Employee of the Month

Richard Ullman

April 2017

Richard UllmanAs Acting Deputy Director, I am pleased to announce Richard Ullman as the OPPA Team Member of the Month! Rich receives this award for his leadership in providing gap mitigating RO observations to the NWS.

The COSMIC satellite constellation is aging and degrading and the COSMIC-2 polar continuity constellation continues to be delayed. NESDIS and the NWS recognized that there existed a significant gap in global near-real- time radio occultation (RO) measurement profiles. Taken together with risks in gaps to other observation types, the consequence of this RO profile gap would be a significant loss in NWS forecast skill. As mitigation, NESDIS and NWS jointly proposed to acquire RO data from the Korean KOMPSAT-5 satellite and deliver it to NCEP for model assimilation. While NESDIS and NWS senior management were supportive, there was no ownership of the action to acquire this data. Rich assumed this responsibility. He secured the NESDIS and NWS formal agreement via letter and after acceptance by both NWS and NESDIS has taken leadership for an aggressive implementation plan.

Please join me in congratulating Rich!

Margaret Caulfield



Alberta Gyimah-Boadi

March 2017

Alberta Gyimah-BoadiI am pleased to announce Alberta Gyimah-Boadi as the OPPA Team Member of the Month

Alberta’s role falls within the actions team, but she contributes to the overall success of team OPPA through her support of all the divisions and other areas within our organization. As a member of the actions team, Alberta is very thorough in her work. She goes out of her way to keep the OPPA staff abreast of the actions they have due and consistently offers guidance in an effort to assist with closing out actions on time.

With the recent changes within OPPA, Alberta’s optimism and willingness to help others has gone a long way within our organization. It has provided most with a sense of balance as we all go through the leadership transition. Along with her role in OPPA, she is a full-time grad student at George Washington University and interns at various agencies and hospitals in the DC Metro area. Alberta’s contributions to the cohesiveness of team OPPA are greatly appreciated!

Please join me in congratulating Alberta!

Tom Burns



Adam Neiss

February 2017

Adam NeissI am pleased to announce Adam Neiss as the OPPA Team Member of the Month!

Adam is an engineer on TPIO’s Observing System Architecture [OSA] team. While transitioning to a new data repository last summer, a key analysis tool embedded within the former database was not implemented in the new database. While the analysis tool was deemed critical by TPIO for processing NOAA-wide user requests, there were no immediate plans for replicating its capabilities. The purpose of this tool is to assist TPIO data analysts perform analysis of the NOAA observing system, requirements, and value tree data seamlessly and efficiently. Adam worked with several people in the office to determine user needs and coordinated the overall development of the analyze replacement tool. The project involved integrating a number of software tools to automate, import, test and verify TPIO data for analysis. Adam’s foresight and strategic planning acumen stopped what could have been an interruption in daily work activities. He continually exhibits a steadfast and mature attitude, a measured strategic planning sense and business acumen with a "can do" attitude that is infectious. Adam continues to demonstrate a seamless ability to find simple solutions to complex problems!

Please join me in congratulating Adam!

Tom Burns



Amanda Mitchell

January 2017

Amanda MitchellI am pleased to announce the OPPA Team Member of the Month: Amanda Mitchell of TPIO!

Amanda Mitchell is the TPIO lead supporting OMAO in the process of building a quantitative, objective, and repeatable process to provide budgetary decision making support for enhancing Fleet Architecture capability and flexibility. Amanda has offered a lot of insight to the generation of TPIO products and has helped tremendously in structuring conversations around the Fleet Force Architecture efforts so that the multiple parties involved in the project stay in sync. She has demonstrated herself to be a true team player from the start: her eagerness to help, positive attitude, and attention to detail are refreshing and supremely appreciated. Amanda’s natural ability to understand the fusion part of the model for NOAA's user observation requirements -- linking what NOAA is doing (projects), creating (products), and using (capabilities) by knowing what we need (requirements) -- is simply remarkable! We look forward to continue tackling complex and challenging problems with Amanda!!

Please join me in congratulating Amanda for her excellent work!

Tom Burns




Pierre Youssef

December 2016

Pierre YoussefIt is my honor with my first "OPPA All Hands" email as OPPA's Acting Director to announce the Team Member of the Month.

It is Pierre Youssef!

Pierre has provided steadfast technical and programmatic support to OPPA's Jason 3 Program over the past two years. This service culminated in the recent Satellite Altimeter Workshop hosted by the French Space Agency in November. The Workshop was the final post launch milestone for Jason 3 and confirmed the critical value of the Jason 3 products for operational ocean modelling and climate research. This recognition is to acknowledge Pierre's service to the Program this month -- and to give credit for his unwavering work ethic before, during, and after the Jason 3 launch campaign.

