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2018 Annual Awards

Western Region IPMA-HR

The Western Region IPMA-HR Board proudly recognizes agencies and individuals through an annual awards program for remarkable achievements and contributions to the public-sector HR profession. The Annual Awards include the Muriel M. Morse Achievement Award, the Outstanding Chapter Award, the Agency Awards for Excellence, and the Emerging Leaders Scholarship Awards. As determined by the 2018 Western Region’s Awards Committee, this year’s annual award winners include:


The Muriel M. Morse Achievement Award is the region’s highest individual honor and is presented to a member of our organization who exemplifies the positive attributes that made Muriel M. Morse a memorable and worthy model in human resources management public service. This year’s distinguished winner is:


Director of Airports Administration

Los Angeles World Airports

Paula Adams has managed an active career in HR for over 30 years, which has been punctuated with leadership positions in a variety of settings including the Human Resources Steering Group, Airports Council International – North America, President for the Southern Calif. Pubic Management Association – Human Resources (SCPMA-HR), and other roles on the SCPMA-HR Board.  Under her leadership, SCPMA-HR was awarded the Chapter of the Year Award at the Western Region IPMA Conference in 2015. Additionally, Paula has received several other prestigious awards such as:  the 2014 – Outstanding Service Award for the Los Angeles City Employees Asian American Association; the 2012 - Trailblazer Award for the Los Angeles Association of Black Personnel, the 2010 - Outstanding Service Award for the Los Angeles Filipino Association of City Employees; the 2010 – Outstanding Service Award for the Los Angeles Municipal Accountants and Auditors Association.

Ms. Adams has role modeled the importance of continuously gaining knowledge and expertise. Currently, she is studying at Northcentral University and is earning a Human Resources/Ph.D.  

Most recently she played a key role in ensuring that classification specification in the Human Resource job series at LAWA were reflective of certifications in IPMA-HR. She also ensured that additional compensation would be provided to Human Resource professionals certified in IPMA-HR. Therefore, for these reasons and those mentioned above, it is our pleasure to recognize Paula Adams as our 2018 Muriel M. Morse Achievement Award recipient. Congratulations Paula Adams!


The Agency Awards for Excellence are designed to recognize the overall quality, accomplishments, and contributions of an agency human resources program that exceeds the normal operation of a good government human resources program. This year’s winners include:

City of Walnut Creek, California

Accepted by:  Alisa Gordon, Human Resources Analyst

Human Resources Department

Utilizing the results of their 2015 engagement survey, senior management staff, Human Resources staff, and a core “critique” team composed of 20 employees across the organization spent several months developing a comprehensive employee engagement program that the City of Walnut Creek has aptly named CARE. The name “CARE” came from the idea of providing increased care for employees through programs targeted at supporting a healthy work life balance and a connected work force.

The City’s CARE program has spanned three years now and has focused on three core areas with identified action plans for each including:

• Career Development:

      • Revised tuition reimbursement policy and amount
      • “Coaching for Excellence” program
      • Annual Employee Institute program

• Community Engagement:

  • Bi-annual City Family picnic
  • Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day
  • Creation of internal communication plan for employee outreach

• Health and Wellness:

  • “Spring into Fitness” and “Fall Into Wellness” targeted employee wellness programs
  • Alternative Work Schedule policy
  • Move room creation with employee treadmill/work stations

As a result, of these targeted initiatives the City’s overall engagement scores have seen a dramatic increase. Data trends across the three years showed a 10 percent increase in overall engagement within the first year of implementation of the CARE Employee Engagement Initiative. The percentage of disengaged employees has decreased each year since program implementation, with the largest decrease between 2015 and 2016, and a minimal decrease in 2017.

Retention statistics have also shown a decrease in overall turnover of City employees. From its initial implementation, the CARE program has shown a decrease of about 3% in turnover over the past two years, with a sharp decrease in turnover within the first year of implementation. Employee exit interview data shows that most employees separating with the City supported the CARE initiative and reported positively on impacts it had on their work experience. Way to go City of Walnut Creek!

Los Angeles County Retirement Association, California

Accepted by:  Roberta Van Nortrick

In January of 2017, LACERA was nationally recognized with the 2017 World at Work Seal of Distinction for the organization’s investment in creating a positive work environment. The overall strength of LACERA’s total rewards portfolio was evaluated along with the Programs, Policies, and Practices reflected in various areas which included the following LACERA Human Resources Programs:

Career Development Program - LACERA CDP provides employees an opportunity to change from one career path to another.  Selected candidates have the opportunity to gain experience in a new field while obtaining valuable on-the-job training.

