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

Brittney Baker

Town of Queen Creek, AZ

We are pleased to nominate Brittney Baker for the Above & Beyond Award in recognition of her outstanding contributions to our organization. In October of 2022, Brittney joined the Procurement Division as a Procurement Specialist. In this new role, Brittney was to review, revise and create a comprehensive update of our P-card policy ensuring that it aligns with current industry standards, state statutes, and in line with the procurement policy update and best practices. Brittney researched and developed metrics of the departments spend, card thresholds and spend by vendor and commodity and engaged staff, supervisors, and directors through department meetings to present their metrics and provide best practices.  She took the initiative to collaborate with Human Resources to ensure that the P-card policy was in line with the HR Policy and recommended changes to the HR Policy. Utilizing the materials she developed, Brittney will conduct training classes for all P-card holders in preparation for a July 1st implementation.

Brittney had the arduous task of taking over a $4 million purchasing project that was lacking centralized direction and was already months in the works. Brittney did not falter in her role to establish a framework that would identify all purchasing methods, cooperative contracts, and spending authority limits for $4 million worth of items needed to open the Town’s new Recreation and Aquatics Center. Brittney goes above and beyond to make sure that all action items, whether from the Department or from the Town Council, are handled punctually while also keeping all participants apprised of new developments or the end result. It has been a privilege working alongside Brittney, she is a brilliant and dedicated young professional, I cannot wait to see where her work ethic takes her!

Tamar Black

Richland County, SC

Ms. Black is brand new to the Procurement world and is taking it by storm! Originally from Richland County’s Clerk to Council’s office, she was promoted to Assistant Director to join Procurement. She had not previously worked in Procurement, but her experience with the Clerk’s office and citizens along with her organizational skills, attention to detail and enthusiasm for learning new things made her an ideal addition to the team. Ms. Black is like a sponge, soaking up every minute of training she can and taking every opportunity to immerse herself in the Procurement process. She has learned what it typically takes other years to learn in one year.

In addition to getting up to speed on Procurement, Ms. Black has also championed the Procurement implementation of the County’s new financial software. She has been part of the initial setup and has worked tirelessly testing the software and ensuring that we have as seamless of a change as possible when it goes live. Ms. Black attends vendor outreach functions where she engages with suppliers to assist with registration and how to do business with the County. She is participating in diversity training and leadership and development training. In her short time here and with Procurement, Ms. Black has established her value to the profession, to the Procurement Department, and all our stakeholders. I look forward to seeing the many great things she will do in the future!

Jennifer Frates

Barnstable County, MA

Jennifer Frates has served as the Chief Procurement Officer for Barnstable County since August 2019, masterfully steering the Purchasing Division as a solo operation. Her stewardship encompasses the procurement needs of regional governmental departments and spearheads collective purchasing for the 15 towns within Cape Cod. Jennifer's tenure, marked by the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic, has seen a transformative shift in the division towards a more proactive and strategic orientation, thanks to her leadership and innovative initiatives. Highlights of her contributions include:

  • The creation and revision of critical documentation and forms, establishing a foundation for standardization across procurement activities.
  • The development and delivery of a series of comprehensive training sessions. These are designed both for onboarding new hires and as refresher courses for existing staff, covering essential topics like policies, bidding, contract management, and the use of procurement cards (p-cards).
  • The compilation of a Procurement Manual, a crucial resource consolidating state procurement laws, county policies and procedures, and necessary forms, facilitating easy access to vital information.
  • The transition from a traditional paper-based system to an advanced e-bidding platform, alongside the implementation of technology in contract administration and the streamlining of processes, such as the introduction of a fully digital bid intake request form.
  • Leadership as the President of the Cape Cod Association of Public Procurement Officials, where she emphasizes peer networking within Cape Cod towns and provides valuable procurement-related education and presentations.
  • An increase in the number of collective purchasing opportunities available to towns, enhancing resource sharing and efficiency. A commitment to assisting towns lacking dedicated procurement staff, offering expert guidance through the complexities of state procurement laws and regulations. Jennifer's relentless pursuit of transitioning the county from a transactional to a strategic procurement model leverages data-driven decision-making to enhance efficiencies, savings, and value-added services.