Please join me in congratulating Pierre!

Tom Burns




Kim Hurst

November 2016

Kim HurstI’m pleased to announce Kim Hurst as the OPPA Team Member of the Month!

This past year, Kim Hurst shared her ability for high achievement and teamwork not just within OPPA, but also within NESDIS for the GOES R Program; she was specifically chosen by NESDIS’s Assistant Administrator to lead the Guest Operations coordination for the GOES-R launch because of her superb management of Guest Operations for OPPA's two prior launches (DSCOVR and Jason-3).

For the GOES-R launch preparations, Kim successfully coordinated with NOAA and NASA, across programs and spaceflight centers,continuing to build on the good working relations she established during the 2 prior launches. She and her teammates further solidified a framework that can be utilized for future NESDIS launches, ensuring that all requirements for launch events are successfully managed. Kim’s smooth coordination, planning, communications agility, and timely follow-through were fundamental for the framework and guidance required of such a large-scale and wide-reaching project. The increased scale and magnitude of planning for this GOES-R launch far surpassed either of the two prior launches. Her outstanding achievements for the GOES-R launch guest ops were reached while still balancing and actively managing her duties and responsibilities as OPPA's Chief of Staff.

Kim’s energy and confidence are great motivators to her teammates. Her ability to energize and empower others increases her teammates’ enthusiasm and ensures a timely, successful outcome. No matter the project, she possesses great ability to keep all aspects moving smoothly toward a successful outcome.

Congratulations, Kim!




Joe Hackel

October 2016

Joe HackelI'm happy to announce Joe Hackel as the OPPA Team Member of the Month!

As COSMIC-2's Lead Systems Engineer, Joe Hackel was critical to the success of the UCAR Data Processing Center Readiness Review #3 (DPC RR #3). The successful completion of this review was a major accomplishment for the COSMIC-2 program. Joe worked very closely with each of the different organizations and team members to ensure that all DPC interfaces and requirements were addressed satisfactorily leading up to and during the review.

Joe routinely combines his technical knowledge and communication skills to ensure the technical challenges within the program are addressed in a timely fashion. Since coming onto the COSMIC-2 program, Joe has taken ownership of ALL program requirements and consistently performs at a high level.

Please join me in congratulating Joe for his excellent contributions to Team OPPA!



John Pereira

September 2016

John PereiraSince the beginning of time, Mr. John Pereira has tirelessly served OPPA and has helped navigate and guide our office to where we are today. His experience from the Air Force, meteorological background, and broad knowledge base have been instrumental in bringing our programs from research to operations. His enthusiasm for new technologies, weather, satellites, and NESDIS in general is contagious. John has the special ability to bring energy and interest to even the most mundane topics. By taking the time to sit down with others and explain things in different ways, he has been able to educate others, increase curiosity, and encourage growth. He has an uncanny and great ability to provide a mix of careful consideration, keen insight, and humor to any discussion.

On most days, John shows up before the lights turn on and stays until the lights turn off. His dedication, strong work ethic, and consistent desire to exceed expectations have inspired many to follow in his footsteps. His ability to bring humor into all types of situations, has helped many feel at ease in stressful situations.

John and his wife, Jenny, have worked for years to keep OPPA fed and smiling with the wonderful and sinfully delicious desserts and goodies. John’s hard work, great personality, knowledge, and enthusiasm have made him an integral part of OPPA. We are lucky to have him and will be sad to see him go!



Kate McGinnis and Stacey Pugh

August 2016

Kate McGinnis and Stacey PughThe work that all of you perform each and every day is impressive and so inspiring. This month there was no way to narrow the selection of our OPPA Employee of the Month to just one individual...and so, as OPPA Director, I'm proud to announce that our Team Member of the Month Award goes to TWO of our colleagues for their recent contributions to overall OPPA mission success: Kate McGinnis and Stacey Pugh!

Kate McGinnis joined NOAA/NESDIS/OPPA in September 2015 and has made an significant positive impact from the very start. Kate consistently provides outstanding support to the COSMIC-2 Program. She was instrumental in helping the COSMIC team successfully complete the System CDR in February 2016, and to close ground system requirements throughout the summer. She is one of the key program personnel that interfaces to the non-NOAA team members on a daily basis. She has excellent communications skills and provides a continuous high level of support in all areas of the COSMIC-2 Program. Her energy and accomplishment greatly improve the work of the COSMIC team and all of OPPA.

