Jackie Kelly Award 2021 winners named
Congratulations to Renae Freeman of Pantex and Julie Hope of Y-12 on National Administrative Professionals Day
When you have a question about a work process, policy, or practice, who is the first person you think to ask? If you’re like many of us, you think of your organization’s administrative professional. Their jobs are wide in scope and deep in complexity, with high pressure deadlines and incessant interruptions. And of course the pandemic added many additional challenges.
To recognize their role in keeping businesses, organizations, and agencies running smoothly, official recognition was established in 1952 as National Secretaries Day. The name changed to National Administrative Professionals Day in 2000 to recognize the increasingly technical and professional skills the occupation requires.
At Pantex and Y-12 there are almost 100 of these wonder workers, who are like the oil that keeps the engine of productivity running smoothly. One such exemplary administrative professional was Jackie Kelly, who was known at Y-12 for meeting every challenge that came her way, including cancer that eventually took her life. In 2017 the Jackie Kelly Award was established in her memory to recognize one outstanding administrative professional at each site. The winners each receive a $500 cash award and a recognition plaque.
This year, 21 nominations were received from Pantex and Y-12. A panel of five judges representing both sites chose the winners based on nominations that described how each nominee demonstrated dedication, conscientiousness, caring, can-do attitude, and capability.
Zelda Martinez of Pantex considered serving as a judge an honor, and said she mistakenly thought it would be an easy decision to make. The difficulty of the decisions made her proud, she added.
“I was very wrong. The level of dedication, resourcefulness, self-motivation, and above all, the compassion that all the nominees exhibit, not only to their job responsibilities, but to the community and ultimately the country, is second to none,” Martinez said.
Renae Freeman, Pantex, Process Engineering/Tooling & Tester Engineering
Renae Freeman is the administrative professional for Tooling and Machine Engineering, and she also volunteered to provide services for Process Engineering because that division is without one.
“Despite her already significant workload, Renae stepped up and volunteered to help out our department. Being a large department of over 100 employees, this is a huge undertaking,” one of her nominations read.
Another praised her “never say no” approach, “Renae has a fantastic attitude and a consistent willingness to help. She treats every request with the utmost level of priority and consideration.”
That Freeman isn’t drawn to the spotlight motivated one nominator to shine one on her.
“She is a quiet leader and never seeks recognition for all her great work, which has made her even more well deserving of this award.”
Julie Hope, Y-12, Production/Enriched Uranium Operations
Julie Hope’s nominators noted she is hardworking, accountable, perseverant, and has a positive attitude.
“Julie is a model for anyone seeking to witness an employee who is dedicated to performing her job with excellence.”
She performed the work of two of her peers during COVID-19 containment one nomination read, “accepting all challenges with grace and quickly excelling at all tasks. Julie is an anchor for Building 9212 and the embodiment of a superstar employee.”
“She helps everyone with a joyful attitude such that everyone enjoys working with her. She often teaches others from her existing expertise or researches issues/questions to find solutions to provide to the team.”
One of Hope’s nominations ends with a bit of humor, “We hope we have been able to convince each of you of her excellence, but if not, please don’t hold our inabilities to write against Julie, since we didn’t have her to help us with this write-up!”
Given her selection as an award winner, the persuasion worked.