Three outstanding public sector workers have been chosen Civil Servants of the Year for 2020.
They are Director of Human Resource Management in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, Juliet Lakeman (Management); Clerk of Court at the Trelawny Parish Court, Stephen Williams (Middle Management); and Senior Secretary at St. Jago High School, Marie Hall (Technical Support).
The winners were presented at the Civil Servants of the Year awards ceremony, held at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, in New Kingston, on December 4, and organised by the Civil Service Week Steering Committee in the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service.
Each awardee received a plaque, a citation, and a cash prize of $200,000. There is also a $150,000 allocation for a joint community project, courtesy of this year’s main sponsor, First Heritage Cooperative Credit Union Limited (FHC).
Among the nine shortlisted nominees from which the winners were selected was Manager of the Jamaica Information Service (JIS) Regional Office in Montego Bay, Mrs. Tashion Hewitt-Stennett, who was nominated in the Management Category.
Ms. Lakeman, with over 32 years of service, was instrumental in restructuring the Justice Ministry, following its separation from the Ministry of National Security in 2001.
“I am grateful, honoured and truly humbled and I thank the Almighty God that I am selected, and I also thank all those who have the faith and belief in me that I can do it. I am also reminded that I serve unto the Lord and not unto self,” she told JIS News.
“When I was being interviewed I told them that even if I did not come out the winner I am already a winner, because to be nominated that is indeed an honour and I was very humbled and appreciative that my (Acting) Permanent Secretary, Dr. Grace McLean and other persons at the Ministry were deeply involved in nominating me,” she said.
For her part, Ms. Hall said she was ecstatic at her selection. “I’m feeling good to know that over the years I have touched lives and have impacted people, and communities and this has spurred me to move on further to help people and to see the quality of life for people change, so that they can have a better life,” she added.
Meanwhile, Mr. Williams, who replied on behalf of the winners, said he was equally honoured and grateful for his award, and thanked the FHC for its involvement in the noble initiative, which is designed to highlight the outstanding contribution of civil servants.
“This award to me represents members of the civil service who have toiled continuously, often devoid of any form of acknowledgement…those who work in less than ideal environments, but continue to give of their best despite the challenges,” he said.
Mr. Williams implored middle managers in the civil service to motivate those who are around them, and to also be a source of comfort to the employees and sub-ordinates.
Minster of State in the Ministry of Finance and Public Service, Hon. Marsha Smith, congratulated the nominees and winners for their exemplary work, while lauding the FHC for their partnership which has made the award ceremony possible, despite the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
She said the Government remains committed to creating and maintaining the conditions necessary to support an efficient public service.
“The transformation and improvement in the public sector is therefore integral to the fulfillment of Vision 2030 Jamaica goals, and the establishment of the Transformation Implementation Unit in the Ministry and Finance and Public Service in 2017 demonstrates this Administration’s commitment to the transformation and modernisation of our Public Sector…a public sector that is fair, values people and delivers high quality service,” the State Minister added.
Ms. Smith also lauded all civil servants for their unwavering service to the public sector.
Chairman of the Board of FHC and President of the Jamaica Civil Service Association, O’Neil Grant, praised members of the civil service for “doing service beyond the public good.”
“You who are being honoured today have performed work that is of the public good, it is invaluable, it is sacrificial, it is heroic,” he told the awardees.
Chief Executive Officer, FHC, Roxann Linton, for her part, underscored the importance of civil servants, noting that they are very often “unsung heroes” who quietly make a difference in people’s lives every day, while sacrificing dreams, goals, and even sleep and putting in the long hours to meet deadlines, all in the interest of the public.
She also congratulated all the Civil Servants of the Year nominees, describing them as game changers and change makers.
Ms. Linton said the Credit Union family remains committed to serving all civil servants with the same level of excellence they demonstrate on a daily basis.