School District of Palm Beach County, Division of Human Resources Honored with Governor’s Sterling Award and Georgia Oglethorpe Award

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. –The Florida Sterling Council today announced the School District of Palm Beach County, Division of Human Resources recipient of the Governor’s Sterling Award for 2021.

Governor’s Sterling Award and Georgia Oglethorpe Award

With the 2021 recipient, the Florida Sterling Council has now recognized 90 organizations since 1992. Combined, the two-state award processes have recognized excellence for over 50 years, honoring organizations and businesses that have successfully achieved performance excellence within their management and operations. The Florida Sterling Council partnered with the Georgia Oglethorpe Award in 2018 to administer its processes.

School District of Palm Beach County, Human Resources Division

School District of Palm Beach County, HR Division

From left to right: Vicki Evans-Pare, Esq. (Director of Employee & Labor Relations), Mark Mitchell (Director, Compensation & Employee Information), Carlene Millen (Assistant Superintendent, Professional Growth), Edwine Michel (Director, Recruitment & Retention, Jenifer Kuras (Director, Professional Development), Dr. Gonzalo La Cava (Chief, Human Resources), Gail Williams (Director, Administrative & Non-Instructional Staffing), Kevin Butanowicz, Human Resources Manager, Professional Growth), Shannon Armstrong (Human Resources Partner, Recruitment & Retention)

The School District of Palm Beach County Human Resources Division and its 101 employees provide services through its departments, including Employee and Labor Relations, Professional Development, Recruitment, and Retention/Non-Instructional and Administrative Staffing, Professional Growth, and Compensation and Employee Information Services for full time, part-time, and former employees.

The School District of Palm Beach County is the tenth-largest in the nation, the fifth largest in the state of Florida, and the largest employer in Palm Beach County. The District serves more than 22,800 school district employees, including more than 13,480 teachers.

The HR Division has implemented an industry-leading service delivery model that focuses on continuous improvement and the utilization of its HR Partners as human capital diagnosticians and brokers of HR services. This model is coupled with processing centers and an award-winning HR Customer Care Center (CCC) available for all employee inquiries.

The Division has pursued a course of performance excellence in its processes that has benefited not only its metric-driven results but also driven a sustainable culture of performance. Multiple quality improvement tools and techniques are employed in the Division’s operations, including scorecards, real-time dashboards, process control charts, integration with feedback and review models, and others that all together form a systemic approach to performance excellence.

Customer-focused services provided by the Division show excellent results and beneficial trends on customer satisfaction key indicators that exceed national customer service benchmark ratings across many of their core functions. These include service ratings from customers to their CCC, job processing turnaround times, overall customer rating of HR from schools, and performance on scorecard metrics.

The Division launched a district-wide lean six sigma training program leading to improvement projects across the organization with a year-over-year time savings equivalent increase. Process improvement methodologies resulted in a 38% reduction in the teacher hiring process time.

“Earning the prestigious Florida Governor’s Sterling Award is an honor and a testament that organizational visions can be achieved. Leading with a high-performing team and a continuous improvement framework, our organization moved from transactional to transformational to improve outcomes of students and staff,” stated Chief of HR Dr. Gonzalo La Cava.

“I am very proud of the accomplishments of the Human Resources Division,” added Superintendent Dr. Donald Fennoy. “Their vision and focus on continuous improvement has resulted in the transformation of an organization to become a role model for public and private human resources departments.”

The School District of Palm Beach County, Human Resources Division is a first-time recipient of the Governor’s Sterling and Georgia Oglethorpe Award.

Recognition for Best Practices

Two organizations are being recognized in 2021 for Best Practices: CareerSource Central Florida and University of Miami – Life Alliance Organ Recovery Agency.

CareerSource Central Florida

Customer Focused Excellence – Youth Program
CareerSource Central Florida (CSCF) invests in young adults by helping them launch their career journey by providing academic consultative services focusing on building their skills, inspiring confidence, and showing them how to take charge of their future. CSCF’s Youth Services helps young adults earn their high school diploma and GED, learn on-the-job skills, and develop their professionalism. In addition, CSCF’s annual Summer Youth Program allows young adults to gain exposure to college experiences and multiple career pathways in high-growth industries, receive professional internships, and participate in specialized career training. During its 2019-2020 fiscal year, CSCF served more than 2,000 young adults throughout Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Lake, and Sumter Counties.

University of Miami – Life Alliance Organ Recovery Agency (LAORA)

Improve Key Work Processes – LAORA Goes Green
The organization developed its first Six Sigma green belt project to reduce the annual number of miles driven in, to, and from Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade Counties. The goal was to reduce from an average of 1,057 miles per month per team member to 757 miles per month per team member by December 31, 2020. As a result of the effort, decreases in mileage were seen across the board, averaging 260 miles per person. Based on the initial case study and projections, LAORA could save more than $60,000 per year. The direct result for the LAORA staff is improved work-life balance, as well as increased engagement. In addition, the added efficiencies have resulted in improved relationships between LAORA and its stakeholders. This has come in the form of faster response time to the hospitals and earlier engagement with the donor families to meet their needs better.  

About the Governor’s Sterling Award

Established in 1992, the Florida Sterling Council is a public/private not-for-profit corporation supported by the Executive Office of the Governor. The Council oversees the Governor’s Sterling Award for Performance Excellence and administers the Georgia Oglethorpe Award.  The Awards are presented annually by the Governor to high-performing, role-model organizations, both private and public, who demonstrate superior management approaches and role model results. The Awards are presented at the culmination of the annual Sterling Conference that teaches participants how to elevate performance and increase productivity. Due to COVID-19, the Awards will be formally presented at the next year’s Annual Conference on June 1-4, 2022. Nearly 700 executives and professionals gather at this event each year for a one-stop source for education, information, and inspiration. The conference concludes with the recognition of best practices and the Team Showcase Champion. For more information, contact Dione Geiger at (850) 922-5316 or visit

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