Above & Beyond Awards

2024 Above & Beyond Awards

March is National Procurement Month: Send in Nominations for 2024 Above & Beyond Awards  

The National Cooperative Procurement Partners (NCPP) recognizes stars in public procurement who have gone ABOVE & BEYOND in their procurement role. Now's the time to nominate your peers in procurement for the annual Above & Beyond award. View the criteria below and click 'Nominate' to make a submission. Check out the entire list of 2023 winners below.

Examples of ABOVE & BEYOND recognition:
  • Special success story in addressing the COVID-19 and social distancing challenges
  • Taking on additional tasks and leadership responsibilities for a special project
  • Volunteering in events or activities to serve their community
  • Serving in the military or guard to help with emergencies
  • Solving a difficult problem with an out-of-the-box solution
  • Serving in unpaid role for a procurement association
  • Sharing knowledge and volunteering for industry training sessions and conferences
  • Leadership and mentoring to create a welcoming team environment that allows individuals to grow and succeed
  •  

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2023 Above & Beyond Award Winners


Teresa Chapman

Procurement Agent 
Tucson Unified School District, AZ

Teresa Chapman is a Procurement Agent for the Tucson Unified School District. She has been instrumental on starting and continuing an internal purchasing website, department newsletter, and providing updates at departmental administrative assistant meetings. Her interest in learning more has also led her to be a member of the District’s Communicable Disease Task Force. She is a graduate of the 2022 NIGP Leaders Edge Program and has also volunteered her time with The University of Arizona as Portfolio Reviewer in the Retailing and Consumer Sciences Department.  
 
Over the past few years Teresa has served as the Secretary for the Copper Chapter of NIGP. In 2022, she was announced as the Procurement Specialist of the Year at the NIGP Forum in Boston. She has helped with maintaining the chapter website, social media, and newsletter. Her involvement with several NIGP programs, such as Chapter Academy, Leaders Edge, and the NIGP Mentorship program as a mentee have all helped in strengthening her leadership skills. She continuously seeks for new ways to enhance the Copper Chapter as well as the Procurement Department at TUSD.

Sophia Cunningham

Division Director, Policy and Training
Miami-Dade County’s Strategic Procurement Department, FL
 
Sophia Cunningham is the Division Director of Policy and Training, for Miami-Dade County’s Strategic Procurement Department. Since assuming this position, Sophia has spearheaded the development of a Procurement Training and Orientation Program where new hires and other SPD staff benefitted from more than 80 procurement-related training contact hours through various sessions. Under her leadership, the department launched the newly formed Procurement and Vendor Academies, where her team develops and delivers procurement and soft-skills training to County departments and conducts vendor trainings and community outreach sessions. 

Sophia believes in lifelong learning and was selected to participate in the NIGP Leaders Edge Program, and also selected as one of three UPPCC Study Group Facilitators for the October 2022 CPPB/CPPO exams. She volunteered for eight weeks, facilitating sessions on the six domains of the exams and the competency statements in the CPPB/CPPO Body of Knowledge & Competency (Bok-C). Sophia performs voluntary work as Chairperson for Professional Development with the NIGP Greater Miami Chapter, where she coordinates and facilitates monthly procurement workshops for Chapter members across Miami-Dade County. She has taken it upon herself, on her own time, to prepare department staff for the UPPCC’s CPPB and CPPO examinations since 2018. She also participates as a mentor in the NIGP Mentorship Program.

Nathan Daou

Procurement Administrator 
City of Tucson, AZ

Nathan is a procurement hero who goes above and beyond for his team and the City of Tucson, Arizona. In 2020, Nathan became the Procurement Administrator. The City of Tucson has been an award winner of the AEP award since its inception and Nathan ensures that achieving this accomplishment has continued under his leadership. Nathan supports his staff in pursuing and obtaining necessary training, certification and professional participation in the Procurement profession. Nathan is a board member for National Purchasing Institute (NPI),and most of his staff are very involved in Copper Chapter of NIGP (our local NIGP chapter). Nathan is an amazing person and leader. He consistently goes above and beyond to ensure the City of Tucson continues to follow procurement best practices and is nationally recognized as a leader in the procurement profession.

Stéphanie Dion

Director of the Procurement Centre of Excellence 
Government of Manitoba, Canada

Stéphanie Dion, NIGP-CPP, CPPB, is a team oriented individual and collaborates extremely successfully with colleagues throughout Canada and the United States in promoting Procurement as a profession. Stephanie has been advocating for collaboration in Procurement since 2012 in both countries. She has contributed her procurement expertise to create best practices for Group Purchasing in collaboration with various organizations to support public sector entities. She implemented the use of Collaborative procurement in three different entities at the municipal and provincial level, and has helped develop materials such as Best Practices Guidelines for other public entities to use as a resource. For her efforts, she won the 2021 NIGP Buyer of the year. 

