The 2015 Excellence in Public Service Award winners were announced today in separate surprise announcements at their respective jobs. The honorees are:
- Chitra Harris, a Forensic Science teacher at Wichita South High;
- Jill Tinsley, the Community Relations Director in the Communications and Community Initiatives Department at Sedgwick County; and
- Vallery Fields, a Senior Program Specialist in the City of Wichita Transit Department.
The honorees were surprised at work this morning. They were selected from thousands of eligible workers from the three public organizations. They share a strong work ethic, exceptional performance and a commitment to community.
Courtesy of the sponsoring DeVore Family, each honoree will receive a $2,500 check at a reception on Tuesday, May at The Cowtown Visitors Center, 1865 W. Museum Blvd. Following is brief information about each honoree:
Chitra Harris (USD 259) is in her 10th-year of teaching at South High School and currently teaches Forensic Science. With hands-on lessons, innovative labs and mock crime scenes, Harris keeps each of her students engaged and excited to learn about science. Outside of the classroom, Harris has presented at the Kansas Association of Teachers of Science and was the first recipient of the Wendell Mohling Foundation scholarship in 2006. Active in the community, Harris, a current board member and former president of the Wichita Asian Association, helps organize the annual Asian Festival in October. She has also helped promote events to raise money for the Chinese Garden of Friendship at Botanica. Harris is a member of the planning committee of the South Asian Christian Fellowship, which organizes a dinner for more than 150 Asian Christians during Christmas and Easter to build cultural relationships in the city of Wichita.
Jill Tinsley (Sedgwick County) began her career at Sedgwick County in 2007 in the Budget Office, after completing her Master’s in Public Administration (MPA) at Wichita State University. In 2012, she was promoted to Community Relations Director in the Communications and Community Initiatives Department, where she helps connect Sedgwick County to the community. Tinsley recruits and provides oversight of MPA graduates for the County’s Management Internship. She provides research and analysis for a number of organizational projects and she helps coordinate the Manager’s organizational development effort for managers and middle managers. Tinsley also leads the Sedgwick County United Way campaign. In 2014, she led and coordinated an internal campaign to promote “student success” to connect County staff with opportunities to improve student success. She represents Sedgwick County at K-96 Corridor meetings and the Sedgwick County Association of Cities, and provides logistics support in scheduling and coordinating the annual South Central Kansas Legislative Public Forum. This year, she took on the lead role to coordinate logistics to assist the Election Office for advance voting and elections support.
Outside of her County job, Tinsley is active in a number of community service organizations. She is an office holder on the Starkey, Inc. Board of Directors, and she recently led the effort to coordinate that organization's 2015 planning retreat. She also is active with the Arc of Sedgwick County, participating in fundraisers and events to raise funds and increase awareness for individuals with disabilities. Most recently, Tinsley was a part of the Support Our Circle Walk for the Arc, held at the INTRUST Bank Arena.
Vallery Fields (City of Wichita) has worked for the City of Wichita since September 1984, serving in Water Utilities, the Fire Department, Housing and Community Services, and Transit where she now works as a Senior Program Specialist. She has demonstrated high ethical standards, excellent customer service and empathy for those less fortunate. During her stint in Housing, coworkers and customers knew her as someone who was caring and committed. She continues to help Housing customers beyond her tenure in the department. She still volunteers as a Hearing Officer with Wichita Housing Authority, using her exceptional interpersonal skills to help tenants manage leases, make better choices and maintain safe living situations for them and their families. In Transit, Fields has held several positions, managing customer service, marketing and outreach efforts. She now focuses on employee relations, human resources and departmental improvements. She oversees disciplinary activities to monitor consistency and fairness. Under her guidance, Transit has instituted a number of program management activities to help make the system more cost-effective and efficient.
Fields has shown a strong commitment to her community including serving as a member of St. Mark’s United Methodist Church; volunteering for the annual United Way campaign; assisting with foster care programs; volunteering for Harden Hospice; and serving as an obituary writer. She served as a United Way campaign manager from 2005 -2009. And as a foster care supporter, she cooks and provides meals for families.