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Civilian Awards

Congratulations to thE
2022 Civilian Award Winners!

To recognize individuals who have made significant contributions to the advancement of Asian Americans and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities and promote diversity and inclusion among the Federal and District of Columbia government work forces.

Point of Contact: awards@fapac.org

Award Categories

One winner will be selected per category, per grade cluster (GS 1-12, GS 13-15, and Senior Executive Service) for a total of nine (9) awards.
  1. Outstanding Individual Leadership: Individual has shown bold leadership and innovative ways to promote Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO), Affirmative Action, and Diversity.
  2. Excellence in Individual Achievement: Individual has made significant contributions toward AAPI representation at all levels .
  3. Diversity Excellence: Individual has shown a remarkable contribution towards diversity and inclusion through collaboration and against all odds.

OUTSTANDING INDIVIDUAL LEADERSHIP

Ms. Marie Kopka is a Water Resource Planner for the US Army Corps of Engineers. She joined the Corps as a park ranger in Oregon where she also served as the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Special Emphasis Program Chair (SEPC). As AAPI SEPC, Ms. Kopka led outreach and recruitment efforts to attract underrepresented groups, promote EEO, and coordinate and host AAPI Heritage Month events bringing the local community and the Corps together to increase cultural awareness. She is driven by collaboration and takes pride in developing lasting relationships with other agencies, non-profit organizations and community partners. She has led several Diversity, Equity and Inclusion teams and councils in the public and private sector. Ms. Kopka is sought out for presenting and recommending inclusive methods for facilitation and team building, fostering and restoring interagency and community partnerships, and improving processes that have high public benefit. Her most recent accomplishment was teaming up to establish the Corps-wide Asian American, Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander Employee Resource Group (ERG). This ERG was created as a safe space for Corps employees to engage in dialogue about what it means to be an AANHPI, serves as a platform for networking and mentoring opportunities, and supports cultural awareness and competence in the agency.

Dr. Yong-il Yi is a Project Manager and Contracting Officer’s Representative (COR) at NASA JSC’s Center Operations Directorate. As COR, Dr. Yi manages the Custodial and Grounds Contracts, which maintain the Center’s cleaning and landscaping services. His efforts led to additional mitigation services between shifts in the Mission Control Center to keep it safe, clean, and operational in its continued communications with the International Space Station (ISS), during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Previously Yong served as an Instrumentation and Controls Systems Engineer at NASA’s Glenn Research Center (GRC) in Ohio, where he designed controls automation and programmed the operational sequences of: The Rehabilitated 10 x 10 Supersonic Wind Tunnel; Synchronous Motor Auxiliary Control System; and Combustion Desiccant Air Dryers.

Yong is an original founding officer for Asians Succeeding in Innovation and Aerospace (ASIA) Employee Resource Group (ERG) at NASA JSC, since 2011. He served as the membership chair from 2011 to 2013, and is the contributing officer maintaining the ASIA ERG SharePoint Site for the last ten years.

Dr. David Omura was appointed Medical Center Director/CEO for the Columbia VA Health Care System on March 19, 2017 and was sworn in as a member of the Senior Executive Service on March 20, 2017. Dr. Omura provides oversight and leadership of a healthcare system that includes a medical center located in Columbia, SC; and seven Community Based Outpatient Clinics that cover 2/3rd the state of South Carolina. In FY21, the Columbia VA Health Care System’s 2,950 staff served more than 87,000 Veterans, provided over 1.1M outpatients visits, admitted over 2,400 patients all while operating successfully withing their $832M budget.

Prior to Dr. Omura’s appointment to this role, he served as the Medical Center Associate Director/Chief Operations Officer since September 2012. In this role, he was held operational oversight over fiscal, human resources, engineering, safety, privacy, logistics, and the business office. Preceding his roles in executive leadership, Dr. Omura served in clinical and administrative roles both at the North Florida/South Georgia Veterans Health System and the University of Florida Health System

EXCELLENCE IN INDIVIDUAL ACHIEVEMENT

Ms. Laura Wood is an Equal Employment Opportunity Counselor, Mentorship Committee member, and a Lead training team/change management team member for a new developed Dynamics 365 application, for the Department of Veterans Affairs - Office of Resolution Management, Diversity & Inclusion (DVA - ORMDI). She wears multiple hats in the organization and is passionate about her work, helping others, and promoting mentorship. Last November, she prepared a 3D Individualized Performance Plan presentation for her leadership; shared the idea with the Mentorship Committee, and ORMDI’s Deputy Assistant Secretary (DAS), Harvey Johnson. She demonstrated how she has utilized it in her professional journey. She incorporates Asian American Pacific Islander cultural awareness every day. As a disabled Asian American U.S. Army veteran working with EEO complainants and stake holders alike through the EEO process, she establishes rapport and trust as a neutral party in the process. She brings the face of Asian Americans in supporting special emphasis programs, employee affinity and resource groups. She exemplifies the DVA’s core values, that of Integrity, Commitment, Advocacy, Respect and Excellence (ICARE).