Stéphanie has, and continues to be, an outspoken advocate for Procurement Global Best Practices with colleagues, entity staff, senior management and governing bodies and has volunteered for national and regional conferences in both the US and Canada to share insights and help mentor new procurement leaders. She is instrumental in transforming procurement operations from transactional to strategic, always keeping public sector goals, and economic, environmental and social returns on investment top of mind.

Chris Gerik

Business Intelligence and Support Services Manager 
Texas Tech University, TX

I recommend Chris Gerik for the Above & Beyond Award. Chris has been with our department for 4 years and progressed into various new roles and responsibilities throughout his tenure. His dedication to process improvement and innovation is second to none. Chris has helped revamp and create many process efficiencies affecting our department and Texas Tech University as a whole. He approaches every day as an opportunity and is always willing to provide assistance or offer support.  
 
One of Chris' most notable projects is a new onboarding system for our Vendor Services department. He began overseeing the Vendor Services team about 2 years ago and noticed there was a significant need for improvement due to the ever-growing demand on a two-person team. He worked with his team and the Information Systems team on campus to develop a dynamic form system for capturing vendor information. This system provides a secure database for vendors to input their information and automates the data input process requirements for our various procurement systems. This process improvement gave us an auditable process that provides stability and greater protection from potential fraud and data errors.  It also cut down manpower hours by 75-80% per transaction.
 
Chris is also an active member of the Lubbock's Meals on Wheels program.  He volunteers his personal time to deliver meals to people in need. He also helps with the youth group at his church.

Erin Hamilton

Procurement Manager
Washington Health Benefit Exchange, WA

Erin is the Procurement Manager for Washington Health Benefit Exchange (WAHBE), joining in February 2016, as the only Contracts and Procurement professional within the organization. During the first two years, WAHBE was considered a start-up organization and Erin had to establish all the protocols and procedures to set up a procurement organization. These activities included: 

  • Completed multiple procurements, contracts, amendments, and work orders; 
  • Developed and implemented contract and acquisition policies and procedures; 
  • Developed and implemented necessary changes to financial and contracting policies required by state or federal changes; 
  • Created and/or updated standard boilerplates; 
  • Created a contract acquisition timeline; 
  • Audited WAHBE’s executed contracts to ensure they were current, and terms and conditions were in accordance with applicable law; and audited WAHBE’s system of record to ensure it was current. 

In 2022, Erin led WAHBE’s Contracts and Procurement department to qualify and apply for the Quality Public Procurement Departments (QPPD) accreditation. In addition to Erin’s Procurement Manager duties, she also volunteers for: WAHBE Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee Member; Member of the Shoreline Community College Advisory Board for the Purchasing and Supply Chain Management program; and Washington State Chapter of NIGP Board Members and Membership Engagement Committee Chair; and the following Committees: 20th Chapter Anniversary Planning, Community Involvement, Emerging Professionals, and Special Events. 


Theresa Jensen

Procurement Supervisor 
Washington State Patrol, WA 

Theresa began at the Washington State Patrol (WSP) in 2007. As a professional purchasing supervisor with almost 15 years of experience in the procurement field working her way up the ranks at the WSP, Theresa continues to be a humble, dedicated, reliable, and a persistent asset to the WSP. She has taken on additional duties and her responsibilities are more inline as an Assistant Manager of the Supply Section. Despite a recent software upgrade of the purchasing system (which has not been a smooth transition), high-volume, complexity of assignments, and backlog that her unit is experiencing, Theresa consistently finds ways to help her staff, co-workers and other sections of the WSP. Her willingness to improve processes, work unit team development, create team back-ups, and her commitment to educating WSP employees is unequaled. She researches to find solutions and address issues and challenges encountered. 

In our current environment we often hear how about supply chain issues and the customer’s needs are Rush, Really Rush, and Really, Really Rush.  A current project that has had its share of challenges is the Vehicle Wrap RFP for the Commercial Vehicle Bureau (CVEB). Theresa works in Supply and they normally order commodities, however she was tasked with conducting an RFP for a service (Services are completed by another Division at the WSP), to wrap CVEB vehicles. This was an important RFP to the Chief of the WSP and the Captains of CVEB. She saw this through until the service contract was fully executed.  