Stacey Pugh joined us this summer and has rapidly became an integral part of the OPPA Budget Team. Her ability to quickly learn our environment and methodology within NOAA, her hard work, her communication skills, and positive attitude have been a tremendous asset for our team. In the short amount of time that she has been here, she has demonstrated exceptional teamwork, esprit de corps and infectious enthusiasm. Her attention to detail and being a quick study have helped OPPA prepare for our future budget cycles, prepare for the anticipated CR, respond to questions regarding our FY 18 budget, and manage the extensive variety of budget related actions that we receive.

Congratulations Stacey and Kate!!



Wei Xia-Serafino

July 2016

Photo of Anne KennerleyOn behalf of Suzanne Hilding, OPPA Director, I'm happy to announce our OPPA Team Member of the Month Award goes to Wei Xia-Serafino for her leadership in an uncertain budget environment.

Wei provided strong leadership in reassuring NASA of NOAA's steadfast commitment to the GSFC MetOp Project during uncertain fiscal times. Through her calm and confident demeanor, Wei emphasized NOAA's resolve to secure funding over the next two years so NASA and NOAA can engage in critical testing of the U.S. instruments on MetOp and to prepare these instruments for launch. She drafted a Statement of Work to ensure continuation of vital Systems Engineering services to the Project Management and Execution Division during a transition period between contracts.

Due to Wei's willingness to take on new work, Wei was recently awarded an opportunity to enhance her management and technical skills through a one month training assignment with the Norwegian Space Center this fall. The Office is grateful for Wei's outstanding services that will help NOAA become a better steward of the environment.

Congratulations Wei!



Kris Samuel

June 2016

Photo of Anne KennerleyOn behalf of OPPA Director Suzanne Hilding, I’m pleased to announce Kris Samuel as the OPPA Team Member of the Month for June!

With great skill and agility Kris Samuel managed the recent IT refresh for OPPA, from procurement to installation. This project required partnering with ACIO, NESDIS CFO, IT Team, OPPA leadership, and each individual employee. Her thorough preparations set the stage for a successful transition, and her communication to OPPA staff kept us solidly informed in advance. Her attention to detail, organization, and customer service provided each employee with a seamless transition to their new device. Because of her accomplishment on this transition, OPPA offices were able to continue work at full speed.

Kris is an amazing employee. She begins and ends each day with a positive and can-do attitude. She provides clear and concise information and solutions for her OPPA colleagues. She daily manages both the details and large-scope nuances of projects and tasks. She is both focused and personable, and is a remarkable, outstanding member of Team OPPA!

Congratulations Kris!




Anne Kennerley

May 2016

Photo of Anne KennerleyOn behalf of Suzanne Hilding, OPPA Director, I’m happy to announce Anne Kennerley as the OPPA’s Team Member of the month for May!

With impeccable dedication and commitment, Anne embodies the quintessential TPIO professional and support machine! Over the years, Anne has been instrumental in developing multiple aspects of what constitutes NOAA’s Observing System Enterprise Architecture. Going above and beyond, she excels in many roles within TPIO to include: observing system analyst, database curator, Executive Secretariat for the Observing System Committee (OSC), project co-lead with the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS), TPIO webmaster and most recently data visualization expert! Anne’s ability to manage and coordinate all these activities to make meaningful and substantial contributions to TPIO is unprecedented. Anne knows how to do the job quietly and efficiently, her products are superb, and she is always looking for ways to anticipate and improve. As a critical TPIO team member, Anne is amazing, always performing with a smile!

Congratulations Anne!



Yulanda Slade

April 2016

Yulanda SladeI am happy to announce Yulanda Slade as our OPPA Team Member of the Month Awardee.

Without Yulanda, OPPA would not function. She is the first person people see when they come to OPPA and her smile, positive attitude, and can-do spirit is one in a million. Her ability to flex with change is key to the success of OPPA. She is resilient and can turn around hot travel actions in minutes. She keeps OPPA leadership on time and out of trouble. Yulanda is a true team player and has also readily trained numerous team members on travel, time and attendance, calendar, etc. Yulanda also embodies team work by leading and organizing OPPA morale boosting activities. Other NESDIS offices are continuously amazed by the team camaraderie and this is due to Yulanda (and her love for Party City!).

Please join me in congratulating Yulanda!




Sabrina Taijeron

March 2016

Photo of Sabrina TaijeronI’m happy to announce Sabrina Taijeron as OPPA’s Team Member of the month for April!