Ms. Vivian Cao began her career with Los Angeles District in 2005 as the Senior Project Scheduler in Programs and Project Management Division. Serving as the P2 Coordinator and Subject Matter Expert on Civil Work Programs she routinely interacted with Project Managers, Program Managers, Project Delivery Teams, and district personnel in implementing and maintaining P2. Due to her diligence and work ethics, Vivian quickly rose through the ranks and in 2009 was promoted to Lead Project Scheduler for the Civil Works program.

In June of 2020, Vivian came to Japan Engineering District as the Lead Project Scheduler for the Military Construction Program. Vivian’s cultural background has served her well in cultivating positive and constructive relationships with our Japanese counterparts in Japan District. As a Vietnamese American, here cultural perspective allows her to communicate with empathy and passion but also in understanding and welcoming diversity. Because of these cultural traits she has been able to create a viable, productive, and unified work environment that has allowed her to quickly gain the trust of her team and peers in a multi‐cultural environment. Additionally, Her depth in understanding differences in culture and communication styles, within the working environment allowed her to shape new initiatives in a multi‐cultural environment in ways everyone could easily embrace. Her willingness to assist, take responsibility, and seek new routes to success exemplifies her dedication to her role, her team, and the district. She has developed automated solutions to project management that has reduced administrative time and increased the level of confidence in project information. As she grows in her new role, she seeks out solution vice focusing on the problem.

Mr. Ernest Moy, M.D., M.P.H., is the Executive Director of the Office of Health Equity of the VHA. This office manages and supports efforts to understand and reduce disparities in health and health care affecting Veterans. Currently, the office is coordinating analyses and messaging related to disparities in COVID-19 testing and treatment among Veterans and building tools to address structural bias, discrimination, and social determinants of health.

Prior to joining VHA, he was a Medical Officer in the Office of Analysis and Epidemiology at the National Center for Health Statistics of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). At CDC, he studied rural health disparities, analyzed linked hospital-vital statistics data to identify care patterns that placed patients at high risk for opioid poisoning death, and developed new data visualizations and partnerships for disseminating health statistics.

DIVERSITY EXCELLENCE

Ms. Christine Salcedo was appointed as a Health System Specialist for the Office of the Deputy Director, VA Palo Alto Health Care System (VAPAHCS), in December 2021. She began career at VAPAHCS in 2014, as a Pathways Intern. Later she served as the Secretary for the Office of the Chief of Staff, and a Management and Program Analyst, and Administrative Officer for Medical Service.

Throughout her years at VAPAHCS, she has held multiple collateral positions promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace. In 2017, she became the Asian American Pacific Island Special Emphasis Program Manager (SEPM). In 2019, she took on the Veterans SEPM in addition to AAPI SEPM. While serving as the AAPI SEPM, she explored a leadership opportunity with the Federal Asian Pacific American Council and became co-chair of the Bylaws and Constitution Committee and today, she is co- chair of the Public Relations Committee.

Ms. Jihee Suh is a prosecutor, litigator, and counsel with wide-ranging experience in city, state, and federal government as well as in the private sector. Currently, she is as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the U.S. Attorney’s Office (USAO) in the District of New Jersey, where she serves as Deputy Chief of the Special Prosecutions Division, which focuses on investigating and prosecuting public corruption. Her prior federal government service includes serving as a law clerk to the late Honorable James Robertson of the United States District Court in Washington, D.C. following graduation from law school.

For the past decade, Jihee has served as a federal and state prosecutor specializing in targeting public corruption. Prior to serving as a prosecutor, Jihee worked in New York City government as counsel at a city government agency specializing in civil enforcement of local campaign finance laws and advising the agency on campaign finance, EEO/employment related matters, and compliance issues. Her prior service in city government also includes working prior to law school as a Special Assistant to an executive of New York City’s child welfare agency. Jihee has also worked in the private sector, at various law firms, handling a variety of criminal defense and civil litigation matters.

As an AUSA, Jihee has contributed to helping the USAO in New Jersey meet its diversity goals by continuing to serve on the USAO Diversity Committee and serving as one of the Office’s two Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month Planning Chairs who helped plan the Office’s yearly AAPI Heritage month celebration. She also served as a panelist on the Asian American Bar Association of New York’s panel event in November 2021 addressing junior lawyers and law students on how to become a federal prosecutor and continues to provide mentorship and guidance to AAPI lawyers interested in becoming a federal prosecutor. In addition, she serves as a judge for the competitions for youth held by the New Jersey Orators, a not for profit organization founded by African American corporate executives that focuses on teaching the art of public speaking to children

FAPAC is a 501 (c)(3) nonpartisan, nonprofit organization representing the civilian and military Asian Pacific American (APA) employees in the Federal and District of Columbia governments.
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