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​2019 DOC Employee Award Winners

The following individuals were recognized at the event that was followed by a buffet luncheon:

Outstanding Performance Award Recipients

Sgt. Matthew Kissell – SCI Benner Township (Centre County). Matthew works as the B Unit sergeant, where he is a lead worker and valued member of the unit management team. Described as being firm, fair and consistent and one whose intelligence-gathering skills are paramount to the safety and security of the facility, Matthew is a natural leader, who models the way for other staff and actively mentors his peers, regularly recognizing others for their accomplishments and contributions. When not at work, Matthew serves as either a coach or assistant coach of girls’ softball, volleyball and rifle teams, in addition to keeping stats and scores for the same.

Matthew Kissel receives an award

Valerie Hale – SCI Laurel Highlands (Somerset County). Since 2007 Valerie has served as the records supervisor in a part of the prison that is extremely busy – the Records Office. Valerie effectively manages its high volume and demanding workload with the utmost professionalism and accuracy. Described as a pleasant, friendly and well-liked person who is always willing to assist where needed, Valerie is a role model and mentor who recognizes the strengths of her staff and is someone who brings out the best in everyone. When she’s not at work, Valerie is very active in her community, where she interacts with neighborhood children by doing arts and crafts with them and even helps them with their homework.

Valerie Hale receives an award

Mary Jo Wall -- SCI Mahanoy (Schuylkill County). Mary Jo is a corrections officer 1 who plays a vital role in the interdiction of contraband at the prison. In fact, it is reported that every drug find by the prison’s Security Office can be traced back to her efforts in the areas of phone and camera system monitoring. Her coworkers describe her as being extremely dedicated, industrious, conscientious and diligent. While she is a Mahanoy employee, Mary Jo’s commitment to drug interdiction extends to SCI Frackville, where she assists that prison with its ion scanner issues. Always willing to help others, Mary Jo also volunteers as the Corrections Peace Officer Foundation representative for both SCIs Frackville and Mahanoy.

Mary Jo Wall receives an award

April Harvey – SCI Mercer (Mercer County).  Corrections Activities Manager 2 April Harvey is an exceptional and trusted employee who can be counted on to solve challenging problems. She excels at her daily duties while being a member of the DOC’s Vulnerability Assessment team and the Mock ACA Audit team. In addition to her exceptional work performance, April is very active in her community where for the past two years she has participated in and donated to the Ruck the Bay Ruck March for the Liberty House, an organization that aids homeless veterans. She also has collected food, clothing and school supplies for local entities, and she uses her Veteran's Day holiday to organize and serve lunch to the veteran and nonveteran staff members working that day. She also helps staff to coordinate appreciation lunches and cookouts at the prison.

April Harvey receives an award

Tammy Kriner -- SCI Muncy (Lycoming County). Tammy’s serves as an ABE/GED Teacher, making the most out of each day for the students she serves. Having worked at other DOC facilities teaching math, Money Smart, Read To Your Child and has assisted in the audit process, at Muncy Tammy teaches GED English, ABE English, Math, Victim Awareness and Health. Tammy is described as being someone who can be relied upon, someone who does their homework and is prepared, and someone who returns from conferences with ways to incorporate what she’s learned into her classroom. She is a lifetime learner who models service to others, as is evidence by her commitment to her church and the 4-H Club, where she spends hours of time volunteering.

Tammy Kriner receives an award

Lieutenant Raymond Patton – SCI Phoenix (Montgomery County). Raymond is presently assigned as the 6 AM to 2 PM shift lieutenant and was key in identifying solutions related to the security electronics system at the prison prior to its opening. He used his knowledge of security functions, his understanding of the fundamentals of an effective security system and his associate’s degree in IT to learn each independent operation system. He taught himself how the systems work together and was able to identify the root cause of the system deficiencies. His efforts resulted in significant cost savings and further facilitated the transition of 2,600 inmates and nearly 1,200 employees from an outdated, costly and deteriorating facility at SCI Graterford. When he’s not at work, Raymond fosters felines and served as a volunteer firefighter.

