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By Caitlin Del Collo
On December 4, 2013, Timothy’s Riverfront Grille in Wilmington, Delaware served as a sophisticated venue for the Delaware Association for Public Administration (DAPA) 2013 Awards Dinner. DAPA is Delaware’s local chapter of the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA), and has been dedicated to promoting public service through networking and leadership since 1971.
Every year DAPA members gather at the Awards Dinner to recognize individuals who are committed to public service. The DAPA Public Service Award is given to a public administratorwho has made substantial contributions to professional public management and service in Delaware. The Outstanding Student Public Service Award is given to a graduate student who best exemplifies the caliber of achievement necessary for a successful public service career. DAPA is fortunate to be able to present student awardees with a $500 check, which is used to support the students’ career development.
This year’s dinner was attended by 65 people, including ASPA and DAPA members, as well as community members who came to support the awardees.
Prior to the start of the awards ceremony, DAPA president Kathy Murphy invited ASPA Vice President Maria Aristigueta to comment on the state of local ASPA chapters. Aristigueta noted that while 27 local chapters have ceased organizing this past year, DAPA has remained active and visible, garnering praise from public administrators who attended the NECoPA conference that was hosted at the University of Delaware in early November. Aside from participating in the NECoPA conference, DAPA was involved in many events this past year including:
After Aristigueta’s remarks, DAPA Second Vice President Albert Shields presented ASPA member, Jenna Bucsak, with the 2013 Outstanding Student Public Service Award. Bucsak is a second year graduate student pursuing a master of public administration degree at the University of Delaware. She was recognized for her work in state government and education. Bucsak served as a legislative fellow with the House Majority Caucus in 2012, where she staffed the Education, Labor, and Telecommunications, Internet and Technology Committees. Bucsak has also provided research support to Governor Jack Markell’s Charter School Working Group. Bucsak looks forward to continuing her work in Delaware following her graduation in May.
The awards ceremony continued with the presentation of the 2013 Public Service Award. This year’s awardee was Lolita Lopez, President and CEO of Westside Family Healthcare. She was introduced by the honorable Senator Bethany Hall-Long, who highlighted Lopez’s achievements in growing Westside Family Healthcare from a small organization with three employees to one that employs over 200 people and serves nearly 30,000 low income residents. Sen. Hall-Long also delivered a surprise video tribute from Rep. John Carney, who was unable to attend the dinner but who wanted to congratulate and thank Lopez for her tireless work on behalf of underserved constituents.
Lopez graciously accepted the award and reflected on her career in public service. She offered wonderful words of encouragement to current and rising public servants, noting that although the path ahead is difficult, it has rich rewards. She concluded her remarks with a poem by Mary Anderson, which underscored the leadership that is needed to accomplish the great works of public service.
Overall the Awards Dinner was a smashing success. DAPA is lucky to serve a population that is so dedicated to serving the community, and will surely continue to honor those who advance the mission of promoting public service.