Core Benefits Training Program - Appointees participate in LACERA’s one-year Retirement Benefits Specialist Training which consists of classroom, production, and customer service (on-the-job) training.  Upon successful completion of the Training Program, Trainees are assigned to work in the Benefits, Member Services, or Retiree Health Care Division.

Charitable Giving Program - Over the past ten (10) years, LACERA has received the County of Los Angeles Commendation for their Charitable Giving Campaign.  With a contribution of only $2.50 per pay period, LACERA employees wear blue jeans on Casual Fridays. In 2016, LACERA employees donated $14,142.73 through payroll deduction.

Wellness & Employee Benefits Program - LACERA was recognized as a family-friendly workplace when it was nominated and chosen to receive the statewide Mother-Baby Friendly Workplace Award.  As part of LACERA’s Lactation Support Program, LACERA provides a designated room that allows privacy, comfort, and sanitation for lactating mothers. 

Congratulations Team LACERA!

Santa Clara Valley Water District, California

Accepted by:  Natalie Vye, Management Analyst II
Human Resources & Office of Corporate Governance

Over the past four years, the Santa Clara Valley Water District developed and delivered the ValleyWaterWELL initiative. This program recognizes that healthy employees are happy and productive employees. With the understanding that true wellness encompasses multiple dimensions, the ValleyWaterWELL program is centered around nine areas of well-being, which include: getting active, eating healthy, contributing to the community, being productive, reducing stress, sleeping well, building relationships, learning new things, and managing finances.


The District’s efforts were both online and onsite. They offered lunch & learn seminars, cooking demos, District-wide walks, Weight Watchers at Work, daily onsite exercise classes such as Zumba, yoga, and Strength Fit, meditation, biometric screenings, and a flu shot clinic. In addition to our onsite activities, the nine areas of well-being are also featured in their online wellness platform (powered by Virgin Pulse), enabling employees to track their activities, participate in wellness challenges, and enjoy daily educational tips, all while earning up to $200/year in cash rewards.

Thanks to their wellness program, they have seen significant improvements in the overall health of their employees. Over the last two years, the program’s impact has led to reduced risk associated with chronic conditions like Asthma (a 13% reduction), Diabetes (a 20% reduction), Coronary Artery Disease (CAD, a 30% reduction), Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD, a 29% reduction), and heart failure (a 19% reduction).  With an overwhelming program participation rate of 82%, most of their employees are engaging in some form of wellness program activity, and it is helping them achieve their health and wellness goals. According to a 2016 wellness satisfaction survey, 96% of respondents said that they were either satisfied or very satisfied with their wellness program experience, and 94% stated that the program either met or surpassed their expectations.

From taking their very first steps four years ago, ValleyWaterWELL has grown to become the leading, innovative program that it is today, making a real difference in employees’ lives and an incredible example of excellence for all our Western Region IPMA-HR members.  Congratulations to the Santa Clara Valley Water District!



The Outstanding Chapter Award was developed to recognize and honor a chapter that has made and sustained innovation and diversity in chapter programs, resourcefulness and support for the community in carrying out the goals of IPMA-HR, or a chapter that has shown the most improvement or progress. The award for this year’s outstanding chapter is:

Utah IPMA-HR Chapter

Accepted by:  Paula Melgar, 2018 Utah Chapter President

City Recorder/Human Resources Manager for Cottonwood Heights

After hosting their last IPMA-HR conference in 2011, the Utah Chapter fell into a period of stagnation and inactivity. However, in 2017, the chapter refocused their efforts and committed to refreshing itself with renewed and energetic leadership.

The chapter focused its revival plan on a recognition of the disparate needs of the various sized HR teams it should serve. The Chapter identified the need for balanced and relevant training topics, affordable pricing for learning events and solid mix of State, City, County and Specialty District involvement.

All their planning came to fruition in October of 2017, when the chapter hosted its first conference in 5 years with incredible attendance and inspiring content. The Utah Chapter also presented their success story at the Western Region’s 2018 Leadership Retreat in Carlsbad, reminding all the Chapter leaders that a combination of energy, focus, and planning is what it takes to reinvent yourself.   More information about the Utah Chapter and their programs can be found by visiting their website at: https://sites.google.com/utah.gov/ipmautah

Congratulations Paula and the entire leadership team of the Utah Chapter of IPMA-HR for being our 2018 Outstanding Chapter award winner!


Established just last year, the goal of this program is to support the development of emerging HR professionals in the public sector. This year’s winners include:

Robert Cotterell

Training Program Analyst, Oregon Metro, Oregon

DeMarcus Mitchell

Recruitment Analyst, Oregon Metro, Oregon

Ashley Ryan

Human Resources Clerk, City of Show Low, Arizona

Congratulations Robert, DeMarcus, and Ashley!  We will be watching out for you three!

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