Raymond Patton receives an award

SCI Phoenix (Montgomery County) Facility Maintenance Manager (FMM) 3 David Thomas has served as a corrections officer trainee, labor foreman and FMM at SCI Greene and FMM at SCI Pittsburgh. He was summoned to SCI Phoenix where he was charged with supervising and managing assignments for more than 100 maintenance employees, ensuring that maintenance needs were addressed in preparation for the move of employees and inmates from SCI Graterford to Phoenix. When the FMM3 position was posted for SCI Phoenix, he applied and was promoted to that position in October 2018. His supervisors say that David understands the need for collaboration, embraces a team concept and helps others in any way that is needed. Outside of work and prior to his transition to SCI Phoenix, David also served as the Waynesburg High School’s rifle coach, a soccer coach and soccer club president of the Greene County Youth Soccer Club and a coach for the Frazier Simplex Rifle Club.

David Thomas receives an award

Christian Garman – SCI Smithfield (Huntingdon County). Christian, who has held a number of progressively-complex positions over the years, is the classification and program manager at SCI Smithfield. His experience and knowledge enabled him to provide outstanding managerial leadership during a time when his area suffered several staff shortages. Despite the vacancies, each area was able to continue to provide the required services thanks in no small part to the guidance, supervision and direction provided by Christian. Christian’s leadership enabled each department to remain effective and efficient. When Christian is not at work, he serves his community as an EMT, a Fish & Boat Commission volunteer, has served as a member of the Smithfield Volunteer Fire Company and operates the sound board for a church worship team.

Christian Garman receives an award

Randall Pritts – SCI Somerset (Somerset County). Randall is the prison’s training lieutenant, where he demonstrates his commitment to the DOC’s on-the-job training program for 63 corrections officer trainees presently employed in various phases. His commitment and dedication ensures that the program follows DOC policy. Constantly observing and analyzing methods of improvement, Randall believes that, through improving the program, he can provide optimal training to enhance a COT’s knowledge and work performance.  Described as an individual who is highly respected, a great communicator, motivated and dedicated, and someone who serves as an inspiration to everyone, Randall has served as a member of the American Youth Soccer Organization from 1988 to 2013, was a PIAA soccer official from 2002 to 2014, was an NCAA soccer official from 2013 to present and has been a volunteer guest speaker for several communities’ Veterans Day and Memorial Day events. 

Randall Pritts receives an award

Zakia Johnson – Bureau of Community Corrections (BCC), Region 1 (Philadelphia). Zakia, who is a contract facility coordinator, recently was tasked with serving as acting regional director for the entire region. During this 10-month period she led the largest transfer of reentrants in BCC history when one contractor closed three centers over the course of 30 days impacting more than 400 reentrants. Zakie and her team handled the transition with confidence and successful management. It also should be noted that Zakia also oversaw the installation of the first video visitation stations in BCC at the Region 1 office. She coordinated logistics between the SCI, the landlord and Central Office, meeting the deadline and getting video visitation operational with visitors on October 29, 2018.

Zakia Johnson receives an award

Steven Seitchik – Department of Corrections Central Office (Cumberland County). When Steven took the job in 2016 as DOC Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) coordinator, he began his path toward becoming the national expert that he is now. Thanks to Steve’s efforts, the number of individuals who are now being reached with this life-saving medication has increased significantly. In fact, his MAT work for the DOC has been recognized by the Addiction Policy Forum as an innovative program in Pennsylvania. Steve is described as an intelligent, friendly, dependable and exceptional person who always is willing to represent the DOC and its MAT-related efforts. He provides guidance to anyone who seeks it and believes wholeheartedly in his mission.

Steve Seitchik receives an award

Medal of Valor

Thomas Corcoran – SCI Mercer (Mercer County)

While Thomas was standing in line at a PNC Bank in northwestern Pennsylvania in October 2018, a man wearing a mask and backpack entered the bank. As the man approached the teller and demanded money, Thomas, who has a concealed carry permit, drew his weapon and intervened in the robbery, ordering the man to the floor. The man complied but eventually escaped, fleeing the bank when he gambled that Thomas was unlikely to shoot an unarmed man. Due to Thomas’ actions, no money was stolen, and no one was injured.

