Celebrating Public Servants, the People Who Make Our Lives Better

Categories: The Insider

At AFGE, every week is Public Service Recognition Week. We are proud to represent these fine public servants whose knowledge and expertise keep our communities safe and prosperous. We honor their sacrifices and dedication over the last year as they put their health and safety on the line to keep essential government services running for the American people.

We also celebrate their tremendous achievements in various fields that have made a difference in the life of the American people and others around the world.

This year’s Public Service Recognition Week, we sat down with four amazing government employees whose work has touched our lives in more ways than one.

David Verardo, National Science Foundation 

David Verardo

David is a program director and geologist at the National Science Foundation (NSF) in Alexandria, Va. In 2007 when he worked for the United Nations, he and his team won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for their climate change research. He’s also president of AFGE Local 3403 representing employees at NSF, a global leader in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). NSF provides funding and resources to researchers at universities and businesses across the country. David has been an AFGE members for 11 years. 

AFGE: What can you tell us about your work? How does it affect the American people in their everyday lives?  

I am part of a team of scientists awarding science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) research grants to universities and businesses studying Earth’s natural climate variability.

It is critical to understand how much of our changing climate is influenced by nature versus humas so that we develop effective public policy strategies to fix what we can and be prepared for what we cannot. 

Climate affects human health, food supply, transportation systems, brick and mortar infrastructure, and foreign and domestic policy posture, to name only a few areas of intersection with American life no matter where you live. 

AFGE: Can you explain a little bit more on that? How global warming affects our food supply and transportation systems, for example? 

Climate affects where crops are grown today and where they will grow tomorrow. One problem is that the space where the climate is good for crops in the future may already be taken up by human infrastructure or something physical like a city. Climate change will also affect what crops can be planted just based on the temperature and precipitation which are a function of climate. 

As far as transportation, shipping on land, sea, and air is highly dependent on daily weather but also on seasonal climate. Shipping routes will have to adjust along with the controlling climate providing some opportunities as well as challenges to the transportation industry in terms of planning on a seasonal and annual basis. Typical impacts include fuel costs and transit time.

AFGE: What is your proudest moment as a public servant? 

There are three moments that stand out: As a U.S. Coast Guard veteran, any search and rescue mission that was successful made me proud of the teamwork involved with helping a stranger in trouble.

As a climate scientist working for the United Nations, I was proud of being part of the team that was awarded the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for climate change research.

As local AFGE president, my proudest moment was blocking out the anti-labor white noise of the last administration and working collaboratively with management coworkers to construct a collective bargaining agreement that reflects the core values, interests, responsibilities, and aspirations of the entire NSF workforce.

Why is being a union member important to you? 

The union acts as both a sword and a shield for federal employees by helping bring balance to the federal workplace in promoting rights while recognizing responsibilities. 

Carroll Ward, D.C. government 

Carroll

Carroll is a quality assessment specialist at DC Health Department’s HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, STD and TB Administration (HAHSTA). He has been an AFGE member for nine years and is currently president of Local 2978 representing workers at DC Health. Carroll is also an NCAA collegiate football official with over 20 years of officiating experience. 

AFGE: What can you tell me about your work? How does it impact the American people in their everyday lives? 

As the Quality Assessment Specialist/Grants Management Specialist, I coordinate and monitor HIV/AIDS programs and activities for the District of Columbia and the Washington, D.C. eligible Metropolitan area.

My mission in HAHSTA is to help prevent HIV transmission and to ensure the management, oversight, planning, and coordination with government and community organizations.

As a HAHSTA employee, we plan and coordinate DC Health response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. We develop strategic and implementation plans for HIV/AIDS programs in the District of Columbia in collaboration with community-based originations and private providers. We also negotiate and administer HIV/AIDS service agreements.

Also, as a QA specialist, my goal is to apply quality management principles and practices to improve the outcomes of District residents infected with HIV as evidenced by improved health status and suppressed viral loads. As a grant monitor, I manage specific grants as assigned to me, which supports public health initiatives and health services within local and federal funds.

