The College of Arts and Letters, School of Public and International Affairs, and several civic, community, and public service oriented academic programs and centers are pleased to recognize seven public servants as outstanding public service professionals whose remarkable work is making life better for all Americans at a Public Service Recognition Week (PSRW) awards ceremony and reception held in their honor, April 29, 2019 at 5 pm in the Hall of Presidents at James Madison University.
Celebrated since 1985, PSRW is a nationwide public education campaign honoring the men and women who serve our nation as federal, state, county and local government employees. JMU chooses to also take this opportunity to recognize nonprofit employees and community volunteers as integral partners in engaged public service. Each year the President and Congress designate the first full week of May (May 5-11, 2019) as PSRW and activities are held nationwide in celebration of public servants who put service above self.
Robert Prescott, JMU ’22 is being honored with the Student Leadership in Public Service Excellence award for his outstanding contributions as a community volunteer at Harrisonburg High School and Gift and Thrift (a social enterprise of the Valley Mennonite community), and as a teaching assistant, leading applied project teams of JMU students in the Community Innovations at the JMU X-Labs.
Joseph Showker, JMU ’79 is being honored with the Technological Innovation in Public Service award for his innovative contributions to the development, implementation, and evaluation of the digital ethics curriculum for the Commonwealth of Virginia K-12 education. Showker served Rockingham County Public Schools for more than 30 years as an athletic coach, classroom teacher, and Instructional Technology Resource Teacher. He was one of the first teachers in the county to truly engage students using technology. In that process, he recognized early that the increased connectivity of students to others via the Internet could present magnificent opportunities for collaboration and communication. At the same time, he was aware of the potential for anonymous connections to create a number of safety issues for students. As a result, Showker began to develop a series of internet safety presentations and curricula that were initially used in Rockingham County but soon found their way across a broad range of educational organizations, in Virginia and across the country. As technology use expanded over time, Joe began to increase his focus on additional topics, and his Internet safety presentations included more and more discussions of the ethical use of technology, focusing on topics such as plagiarism and copyright issues.
Sharon Maiewski, M.S., Physician’s Assistant is being honored with the Diversity, Inclusion, and Social Equity in Public Service award for her continued community engagement with the clinical training of physician’s assistants and remarkable volunteer efforts over 20 years as a volunteer clinician, serving the disadvantaged residents of the Harrisonburg community at The Free Clinic, a 501 (c) 3 located in downtown Harrisonburg. Maiewski has fostered rich community involvements and medical experiences for the JMU physician’s assistant students, which follow her own passion to reach disenfranchised, economically disadvantaged, and homeless populations to improve their health and quality of life.
Diar Kaussler, M.S. is being honored with the Diversity, Inclusion, and Social Equity in Public Service award for her global efforts in peacebuilding and advocacy for refugees, creating social change at both a local and global scale: founding and leading Rocktown Refugees, a refugee advocacy group; and designing and implementing a global peacebuilding curriculum for children through Up With People with over 24 sites in the U.S. and Europe. Kaussler regularly demonstrates both entrepreneurial spirit and through various activities, as a volunteer and as nonprofit professional, she has encouraged and promoted inclusion and respect for all people living in the Shenandoah Valley (citizen or not), promoted diverse ideas to help better serve the Valley and all of its residents; and taken risks to foster social change and create a more inclusive democratic society.
Tyler Rines, MPA ‘14 is being honored for excellence in public service for an early or mid-career professional. In his first position out of graduate school, Rines was instrumental in the inception of the “Rubenstein Initiative” at James Madison’s Montpelier: a five-year plan to refurnish and interpret the Montpelier mansion and reconstruct the South Yard, the enslaved community site adjacent to the mansion. In November of 2014, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of The Carlyle Group, and patriotic philanthropist, David M. Rubenstein, gifted $10 million to the Montpelier Foundation to support this mufti-faceted project. Rines has moved on to work for the University of Chicago’s Marine Biological Laboratory as a major gifts officer developing international support for exploring fundamental biology, understanding marine biodiversity and the environment, and informing the human condition through research and education. As an active citizen, Rines has served exemplarily on the board of Virginia Clean Cities and also as a spokesperson and speechwriter, trusted advisor to nonprofit CEOs and Boards, and senior aide to congressional and gubernatorial candidates.
Pratik Banjade, MPA ’13 is being honored with the John B. Noftsinger Alumni Award for Public Service Excellence for the depth and breadth of his public service contributions as a federal public servant, currently as a Program Examiner of the Office of Management and Budget in the Executive Office of the President, and formerly as a Presidential Management Fellow, U.S. Department of State, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and as an economic development project manager supporting economic projects in several counties with an international consulting firm. His commitment to service circles back to JMU as a trusted alumnus of the MPA program where he contributes regularly to the mentorship of new graduates.
Susanne Myers is being honored for her Lifetime Achievement in Public Service Excellence as a community volunteer and communications professional (now retired). Myers has been associated with The Community Foundation since 2006 when she began her volunteer board service. She chaired the Development and Marketing Committee for six years during which assets of the foundation grew from $7 million to $17 million under her leadership. She has served as a spark of energy and enthusiasm for several fundraising initiatives, raising millions in our community over decades of volunteer work in Shenandoah Valley: Great Community Give, Rotary Club of Rockingham County, JMU and the Duke Club, RMH Foundation, Ronald McDonald House of Charlottesville, Harrisonburg and Rockingham Fire and Rescue, and the United Way, among several others. She quietly serves in many other ways, providing business attire for disadvantaged women, volunteering with her husband as a U.S.A. Swimming Official, engaging in her church, and with her family and friends as a warm, positive force for community engagement.
Awardees come from the nonprofit sector as volunteers and professional staff, and local, state, and federal government all sharing a common focus on collaboration, innovation, and community organizing with significant contributions from the Shenandoah Valley to the world.
The Public Service Recognition Week awards ceremony is hosted by the College of Arts and Letters, School of Public and International Affairs, the Department of Pollical Science, the Master of Public Administration Program, the James Madison Center for Civic Engagement, the Office of Community Service Learning, and the Department of Justice Studies.
The winners were nominated by colleagues familiar with their work and selected by a committee.