Thomas Corcoran receives an award

Shaun Skursky – SCI Retreat (Luzerne County) 

Shaun Skursky is a corrections officer 1 at SCI Retreat, but at the time of his heroic deed, he was a CO 1 at SCI Phoenix.

On March 19, 2018, while on vacation with his family at Avista Resort in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Shaun was in a hot tub near the resort’s “lazy river.” Responding to a woman’s screams, Shaun observed a young man underwater in the lazy river and his distressed friend yelling for help. Shaun immediately jumped into the water and assessed the situation. The young man had his foot stuck in a grate and was trapped underwater, unable to breathe. Shaun began underwater rescue breathing while trying to dislodge the boy’s foot. He continued the rescue breathing for approximately eight minutes until police and emergency medical services responded and were able to free him. The young man lived thanks to Shaun’s extraordinary efforts. 

Shaun Skursky receives an award

Ronald Klingensmith – SCI Pine Grove (Indiana County)

On February 26, 2019, when SCI Pine Grove Corrections Officer 1 Ronald Klingensmith was attending a concert in Pittsburgh, he noticed someone appearing to be having a seizure. Upon further investigation, he asked the individual's friend if the person had a history of epilepsy. She stated he did not. Ron attempted a sternum rub looking for a response, only to discover the man was unresponsive. He asked someone to get the on-sight medics. A security officer arrived to assist him. Ron instructed the security officer that they needed to move the man to the hallway to continue treatment. After moving the man, Ron could not find a pulse. He was then informed that the patient was experiencing an overdose. Ron performed CPR until police and EMTs arrived.

Ronald Klingensmith receives an award

Mentor of the Year

Matthew Shively – SCI Muncy (Lycoming County). Matthew began his corrections career at SCI Muncy in 1998, where he served as a corrections counselor 1 and 2 and then became SCI Muncy’s special education teacher in 2002. For more than three years Matthew has been a mentor at SCI Muncy, where he leads by example and exemplifies the true definition of a mentor. Matthew believes in the mentoring program because he says it allows new employees the opportunity to learn the inside workings of a facility that they will not find in a training manual. Matthew is a truly remarkable person who genuinely cares about helping others both inside and outside of the prison fence.

Matthew Shively receives an award

Innovations in Corrections/Parole

Louis Zayon — Philadelphia District Office (Philadelphia). Parole Supervisor Louis saw a problem – a public park in Philadelphia had become a troubling haven for homeless individuals suffering from substance use disorder (SUD). These individuals openly used heroin in the park, and local library employees had been trained to administer Narcan to help reduce the number of daily overdoses that were happening. Working with his fellow parole agents and local law enforcement over a four- to six-week period, Louis and other parole agents increased their presence in the area, making contact with reentrants and probationers who had been hanging out in the park, tested and placed reentrants in SUD treatment and distributed educational handouts. They also met with community members to gain support. This aggressive approach was so effective that it is now being used in other areas of the community. Thanks to Louis’ efforts, the community is safer, there has been a reduction in the number of opioid overdoses and countless lives have been saved.

Louis Zayon receives an award

Thomas A. Fulcomer Award

Jerry Arasin – SCI Phoenix (Montgomery County). Jerry is a Correctional Industries Manager 2 with expansive experience in garment, underwear, shoes, textiles and hosiery manufacturing, warehouse operations oversight and management of the CI office. He also is responsible for overseeing the manufacturing components of SCIs Dallas, Greene, Huntingdon, Muncy, Smithfield and Waymart. In June 2018, Jerry successfully moved his entire operation from SCI Graterford to SCI Phoenix. Jerry recognizes the important roles of responsibility, authority and accountability. Every day he exhibits exceptional leadership qualities and continuously strives to fabricate quality products in a timely manner. Without request, he assists other newly appointed managers with acclimating to their new positions. Jerry, who is fair and consistent and leads by example, is fully committed to the mission of the DOC and Correctional Industries -- he wants inmates to develop skills and a good work ethic, and to apply these skills upon release.

Gerald Arasin receives an award