Christopher Grant-Henriques

Miami-Dade County, FL

Christopher Grant-Henriques is an invaluable member of Miami-Dade County, Strategic Procurement Department which handles over 180 operational goods and services contracts for multiple County departments and offices valued at approximately $540 million. In addition to his duties as Procurement Contracting Manager, Christopher also:
  • Partners with the Department’s Policy, Training and Compliance team to conduct training sessions for the County’s procurement professionals and vendor community. Since February 2023, Christopher has led 15 workshops with more than 750 participants.
  • Assists with events such as career fairs at local universities to promote procurement as a profession and vendor outreach activities to inform vendors of the County’s procurement processes, programs and contracting opportunities.
  • Trains, mentors and coaches the Department’s contracting associates and clerical staff who are interested in promotional opportunities.
  • Serves as a facilitator under the Universal Public Procurement Certification Council’s Study Group Program, assisting procurement professionals in the US and Canada to obtain the Certified Professional Public Buyer (CPPB) designation. Chris is one of four study group facilitators for the Spring 2024 exam. He also volunteered during the 2023 Spring and Fall exams. Additionally, he prepares staff countywide for the CPPB exams.
 Christopher is a shining procurement star and is committed to delivering excellent procurement service and has gone above and beyond to promote procurement as a strategic profession, contribute to the development and growth of procurement professionals and keep the vendor community informed of the County’s procurement system.

Katrina House

City of Tampa, FL

Katrina House is a picture of Public Procurement Profession rising star. She sets goals for her professional development, and she reaches them on or before the timetable that she sets for herself. In just three years Katrina achieved the NIGP-PPA designation, her CPPB certification, and her NIGP-CPP certification. In that same timeframe she has taken on a Communications Chair role with FAPPO, has been selected to the NIGP Pipeline committee and has served in various roles in the local Tampa Bay Area Chapter of NIGP, including Professional Development Chair.
Her latest endeavors are starting an NIGP-CPP study group, and she has volunteered to be a NIGP Mentor in the mentorship program and has her first mentee going through the program with her. Katrina is a model of the consummate Public Procurement Official, that I often point to when mentoring others in the profession and she has proven to become a resource to them every single time. I can't say enough about her willingness to go above and beyond to pay it forward in the Public Procurement Profession.

JoAnn Lovato Montaño

City of Santa Fe, NM

JoAnn Lovato Montaño epitomizes going above and beyond in her role as Contract Supervisor for the City of Santa Fe. While her title is focused on contracts, JoAnn also handles a tremendous volume of procurements with exceptional skill and dedication. She spends countless hours meticulously preparing solicitations, providing invaluable guidance to stakeholders across all city departments. Her deep knowledge of government, financial, and procurement regulations is a tremendous asset. What sets JoAnn apart is her incredible work ethic and commitment to excellence. She single-handedly processes most of the city's procurements and contracts, working tirelessly to ensure full compliance and clarity for all involved. JoAnn's project management skills are exemplary - she adeptly tracks assignments, keeps teams on task, and drives initiatives to successful completion. JoAnn embraces innovation and continuously modernizes processes. During the city's implementation of a new eProcurement system, she was instrumental in its success through comprehensive testing, training, and insightful feedback. Her willingness to learn new skills and apply best practices elevates procurement operations.
Beyond her technical proficiency, JoAnn cultivates an environment of learning and mentorship. She takes the time to thoroughly train each colleague, patiently explaining complex concepts from a non-judgmental perspective. JoAnn's approachable nature creates a welcoming atmosphere where employees know they can bring questions and receive her unwavering support. The City of Santa Fe faces immense procurement demands - supporting almost 3 million annual visitors, a $400 million budget, countless initiatives, and 1,400 employees. Remarkably, there are only 3 purchasing staff members, yet JoAnn consistently goes above and beyond, taking on excessive workloads with a positive, can-do attitude for both procurement and contracting. Her contributions are vital to the city's ability to operate effectively. JoAnn is a consummate professional who elevates Purchasing functions through her expertise, leadership, strong ethics, and overriding commitment to service. Her passion for excellence and willingness to take on any challenge makes her truly above and beyond in her role.