What is your proudest moment as a public servant? 

I am not sure if I have a proud moment versus the joy that I get out of seeing our members at Local 2978 excel in their careers and enjoy what they do regarding working at DC Health. I’m also proud of my role at HAHSTA in helping prevent HIV transmission in the District of Columbia.

AFGE: Why is being a union member important to you?  

It is very important because I want to believe that all should have a fair and equal opportunity to be the best that they can be.

April Lott, Social Security Administration 

 April Lott

April is a paralegal specialist at SSA’s Hearings Operations in Charleston, S.C. Besides being local president of AFGE local 3627, she’s also president of the Greater Charleston Central Labor Council and 1st vice president of the A. Philip Randolph Institute Greater Charleston Chapter, among many other positions that allow her to make a difference in her community. April has been an AFGE member for 23 years.

AFGE: What can you tell us about your work? How does it affect the American people in their everyday lives? 

As a paralegal specialist, my duties include preparing disability decisions for claimants that have had social security disability hearings with an administrative law judge. Every day thousands of Americans are waiting on a decision that will affect how they will be able to take care of themselves and their families after becoming physically or mentally unable to work. My job is to get that decision prepared and to the judge for signature and release. My job helps my local community by getting them the decision they eagerly await. 

AFGE: What is your proudest moment as a public servant? 

My proudest moment as a public servant is every time I prepare a decision that I know will help relieve the financial anxiety and stress that someone is facing. From homeless veterans to those with terminal diseases, to children with special needs, knowing that I have a part in changing their lives for the better makes me proud of what I do.

AFGE: Why is being a union member important to you? 

Being a union member is important to me because I believe in supporting a union that fights for employee rights. Every employee is a vital part of the organization and deserves to be treated fairly, have safe working conditions, and have their pay and benefits protected.

AFGE: Can you tell us about your work in your community?  

I am president of the Greater Charleston Central Labor Council. The local unions within the council have assisted in several food giveaways in 2020, voter registration, and Census completion. 

I am also the executive vice president of AFGE SSA Council 215, 1st vice president of the South Carolina AFL-CIO, 1st vice president of the A. Philip Randolph Institute Greater Charleston Chapter, secretary for the Charleston Alliance for Fair Employment, and a member of the National Council of Negro Women - Bethune Leonard Section.

Gilbert Galam, Transportation Security Administration  

Gilbert Galam

Gilbert is a Transportation Security Officer in Sacramento, Calif. He's Local 1230's secretary and legislative and political coordinator and AFGE District 12 Y.O.U.N.G. coordinator. He's been an AFGE member for nine years since the TSA workforce was unionized and AFGE won an election to represent TSA workers. He's also chair of TSA's Employee Advisory Council, Sacramento International Airport.

AFGE: What can you tell us about your work? How does it impact the American people in their everyday lives? 

I’m a security screener at Sacramento International Airport. TSA has a huge impact on Americans’ everyday lives since we ensure the traveling public is safe from aviation threats, whether they are foreign or domestic.

AFGE: What is your proudest moment as a public servant?  

My proudest moment as a public servant was realizing how dedicated my fellow screeners were to the mission during the 2018/2019 government shutdown. They endured 35 days without promise of pay to ensure the skies were safe for travelers. 

AFGE: Why is being a union member important to you?  

Being a union member is important to me because it lets me know I am not alone in my everyday struggles as a public servant. Being part of a collective that has the power to challenge power or authority is also something I like a lot about unions. Last, the work I do as a union member, like developing a local young unionist group with my Central Labor Council, is very rewarding. 

Celebrate public servants with AFGE! 

Each day during Public Service Recognition Week has a different action: 

  • Monday May 3: National Press Call with President Kelley and Social Media Day - Share your stories on social with #WhyIServe
  • Tuesday May 4: Virtual Member of Congress meetings 
  • Wednesday May 5: Fair Act Day 
  • Thursday May 6: Virtual Member of Congress Meetings 
  • Friday May 7: Social Media Day - Share your stories on social with #WhyIServe 

Visit our PSRW page for more information. 


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