Sabrina, a retired Air Force Lt. Col. and now a contract support analyst for TPIO, has demonstrated an exceptional commitment to the TPIO vision and the OPPA mission. As TPIO’s Executive Officer, Sabrina has been handling with exemplary professionalism, passion, and dedication, the division’s most difficult actions and has perfected a process to rigorously administer a large volume of projects in a seamless way.

Sabrina embodies what it means to be a leader, a team player, and a role model. Her professional demeanor, discipline, and always-positive attitude are truly exceptional and an asset in our organization. She goes above and beyond to help her teammates and anyone else who seeks help. Sabrina is not only very knowledgeable of our programs but also very experienced and shrewd. She knows how to remain focused and how to balance work with the multitude of requests for assistance which she receives on a daily basis. Sabrina is a very well respected team member and a superb colleague.

The efficiency of her diligent work earned her affectionately the title of TPIO's cat herder!

Congratulations Sabrina!



Argelia Gonzalez

February 2016

Photo of Argelia GonzalezIn 2010, OPPA experienced a major transition. During this time we recognized an essential need to bring organization to the multitude of actions that were coming in from other offices. To address this, a contractor by the name of Argelia Gonzalez was brought in from NPOESS because of her prior experience in action management. After stepping into this new role, Argelia quickly took on this challenge and created an Action Team and an Action Tracking System.

Since joining OPPA, Argelia has proven herself to be invaluable. Her exceptional coordination and management of actions, careful organizational skills, attention to detail, and ability to work under pressure have been instrumental in the success of OPPA. In addition, these skills have been utilized to directly support OPPA Leadership and Program Managers, allowing us to focus our efforts on fulfilling the NESDIS and NOAA mission. She has the remarkable ability to think “outside of the box” and find creative solutions, proving that “tried and true” is not always the best answer.

In the past year, Argelia was faced with multiple challenges (introduction of a new Actions Tracking System (AIMS) by NESDIS HQ, decreased team support, etc.) and unique opportunities (DSCOVR launch, hosting of CGMS, etc.). Throughout each of these situations, she utilized her exceptional skills in innovation, leadership, organization, and relationship building to assist OPPA in meeting our internal and external responsibilities. Her ability to produce successful and accurate results under pressure and within tight time constraints has made her an asset to the team and a role model for other employees.

Argelia takes great pride in her work and her ability to “go above-and-beyond” her job description. Since 2010, she has continued to prove herself as a reliable source of information, support, and inspiration for the entire office. For these reasons, please join me in congratulating Argelia for her outstanding contributions to Team OPPA!  


Mark LaJoie

January 2016

Photo of Mark LaJoieMark LaJoie, program manager within TPIO, has exhibited the leadership skills we all aspire to have to the next level. As a retired Air Force Lt. Col. and now as a contract support manager, Mark has demonstrated that getting the job done can be real fun!

With impeccable discipline and commitment, Mark currently serves as the Executive Secretary for the NOAA Observing Systems Council (NOSC), senior adviser to the NOAA representative to USGEO, and task manager at the Science Technology Corporation(STC). Mark cares so much about our organization's overall performance, engagement, and customer satisfaction that no matter what we are challenged with, we know that Mark's skills will play a role in it as he truly understands what it takes to say "Bring it on!"

Mark had shown extraordinary leadership, and for that we should all take a moment to thank and congratulate him.


Adam Steckel & Daniel Gillespie

December 2015

Photo of Adam Steckel & Daniel GillespieI am happy to announce this month we will have joint team members of the month.

Adam Steckel and Dan Gillespie are the December Team Members of the Month! Adam and Dan are the dynamic duo that coordinated the design and build of the new OPPA website. They created a great product -- and did so with admirable methods. Throughout the process the two were an impressive team, nimbly and effectively collaborating with OPPA team members from all line offices. They kept project collaborators informed with clear, succinct, and positive communications. They adroitly worked across the line offices as well as with NESDIS staff to ensure the OPPA website is informative, pliant, and exciting.

Dan and Adam retained a sense of urgency from the start. Their persistence kept OPPA team members on track to complete the website as scheduled. We are delighted they successfully met the timeline which was critical due to the upcoming Jason-3 launch.

I am so pleased by this recent OPPA example that there is no “I” in TEAM. Adam’s and Dan’s combined efforts have had a very positive impact on the outcome of this website project and, I believe, on our OPPA office as well.