Dr. Lydia Osborne

Miami-Dade County, FL

Dr. Lydia Osborne has been involved in public procurement for over 25 years and currently serves as an Assistant Director with the Strategic Procurement Department for Miami-Dade County, the most populous county in Florida. Dr. Osborne is passionate about improving the capability of the County’s procurement professionals and demonstrating commitment to procurement excellence. She has been integral in the establishment of initiatives such as the Procurement Summer Academy and New Hires Onboarding programs to focus on growth and development opportunities for staff. These training programs have resulted in increased staff confidence in executing procurement functions and assisted with talent development, and succession planning. Despite leading a team of 45 employees managing more than 1,000 contracts, valued over $11 billion, Dr. Osborne works one-on-one with new employees on Request for Proposal projects. This approach promotes better manager-employee relationships, makes employees feel valued, enhances communication and teamwork, and helps to orient new employees to the organization, department, and the work culture.
Dr. Osborne is also concerned about the well-being of staff and advocates for recreational/engagement activities to improve physical and mental health, boost productivity and morale, and foster a positive work culture and a sense of community. The celebration of birthdays, holiday events and team building activities are now embedded in SPD’s culture. Dr. Osborne’s door is always open to listen, support and collaborate with SPD staff and procurement professionals countywide. Even the most introverted or reserved employees feel comfortable to approach her with their concerns and suggestions.
Daily, Dr. Osborne epitomizes people-leadership characteristics – she maintains a team-first mentality, sets standards of excellence, offers resources and guidance for achievement, follows through on commitments, provides timely feedback, and highlights and rewards achievements. 

As a procurement leader, Dr. Osborne has gone above and beyond to create an environment that promotes professional development, employees’ wellbeing, and a sense of community. Her hard work, forward thinking, professionalism, and resilience have contributed to the overall development of her employees. She is truly, the employees - procurement leader.

Lisa Russell

Chesterfield County, VA

Lisa Russell is currently serving as the 2024 Virginia Association of Governmental Procurement (VAGP) President. Her leadership of this organization ensures the continued elevation of the procurement profession and provides support to public procurement professionals in Virginia. This role is 100% volunteer and she has dedicated countless hours to the tasks of supporting and leading this organization. In addition to this role, Lisa is actively engaged in her own professional development focused on management/leadership by completing a rigorous emerging senior leaders' program in the County. This is a program that required a recommendation from County Leadership, application, and selection to be chosen for this year long program. She invested time in this program on top of day-to-day responsibilities to ensure successful completion. She is now among a select group of employees to complete this program. Her leadership skills are invaluable to not only the staff within the Procurement Department but also the departments we serve. 

As the Assistant Director, she has a wealth of knowledge and provides guidance to the buyers within our organization. She invests time in helping staff at all levels to understand the procurement process and progress in their knowledge, skills, and abilities. It is my pleasure to recommend Lisa for this recognition as she truly goes above and beyond!

Sabrina Samuels

Rockland County, NY and SAMPO

Sabrina serves with distinction as the Vice President of SAMPO and holds the vital role of Chair of the Professional Development (Pro-D) Committee. In these capacities, she consistently demonstrates initiative, leadership, and an unwavering commitment to excellence. Despite her already demanding schedule, which includes full-time work in Rockland County's purchasing department, active involvement in SAMPO, and the responsibilities of being a wife and mother of two young children, Sabrina somehow manages to go above and beyond in everything she undertakes.

Her leadership within SAMPO is exemplary. Sabrina takes charge and spearheads initiatives, ensuring that tasks are completed efficiently and effectively. Sabrina plays a pivotal role in organizing SAMPO's conferences, meticulously selecting keynote speakers and designing class offerings that deeply resonate with attendees. Her dedication to the success of these events is evident in their quality and impact. She readily offers her expertise and guidance to fellow purchasing professionals, not only within New York but across the US. As co-chair of the SAMPO Emerging Professionals Program, she plays a pivotal role in shaping the future of our industry. She has helped build a program that nurtures the growth and development of new procurement professionals, creating opportunities for them to expand their skills, build relationships, and advance their careers. Sabrina's commitment to fostering the next generation of leaders within our field is truly commendable.

Lenora Sevillian

Nova Southeastern University, FL

Lenora Sevillian's commitment extends far beyond her professional role as Director of Procurement. Serving as At Large Director for the NAEP Board and actively engaging in advisory boards for Consero, Canon Solutions, and Nova Southeastern University Shark Pantry demonstrate her leadership and dedication to various sectors. Notably, her volunteer work with the UN Higher Education Sustainability Committee and the Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) showcases her global perspective and commitment to social responsibility by helping to craft and shape procurement policies, procedures, and guidelines internationally. Lenora actively shares her expertise through research white papers, articles, speaking engagements, and as a Professor of UNIV at Nova Southeastern University, helping freshmen acclimate to college life. Her white papers on corruption and fraud in public sector procurement offer valuable insights into the field, while her articles and presentations on sustainability and AI in higher education highlight her thought leadership. This dedication to knowledge sharing benefits the entire procurement and education communities.

