Sandia LabNews

Honoring the winners

Employee Recognition Award winners celebrated

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At ceremonies held June 21 in New Mexico and June 28 in California, Sandia celebrated the 2023 Employee Recognition Award winners for demonstrating achievements at the highest level of exceptional service in the national interest.

The awards are a peer-to-peer recognition program that honors those whose achievements exemplify high performance and sustained contributions with Labs-level impact critical to Sandia’s mission. See the full list of winners in the PDF version of Lab News.

“These ceremonies are about honoring the people and teams whose achievements rose to the top in 2022, a landmark year for Sandia Labs,” Chief Human Resources Officer Brian Carter said.

“It’s a great honor to be recognized by my peers and have the impacts of my work acknowledged,” said computer scientist Carlos Tafoya, an individual winner in the innovation category who developed software modeling tools for the B61-12 and W80-4 programs. “This is my first ERA and winning boosts my confidence as I move forward in my career.”

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AWARD SHOW ARRIVAL — Employee Recognition Award co-hosts California Site Operations Director Patricia Benguerel, left, and Communications Director Frederick Bermudez make a grand entrance at the New Mexico award ceremony on June 21. Winners were recognized at ceremonies in New Mexico and California. The Labs celebrated employees who were nominated by their peers for their achievements. (Photo by Craig Fritz)

“The sensitivity of our work often leads to us not celebrating our accomplishments,” Carlos said. “Having awards like this help staff know that leadership recognizes and appreciates their efforts.”

The six Employee Recognition Award categories are innovation, technical excellence, leadership, operational excellence, collaboration, and inclusion and diversity. Winners were selected for their achievements between Oct. 1, 2021, and Dec. 31, 2022.

Following the nomination process, each division selects and advances two of its winners for consideration for the Lab Director’s Award, the highest accolade of the awards, further highlighting top achievers.

At the ceremonies, Lab Director James Peery announced the three winners of the Lab Director’s Award. One individual and two teams were selected for solving complex technical puzzles, breaking ground in new fields of study, delivering results under intense pressure and setting a high bar for quality, efficiency and performance.

Matthew Kiesling was selected for demonstrating exceptional leadership as a mentor to project and technical leads.

The members of the W80-4 Systems Flight Test Team received the Labs Director’s Award for being behind many firsts for the program: first unpowered flight, first powered flight, first B-52H bay release, and first in-flight firedown with FTUO warhead. These critical warhead-development milestones provided data and flight environments for the system and component teams.

The Power Sources Capabilities Critical Decision-1 Team received the Labs Director’s Award for working diligently to finalize key deliverables and meet NNSA expectations to achieve Critical Decision-1 approval, which provides authorization to begin project execution.

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CELEBRATING EXCELLENCE — Labs Director James Peery congratulates winners at the Employee Recognition Awards ceremony in California on June 28. (Photo by Craig Fritz)

All winners receive a certificate and numbered coin redesigned for each year’s honors.

“A peer-to-peer recognition program is one of the most inclusive things an organization can do,” said electrical engineer R.A. Williams, an individual winner in the innovation category for their work evaluating software for nuclear safety in abnormal environments. “It allows individuals to be acknowledged based on their contributions, regardless of disability or other real or perceived limiting factors.” R.A. has a serious hearing impairment.

“Sandia’s success in serving the nation depends on the commitment, expertise and contributions of our team members,” Brian said. “Through the ERA program, we are proud to recognize the most notable of accomplishments by these talented individuals and teams.”

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