be honest and be nice — into everything they do.

Katherine Madigan — Driver and Vehicle Services
Katie successfully conquered many challenges in the Data Practices Unit, taking every request, suggestion, and notification seriously and meeting them with DPS values. She does this with a smile in her voice and positive energy in her emails.  Her consistent production has her colleagues in “awe.”

Honorable Mentions:
  • Angela Fulford — Driver and Vehicle Services
  • Tate Mills — State Fire Marshal

Mentorship Award
This award recognizes the exceptional level of support and mentorship provided by an individual to a team member. 

John Ehret — State Fire Marshal
As supervisor of the Staging Area Manager Program, John draws from his experience as a former fire chief to mentor all team members. He believes in and is eager to invest his time and energy in other people to facilitate their growth and increase their knowledge, skills, and confidence.

Honorable Mentions:
  • Ellen Sampers — Bureau of Criminal Apprehension
  • Tami Stockero — Driver and Vehicle Services 

Resiliency Award
This past year has introduced DPS to a new word: pivot. This award goes to a unit or team that has responded to sudden changes, demands, and new ways of doing things with grace and efficiency. 

Homeland Security and Emergency Management Staff in the State Emergency Operations Center
After Governor Walz declared a state of emergency on March 13, 2020, the State Emergency Operations Center was activated and ran continuous operations until July 2, 2021 – the longest operations period in its history. It encompassed COVID-19 response, civil unrest and natural disasters. Staff dropped all of their regular work to assume roles with the sole purpose of saving lives. 

Honorable Mentions:
  • Driver and Vehicle Services Exam Team Leadership
  • Minnesota State Patrol Mobile Response Team 

Customer Service Award
This award recognizes the person who best exemplifies the three Ps of customer service: professionalism, patience and a people-first attitude. This person has strong time management skills, flexibility, patience and empathy, along with clear communication skills. 

Todd Oseby — Driver and Vehicle Services
Todd goes above and beyond assisting both his coworkers and business partners. ​His monthly training meetings are a valuable asset and greatly appreciated by business partners and coworkers.

Jill Oliveira — Office of Communications
As the public information officer for the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, Jill handles stressful and uncomfortable situations with patience and professionalism. She embraces a people-first attitude in activities and in relationships with OOC colleagues, BCA staff, law enforcement agency personnel statewide and reporters. 

Lt. Gordon Shank — Minnesota State Patrol
Lt. Shank represents DPS and the State Patrol with the media and knows that getting important information out to reporters and the public in a timely, clear, and empathetic manner can save lives. His people-first attitude is contagious.

Aaron Kallunki and Jacob Beauregard — Homeland Security and Emergency Management
Jacob and Aaron were the point people to get underserved communities vaccinated against COVID-19. They managed planning, logistics, and day-to-day operations at the state fairgrounds vaccination site, making it a little easier for more than 87,000 Minnesotans.

Claire Thomas — Emergency Communication Networks
Claire accomplished process improvements since starting as the purchasing and contracts coordinator only weeks before the state went into lockdown. She prepared and distributed daily Minnesota Department of Health COVID-19 statistics to statewide public safety answering points.

Kat Vue — Office of Traffic Safety
As contract manager, Kat is consistently recognized for providing outstanding service and meeting every deadline no matter how complex the issue. Minnesota Department of Health also recognized his excellent service provision after he was redeployed there during the pandemic.

Kevin Palmquist — Fiscal and Administrative Services
During the pandemic, Kevin remained onsite at Town Square, performing duties that teleworking employees were unable to do and taking on additional work created by the mandates, including ensuring that in-person wellness screening and employee COVID-19  testing sites were operational.

Lisa Varela — Office of Justice Programs
Lisa mostly single-handedly manages all things restitution within the reparations program with an ever-cheerful, ever-kind, can-do attitude. She is regarded with affection by everyone at OJP and beyond.

Pat Donovan —Minnesota Office of Pipeline Safety
During his 25+ years with MNOPS, Pat has provided great customer service to industry stakeholders and the general public. His engaging attitude shines a positive light on a small division that serves an entire state. That attitude can bring parties that may be at odds back to the table.

Tamara Mark — Bureau of Criminal Apprehension
Tamara is a strong leader in the Criminal History Access Unit and models exceptional customer service to those submitting background checks and to members of the public.  Tamara reduced turnaround time for these checks from multiple days to two days.

Tom Jenson — State Fire Marshal
Tom effortlessly juggles hundreds of phone calls and emails from stakeholders seeking answers to Code questions and more. He provides the best customer service with such positivity that he is a role model and inspiration to everyone he meets. 

Crystal Pietrzak — Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement
Crystal took on the work of five people processing liquor and gambling licenses positively throughout the pandemic. She went above and beyond to get things done in a time where work volume never seemed to diminish. 

Jordan Groebner — Human Resources
Jordan is patient, dedicated, puts all employees first, and is always willing to go above and beyond to meet employees’ training needs. 

Honorable Mentions for Driver and Vehicle Services:
  • Nelly Martinez
  • Poonam Sodhi
  • Lisa Vang 

About the Minnesota Department Public Safety
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) comprises 11 divisions where 2,100 employees operate programs in the areas of law enforcement, crime victim assistance, traffic safety, alcohol and gambling, emergency communications, fire safety, pipeline safety, driver licensing, vehicle registration and emergency management. DPS activity is anchored by three core principles: education, enforcement and prevention. 

445 Minnesota Street, Suite 100 | Saint Paul, Minnesota 55101-5155 | dps.mn.gov