Mentorship and Building Leaders: Lenora's commitment to fostering future leaders is evident through her involvement with the National Society of Leadership and Success, Honor Society, and Ivy Exec's mentorship program. These roles showcase her passion for empowering others and creating a welcoming environment for professional and personal growth.

Eveline Vanda

City of Scottsdale, AZ

In April of 2023 the Purchasing Director announced his retirement. Eveline had been with the City of Scottsdale for about 7 months. The Accounting Director was assigned as the Interim Purchasing Director while the recruitment for the new Purchasing Director took place. Eveline was approached by the Accounting Director on assisting and being a lead to help keep the department moving forward as the accounting director didn’t have the procurement knowledge needed to really assist in the day to day. Eveline, only being in her role for a short time, took on that challenge and continued to help roll out a new e-procurement system, train 2 new employees that started after her, and kept the department moving. Since the new Purchasing Director has started, she has helped guide the new director in the “Scottsdale ways.”

Eveline helped continue leading the team with new changes. She has been working overtime to update template documents, manuals, and training guides. In addition, she is helping roll out Customer training that the agency hasn’t had in over 5 years. Eveline keeps a positive attitude and believes that there is value in helping each team member build confidence in their skillset and communications with customers. Eveline goes above and beyond to encourage staff, and continually brings positivity to the work environment.

Sai Xoomsai Purcell

City of Austin, TX

Sai is the Procurement Manager over a very difficult area - Citywide IT for the City of Austin. The City of Austin is the 10th largest municipality, so her team is extremely busy. As anyone who has ever worked in IT procurement knows, you have to work extremely quickly while making sure all of your bases are covered to protect your entity from risk. There are additional IT terms and conditions that have to be negotiated, SLAs, license agreements, extra insurance requirements, and the list goes on and on. Sai brought on a temporary employee to help develop procurement skills in hopes of landing a permanent position. This person had extremely minimal experience and wasn't able to land a permanent position. Sai saw the potential and decided to bring them on and invest in them. Through a mentoring and training program Sai established, this employee was able to develop the skills required to be a successful Procurement Specialist. Another team recognized their talent and they have now landed a permanent position and are an asset to our organization. Upon accepting the permanent position, this person stated that this was their favorite place ever to work, and kudos to Sai for creating such a sweet team dynamic. 

I want to recognize Sai for going above and beyond in recognizing people for their untapped potential and pouring all the time and dedication into training and mentoring them. For another team to recognize this as well and hire this employee speaks to her employee development and dedication to building the next generation of Procurement professionals.

City of Savannah Procurement Department - Georgia

The City of Savannah Purchasing Team has gone above and beyond to assist the City's new leadership and support transparent procurement processes by offering a Purchasing 101 online course and training, as well as offering specialized Procurement & Purchasing support for each Service Center to expedite efficiency and effectiveness.

In mid-2020 during the pandemic, at the mayor’s request, the Purchasing Department started the Savannah First Initiative. Savannah First is an expansion of local preference programs and enhancements which prioritize doing business with verified local firms. Savannah First also included reinstatement of the city’s minority and women-owned businesses certification program to further reinforce doing business with local firms. This was started to help local small business, by ensuring that the City spent as much money local as possible.

The Purchasing Department was able to increase the City’s local spending from 11% in 2019 to almost 50%.
  • In 2019 before we started Savannah First 11% of the money that was awarded by Council was awarded to Local vendors. ($108.7M total 11% equals $11.53M)
  • In 2020 with 6 months into the program we increased our local spend by 13.5% to 24.5%. ($191M total, 24.5% equals $46.8M)
  • In 2021 being in the program for the full year we achieved 49.8%. ($45.7M total 49.8% equals $22.7M)
  1. Training New Hires in the Procurement process and helping to revamp the Purchasing 101 available in SOLA
  2. Volunteering for Admins Professional Day (2nd year)
  3. Volunteering to help coordinate the Reverse Trade Show after the Mayor’s Small Business Event for Purchasing (2nd year)
  4. Volunteering to teach a class for Procurement Month to the City employees on Sole Sources
  5. Volunteering to help coordinate the Savannah Business Breakfast being held by Purchasing
  6. Volunteer as a secretary for the second year for the NIGP-Coastal Georgia Chapter
  7. Graduated from the City Managers Emerging Leaders Academy in 2023

Nova Southeastern University's Office of Procurement Services - Florida

The entire Office of Procurement Services (OPS) at Nova Southeastern University was a true champion of diversity and sustainability for the university. Benchmarking against national standards, United Nations HESI and AAHSE / STARS rating, worked to establish policies, procedures, and guidelines for the entire university. Developing a focused business review playbook to ensure standardization of all data across the commodities with all suppliers. This allows for full capture of all categories of sustainable and diversity spend down to the subcontractor level.