Kevin Tewey

November 2015

I am happy to announce Kevin Tewey as our OPPA Team Member of the Month Awardee. Kevin is recognized for the outstanding support he provides to OPPA. Kevin supported NESDIS oversight of Sandy Supplemental projects by keeping track of nine NESDIS projects funded by the Sandy Supplemental, totaling $27M. As part of his efforts, he prepared key briefings, coordinated across five NESDIS offices, NESDIS Budget Office, and NOAA Grants Office to keep OPPA and NESDIS leadership current on the latest status of each project. As a result of his efforts, all projects successfully obligated greater than 99.5% of their funds. In addition, Kevin supported efforts to update the NOAA Gap Mitigation Plan by coordinating with NESDIS offices, NWS, and OAR and ensuring all input was consistent, and suitable to release to the White House and Congress. Also, during critical staffing shortfalls, Kevin assisted in the preparation of the Report to Congress on COSMIC-2. All of Kevin's efforts received high praise and make him worthy of receiving the OPPA Team Member Award.

Please join me in congratulating Kevin for his support and team work. And also welcome him to our OPPA Federal team - he officially begins onJanuary 11, 2016. Kevin was recently selected to fill a critical engineering position to help ROPPD plan and implement a new generation of smaller, lower cost satellites that may someday revolutionize NOAA's future satellite architecture.

Suzanne Hilding
OPPA Director


Matthew Austin

October 2015

As I selected our OPPA Team Member Award for this month, I wanted to focus on someone who has embraced and excelled in team work, leadership, and cooperation. And so, I'd like to present this month's OPPA Team Member of the month award to Matthew Austin, who has demonstrated what this motto to a tee!

Matt, a Physical Scientist within TPIO, has been an outstanding team player showing what it really takes to be a "TPIOer". When TPIO needed Matt the most he stepped up to the plate and showed his true essence. Matt was asked to figure out how to translate complex and extensive data sets into actionable information that could be visualized and understood by our Senior-most leadership in NOAA and that is exactly what he did. Matt's efforts have been so impactful and instrumental in the conception and execution of visualization tools that a large number of NOAA analysts are now following his lead in adding more features to the already powerful suite of capabilities in our collection. Matt’s unique combination of superb technical skills and relentless perseverance is making our organization a more dynamic environment where creativity and innovation are the driving forces that are largely complemented by two of TPIO's specialties; collaboration and excellence!

Please join me in congratulating Matt for exemplifying the kind of dedication and excellence essential to mission success!

Suzanne Hilding
OPPA Director



Kesha Hayes

September 2015

I'm happy to announce our OPPA Team Member of the Month Award goes to Kesha Hayes for exceptional management of the OPPA Interagency Agreements.  Kesha Hayes works tirelessly to manage and execute Interagency Agreements that are critical to the success of our organization.  Our office generates more than half of the financial Interagency transactions each year within NESDIS. Kesha had a significant input in defining the current agreement process, and has had subsequent success improving the efficiency of the agreement process. She has consistently and steadfastly managed the approval cycle for all our agreements with attention to detail, and great perseverance.

Beyond her key role in the agreements process, Kesha also has the fiscal responsibility for COSMIC-2, SIDAR, and DSCOVR.  She oversees the execution of each program's budget and tracks cost related to the development of each program's asset. In her spare time, she also reports on our program milestones for the AOP measures.

Kesha is a team member whose positive impact continues to enable our program to succeed.

Please join me in congratulating Kesha for her exceptional contributions!

Suzanne Hilding
OPPA Director

Eric Miller

August 2015

I'd like to take a moment to extend my congratulations to Eric Miller as the recipient of our first OPPA Monthly Team Member Award. This award is given to an OPPA team members that go above and beyond in support of OPPA.

Eric Miller, who is a Physical Scientist within TPIO, is a strong manager and a team leader who deals with challenges exceptionally well whether they’re personnel, resource, or programmatic in nature. During a transition period in TPIO’s leadership the planning and execution of projects was backlogged because of insufficient resources, Eric responded with outstanding planning and prioritization skills, kept morale high, and worked alongside TPIO’s crew to clear essential work as quickly as possible. Eric addressed this workload and supported the acting TPIO Director keeping essential systems running at peak efficiency (CasaNOSA and Earth Observing Requirements Evaluation System (EORES)) while maintaining the Assistant Contracting Officer Representative (ACOR) duties. To improve future operations, Eric planned and staged upgrades, and swiftly executed funds as they became available.

Eric is a great example of one of OPPA’s most effective, highest performing employees. Please join me in congratulating Eric for his outstanding contributions!

Suzanne Hilding
OPPA Director