Angelos Kastrisianakis

Principal Contract Administrator
Southern California Regional Rail Authority (Metrolink), CA

Angelos went above and beyond to effectively support his department when it was going through a very high staff turnover with almost 80% of the 12-count staff as new additions. During this effort, he:
  • Took it upon himself to train every new hire, including new management, in systems and processes.
  • Made himself available to staff and leadership, to ensure that there was support and continuity until everyone came up to speed.
  • Led and participated in the development of Standard Operating Procedures to document processes.
  • Created documentation and forms to assist with standardization.
  • Made sure to always greet people with a smile despite the hardship and the long hours worked,
  • Made training easier by adding some humor to make it fun for new staff to adapt and feel welcome.

Overall, Angelos went over and above his regular duties to make the department successful. He is the "go-to person" to which all the departments in the Agency depend on for assistance and accurate information.

Marsha Marani

Contracts Manager 
County of Santa Cruz, CA

I would like to nominate County of Santa Cruz’s Contracts Manager, Marsha Marani for the Above & Beyond award. Marsha has worked hard through the implementation of a new finance system and was part of the decision-making team to streamline our contracts workflow process, which was unreasonably clunky before. She efficiently reviews hundreds of contracts for accuracy and detail. She was the lead procurement staff member for our massive JOC solicitations and has been an important voice in the process of implementing new programs. She has also overseen our Fleet division as part of her duties, working on an efficiency program tracking use of County vehicles as the County works to modernize and green our fleet. She went above and beyond during the Atmospheric River emergency event, managing the food delivery schedules to community members in need and keeping the EOC stocked with whatever materials they needed to succeed in their support of the emergency response effort. She also took on helping to keep the shelters stocked with required resources for shelter residents. 

Sherry Merrifield

Administrative Services Analyst
City of Mission Viejo, CA

The City of Mission Viejo is located in southern Orange County California with a population of 92,515 and an annual general fund operating budget of $66.6 million. Procurement is decentralized with oversight provided by the Administrative Services Department and more specifically by Sherry Merrifield. Sherry reviews all contracts before issuance, and vets all vendors to ensure Federal, State, and Local compliance including proper registration of DBA names, up to date filing with the Secretary of State, and Department of Industrial Relations registration where required. Sherry processes all purchase orders and verifies they meet the requirements of the contracts and have all proper approvals. 
  
Over the past year some departments have experienced staffing changes and vacancies leaving them with little time to properly train new staff on purchasing policy and procedures. Sherry has gone above and beyond to help those departments by taking on their procurement responsibilities while they recruit, and then training new staff as they join the team. Sherry provides leadership and mentoring for new staff to help them grow and succeed. After 21 years, with the last 5 in her current position, Sherry continues to be a dedicated public servant giving the best of herself not only to those in her department but to all employees in the City including the City Manager and elected and appointed officials. Sherry embraces the responsibilities of her job and supports anyone who needs support. Sherry is friendly, selfless, caring, hardworking, and reliable. Sherry has received multiple City Manager Recognition Awards, Employee of the Month, and has been nominated as Employee of the Year. Sherry is respected by all and staff gravitate to her for assistance. 

Dana Noffke

Procurement Manager
Ramsey County, MN

I am nominating Dana Noffke, Procurement Manager for Ramsey County in Minnesota, for her Above & Beyond performance. Specifically, she has taken on additional tasks and leadership responsibilities for a special project at the county called “Procurement Modernization.” The purpose of Procurement Modernization is to transform cradle-to-grave Procurement processes to be more user-friendly, efficient, and equitable. As a team participant, Dana has suggested and implemented changes by thoughtfully considering the voices of the county customers and community and Ramsey County employees. 

A few of the changes that Dana has recommended and propelled into current practice are: 
  • eliminating the requirement for professional and client services agreements to be approved by the county board 
  • no longer requiring that we publish the release of a request for proposals (RFPs) in a local newspaper or hold public openings 
  • decreasing insurance requirements, making them more affordable for small businesses 
  • informing a communications plan to increase the ways in which solicitation notifications are provided to the local community 

The Procurement Modernization project has required hundreds of hours of Dana’s time as well as the need to be open to transformation change that challenges traditional public procurement best practices. She manages the balance between adhering to procurement law and creating a more equitable and transparent process for the residents of Ramsey County. Dana accomplishes all of that while still maintaining a welcoming team environment that allows her staff to grow and succeed. I don’t know how she does it all. 