Developing a cadence of quarterly business reviews, tracking key performance indicators (KPIs), and combining all goals under one umbrella which folds into our Quality Improvement Plan (QIP) for the university accreditation process and overall core values. The procurement department leads the charge with this initiative, laying the groundwork for year-over-year success, by establishing the guidelines, benchmarks, and goals.

Nova Southeastern University's Office of Procurement Services (OPS) faced the following problem related to diversity in procurement:
  • Low vendor participation in sourcing events: OPS was struggling to attract a diverse range of vendors to participate in its sourcing events. This was due to many factors, including a lack of awareness of OPS's commitment to diversity and inclusion, and a lack of resources for small businesses to participate in sourcing events.
  • Awareness of vendors: OPS was also struggling to identify and connect with diverse vendors. This was due to a lack of visibility of diverse vendors in the marketplace, and a lack of connections to diverse vendor organizations.

OPS addressed these problems by implementing several initiatives, including:
  • Partnering with diverse vendor organizations: OPS partnered with diverse vendor organizations to raise awareness of its commitment to diversity and inclusion, and to make it easier for diverse vendors to participate in its sourcing events.
  • Creating a dedicated diversity and inclusion team: OPS created a dedicated diversity and inclusion team to develop and implement new strategies for increasing the participation of diverse vendors in its sourcing events.
  • Developing a diversity and inclusion training program: OPS developed a diversity and inclusion training program for its procurement staff to help them understand the importance of diversity and inclusion in procurement and to give them the tools they need to support diverse vendors.

OPS's initiatives have resulted in a significant increase in the participation of diverse vendors in its sourcing events. In 2023, over 20% of the vendors that participated in OPS's sourcing events were WVMBs. This represents a 50% increase from the previous year.

OPS's initiatives have also had a positive impact on the local community, with a 28% increase of WVMBs contracts from the previous year.

Orange County Procurement Team - California

Within the County of Orange, California, a dedicated cohort of 285 sworn-in Deputized Purchasing Agents (DPAs) operates under the guidance of the County Procurement Officer, collectively empowered to procure goods and services on behalf of the County. This commendation aims to recognize the exemplary efforts of our County Procurement Professionals, whose unwavering commitment has significantly elevated the standards and perception of the procurement profession over the past year. One pivotal aspect of this elevation has been the proactive engagement of our DPAs in professional development initiatives, particularly through their participation in the Trailblazer Series workshops.

Noteworthy achievements include the collaborative endeavors to streamline and standardize procurement processes and forms across the County's 22 Decentralized Departments. Central to this transformative journey has been the seamless transition to OpenGov, a platform that has facilitated automation and standardization across various facets of procurement, including solicitations, grant and asset management, and cooperative purchasing. The invaluable support from organizations like OpenGov, Pavilion, and Procurated has been instrumental in realizing milestones, underscoring the spirit of collaboration and partnership across our local procurement community.

Further emphasizing the commitment to professional excellence, our County Procurement Officer’s election as Director of the South for the California Association of Public Procurement Officials (CAPPO) has unlocked additional networking opportunities and support from esteemed procurement networks and leaders. The significant surge in CPPO and CPPB certifications by over 90% (since 2020), reflects tangible dedication to the County’s push for continuous learning and professional growth within the procurement workforce, which we recognize as vital to the future of our profession. Moreover, strategic partnerships with the NIGP have led to the establishment of the BLAZE forward Mentorship Program, offering invaluable professional development and mentorship opportunities, not only for County of Orange employees but also for members of the OC Procurement Alliance from neighboring cities and special districts.

In parallel, the commitment to excellence is further evidenced through initiatives such as volunteer work, including revamping of the California Chapter of NIGP, spearheaded by our Senior Manager of Training & Professional Development, and the annual Procurement Professional Day event and celebration. This multifaceted event serves as a platform for professional development, networking, and recognition, offering a diverse array of resources ranging from mock interviews, professional headshots, and great training opportunities. The County's unwavering dedication to continuous improvement is reflected in the establishment of focus groups dedicated to county-wide initiatives, driven by insights gleaned from past performance audits. Supplier outreach remains a cornerstone of our procurement strategy, with the annual Supplier Outreach Event attracting over 800 attendees, fostering meaningful connections between suppliers and procurement professionals from across Southern California.