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USDA Officials Receive 2007 Presidential Rank Awards


Acting Agriculture Secretary Chuck Conner today announced the names of the 14 USDA career senior executives who received the 2007 President’s Rank Award for exceptional long-term accomplishments.

“These outstanding USDA leaders are being recognized because their vision led to real results through teamwork, a commitment to excellence and dedication,” said Conner. “I applaud their innovative work, which serves as a role model for all public servants.”

There are two categories of rank awards: Distinguished and Meritorious. Award winners are chosen through a rigorous selection process. They are nominated by their agency heads, evaluated by boards of private citizens and approved by the President. The evaluation criteria focus on leadership and results. Each award recipient receives a cash award and a framed certificate signed by the President.

The 2007 President’s Rank Award recipients are:

Distinguished Executives:

Kenneth C. Clayton, Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS)

In recognition of outstanding leadership as Associate Administrator of AMS. He has led AMS programs to meet the 21st century needs of U.S. farmers and those who market their products as well as consumers, state and local governments, and other program constituencies.

Patricia R. Sheikh, Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS)

In recognition of her effective leadership in carrying out USDA objectives to increase access for U.S. agricultural exports and effectively addressing technical barriers to trade. During her executive career, she epitomized integrity, leadership, creativity, commitment to achieving lasting results, and the ability to forge consensus across the U.S. government.

Dana D. York, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)

In recognition of her vision and guidance for NRCS to implement new, innovative business processes that have created a more effective and efficient organization with increased accountability for allocating and obligating funds.

Meritorious Executives:

Warren R. Ashworth, Office of Security Services (OSS)

In recognition of his outstanding skills, integrity, perseverance, and experience he has brought to many management and executive level positions. He has led complex organizational change initiatives intended to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of a number of USDA programs.

Gerald A. Bange, Office of the Chief Economist (OCE)

In recognition of his management of the World Agricultural Outlook Board and his unblemished record of integrity regarding USDA’s World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report, an official economic indicator of the Federal government.

William H. Clay, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)

In recognition of his efforts to lead change, increase diversity, and build domestic and international coalitions among other accomplishments. Of note worthy is the establishment of a wildlife disease monitoring and surveillance program that includes an emergency response component.

Elizabeth Estill (retired), Forest Service (FS)

In recognition of her visionary, effective leadership during her executive career. As Deputy Chief, she led agency efforts to facilitate collaboration and partnerships and to develop a performance accountability system for the agency.

Gilbert R. Hawk, Office of the Chief Financial Officer (OCFO)

In recognition of his extraordinary record of dynamic leadership. He has advanced the strategic goals of his organization, USDA, and the Administration by advancing the President’s e-Government agenda, heightening information systems security, improving customer service and developing a highly capable workforce.

Gary T. Maupin, Food and Nutrition Service (FNS)

In recognition of his sustained, outstanding leadership and effective management as the Chief Financial Officer of FNS. He has transformed financial management, achieving a high degree of success in mission achievement for FNS, as well as other agencies where he served as a senior executive.

Melinda L. McClanahan, Agricultural Research Search (ARS)

In recognition of her outstanding executive leadership and exemplary managerial contributions to the Department of Agriculture, ARS and her former employer-U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Valdis E. Mezainis, Forest Service (FS)

In recognition of his exemplary leadership, vision, and exceptional management of the International Programs Office. His creativity and findings have profoundly influenced the work of many others globally.

Jack G. Troyer, Forest Service (FS)

In recognition of his continued, outstanding leadership and management of Regional forester of the Intermountain Region where he consistently developed team oriented organizations, earning numerous national leadership roles.

Peter R. Young, Agricultural Research Service (ARS)

In recognition of his leadership in NAL’s electronic and other information dissemination programs for food and agriculture, and for other exemplary career service during his executive career.

Meritorious Senior Professional:

Phillip Kott, National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS)

In recognition of the significant improvements he provided in the quality and relevance of key statistical information regarding the structure of agriculture in the U.S., the economic well being of farmers and ranchers, and the safety of our food supply.


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