Melissa Rios

Procurement Manager
Detroit Land Bank Authority, MI

Melissa was previously only charged with HHF funded demolition procurement for one department. She is now leading all aspects of procurement for the Detroit Land Bank Authority, and single-handedly releasing, awarding, and contracting more than double the amount of procurement that had previously been done for the Authority. She has created flow charts and processes for procurement and handles all vendor and contract management. She joined MPPOA and NIGP to have the network she needs to help develop stronger skills and has a wonderful mentorship agreement with a very seasoned procurement professional. 
 
Something that is relatively new for the Detroit Land Bank Authority is releasing trade packages. In the past we were sourcing for General Contractors (GC) to rehabilitate an entire home. Since the pandemic, contracting for GC’s became difficult. As a solution we are now offering trade packages, such as plumbing, doors/windows, electrical, etc. to be able to offer work to smaller businesses while still accomplishing the goal of rehabbing the home. For procurement this means releasing up to 17 RFPs at the same time, up to twice a week, for each home and then evaluating, awarding and contracting them all in addition to the other procurement needs that arise. 

Michael Simkhin

Procurement Manager
Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, IL

Mike Simkhin started in public procurement with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago in 2006 as a Buyer; promoted to Senior Buyer in 2010 and became Procurement Manager in 2016. Mike is business savvy, having an ability to delineate big picture plans to projects and tasks, to complete Departmental and Agency goals. As Covid shut down the office setting, Mike was an invaluable driving force in moving the Department efficiently to remote work, and the phase to a paperless workplace and e-Procurement practices. As the sole Procurement Manager for MWRD-GC, with its $1.4-billion budget, serving 12.72 million people in Chicago and 128 Suburban communities, Mike empowers his staff to continue training and development, especially industry certifications and best practices. 

Outside of the work setting, Mike takes an interest in the well-being of staff and understands the importance of work-live balance in having motivated employees and morale. Since 2009, Mike has supported a local children’s hospital by being the point-person for their charity toy drive. Over the years, Mike’s efforts have provided thousands of toys to countless kids and their families going through the most difficult health circumstances.

Brooke Smith

City Recorder
Murray City, UT

Brooke Smith is a powerhouse in the Utah procurement community. She is currently serves as Past President of the Utah Chapter of NIGP, with great accomplishments during her presidential year in 2022. Brooke is a talented leader that encourages education, certification, and professional development opportunities within her department and our local NIGP chapter and serves on the NIGP Finance Committee.
 
  • Highest earnings yet for the chapter for our Reverse Trade Show in May 2022. Brooke had a recommendation to do a Silent Auction and organized donations, bringing in a significant amount of money towards scholarships and paid professional development opportunities for the chapter. 
  • Spearheaded the first annual NIGP Area 9 Conference in September 2022, bringing together chapters across Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah for a 2-day professional development event. 
  • Initiated other fundraisers for the chapter as well as our local Utah Food Bank. 
  • The Utah Chapter of NIGP attained the Platinum Chapter Performance Seal in 2022 under her leadership. 
  • As a supervisor for her agency, Brooke is responsible for conducting the RFP to build a new City Hall, a major project which will be completed this year. 

Marianne Waterman

Senior Buyer
Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District, CA

In addition to performing her job at an exemplary level, Marianne demonstrates an extraordinary commitment to the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District, providing an exceptional level of professionalism and service to both our internal and external customers. One project that epitomizes Marianne’s exceptional service was for our ferry vessels fuel tanks cleaning and testing. When notified of a series of clogged filters and a potential fuel specification issue, Marianne contacted the fuel supplier. After significant research, it was determined many variables played into the fuel not testing to specification. Fuel polishing, tank cleaning and testing needed to be done to ensure that our vessels were fueled with clean diesel. There were several departments and vendors involved in this project and Marianne quickly stepped up and took on getting testing and results to all parties involved, tracking daily testing results, working with the fuel distributor and the refinery to ensure we receive fuel to specifications, in addition to sending out bids for polishing fuel and cleaning the fuel tanks. This took an exceptional level of organization, required a significant amount of patience and excellent negotiation and communications skills. At one point Marianne went on site to ensure the testing was done according to established procedures. 

Marianne has taken on the lead to assist in providing documentation required to substantiate all costs associated with COVID related spend for possible FEMA reimbursement. The process consists of ensuring staff submittals were uploaded for the consultant, and all purchase orders, invoices and resource forms were provided for each COVID related purchase for the fiscal year. Most recently, Marianne inherited the Contract Administrator role for the implementation of the District’s new ERP system. She had to learn the beginning stages of the project, familiarize herself with the documentation and analyze the data provided over a short period of time. Marianne immediately took on a leadership role and established herself as a critical team member for the project.