TSA Recognizes Top Performers, Airports of 2023

Caribbean News…
30 April 2024 9:19pm


The U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) recognized its top performing employees and teams during the 2023 TSA Honorary Awards Ceremony held at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport on April 30.

"It's my greatest honor and privilege to highlight our incredible employees," said TSA Administrator David Pekoske. "This year's TSA Honorary Awards is another opportunity for me to personally show my appreciation of our award recipients from across TSA, who have made significant contributions in support of TSA's mission."

"We're here today to honor the remarkable dedication of TSA personnel who go above and beyond in their service to ensure the safety and security of the American people," said Department of Homeland Security Senior Official Performing the Duties of Deputy Secretary Kristie Canegallo. "It's a privilege to highlight and celebrate their ongoing commitment to excellence."

Gerardo Hernandez "In the Line of Duty" Award
Honoring the memory, service and sacrifice of TSA Officer Gerardo Hernandez, this award recognizes employees who distinguish themselves through bravery, valor and heroism in the line of duty. Hernandez was killed in the line of duty at Los Angeles International Airport on November 1, 2013.

The 2023 award recognizes Amanda Houck from Intelligence and Analysis. Amanda is a senior TSA Field Intelligence Officer with prior experience as a Coast Guard veteran. While returning from the Washington State Fusion Center's Crime and Safety Conference, Amanda reacted with speed, laser-like focus and complete disregard for her own safety when she came upon a multi-car pile-up along a winding, mountainous road in the early afternoon hours of a snowy, cloud cast winter day in eastern Washington. Amanda moved from vehicle to vehicle to triage the victims and assess the severity of their injuries, remaining calm while using her well-honed first responder medical knowledge to provide first aid and offer steadying words of encouragement. Amanda's actions, including her selfless attitude in placing the welfare and needs of others above her own, are a tribute to her composed demeanor, decisiveness and overall professionalism all while confronting a multitude of challenges in a sea of turmoil and distress.

Norman Y. Mineta "Cornerstone" Award
Each year, this award recognizes and honors the leadership legacy of former Department of Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta. Following the 9/11 attacks in 2001, Mineta was instrumental in establishing what TSA is today.

This year's recipient is Amber Waldner-Ortiz of Intelligence and Analysis. During FY23, Amber was detailed as the Vetting Operations, Section Chief in the Vetting Analysis Division (VAD), National Transportation Vetting Center (NTVC) West in Colorado Springs, Colorado. She superbly led the NTVC vetting workforce in Colorado Springs to record production levels, which significantly impacted TSA and the U.S. national security mission. She also created robust training, mentoring, development and role-based opportunities while promoting strong employee engagement and superior morale. She does this through outstanding leadership, character and complete dedication to her workforce. She remained committed while facing a life-threatening situation with her only son who required surgery. She quickly trained someone to backfill her position so she could be at her son's bedside during the critical procedure and recovery. During her career, Amber has faced and overcome tremendous personal adversity. As one of the first female Federal Air Marshals, a Section Chief in the Training and Workforce Development Branch, and her current position, she has consistently delivered top-notch results.

"Blogger Bob" Award
In memory of Curtis "Bob" Burns, who was dedicated to building TSA's social media presence as "Blogger Bob," this award recognizes an employee or team who positively influenced public engagement by identifying, crafting, promoting and implementing creative solutions that significantly impacted the traveling public's views and interactions with the agency.

This year's award winner is the Strategic Communications & Public Affairs Media Relations team. The team, which includes seven regional spokespeople and two press assistants, held 272 proactive media events, answered more than 1,250 local media queries, published 575 local press releases and posted just over 2,000 tweets from their regional "X" accounts. Their outstanding work reached more than 2 billion people and garnered the agency just over $200 million in earned media coverage. The team also proactively conducted media events at 107 airports and earned coverage for airports of all sizes, including Guam, Saipan and Puerto Rico.

Public Service Award
This award recognizes TSA employees who volunteer with nonprofit or community service programs or activities, contributing to meaningful results for individuals or the larger public good.

The 2023 Public Service Award recipient is Heather Proctor, a member of Domestic Aviation Operations at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. Heather is an outstanding example of a distinguished public servant through her service as a volunteer for the American Cancer Society (ACS), American Legion, Bastrop Church, Austin Police Department and local schools. For ACS, she is a senior member of the organization's "Relay for Life," a cancer fundraiser that she has served for the past 10 years. Heather is an assistant instructor for community-based, basic handgun safety courses for the public, as she helps guide new gun owners through federal and state rules and regulations of gun safety and how to shoot a pistol for self-protection in a local gun range. Her energy is matched only by her enthusiasm and ability to lend herself to so many causes throughout the year. She is a credit to her local community and TSA.

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